Balmaseda is a town in Vizcaya, Basque Country, Spain. It is a small and charming Basque town near the border with Burgos. Nestled in the mountains, it is an excellent base for exploring the wilderness.
Its toponomy probably comes from a union of the Spanish word val (apocope of valle), meaning “valley”, and the Basque mahatseta, which means “vineyard”, Val-Mahatseta would then mean “valley of vineyards”, which would eventually evolve into Valmaseda, currently in use in Spanish, and Balmaseda, following the orthographic rules of the Basque language.
The Origin of Balmaseda
The territory in which today is located Balmaseda belonged to the valley of Mena, which was already included in the Kingdom of Castile in the 9th Century. Although it was eventually conquered by the Kingdom of Navarre, the Castilians recovered it in 1175, moment when the king handed over the territory to Lope Sánchez de Mena, Lord of Bortedo and kin of the Lord of Biscay. Lope Sánchez founded then the village, probably on the same location of a previous settlement, in one of the banks of the river Kadagua, granting the village the fuero of Logroño. Among the reasons for the foundation of the village were its protected location between mountains and the existence of a commercial road connecting to Castile and Biscay.
How to reach Balmaseda?
- By bus BizkaiBus has service between Bilbao bus terminal and Balmaseda. Balmaseda does not have a bus station, so the drop-off point is the same as the pick-up point.
- By train FEVE runs two trains an hour to and from Bilbao (Santander Station).
Things to see and do in Balmaseda
Amongst city’s landmarks are Puente Viejo Roman Bridge (XIII), Ayuntmiento-Town Hall, Cathedral Iglesia de San Severino (XIV), Church of Sagrado Corazón (Klaret Antzokia), Iglesia San Juan, Iglesia de Santa Clara with museum, Palacio Horcasitas, Balmaseda historical museum, La Encartada beret factory museum, modern court of justice. Balmaseda carries Medieval market in March and San Severino festival on 23 October.
- Ayuntmiento-Town Hall with its impressive columns is a brilliant site to watch. It is definitely unmissable here.
- Puente Viejo Roman Bridge (XIII)
- Iglesia de San Severino (XIV) should not be missed.
- Balmaseda Historical Museum goes well with history fanatics.
- Palacio Horcasitas is a favorite for archaeology lovers.
- Iglesia San Juan
- Ermita de San Roque y San Sebastian en el monte Kolitza
- Iglesia de Santa Clara . It is also a museum
- Medieval market in March must be visited.
- Easter (Semana Santa). Representation of the Last Supper, Judgment and Crucifixion by locals.
- San Severino festival. 18-25 October. Huge festival with dances, concerts, competitions and other sorts of attractions.