Getaria, Gipuzkoa

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Getaria view from the sea.
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Basque Country
Province Gipuzkoa
 • Mayor Nika Lertxundi (Bildu)
 • Total 10.6 km2 (4.1 sq mi)
 • Total 2,726
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 20808
Area code(s) 34 (Spain) + 943 (Gipuzkoa)

Getaria is a coastal town located in the province of Gipuzkoa, in the autonomous community of Basque Country, in the North of Spain. This coastal village is located in the Urola Coast, concretely in the middle of Zarautz and Zumaia.

Getaria is known for being Juan Sebastián Elcano’s hometown, who was a well-known seaman for being the first man in the world to go on a round-the-world-tour. He was captain of the Nao Victoria.

Nowadays, Getaria is also famous for its restaurants serving grilled fish and white wine with a protected designation of origin which is cultivated in the surroundings of this coastal town and takes the name of Getariako Txakolina. Moreover, the Cristobal Balenciaga Museum is also located in this village.

Thus, its most famous sons are Juan Sebastián Elcano, captain of the Nao Victoria, Admiral Miguel de Oquendo, who commanded the Guipúzcoa Squadron of the Spanish Armada, the explorer Domingo de Bonechea, and the couturier Cristóbal Balenciaga Eizaguirre.

In May 2012, a two-man team from Getaria won Google's "Model Your Town" competition by creating a complete 3D representation of their hometown.[1] The team was rewarded with a US$25,000 contribution to a local school and a party honoring the team and town.


Apart from the Getaria from Gipuzkoa, there is also another town in the coast at 61 kilometers from this, in Lapurdi (Labourd), the French Basque Country, also called Guéthary. In Basque, however, both are called in the same way. Both villages are located in the Basque coast. However, throughout history, many have been the ones trying to look for the difference of both names. Based on arquelogical findings, today, the most convincing hypothesis is that the name of Getaria comes from the latin word "cetaria". In the classic latin pronounced as [ketaria], it means the name of the place were canned fish is done. Indeed, in both places, evidence of roman installations for doing canned fish have been found.

Another possible origin of its name is that both names come from "guaita" in Gascon language which means “lookout”. During the Middle Ages, various villages on the Basque coast were colonialized by gascons among these villages both Getarias could be found. Therefore, it was believed that Getari could be the result of a mix between "guaita" and "–ari", a suffix that is used in Basque language for professions and would mean the vigilant. For others, though, the name of Getaria would come from the mix of "guaita" and "–erri" which these word put together mean the town of the vigilants.

Traditionally, the name of this location has been written as Guetaria. However, since 1980, the official toponym has become Getaria, which is the adaptation of the modern Basque orthography. Thus, in spanish it is called Guetaria, whereas in Basque, even if it is pronounced in the same way, it is written Getaria.


The municipality of Getaria occupies a section of the central cost of Gipuzkoa in the Cantabrian Sea. This section of the coast consists of a steep ledge on which there have been formed a series of coves and ends because of erosion.

The historic centre of Getaria is located just between the mainland and the mountain San Antón also called the mouse of Getaria due to its resemblance with a mouse. This mountain that characterizes the town, was an island until the sicle XVI.

In the interior part of the town, the mountain Garate (278 m) is located. This mountain runs parallel to the coast and in its smooth skirts some farms that belong to Getaria are located. These farms are tipical from the Basque Country and their name is Baserri.

All the territory situated between the mountain Garate and the cost is sowed of vineyards due to the microclima that this area generates.


Probably, the beginnings of a village inhabited in what today is Getaria could have been in Roman times, as reflected in the finding of an "ace" of the previous pre-imperial era 2 b. C.

The Middle Ages

The village of Getaria was founded between 1180 and 1194 by the king Sancho VI of Navarre, thus, Getaria, along with San Sebastián is one of the oldest towns in the Province. During the second half of the s. XII, the interest for increasing and dominating the Cantabrian ports was a priority for the kings of Navarre .

After Gipuzkoa was conquered around the year 1200, the 1st of September of 1209, being in San Sebastián, the king Alfonso VIII of Castile confirmed his Fuero «eo modo quo rex Navarre illud dedit vobis habendum».

Later on, in the year 1571, the historian Esteban de Garibay in his books called "Compendio Historial", he wrote that in the year 1209, Alfonso VIII gave Getaria the Fuero of San Sebastián. Garibay recognises that the village was a navarre foundation and that Alfonso VIII merely confirmed its jurisdiction.

Finally, the "Diccionario geográfico-histórico de España (1845-1850)" said that in the municipal archives of the villa, a letter dated January 20, 1201 sent by King Alfonso VIII from Burgos was kept. In this letter, it was stated that the inhabitants of Getaria were recognized the right to pasture, water, meadows and forests. Therefore, it s clear that Getaria was founded by the kings of Navarre.

Besides, throughout the history, Getaria has had various privileges, the following are some of them:

1270. Faculty to cut in Gipuzkoa all the wood and firewood they needed to build their houses and ships. 1290. Exemption from tolls and other taxes in the Kingdom of Castile and León, Spain. 1407. The ships that brang wheat and other cereals to the Beach of La Concha and the town dock should download half load.

Regarding the maritime activities, the Middle Ages is known for the interest of Guetaria by maritime activities, making it the main source of income for the town. In the fifteenth century, the gap that existed between the island of Antón and the historic centre is closed. Besides, the harbor is located south of the island, traditionally, this harbour has been a whaling port. Indeed, in 1878, the last capture of a whale between fishermen of Zarautz and Getaria took place in nearby waters, being the latter the ones who managed to take it to the port. Nowadays, it is a major inshore port of the Basque coast.

Thirty Years' War

Regarding the Thirty Years' War, during the summer of 1638 the Cardinal Richelieu had planned a campaign that would annex the strategic territory of Gipuzkoa. For achieving this, he wanted to occupy Hondarribia along with 20.000 soldiers. Besides, he needed a port to harbour a fleet of 50 vessels so as to devastate any relief plan to Hondarribia. Thus, the chosen port for this strategic plan was the one from Getaria. The July 24, 1638 the Spanish fleet commanded by Admiral Lope de Hoces was attacked, this attack was launched precisely from Guetaria. Only survived a Spanish galleon to this attack. However, when the troops of Geoffrey II (archbishop of Bordeaux) tried to take the town, they were destroyed by the defenders of Getaria and Zarautz and reinforcements from neighboring towns. Finally, the village was destroyed by the artillery of the French galleons, but not a single French soldier came close to its walls. Soon after, on September 7, the siege of Hondarribia would fail.

Peninsular War

During the Peninsular War, in 1811 Getaria is occupied by the French troops who leave Getaria in 1813 after having caused important damages.

Carlist Wars

In the Carlist Wars, in 1835 the village is again practically ruined. After being besieged by the Carlists, they finally captured it in 1836 and set on fire from several points, standing alone badly 16 damaged houses. The parish particularly, suffered the effects of the attack, and needed major repairs.


Getaria's principal sources of income are fishing, tourism and the viticulture of the Txakoli.

In the beginning of the nineteenth century, the population of this village worked more on agriculture than on fishing, thus, obtaining the best Txakoli of Gipuzkoa. Nowadays, there is still producing Txakoli but in a smaller amount. Therefore, today, fishing has become the main income source. However, now the fishing sector is in declining.

Besides, in the neighbourhoods of Askizu, Akerregi and Meagas cider is produced.


Municipal elections in Getaria
Political party 2011[2] 2007[3]
Votes % Councillors Votes % Councillors
Bildu 46,67% 5 - -
Partido Nacionalista Vasco (EAJ-PNV) 40,46% 5 62,31% 8
Aralar 9,57% 1 23,04% 2
Eusko Alkartasuna (EA) - - 7,93% 1


  • Getaria. Una Historia desconocida (1397-1797)
  • Celdrán Gomáriz, Pancracio (2004). Diccionario de topónimos españoles y sus gentilicios (5ª edición). Madrid: Espasa Calpe. p. 382. ISBN 978-84-670-3054-9.
  • Nieto Ballester, Emilio (1997). Breve diccionario de topónimos españoles. Madrid:Alianza Editorial. p. 183. ISBN 84-206-9487-8.
  • Idoia Arrieta Elizalde: «Getaria: nafar fundazioa duen hiribildua», BERRIA, 2009-09-08.
  • Arrieta, Idoia: "Donostiaren konkistaren agiri ezkutuaren aurkezpena: ikerketaren ibilbidea eta ekarpen historiko-kritikoa" (pp. 227–248). En: 1512. Los territorios vascos y el Estado navarro. Actas del II Congreso de Historiadores de Navarra. San Sebastián: Txertoa, 2011. p. 234.
  • Martínez Díez, G,; González Díez, E.; Martínez Llorente, F.J.: Colección de documentos medievales de las villas guipuzcoanas (1200-1369). San Sebastián: Diputación Foral de Guipúzcoa, 1991. p. 21.[Dicho libro se encuentra en formato pdf. en la siguiente dirección:]. Citado por: Arrieta Elizalde, Idoia: «Getaria: nafar fundazioa duen hiribildua», BERRIA, 2009-09-08.
  • Idoia Arrieta Elizalde: «Getaria: nafar fundazioa duen hiribildua», BERRIA, 2009-09-08.
  • Garibay y Zamalloa, Esteban de: Compendio historial de las Chronicas y universal historia de todos los reynos de España...(1571), libro XII, capítulo 32, p. 734. Citado por: Arrieta, Idoia: "Donostiaren konkistaren agiri ezkutuaren aurkezpena...Op. Cit., 233.
  • Getaria. La concesión del titulo de "villa"
  • Idoia Arrieta Elizalde: «Getaria: nafar fundazioa duen hiribildua», BERRIA, 2009-09-08.
  • Martínez de Isasi, Lope: Compendio Historial de Guipúzcoa (1625). Bilbao: La Gran Enciclopedia Vasca, 1972. p. 586. Citado por: Arrieta, Idoia: "Donostiaren konkistaren agiri ezkutuaren aurkezpena...Op. Cit., 233.
  • Idoia Arrieta Elizalde: «Getaria: nafar fundazioa duen hiribildua», BERRIA, 2009-09-08.
  • Caro Baroja, Julio: Los vascos y la historia a través de Garibay. San Sebastián: Diputación Foral de Guipúzcoa, 2002. pp. 40–45. [Reedición debido al 30 aniversario de su primera publicación]. Citado por: Arrieta, Idoia: "Donostiaren konkistaren agiri ezkutuaren aurkezpena...Op. Cit. p. 233.
  • Arrieta, Idoia: "Donostiaren konkistaren agiri ezkutuaren aurkezpena...Op. cit., p. 235.
  • Getaria. Una Historia desconocida (1397-1797)
  • Guetaria. (2015, 18 de enero). Wikipedia, La enciclopedia libre. Fecha de consulta: 17:07, mayo 28, 2015 desde


  1. ^ McDuffie, Allyson. Google competition announcement And the 2012 Model Your Town Competition winner is.... Google Lat Long Blog, retrieved 2012-05-18.
  2. ^ Spanish municipal elections, 2011
  3. ^ Spanish municipal elections, 2007

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 43°18′16″N 2°12′13″W / 43.30444°N 2.20361°W / 43.30444; -2.20361