The Gernika Market
One of the few remaining traditional markets in the Basque Country
“Lunes gernikes, kolperik ez” - Mondays in Gernika, not a stroke of work.
Until the mid-20th century, Gernika’s weekly Monday market was held in the open air - there simply was no covered area that could house it. After the town was bombed in 1937 and during the rebuilding that followed, the Devastated Regions and Repairs Department drew up plans for an enclosed market, which was completed in 1943. Around the end of the 1980s, in view of the deterioration the building had suffered (partly due to the passage of time and partly to the low quality materials used by Devastated Regions Department), the City Council decided to tear it down and build a new one.
This new market opened in 1991 and continues to this day.
Every Monday, people from all over the Busturialdea region flock to the Gernika market to buy and sell agricultural products. This Monday market might well be defined as a meeting point for the locals, and the fact is that it does still fulfil a social function just as it did decades ago, when people weren’t able to get around as much as we can today, and Mondays were used not only to buy and sell goods, but also to socialize. This is one of the few traditional markets that are still held in the Basque Country and it’s a day with a colourful and cheerful atmosphere that culminates with cesta games in the Jai-Alai Fronton. As the old saying goes... “Lunes gernikes, kolperik ez”, in other words, “Mondays in Gernika, not a stroke of work”.
If we really want to understand the concept behind Gernika’s Monday market, we’d be best advised to consider its motto: “Baserritik Plazara”, in other words, “from the farmhouse to the market square”. This is a reference to the fact that the only people who can sell goods at the Monday market are producers who have their own farms, resellers aren’t allowed.
Did you know that in Gernika there is a person they call the “regatera”?
Some producers in the region are not allowed into the Gernika market. So the “regatera”, shall we say, the “haggler”, goes around all these farmhouses buying up their surplus produce. Then he sells all these products in the market square, thus making sure that the local landscape is maintained and taken care of, as otherwise it would be littered with wilting vegetable gardens and produce going to waste. The real gardeners of Urdaibai are the farmers themselves, who take care of the land and their vegetable gardens.
The Monday market is open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., although traders may sometimes pack up their stalls earlier or later than that, depending on how the day’s sales have been going. Monday is the best day of the week to come to Gernika. Experience Monday in Gernika for yourself!
Special Saturday Fairs
These are themed markets that promote a different local product on the first Saturday of every month from June to December. These markets are open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
- If you have children: the market is held in a covered building and there are bouncy castles to make sure they have a good time as well.
- You can of course taste all the products that are being promoted: for example, txakoli from the different wine producers of Urdaibai, a tasty dish of cod or beans, fried green peppers... And all this for just 4 or 5 euros. Fancy a bite?
- You can also buy locally produced “KM0 delicatessen” products, such as: pâté, Basque cake, cheese and the best vegetables of the area, so come on, treat yourself!
The first Saturday of each month
- Idiazabal cheese and Txakoli from Urdaibai: Buy yourself a glass and enjoy the unique taste of the Txakoli offered by different producers from the Urdaibai region, but in moderation, mind, Txakoli is strong, it contains around 9 to 11 percent alcohol.
- Gernika peppers: Fancy a dozen or so fried green peppers? Don’t worry, our peppers don’t sting!
- Cod and Rioja wine from the Alavesa region: It tastes just as good as it looks in the photo! Full of flavour and full of substance!
- Rabbit and cider from Vizcaya: Help yourself to a dish of rabbit stew and pour yourself a glass of cider to wash it down. I rest my case...
- Sukalki Day: “Sukalki” is a veal stew cooked with peas, potatoes and carrots (and other vegetables besides). If you’ve never tried it, then today’s the day!
- Gernika beans: Beans are undoubtedly Gernika’s star product, and the season starts in November. So now you know! If you fancy a splendid dish of Gernika beans, you’ve a date here in November!
- The Snail Fair: Snails are a staple on the Christmas table in lots of homes throughout the Basque Country. That’s why the year’s last special market is dedicated to this mollusc, which is usually cooked in a sauce - people say it’s the best part of the stew.