Aulesti (also known as Murelaga) it's a municipality of the province of Biscay, in the North of the Basque Country (Spain). It's an small village located in the region of Lea-Artibai, with approximately 654 residents in 2014. The demonym of the inhabitants of Aulesti is “Aulestiarra”. It is 44 km far from Bilbao, the capital of Biscay. A young man called Mikel Ansotegui Jayo is the actual mayor since 2011.
Changes on the population of Aulesti along some years
Together with the localities of Berriatua and Markina, Aulesti is famous because of the professional pelota players that were born there, such as Jose Ramon Uriarte, also known as “Katxin”. Katxin made his début in 1971 in Gernika when he was 15 and a year later, in 1972 he went to Miami, USA, for the first time and he played Jai Alai there, one of the most famous Basque ball sports practised in the Basque Country. He became a Jai Alai professional player during some years but nowadays he is retired. Apart from Katxin, The Ubilla Brothers were also famous in a previous time because of playing another sport related to Jai Alai called “Pala”, which was played almost the same way as Jai Alai, but with a type of racket to hit the ball instead of a “Cesta” .
Aulesti is well known because of other different sports that are practised there, usually with animals and sometimes also with humans. They consist in carrying on a very heavy stone of more than 7 hundred kilos with the only help of your own strength. But the ones who take part in these sports are normally very good prepared and strong persons. These kind of strength sports are called “Traditional Country Sports”. They come originally from the daily work of the basque people when some years ago, they were farmers and they used animals to help them in the forest and in their cultivated fields. In “The Traditional Sports” with animals there is always someone to lead the animal.
The 16th of September, every villager from Aulesti or from other near villages goes hiking to the Urregarai mountain, where you can found Santa Eufemi chapel. Another characteristic of Aulesti is that it’s a village full of little chapels. Some of them are in the mountains around the village. They are very old chapels, from the age of the Romans and they had been rebuilt in the 19th century. There are 9 chapels in Aulesti. Every year, the town council organizes a long walk to visit all the chapels in their territory and it lasts 5 hours more or less.
Famous type of marble
Aulesti has a very characteristic marble in its mountains, the black one. There is a quarry to pull out the marble of the mountains of Aulesti and then they carry it all around the world because it’s a very valued stone. The black marble it’s unusual, there aren’t so many places in the world which have this kind of stone. That’s the reason why it’s very demanded in the construction sector in special buildings and expensive houses.
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