Basque Ferrerías – Ironworks of the Middle Ages and Beyond

24 02 2010

One of the main characteristics of the Basque soil is (was) its rich content in high quality iron. Up to the XVI century, there were around 300 foundries producing iron for all of Europe. Nowadays, it still plays an important role in our present industrial activity. At the very beginning, the foundries were located on top of the mountains and they used the wind as the main force to produce iron, using coal as the source of heat (in an extreme anti-economical way). Soon they found out that it made more sense to have the ironworks by a water stream, and so “modern” foundries were established in many Basque towns.

I´ve been to two of these foundries, that have been recently restored . You can visit them (visits also available in English) in order to see “live” how iron was formerly obtained, the historical reconstruction is very well performed and what you see is probably very close to what it really was. One of them is near Bilbao, in Muskiz (Bizkaia), Ferrería El Pobal, (this link will redirect you to another page available in English)- press here for a 4´youtube video of a visitor-. You can also see how they got flour with a water mill. It´s cheap and very interesting, kids find it amusing.

The other one is located in Legazpi, Gipuzkoa, where there formerly were 7 foundries. This one is Ferrería Mirandaola, on this link (not the best of webs, but it´s in English too), located in the middle of a beautiful park where you can enjoy the incredible landscape surrounding it.



5 responses

28 05 2010

Saludos, vivo en una zona rica historico y natural, y en la comarca de El Bierzo, tambien poseemos una herreria, “La Herrería de Compluto” (, industria medieval con aprovechamiento energético de agua. No duden en visitarla.

14 07 2010
Eugene Gannon

I want to visit Spain this September for a driving/hiking trip of about seven days. I’m coming from the USA so I will fly into Madrid and then onto Bilbao. From ther I want to rent a car and drive the coutryside, stopping for hikes and to do a loup that would get me back to Bilbao.
Can you advise me on this ?

15 07 2010

Eugene, thank you for posting. Send me a private message to with all the details so I can provide a better answer.

27 06 2013

Its like you read my thoughts! You seem to understand so much approximately this, such as you wrote the ebook in it or something.

I think that you could do with a few % to drive the message house a little bit, however other than that, this is great blog.
A fantastic read. I’ll definitely be back.

13 05 2014
Barbara Chew

Mikel, from ToursByBasques, ( was the PERFECT guide/driver for me!! I contacted him by email, and all his responses were prompt, courteous and informative about private tours.

His customized tour for me started when he picked me up from my hotel in San Sebastian, drove through off-the-beaten-path coastal towns and villages of Getaria (stopping at the wonderful Balenciaga Museum), stopping for lunch in beautiful Lekeitio, quaint Ea and passing other neat small towns, before dropping me off at my hotel in Bilbao. Only an expert would be sensitive enough to realize that this was exactly what I wanted!

Thank you, Mikel, for giving me a greater appreciation of this beautiful Basque area, which should be foremost on anyone’s itinerary; for
sharing your passion, enthusiasm, wisdom, knowledge and expertise; and for inspiring me to return as soon as I can (so I can take more tours with you)!!


San Francisco, California

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