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Durangaldea, a landscape of stone

Durangaldea harriaren hobia

Biscay is a region of singular geological interest and throughout history has been a source of a variety of natural materials. The most well-known of these is iron ore, though limestone, slate, sandstone, marlaceous lime, loam, basalt and gypsum have also been extracted over the years. Quarries in places like Markina-Aulestia, Arteaga-Ereño and even in Durangaldea (Abadiño and Mañaria) were used to extract rocks that were later polished and sold as ornaments.

The quarries in the Urkiola Natural Park were a source of a type of marbled limestone with very special hues, each with its own name: Negro Markina, Markina Florido, Rojo Ereño and Gris Mañaria.

The Atxa-txiki and Atxarte de Abadiño quarries were operational until 1995. Even today, the quarried zone has still not fully recovered.

The Mañaria quarries were in use until not that long ago and they have a longer history.

Quarries owned by the companies Amantegi, Mutxate and Zalloventa worked the hillsides of Mugarra, Untzillaitz and Eskubaratz. The Mañaria marble quarries started working in the 18th century and before long their black marble with white veins became hugely popular. The quarries were originally under community ownership such that any resident of Mañaria could benefit. However, the crown made special orders of this exceptional marble and the quarries were allocated for the crown’s own use, preventing local people from benefitting. The orders kept on coming and the marble was transported beyond the borders of the province. It was used to make the 22 columns of the Royal Palace of Madrid and the table in the San Millán de la Cogolla monastery in La Rioja. One of the columns destined for Madrid broke on the journey and can now be seen beside the Galtzada country house.

The quarries were used for marble until 1974 and subsequently used for limestone instead. The quarries of Mañaria were located at different levels on a high point near the town centre. The oldest quarries were next to the Azkoiti country house and Iturreta, and the more recent Angurreta and Larreta-Atxoste quarries were nearby.

Angurreta Harrobia art space

The Espacio de Arte Angurreta Harrobia (Angurreta Harrobia art space) is the result of recovery works in recent years by the association of the same name. After 50 years of stone extraction, the arduous task began of restoring the environment. The quarry that was once the source of the Gris Mañaria limestone is now a space for contemporary art and for enjoying nature, created by artist Victor Arrizabalaga from Durango, who acquired the space in 2018. Arrizabalaga designed a 16,000-square-metre space that would house artistic and cultural activities. In addition to promoting art, the association raises awareness of why the Mañaria quarries were important to the town and the region.

Exhibition: La huella del tiempo (The Mark of Time)

A space that was once a rural quarry can now be beautified, elevated and enhanced by people. Such has been the approach of Japanese artist Tadanori Yamaguchi, whose exhibition will run for the next three years. The exhibition titled La huella del tiempo (The Mark of Time), inaugurated in May 2023, comprises a series of sculptures created by the artist specifically for this space as testament to the passage of time. The sculptures are polyhedral and made from aluminium, each one created by the artist for the precise space where it would be located. Each piece highlights a specific part of the quarry and they all place stone and the environment in dialogue with one another. Each space has its own piece: Prisma de luz (Prism of Light) provides a window through which to observe the hill called Eskuagatx; Torrente (Torrent) hangs on a wall; Masa (Mass) is the same shape as the stones extracted from the quarry; and Magma is suggestive of a bubbling flow. In addition to the sculptures by Tadanori, there are also pieces by Victor Arrizabalaga himself.

Durangaldea harriaren hobia

When to visit

Monday to Friday, 17:00 to 19:00.
Saturday, Sunday and holidays, 12:00 to 14:00.

Visits are free and accompanied until the end of September. Guided visits cost 5 euros and must be booked in advance. From October, visit requests should be made in writing to angurreta@gmail.com or by calling +34 656738324.

How to get to the Angurreta Harrobia art space.

The area around the art space is also worth exploring.

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