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Maritime heritage

Talking about maritime heritage often conjures up images of ancient boats stored away in museums along with old pieces of port machinery and equipment. Many people would be surprised to discover that this Urola-Kosta landscape, the same landscape which we, as local residents, form part of, has been built up over centuries as a result of the effect of the sea.

The landscape of our local area is the result of initiatives carried out by its inhabitants over thousands of years in order to make full use of the resources of the sea. Over time, the remains of these activities have become deposited as sludge on the banks of rivers, and the result of this process is the unique landscape that we now enjoy in Urola-Kosta. It is therefore an entirely marine landscape, full of maritime heritage, which can be enjoyed by simply looking around us.

Testament to our marine character:

  • Our towns and valleys were created in Ancient Times or in the Middle Ages by inhabitants who made full use of maritime resources. The key features of urban development, namely the churches, mansions and houses, were constructed by benefiting fully from the sea.
  • For centuries our rural land has adapted to the needs of different maritime activities: trees in the woods were adapted to the production of timber to make boats and the production of coal for the foundries; our cottages and farmland were created to produce large quantities of cider and Txakolí wine which would then be taken on long sea expeditions; many of today's products are the result of a gastronomy tradition which came to us from the sea: corn, beans, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, etc.
  • Key industrial activities evolved as a result of marine activity: large water-driven forges were developed to send iron production overseas, shipyards became specialised in large cargo vessels, fishing boats and warships which dominated the oceans of the world, tidal mills and windmills were built to grind wheat and other grains brought in from overseas, seaside bathing led to the growth of tourism, etc.
  • Our local area was the birthplace of several well-known seafarers, including Juan Sebastián de Elcano, Domingo de Bonechea and Manuel de Agote. Some local residents made crucial contributions to how historical events unfolded: the development of whaling, expeditions in search of discovery, fishing expeditions to Newfoundland and the Arctic, the development and construction of ships and galleons which would be the world's first ocean vessels, trade in gold, silver and spices from the Indies, etc.

The Basques have always been seafaring people and our local area is an important part of Basque maritime heritage. The sea is not just salty water, it is us and our heritage, our area and inhabitants: we are the sea!

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