Guernica/Gernika

Today was phenomenal. I know I keep saying that but it’s so true. Everyday I see something new, that I have dreamed about seeing since college, maybe even before that. I took the local train today and went to Guernica (Spanish spelling)/Gernika(Basque spelling). (My trip on the train was very interesting – too long to go into now – ask me when I see you.) In this area of Spain, the people are very different. They don’t even consider themselves to be Spanish. They call themselves “euskaldunak” or people who possess the Basque language. Their language is the oldest in Europe but it has nothing in common with any European language, or any language in the world for that matter. 1 million people still speak it today; I heard several people in Guernica using it. It is hard to describe. The Basque people have produced a few things that are recognizable by the world. The sport jai alai is played by the Basques. This is considered to be the fastest game on earth. They run around a field passing a tennis sized ball using sticks with with curved ends. Saint Ignacio of Loyola was from the Basque country. He was a soldier and after he was injured he devoted his life to God and created his order, which has spread around the world. The real thing that drew me to Guernica was its part in the Spanish Civil War and by association the career of Picasso. In April of 1937, Franco had the town bombed to wipe out an arms factory. All but only a few handfuls of the buildings in the town were leveled. 250 people were killed and hundreds more were injured. In reaction Picasso painted his most famous work, which was exhibited in the International Exhibition in Paris,Guernica. In the town today they have a ceramic replica of the work that hangs today in the Queen Sofia Art Gallery in Madrid.

ceramic replica of Picasso’s Guernica
tree of Guernica, symbol of unity for Basque people

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