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Culture and Customs

A profound respect for traditional values is an essential feature of life in the Basque Country. The Basques have maintained strong links with their immediate environment, the sea and the soil. The two elements have played an important role in shaping the Basque way of life, their distinctive culture and their sports and games.

Some of their traditional sports have travelled beyond the borders of the Basque Country and become major sporting events in their own right in Europe, Asia, the United States and South America. One sport in particular, Pelota, (played either with wicker basket, a heavy wooden bat or with the hand) keeps fans happy in the frontones or Jai-Alai (as pelota courts are sometimes known) the world over.

deporte rural vasco Other sports and games have remained firmly within the boundaries of the Basque Country. These include stone-lifting, stone-dragging (with oxen), log-cutting and fixed-seat longboat regattas.

danza tipica vasca Together with this kind of tradition-as-sport, the Basques have long been addicted to listening to and making music . Like the Welshman, the Basque is famed for his enjoyment of unaccompanied song, usually in massed choirs.

Dance, too, is still very much a central part of Basque life. Basque dance is inspired by a sense of ritual that evokes daily tasks, religion, courtesy or love; this sense of ritual still goes a long way to defining the Basque character.

Furthermore, there are several historical attractions such as dolmens, cave paintings, cromlechs and Gothic, Romanesque and Renaissance churches.

Innovation in terms of cultural infrastructures is also permanent: the prestigious and renowned Bilbao Guggenheim Museum, the avant-garde design by Frank Gehry; the Kursaal, the venue for the San Sebastián International Film Festival - Zinemaldia and the Artium Museum of Vitoria - with creative genius being represented by great writers such as Pío Baroja, Miguel de Unamuno, Ignacio de Aldekoa and, more recently, Bernardo Atxaga and Unai Elorriaga; painters such as Zuloaga, the Zubiaurre brothers and José Mª Urcelay; musicians such as Maurice Ravel, Usandizaga, Arriaga and Guridi; and contemporary artists such as Chillida, Oteiza and Basterretxea.


Fecha de la última modificación: 20/06/2007