In Spain News’ ‘Around Spain’ series heads to the Basque Country. Spanning three provinces in northern Spain and three in the south-west France, the Basque Country is home to one of Europe’s oldest cultures.
Bay of Biscay at the western end of the Pyrenees mountain range and straddling the frontier between southern France and Spain.
The main Spanish cities are Bilbao, San Sebastian (Donostia) and Vitoria-Gasteiz. In Spain and France, the total Basque Country population totals more than three million people, two-and-a-half million in Spain and 270,000 in France.
Euskera – the Basque language
Linguistically speaking, Euskera does not relate to any other known language, and stands isolated from any living language. It is possible Euskera is the oldest language in Europe.
There are different dialects spoken as the Basque Country, but Euskara Batua was created to link all Basque speakers. Txantangorri is the image of the campaign promoted by the Basque Government to encourage people to speak Euskera. “This is our symbol, an invitation to speak in Basque. Give wings to the Basque language.”
Children learn Euskera in schools, as well as Spanish, to try and ensure the language does not die out. It also helps them identify with their cultural and linguistic roots.
The Basques consider their cuisine as the essence of their culture and origin. The quality of their local products are key to making their dishes incredible and unique. With the perfect blend of sea, mountains and vineyards, their home-made dishes are passed on from generation to generation.
The Basque call their equivalent of tapas “pintxos”. Perfect for nibbling on when enjoying “txikiteo” – groups of friends who drink wine while touring different bars – they are an affordable way to discover Basque gastronomy.
There are also “txokos”, or gastronomic societies where people share their love of food. If you’re visiting the Basque Country, you’ll find many now accept visitors – so pop in and enjoy the local culture.
From Bilbao to San Sebastián and throughout the Basque region, you can enjoy incredible experiences.