2 Ilustrious Characters born in Getaria



Her beginnings in the art of sewing date back to her childhood when she alternated in the sewing workshop where her mother worked. This place was located in the city of San Sebastián, which at that time was where the Spanish aristocracy and royal family spent their summers. Cristobal, with his small but skillful fingers, learned to sew when he was just 9 years old. Over the years she acquired great mastery in the treatment of fabrics, visualizing how the dresses would look on the bodies of the wealthy ladies of the time. In its logical artistic evolution and sought by the highest aristocracy and Spanish royal family, it opened branches in Madrid and Barcelona.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out (1936) he was forced to close his stores, and moved to Paris. Cristóbal Balenciaga opened his Parisian workshop on Avenue George-V in August 1937. He became the best couturier of the time, displaying enormous creativity, creating true prodigies of designs with a special selection and handling of fabrics. Its true growth worldwide focused from 1950 until its withdrawal and sale of the firm in 1968.

Today we have the legacy that this master of sewing has left in the town of Getaria on the Basque Coast route. Being his hometown and where he lived the first years of his childhood, it was decided to create the Balenciaga Museum. Following the route by bicycle, on foot or by car along the Basque Coast road from San Sebastian to Bilbao, we find this beautiful maritime town. Just 300 meters from the main road is the modernist, glass-enclosed museum building. This is attached to the Aldamar Palace, a 19th century building whose owners had supported the young Balenciaga. Adjacent to the mansion, a modern building would be erected, with glass as the main material.

Inside the museum there is a retrospective historical exhibition on the creations and evolution of the couturier. The center has a collection of some 1,200 garments and accessories designed by the artist, which are exhibited on a rotating basis, many of which have been donated by individuals, personalities and with special mention to those donated by Hubert de Givenchy, an outstanding disciple. of the teacher. Other clothes donated by the actress and queen of the principality of Monaco Grace Kelly.

Once the visit to the museum is over, we can relax by visiting the main street of the medieval town, full of bars with fabulous pintxos accompanied by a magnificent Txakoli produced in the vineyards that are spread across the mountains around this picturesque and historic town. This is a mandatory stop on our route along the Basque Coast.

The second illustrious person who grew up in Getaria was D Juan Sebastián Elcano. This great sailor who lived in the 16th century performed one of the greatest navigation feats of the time and in naval history. He was the first person to circumnavigate the world by sea, in an expedition that began in 1519 and ended in 1522.

Elkano enrolled in the expedition, which, commanded by the Portuguese captain Fernando Magellan, left Seville on August 10, 1519. There were five ships that finally left San Luca de Barrameda. After many naval skills, uprisings by the captains, desertion of two ships and some sailors, they were able to reach the strait located between Tierra del Fuego and Chilean Patagonia, in the south of the American continent. For several days they sailed from east to west, and on November 27, 1520 they finally successfully crossed the Strait of Magellan (since named in honor of the Portuguese captain) reaching the Pacific Sea.

After a painful navigation through this wide and unknown sea, they finally reached the Philippine Islands, where Captain Magellan died in an absurd fight between two local indigenous tribes. At this time and place Juan Sebastián Elcano took the control  of the battered expedition and, on a single ship, called La Victoria, a hungry and sickly crew took the route from the Moluccas Islands, following the voyage that the Portuguese ships took in the direction From east to west, 18 sailors finally arrived at the town and port of San Lucas de Barrameda, on September 6, 1522.

A great event that is celebrated every four years (the next will take place on September 6, 2026) and it is a centenary dramatization where the residents of Getaria who have put themselves in the shoes of Elcano and his ragged crew arriving at the port minutes after five in the afternoon and they have walked, before the eyes of hundreds of people, to the town church. From there they went to the monument erected in memory of the sailor after having received representatives from the five continents, also represented by people from the town.

If our route by bicycle, walking or by car runs along the Basque coast we will find a commemorative monument at the entrance of the town with an eloquent Latin inscription that says: Primus circumdidesti me (the First who turned me around).