For decades, the symbols of Basque identity were also something of a political lightning rod. Their language, customs and culture have long inspired pride, but a pride once hidden behind the headlines and wrapped in a cloak of conflict to the outside world.
No longer. Now the cultural fabric of the Basque Country shines through clear for us all to come and enjoy.
The Basque Country can now be defined differently: by weekly produce markets and traditional fishing communities; by artisan cheesemaking and designer pintxos; by modern art and cutting-edge wine making; by so much more we could rattle off here.
Right now, our job is to give you a quick insight to whet your appetite. When you get there, it's to bring it all to life with our local friends and partners, in a way that makes it all personal to you.
As you move through it all, it is sometimes difficult to separate the reality from the myth, the facts from the politically-oriented truths, the history from the literature. Although there are no clear answers for everything, we hope that by traveling through the Basque Country with the help of our hosting guides, you will draw your own conclusions and enjoy a culture that has always intrigued us.
To give you just one example, there is the language...
Euskera is completely different from any other Indo European dialect and is still of unknown origin. Their language remains a strong source of pride and identity and most Basques still communicate in a way that is completely different to their neighbours, despite having been integrated into Spain for centuries. This is perhaps because the language sketches out lines of history which separated the Neolithic population of the original Basque people from the rest of the Iberian Peninsula for some 5,000 years, a narrative its people actively maintain.
Of course, trying to explain such a complex issue in one paragraph is futile, so we’ll leave it to your guides on the ground to tell the story if it’s a question you want to ask.
And please do read the other parts of this travel guide if you want a deeper dive into the cities, markets, history, pintxos and winemaking of the Basque Country.