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The Old Port

Other than the changes made to the facades, the majority of the homes follow the original blueprints. We can find the oldest fountain in Bizkaia built at the end of the XVI century.


These houses are built against the cliff, attached to the rock of the terrain and present a steep slope. They are houses built between dividing walls and gabled roofs. The most notable part of the area is the poverty. In general, fishermen and their families occupied the worst, unsanitary houses due to the lack of light and ventilation. Due to the scarcity of available space it wasn’t uncommon for more than one family to share one house. Privately owned houses were rare, and were usually only owned by ship-owners and masters. These houses are very tall and have large openings on the southern side, where people replaced forged metal banisters with wood from old windows and balconies. Contrasting with the whitewash they painted the carpentry with more visible colors, green being one of the most common, of which few examples remain in Bermeo.

The fountain of the “Tres Cantos,” is the oldest fountain that has been preserved in Bizkaia. Apart from being a notable construction with mannerist taste, it allows us to observe the water  and the embarkment of ships as early as the XVI century. It bears three very worn coat of arms, the central one being the imperial coat of arms (two headed eagle of Carlos V), the left being the emblem of the lordship under a sea shell and the right being coat of arms of the village of Bermeo. The fountain has long been dry, having lost it’s piping and its basin.

In the terrible gale of 1912 one hundred and forty three sailors died, and one hundred and twelve of those sailors were from Bermeo. In response, the fleet of ships in Bermeo repentantly changed from sailing to using the steam engine. The colors that the rows of jetties for boarding ships in the port have remind us of the exhaust funnels of those steam boats.

"La Vista de Bermeo", "signed and dated in 1783, is the first view made by Luis Paret y Alcazar as far as we know . To paint it, the artist placed his easel on the right dock of the entrance to the port, nowadays Venancio Nardiz dock, specifically at the point where the sculpture La ola de Néstor Basterretxea is now placed. From here the painter could clearly see the town.

This panoramic view starts from the Gothic church of Santa Eufemia, located to the left of the composition, passes through the emblematic Ercilla tower house, in the center of the painting, and reaches the ruins of the church of Santa María de la Atalaya, located on the right side. Built in sandstone and Gothic style, due to its dimensions (84 meters long and 55 meters wide), this temple, already documented at the beginning of the 14th century, had been one of the most impressive religious buildings in Bizkaia.

In the painting of Paret, it can be clearly seen how the tower of Santa Eufemia is in the process of being built, and the bell tower is half finished. Therefore, it can be assumed, given the advanced construction of the tower and taking into account that it was completed in July 1783, that Paret was in Bermeo during the first half of 1783.

Nowadays, this piece is exhibited in the Museum of Fine Arts of Bilbao.

Other points of interest
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