Basilica of Begoña

Bilbao, Spain

The Basilica of Begoña started life in the 16th century, designed by Sancho Martínez de Arego. It has three naves, to which the addition of vaults was completed in the 17th century in construction work that took a century, having started in 1511. During the time of this work, the Gothic style began to show Renaissance influence, and the arched mid-16th century main entrance reflects the transitional style of the Spanish architect Gil de Hontañón. The remainder of the building remains purely Gothic in style.

During the 19th century, the basilica was damaged as a result of it forming part of Bilbao's city wall. The Carlist General Tomás de Zumalacárregui was fatally injured near the basilica. The current tower and part of the exterior were designed by José María Basterra and built between 1902 and 1907.

On 16 August 1942, an incident between Falangists and Carlists resulted in several grenades exploding near the church. Accounts differ on number of injuries and whether any were killed, but the incident highlighted dangerous rifts between Spanish nationalist factions and prompted a restructuring of Franco's government. A prominent Falangist, Juan José Domínguez, was controversially sentenced to death and executed by firing squad as a punishment for the incident.

Work was carried out to correct the damage, however, and from September 1993 to June 1994, extensive cleaning and restoration work was carried out on the stone and the clock face and bells were repaired. The clock tower houses 24 bells, with the heaviest weighing a tonne, and were built in Sumiswald, Switzerland. The history of the clock tower dates back to 1922, and currently, seven different melodies can be produced.



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Founded: 1511
Category: Religious sites in Spain

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User Reviews

Claire Tyrrell (7 months ago)
Historic and beautiful. Well worth the visit
IRATXE SANCHEZ (8 months ago)
Me gustò
May Rosales (12 months ago)
Most symbolic religious building in Bilbao. You can take a bus from downtown for EUR 1.35 to get to the bus stop nearest to the basilica and then walk a few meters uphill to get there. Its very peaceful inside.
Gerard Fleming (14 months ago)
Passed the church on our walk from Zamudio to Bilboa, the Camino pilgrim route. It was closed but lovely to sit and reflect in the square. Beware it's on a hill so plenty of steps to get here.
Fabian Novoa (2 years ago)
A beautiful church on top of the hill. If you choose to walk it takes about 25 minutes from Casco Viejo. The unique feature of this temple is that the Virgin is at the center of the altar and there are large beautiful paintings worth photographing
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