The Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum in Getaria, the cradle of Elkano and txakoli wine
Cristóbal Balenciaga, the haute couture designer known all over the world, was born in Getaria. Juan Sebastián Elkano, the first man to sail around the world, was born there too. A part of the history we know was made in this little coastal village, now surrounded by vast txakoli vineyards. There must be something in Getaria that makes it so special.
Who would think that this charming fishing village with its cobbled streets has been the cradle of innovation for centuries? At the top end of town, a building with an impressive black aluminium façade contains the museum dedicated to the designer known worldwide as Balenciaga. The son of an arrantzale (fisherman in Basque) and fashion designer, he showcased his talent for decades, designing innovative haute couture for the most illustrious personages of his era. A style that captivates us with the embracing atmosphere of the vestibule and the rooms in the museum with their garments, accessories and documentation on the designer, a veritable treasure trove for admirers of the creator and for anyone with an interest in design, culture and fashion.
On the other side of the road dividing up the village, a sculpture of Juan Sebastián Elkano leads us down to Getaria’s fishing and seafaring zone. No matter which street we choose to go down to the port, the smell of grills and the atmosphere of the bars arouse all our senses and we begin to imagine those bygone times of whalers, travellers and a hubbub of activity in the harbour at the end of our journey downwards. There net-women still make the nets used by the fisherman who brave the Cantabrian Sea, looking it straight in the eye undaunted, to bring in a catch that will fill the grills of the restaurants of Getaria. Hundreds of years have gone by, but the essence and the formats remain unchanged.
Above the village, a green carpet lies over the hills, long hectares of vineyards producing the grape for Txakoli, the centennial beverage that originated in this location. After a visit to the Cristóbal Balenciaga Museum, a meal of grilled fish and a pleasant walk on the beach, it is time to go up to any of the Txakolindegis (Txakoli wineries) in Getaria. Enjoying a wine-tasting session in this natural environment, amid a pleasant breeze as we look out at the coast, with the “Getaria Mouse” fronting the Bay, is one of those experiences that reconciles us with life.