A trip back into the past

This trail shows you all about Elorrio’s historic past. It features

seven stopping points and takes around 90 minutes.


There are panels along the route with explanations to help you understand and imagine Elorrio as it once was. Enjoy yourself!

The Puerta del Campo Gate

The original houses of the town

The fire of 1480

The battle of Elorrio

Mediaeval tower houses

Traditional trades

San Agustín de Etxebarria



The Puerta del Campo Gate

The Puerta del Campo Gate

On its founding the town of Elorrio was surrounded by a defensive wooden palisade, but this was soon replaced by a stronger, longer lasting stone wall. The only ways in and out were its six gates, though only two of them can still be seen today: the Puerta del Campo (shown in the photo) and the archway at the end of Elvira Iñurrieta Kalea.


Above the Puerta del Campo gate the coat of arms of the Catholic Monarchs can still be seen. It shows only the arms of Castile and León, Aragón and Sicily, which means that it dates from before the conquest of Granada.


It seems to have been customary in those days to build a niche beside each gate to house a figure of the saint or incarnation of the Virgin Mary to whom each gate was devoted.


Some of these niches are still there today, even though the wall is long gone.


The Puerta de San Juan gate:

Although the building is new there is a niche containing a figure of St John at Errekakalea nº 3.

The Puerta de Nuestra Señora de Uribarri gate:

A niche with the figure of the Virgin Mary can be seen at Errekakalea nº 34.

The Puerta de San Antón gate:

There is a niche but no figure at Kanpokalea nº 11.

The Puerta del Rosario gate:

This gate was demolished and replaced by the commemorative monument with its three arches that currently crosses Arriola Kalea. The niche was maintained above the arches, but it stands empty.

San Pío Street

Take the opportunity to see the beautiful Santa Ana cross nearby.

The original houses of Elorrio

The original houses of the town

Kanpokalea 8

The town of Elorrio was founded in 1356 by Don Tello, Lord of Bizkaia. It was laid out around two parallel streets, called Kanpokalea [“Countryside Street”] and Errekakalea [“River Street”]. The original mediaeval city blocks still form the backbone of the town.


The first houses were built of wood but these were gradually replaced by stone buildings because of the risk of destruction by fire, and because stone houses could be built taller.

This illustration shows what the earliest houses in Elorrio looked like. They had no glass in their windows, and no interior walls. Nor did they have chimneys, so fires were lit close to the windows. Just imagine how black the walls and ceilings would have been.

A picture of a house from this period can be seen on the information panel at Kanpokalea nº 8

The fire of 1480 in Elorrio

The fire of 1480

Errekakalea 18

The earliest houses in Elorrio were built of wood. They were terraced, so that neighbouring houses formed blocks with shared walls. This made it very hard to put out any fires, which could well rage through them all.


The fire of 1480 started in the house of Juan de Uria, on the street now called Kanpokalea.

The methods used to fight fires in those days were unusual by today’s standards, and when a fire started the gates to the town were closed.

To find out why, read the information panel at Errekakalea nº 18

The battle of Elorrio

The battle of Elorrio


Arriola Kalea, beside the river.

On February 21st 1468 a power struggle between the Ibarra and Marzana families erupted into what became known as the “Battle of Elorrio”. The Ibarras were members of the Oñacinos, one of the factions in a long-standing dispute between noble Basque families, and were therefore supported by their fellow faction-members the Muxica, Butrón, Arteaga and Zarate families.


The Marzanas belonged to the other faction – the Gamboinos – so they had the Avendaño and Velasco families on their side, along with the Count of Haro and 150 horsemen in the service of the Count of Salinas as well as  300 mercenaries loaned by the Marquess of Santillana.

This is considered as one of the most important battles of the Middle Ages in this area, and it cost the lives of over 1000 men. Winners and losers alike suffered major casualties and the whole town went into mourning for lost family members and friends.

Find out who won the great battle by reading the information panel on Arriola Kalea

Mediaeval tower houses  Elorrio

Mediaeval tower houses

Arriola Kalea, beside the river.

Tower houses were built for both residential and defensive use. They also had a social function as status symbols for their owners, who were feared as lords (jauntxos in Basque).

One of their mottos was “In heaven God rules and on earth he who holds most land”.

The best-known tower houses in the municipality were those of the Urkizu, Ibarra, Otsa and Esteibar families. None of these original towers is still standing, but the mansions that replaced them bear the same names and also bear witness to the wealth and social class of their owners.

On the Urkizu mansion (on the corner of Arriola Kalea and Errekakalea) the original door of one of the Urkizu tower houses can still be seen.

Find out more about tower houses on the information panel on Arriola Kalea.

Traditional trades in Elorrio

Traditional trades

Berrio Otxoa 43

Errekakalea (which translates as “River Street”) was the liveliest, busiest street in Elorrio. Craftsmen would work outside their homes there and barter their products.


In social, financial and political terms the most important trade in the mediaeval town was that of iron working and blacksmithing. The crafting of iron gradually developed into an industry, with products no longer being made just for local use but also for export to different areas of Spain, the rest of Europe and even the Americas.

This was in line with the goal of the town’s founders to establish a strong trade route.

Find out what traditional trades were practised in Elorrio by looking at the information panel at Berrio-Otxoa Kalea nº 43

San Agustín de Etxebarria

San Agustín de Etxebarría

On the Durango road, 2 km from Elorrio.

The beautiful church of San Agustín de Etxebarria stands in the hamlet of the same name around 2 km outside Elorrio.


The first church built here was the Barria monastery, completed in 1053 on the orders of the Count and Countess of Durango. It became one of the most important parishes in the Duranguesado area.


The current Basque Gothic-style building dates from the 15th century. An outstanding feature of its interior is its magnificent Plateresque-style, with the figure of Saint Augustine at its centre. This is probably the most valuable piece of its kind in Bizkaia. The church also features a beautiful slim, square tower.

It is surrounded by a broad porch, at the southern end of which  stands an unusual chapel which is home to two stone sarcophagi which, tradition says contain the remains of the church’s founders: the Count and Countess of Durango, who ordered the building of the Barria monastery here in 1053.


This beautiful building is well worth a visit to round off your trip into the past on a high point.

Follow this link for more information on SAN AGUSTÍN DE ETXEBARRIA

We hope that you have enjoyed this tour of the historical sites of our town.

Mapa Elorrio

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Or download a map showing all the sights and work out your own route      

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Berrio Otxoa kalea, 1 

48320 Elorrio (Bizkaia) 

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