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Air-raid shelters

Just 4 days after the military uprising, on the 22nd of July 1936, the first bombing of Basque territory took place: the bombardment of Otxandio, a town located to the south of Gernika. In the aftermath of this and subsequent attacks on Bilbao, and in anticipation of future bombings, towns throughout the Basque Country began building shelters.

The Basque Government had no option but to order shelters to be built in every town, irrespective of their strategic or military value. In Gernika, the mayor instructed the municipal architect to build at least six public shelters. At the same time, a large number of private shelters were built.

The air-raid shelter in Calle Andra Maria (no longer standing)

Address: Andra Maria

The largest of all the shelters was located in Calle Andra Mari, where the tourist office is located today. Made up of thick wooden beams topped by a roof covered with sandbags, it was so big that its structure stretched the entire length of the street (146 m2). The project included steel sheeting to reinforce the roof, but they did not arrive in time. Moreover, when a blast bomb fell on the shelter, it was completely destroyed. The shelter had room for 450 people. During the bombing it was at the limit of its capacity.

The Pasealeku air-raid shelter

Address: Pasealekua

“The safest shelters were on the west side of Union Square. The wall on that side backs onto the hillside. All we did was dig four cave-shaped shelters in the hillside. They were about 10 metres deep. These four shelters were intended for the people of the market area and the exhibition centre”.

Words of Castor Uriarte, municipal architect (1937)

OPENING TIMES: 11:00 – 14:00 and 17:00 – 21:00

Free entrance

The Talleres de Gernika (TdeG) factory built two shelters in September 1936 to provide accommodation for its workers:

The Astra air-raid shelter

Address: Ibarra kalea 4

The first is known today as the “Astra” shelter, in honour of the emblematic Astra 400 “La Puro” pistol which was manufactured in Gernika during the first half of the 20th century.


The Talleres de Gernika air-raid shelter

Address: Ibarra kalea 17

The second Talleres de Gernika shelter is a 22-metre long by 5-metre wide structure made up of solid, one-metre thick walls.


These two concrete buildings were “concealed” beneath a false roof which prevented them from being identified by the planes that took part in the bombing.


These two shelters are currently closed to the public.

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