On 26 April 1937 Gernika suffered a terrible attack that was to mark its future forever. Málaga-born artist Pablo Picasso immortalised the barbaric bombing raid in his internationally famous work Guernica.
The Assembly House stands on a site that has been a rendezvous point for representatives of the villages and parishes of the area since time immemorial. They have been meeting here since before there was an actual building. Initially they gathered under a tree that became known as the Tree of Gernika.
Monday is the best day of the week to visit Gernika and see one of the few surviving traditional produce markets in the Basque Country, which dates back 650 years. Experience a Gernika Monday!.
Since time immemorial, Gernika has been a place laden with symbolism and significance for all Basques: a symbol of democracy and historic rights. Nothing could have hurt the Basque Country more than the destruction of Gernika, the town where the first Basque Premier was sworn in under the famous Tree.
The international press told the story of the bombing of Gernika as high-impact, front-page news, stressing the disproportionate force of the attack against such a small, defenceless target. The bombing inspired Picasso to paint his Guernica, a masterful depiction of the horrors of war and perhaps the most famous painting of the 20th century.
It was on 26 April 1987, the 50th anniversary of the bombing, that work began in the town to instil the values of a culture of peace and reconciliation. It was a task that was to be recognised by UNESCO, which awarded Gernika-Lumo the Cities for Peace prize for Europe. Since 2005 the "Gernika Peace and Reconciliation Award" has been presented annually to continue fostering the values of a culture of peace from this small Basque town, which looks to the future without forgetting its past.