For years, Basque nationalists have been in the news, often connected to protest and violence along Spain’s border with France in the autonomous Basque Country. These reports have fueled misconceptions about the Basque people, and the Museo Santxotena allows visitors to explore true Basque culture in the outdoor gallery of one of their greatest sculptors, Xabier Santxotena.
The area around the Baztan Valley in Navarre has long been associated with witchcraft. Legend and mythology walk hand in hand with the history of the region, and the Basque people identify with this narrative. Sprawled over 7.5 acres of vast countryside, artist Xabier Santxotena has turned his family’s land into an open-air museum for his work.
Closely following many Basque myths, his work is not only intriguing, but also serves as an entry level course on Basque culture. Filled with many of his massive sculptures, Santxotena works with a number of mediums including metal and wood, and has even constructed man-made waterfalls in the past. The bulk of his work draws inspiration from the characters of Basque legends such as lamias, which are women with the bodies of fish.
Playing off of the immense landscape and mountains in the background, the sculpture garden is meant to be a fully sensational experience. As such, visitors are encouraged to walk directly up to and even touch the works, as they take in the proud work of the Basque artist.