Tag Archives: Bizkaia

Castles in the Basque Country I. Castle of Butrón

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The castle of Butrón corresponds to the romantic idea of a castle. Located in Gatika, 20 miles from Bilbao, it was a mediaeval fortress built on the XIII century, that served as defensive tower in the fights that took place for centuries between Oñacinos and Gamboinos, the two big families that dominated the Basque Country in the Middle Ages. On the XVI century another castle was built on its place, and then it was abandoned for many years until the Marqués de Cubas recontructed and gave its present shape on the XIX century.butrón 1

At present, it belongs to a private company, it has served as restaurant for some years but it´s currently closed for visits. In any case, the views and the pictures you can take are spectacular. It is surrounded by a luxurious tree garden, with exotic species, and the visit is really worth it.

The best Rolls-Royce museum, and it´s in the Basque Country?

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torre loizaga 3You´d never thought that the biggest and most important Rolls Royce collection in the world would be located in much unknown area of Bizkaia province in the Basque Country. 75 unique cars, 43 of them Rolls Royce and then Lamborghini, Ferrari, Hispano-Suiza, Bentley…, all kept in perfect working condition in a beautiful tower castle located in a lush green valley just 35 kms west of Bilbao. For detailed info and pictures, torreloizaga.com, unfortunately only in Spanish, but Google offers a free and decent translation service… Sadly, its owner, founder and keeper (he was alsothe ticket seller…) died recently, so there´s some degree of uncertainty about the future of this museum. I was there last year and thoroughly enjoyed it. Kids are welcome, you can take as many pictures as you want and the fortress and gardens are perfect for a bit of relax.

torre loizaga2Not far, in the Karrantza (or Carranza) valley, there are XIX century balnearies, the Pozalagua caves (one of the biggest in the world), El Carpín Zoo and Adventure Park (perfect for kids)…in an unspoilt environment, tourist-free. Two good web pages for this area are karrantza.com, and enkartur.net, luckily also in English. I also like to go to this area to enjoy “alubiadas” in a restaurant, consisting of slow cooked beans with black pudding, chorizo, bacon…as much as you can eat, followed by a huge grilled (rare, as we like it over here) T-bone steak…all for around 25 euros per person, wine included (as an example, www.enkartur.net/servicio-restaurante-la-bodeguilla-sopuerta-40.html, in Sopuerta).torre loizaga

I can´t help to think that if this museum were located in, say, the UK or the US, it would be a much visited attraction and known worldwide by car lovers. But for some reason it seems we want to hide these little gems from our visitors.