Get your romantic side out!
This trail shows off Elorrio’s most romantic mansions and gardens. You can also extend your walk into the marvellous countryside around the town.
Zearsolo Mansion or “Casa Jara”
Olazabal or “Modet” mansion
Urkizu Aldatsekua mansion
Urkizu Tola mansion
This mansion was built for Martín de Arespakotxaga in 1620 on three of the town’s original building plots. Its construction required part of the town wall to be demolished, which is why it is attached to the Puerta del Campo, one of the six old town gates. The only other gate still surviving, albeit only partially, is the Puerta del Río Gate by the river at the end of Elvira Iñurrieta Kalea.
Walk around to the rear of the mansion and take a look at the beautiful open gallery along the back wall, with its four arches. This is an architectural gem. The whole mansion sums up the joy of the countryside, sunshine and movement.
The adjacent building, known as Arespakotxaga Txikia, was owned by the same family and used as servants’ quarters. Over the door is engraved a verse from the Song of Songs “Sub umbra illius quem desideraveram sedi” (“I sat down under the shadow of him whom I desired”). This should be understood as meaning that it was an honour to be beside such a great mansion.
On the corner of the building the family coat of arms is displayed. Coats of arms were proof of nobility and of the social status of a family, and under traditional Basque laws all those born in Bizkaia were classed per se as noble and thus entitled to them.
San Pio Kalea
This superb, Baroque style mansion was built for Juan de Arespakotxaga y Azkarraga in 1666 on land formerly occupied by his ancient family seat. Take a moment to admire the three beautiful arches overlooking the garden. If you look closely at the facade you will see that the family coat of arms is divided into four sections, one for each surname of the lineage: Arespakotxaga, Azkarraga, Andueza and Urkizu.
The road to Durango had to be diverted slightly to accommodate the construction of this mansion.
The Arespakotxaga lineage owed their fortune to the iron ore of Mount Udalatx, which they sold in Andalusia and the Indies.
Juan Bautista de Arespakotxaga became a Knight of the Order of St James, Secretary to King Philip IV of Spain and a member of his Council of War. His family included nobles who fought at the siege of Baeza, knights of the orders of St James and Alcántara, several mayors of Elorrio, holders of public office and owners of businesses that helped amass wealth for the family. The evidence of how rich they were can be seen with your own eyes.
Coat of arms: Elizburu Kalea, opposite the convent of Santa Ana.
Garden and gallery: San Pío Kalea.
See also the panel on the town’s Baroque mansions.
The Palacio Zearsolo mansion or “Casa Jara”
Berrio-Otxoa 2 (Elizburu Kalea to see the garden)
This is the most spectacular mansion in the centre of Elorrio thanks to its size, its wrought-iron fencing, its entrance, its coats of arms and its garden (located at the rear). The building as it now stands is the result of two renovations at very different times.
The more sombre façade on Berrio-Otxoa Kalea belongs to the original mansion (Zearsolo) and dates from the 17th century. The façade on the square is 300 years younger, dating from 1934.
See if you can tell the difference: walk around to the rear where the garden is located. On the second floor there are three outstanding arches and the walls are partly covered in climbing plants, making it truly beautiful.
The entranceway to the house can be seen at Berrio-Otxoa Kalea nº 2 and from the square.
To see the garden you will need to walk up to Elizburu Kalea.
Olazabal or “Modet” mansion
Elizburu kalea, 46
This aristocratic mansion house dates from 1890 and is said to have hosted the finest high-society soirées of its day. Its large garden was an ideal setting for such events.
The facade of this fine, aristocratic home features an unusual, British style coach-house, the location of which is shown by a carved bust of a horse over the entrance.
The Olazabal coat of arms is emblazoned on the side of the building.
The street adjacent to this mansion was once the course for idi-probak (contests in which oxen drag weights over a set course) and is currently the site of the cattle fair during the Ferixa Nagusikoak festivities.
Next to the Kurutziaga cross, at the end of Berrio-Otxoa Kalea
In the early 19th century two spas opened in Elorrio to take advantage of the properties of the five sulphurous water springs and numerous iron-rich springs in the municipality. They soon became fashionable among the wealthy middle classes, and helped bring the town out of the economic recession that it was suffering at the time.
The Belerín or Baños Nuevos spa stood on the site now occupied by the company Betsaide, which you can see opposite the cross. The advent of the railways made the spas easier to get to and helped increase the number of visitors.
Tourists from the cities brought their cameras with them, so there are plenty of photos of Elorrio in that period.
The information panel on the spas stands between the Olazabal (Modet) and Urkizu Aldatsekua mansions, beside the Kurutziaga cross.
Urkizu Aldatsekua mansion
Ibaikua Kalea, 7
This building is currently owned by the municipal council and is used as a day centre for pensioners. It was built in the early years of the 20th century on a site previously occupied by the Urkizu mansion, which burned down.
On hot days there is welcome shade to be found under the trees in its garden, whose various romantic-style features, including the well, the layout of its paths and various details of its walls, bear witness to how splendid it was in its heyday.
This garden is also used as a venue for public meals during town festivities, including the Sukalki eguna (pot-roast contest) and a lunch for the “crews” or cuadrillas formed for local festivities.
The garden is home to some very old trees shipped in from far away, such as the great Himalayan cedar located by the steps up to the house.
Urkizu Tola mansion
Elizalde Kalea 1
The Urkizu-Tola mansion is a fine example of urban mansion architecture in an almost rural setting on a crossroads at the entrance to the town of Elorrio.
The last major renovation of the building was undertaken by the Marquess of Tola de Gaytán in the early 1900s. He took advantage of its privileged location to design a residence with magnificent viewing balconies overlooking the natural splendour of the garden.
The original building was commissioned by Captain Agustín de Urquizu in 1677.
It is one of the most outstanding examples of Baroque residential architecture in Bizkaia, and if you are lucky enough to visit it in the summer you will have the chance to stroll through its gardens during the “Musikaire” music festival.
At that time the mansions of Elorrio open their doors to host performances of music, theatre and dance for the general public in the paradisiacal setting of their gardens.
To complete your tour, be sure to visit the “Well-Spring of Love”, which offers magnificent views, and the necropolis of Argiñeta. These two magical spots are just a short walk from the old quarter of Elorrio.