Gernika has one of the few remaining traditional produce markets in the Basque Country. It dates back over 650 years to the founding of the town. In 1366 the founding charter of Gernika granted the town the right to hold a weekly market. People still flock to Gernika every Monday from all over the Busturialdea area to buy and sell fresh produce. The atmosphere is happy and colourful, and until recently the day ended with jai-alai matches on the torn court, which many professional pelota players have described as the best in the world. This court, designed by Secundino Zuazo, is one of the finest examples of 20th century modernist architecture in Bizkaia.
As the old saying goes, Monday in Gernika is a day to enjoy:
The Basque Best of Pyrenean Breed contest takes place as part of the "First Monday in October" cattle fair in Gernika. The event brings together over 100 animals in various categories.
For two days Gernika becomes a focal point of the primary sector and a showcase for a breed developed as a meat animal.
The events begin on the Sunday with the selection of the best animals, and the awards are presented on the Monday.
On both days the event also features tastings of meat from the breed, which bears a designated quality label.
Visitors can also purchase local products such as cider, txakolí wine, bread, gâteau basque, cheese and craft ware from the stalls set up around the marquee where the cattle judging takes place.
Gernika hosts the biggest agricultural event of the year on the Last Monday in October, and this is also one of the largest in the entire Basque Country. It is a traditional Basque market which takes up the entire centre of the town, bringing in thousands of people every year, not only attracted by the top-quality products for sale, but also by the festive atmosphere. Producers sell their wares along the streets in the town centre: Artekalea, Industria, Juan Calzada, San Juan etc. The total number of stalls on the day is around 900, which includes the stalls at the usual Monday market and itinerant stalls.
One of the high spots of the market is the contest and exhibition of cheese, Bizkaia "txakoli" wine, honey, flowers, fruit and vegetables. The jury classifies the produce early in the morning, whereupon exhibitors may sell their wares. The prizes are usually awarded at the famous "Mercury Fountain" around noon. This is followed by the eagerly awaited auction of half of the winning cheese. It is a charity auction and also extremely popular, as bids can run into thousands of euros.
Many other products are sold at the market in the course of the day, such as cider, bread, candies, sweet "rosquilla" rings, vegetables, pâté, preserves, "Eusko Label" quality products, eco-agricultural produce etc. Visitors can also watch typical Basque products being crafted, and the event also features an exhibition of agricultural machinery. "Bertsolaris" reciting spontaneous rhymes and parades bring the event to life. There are also sporting events, with local games of bare-hand or basket-catch pelota. The festive party atmosphere continues well into the night.
Guidelines for your enjoyment of the Last Monday of October: