The Castle Hill

Being only 95 metres above the Historical City, due to its geographic emplacement, el Cerro dominates and protects the primitive settlement of Balamseda. Not in vain, it is located in at the foot of its southern slope, where the river Cadagua converges with its waters.

Due to its strategic location overlooking the Historical City and the valley, it was the gateway from Castile to the sea. In fact, the hill was a castellated fortress from early times, presenting a set of defensive constructions whose main nucleus was erected on the top of the hill. Furthermore, it is known that by the end of the 13th century the perimeter wall defences of the castle extended from the top of the hill to completely surround the Historical City, even protecting it from sporadic floods from the river.

Since then, the Cerro del Castillo has played an important role in the different and very diverse historical conflicts that the inhabitants of this territory have had to endure and which have also had their effects on the morphology of the defensive complex. The complex was modified on several occasions and, after the Carlist Wars, it fell into disuse, was dismantled and used as a source to supply part of the Historical City’s need for masonry material.

Doomed to oblivion, the fortified square of Balmaseda and its castle had been the cause of countless misfortunes and disgraces for the population, a magnet of conflicts that shook these lands at different times, but above all throughout the turbulent 19th century.

Now these remains, together with the surroundings of the hill and its landscape, are presented to us as an opportunity to better understand the past and recent history of this Historical Village, which for centuries was one of the main gateways to Bizkaia. With the goal of recovering and enhancing the value of this cultural, historical and landscape ensemble, Balmaseda Town Council has recently signed an agreement with the UNESCO Chair in Cultural Landscapes and Heritage (UPV/EHU) to promote a series of studies and projects that will allow us to discover more about this heritage asset and bring it closer to society as a new open, accessible and informative socio-cultural space.