The terrible bombing raids suffered by the Basque Country from 22 July 1936 onwards led the Basque government to decree that air raid shelters be built in all towns, regardless of whether they were of any strategic or military value. The Mayor of Gernika instructed municipal architect Castor Uriarte to have at least six shelters built for public use. At the same time, a large number of private shelters were also constructed.
1 - Andra Mari street air-raid shelter- Tourist Office
The biggest of all was the Andra Mari shelter, on the street of the same name, which measured 146 m² and was capable of holding 450 people. The municipal architect covered the whole of the narrow Calle Andra Mari, which ran between the larger streets of Artekale and Barrenkale, with a structure of stout wooden beams on which sandbags were then laid. The plan was for this roof to be reinforced with five layers of steel, but they did not arrive in time.
2 - Pasealekua air raid shelter
"'The safer shelters were on the west side of the Unión Square. The wall on this side rests against the mountain slope. We just dug four cave-shaped shelters into the mountain slope. They were about 10 metres deep. These four shelters were for the people from the market area and from the Ferial'.Castor Uriarte, municipal architect (1937) One of the 4 tunnels dug beneath the arches was never finished. This last tunnel can be visited free of charge during the opening hours of the establishment.
3 - Astra armaments Factory air-raid shelter
The Astra air-raid shelter was built in September 1936 to be used by workers at Talleres de Gernika and other factories in the area. This monument to history lay forgotten until the original “Astra, Unceta y Cía” factory building was demolished in 2005. The concrete construction was camouflaged under a false roof so that pilots could not tell from the air that it was an air raid shelter.