A great visit to the Basque Museum with students of our Spanish courses

09 Mar 2017

Today, our students enjoyed a fascinating and worthwhile trip to the Basque Museum situated here in Bilbao. Thanks to Instituto Hemingway, they were able to enter the museum entirely free of charge and learn all that the Basque Museum has to teach.

Opened in 1921 and found right within the Casco Viejo, it consists of three floors all dedicated to telling the story of the Basque Country and its culture. In the inner courtyard lies perhaps the museum’s most precious and famous attraction, the Mikeldi Idol.

Known more commonly as simply the Mikeldi, it was first found in the 17th century next to the ruined hermitage of Mikeldi, located in the Biskaia region. It is thought to date back to between the 4th and 2nd centuries BC. Made from a single block of sandstone frequently found in the Durango area, the Mikeldi represents a male hog, which under its stomach holds a disc. On the animal’s back and right side there are etchings said to have magical and religious significance.

The first mention of the Mikeldi came in the 17th century when Gonzalo de Otalora declared he had found “a great stone, of monstrous shape and size representing a rhinoceros holding a very big globe between its feet. On it are incomprehensible yet remarkable etchings…there are no records to help explain it, but it is undoubtedly an ancient idol

However, there was no further mention of the artefact and it is thought that it must have been buried throughout the majority of the 19th century until it resurfaced in 1896. It was then positioned next to the hermitage of San Vicente de Mikeldi where it remained until it was moved to the Museum in 1920.

The ancient sculpture has since been analysed and now far more is known about it’s origin and meaning. Attributed to the Second Iron Age, Mikeldi is one of a few zoomorphic sculptures from the Meseta region. In this area, comprising of modern day provinces such as Segovia and Salamanca, you can find over 300 of these sculptures. Their purpose is still not fully known, however few explanations have been suggested. It is thought that perhaps they were boundary markers, representing the border between lands or that they had magical qualities and were used to protect livestock.

The Mikeldi is one of the most ancient and impressive zoomorphic sculptures around today and you can see it with us at Instituto Hemingway. Every afternoon we offer free, cultural activities to all of our students designed to help you get to know this fascinating region of Spain. If you would like to join us at Instituto Hemingway, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with us via email at info@institutohemingway.com.

We hope to see you soon!

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