The terrible bombing raids suffered by the Basque Country from 22 July 1936 onwards led the Basque government to decree that air raid shelters be built in all towns, regardless of whether they were of any strategic or military value. The Mayor of Gernika instructed municipal architect Castor Uriarte to have at least six shelters built for public use. At the same time, a large number of private shelters were also constructed.
1 - ANDRA MARI STREET AIR-RAID SHELTER
The biggest shelter of all was on Calle Andra Mari, where the tourist information office now stands. Measuring 146 m2, it extended all along the street and was made of thick wooden beams roofed with sandbags. The plan was to reinforce the roof with steel sheets but they did not arrive in time. It was hit by one block-buster bomb and totally destroyed. It was built to hold 450 people and was full to capacity at the time of the bombing.
2 - PASEALEKUA AIR-RAID SHELTER
"The safer shelters were on the west side of the Unión Square. The wall on this side rests against the mountain slope. We just dug four cave-shaped shelters into the mountain slope. They were about 10 metres deep. These four shelters were for the people from the market area and from the Ferial".
Castor Uriarte, municipal architect (1937).
Two of the four tunnels dug in 1936 were reopened in 2018. The smaller of them, which was never finished, now contains a scale model of the shelter as initially built. In the other you can see an audiovisual presentation with light and sound effects showing what it was like for those who sheltered here during the raid.
Opening hours: 11:00-14:00 / 17:00-21:00
3 - THE FORMER ASTRA ARMAMENTS FACTORY AIR RAID SHELTER
The Talleres de Gernika (TdG) factory built two shelters for its workers in September 1936:
These two concrete bunkers were “disguised” under a false roof and as a result were not identified as air-raid shleters by the aircraft that took part in the bombing raid.
4 - TALLERES DE GERNIKA AIR RAID SHELTER