Partial view of Durango
Partial view of Durango
Coat of arms of Durango
Durango is located in Basque Country
Location of Durango within the Basque Country
Coordinates: 43°10′8″N 2°37′48″W / 43.16889°N 2.63000°W / 43.16889; -2.63000
Autonomous communityBasque Country
FoundedIn the early 13th century
 • MayorIma Garrastatxu Urbaneja (EH Bildu)
 • Total10.79 km2 (4.17 sq mi)
119 m (390 ft)
 • Total29,636
 • Density2,700/km2 (7,100/sq mi)
Time zoneUTC+1 (CET)
 • Summer (DST)UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
WebsiteOfficial website
Kurutziaga Cross.
Kurutziaga Cross.

Durango is a town and municipality of the historical territory and province of Biscay, located in the Basque Country, Spain. It is the main town of Durangaldea, one of the comarcas of Biscay. Because of its economical activities and population, Durango is considered one of the largest towns in Biscay after the ones that compose the conurbation of Greater Bilbao.

Durango has 29,318 inhabitants (2017).[3] The town is crossed by three rivers (as illustrated in the town symbol). The Ibaizabal river is the main river, and lies in the middle of its wide valley, with the Urkiola mountain range and natural park to the south. The most important peak is the majestic Anboto (1,331 m (4,367 ft) in elevation). In addition, inside the town two mountains stand out: Pagasarri mountain (838 m) and mugarra mountain (453 m).


There are many differing opinions about the origin of the name Durango. Basque linguist Alfonso Irigoyen has suggested its origin to be in the name Duranco, probably used in the early Middle Ages.[4] Other authors suggest the name to be a derivation of Urazango or an evolved form of Padurango. The Royal Basque Academy of the Language postulates that the name Durango stems from the Latin name Turanicus, possibly a Roman fundus like many others in the Basque Country (cf. Kuartango). In the confirmation of the town's fuero it is referred to as Tavira de Durango; Tavira was probably the primitive name of the settlement and Durango the name of the region surrounding it. Until the 16th century, the town was known as Uribarri de Durango, Uribarri being Basque for "New town".


While it is not known exactly when Durango was founded, it was subject to the Kingdom of Navarre, and is attested on an 1179 document revolving around territorial litigation between Alfonso VIII of Castile and Sancho VI of Navarre, The Wise (1150–1194). The impending threat of a military intervention conducted by King Alfonso VIII against the Navarrese led King Sancho VI to found other fortified towns, such as San Sebastián and Vitoria-Gasteiz (1181). Between 1199 and 1201, King Alfonso VIII of Castile finally occupied the lordship of Durango and its hinterland, as well as other key western Basque districts (Álava, Gipuzkoa). Durango went on to form part of the Crown of Castile, but former laws and institutions were upheld by the Castilian king.

In the 15th century, Durango got engaged in the wider War of the Bands, with various conflicts involving the Ibarguen, Zaldibar and Unzueta families. During this period, tower houses belonging to different clans were erected, such as the ones of Arandoño, Asteiza, Etxebarria, Lariz, Monago, and Otalora. Henry III (1393) and Henry IV (1457), the Castilian Kings, were both received in Durango, as well as Queen Isabel of Castile ["The Catholic"] (1483), who enticed Durango and the Lordship of Biscay to her cause in exchange for ratifying their laws and institutions, i.e. she swore the fueros, and favourable trade conditions. According to the municipal records, both monarchs took shelter in the Lariz Tower.

In 1517 Durango was devastated by a terrible epidemic of plague that caused many deaths amongst the inhabitants. Some years after the epidemic, in 1544, heavy flooding inundated a good part of the town. Just the opposite, in 1554 the town was ravaged by fire, burning all wooden buildings to the ground, i.e. virtually all the buildings were burnt down. In 1597 another plague epidemic spread across the town. The Town Hall is recorded to have been built in the 16th century.

The name Durango was used by conquistadores like Francisco de Ibarra to found more Durangos in America named after the Basque original one, e.g. a state in Mexico called Durango, whose principal city is called Durango.

During the 17th century, the town of Durango had to face up to the enormous human and economic cost incurred on the various wars the Crown of Castile embarked upon against France. Following heavy human losses suffered in battles and an episode of cholera epidemic, the town ended up virtually ruined.

At the end of the 19th century, exactly in 1882, the railway line from Bilbao to Durango was inaugurated. While the construction was expensive, during the early 20th century Durango flourished.[5]

Spanish Civil War

The Nationalists started an offensive against Republican held Biscay and 31 March 1937 saw the Bombing of Durango by the Aviazione Legionaria and the Condor Legion. Durango was a town of 10,000 inhabitants and a key road and railway junction behind the frontline. More than 500 people were killed in the bombing and the following days. On 28 April 1937 Durango fell to the Nationalists without much resistance.[6]

Main sights

The limestone summits of Urkiola; Durango is seen in the background.
The limestone summits of Urkiola; Durango is seen in the background.
Panorama of Durango
Panorama of Durango


Durango's economy is mainly focused on the secondary sector, with a longstanding specialization on the manufacturing of machine tools and metallurgy. Tertiary services such as healthcare, education and research and development are also established in the area with an increasing growth.

Durango was for many years the home of Euskal Telebista. This public television company broadcasts in Basque and Spanish. It also has a global presence with satellite channel beamed across the world. ETB has moved to a new headquarters in Bilbao.


In Durango, besides Spanish, the Biscayan variety (bizkaiera) of Basque is spoken, with the characteristics of the region.

Politics and administration

Municipal Elections 2011:

The Plenary Council of Durango (2011–2015)
- Political Party Votes % City councillors Representative
PNV 4.649 33,91% 8 Aitziber Irigoras
Bildu 3.650 26,63% 6 Urdaspal Bolinaga
PSE-EE (PSOE) 1.801 13,14% 3 Pilar Ríos
PP 1.501 10,95% 2 Juan Jose Gastañazatorre
Aralar 1.373 10,02% 2 Daniel Maeztu
EB-B 465 3,39% 0

Municipal Elections 2015:

The Plenary Council of Durango (2015–2019)
- Political Party Votes % City councillors Representative
PNV 5.089 36,98% 8 Aitziber Irigoras
EH Bildu 4.306 31,29% 7 Dani Maeztu
Herriaren Eskubidea 1.842 13,39% 3 Julián Rios
PSE-EE (PSOE) 1312 9,53% 2 Pilar Ríos
PP 960 6,98% 1 Fran Garate

Municipal Elections 2019:

The Plenary Council of Durango (2019–2023)
- Political Party Votes % City councillors Representative
PNV 5.426 35,27% 8 Mireia Elkoroiribe
EH Bildu 4.970 32,30% 7 Ima Garrastatxu
Herriaren Eskubidea 2.515 16,35% 4 Juan Julián Ríos
PSE-EE (PSOE) 1.541 10,02% 2 Jesica Ruiz
PP 697 4,53% 0 Aiala Eguíluz
Vox 111 0,72% 0 Luis Fernando Mancebo



Every half an hour there is a BizkaiBus bus service to Bilbao. There are two routes, one via the AP-8 motorway which takes about 30 minutes. This bus runs on the hour. The other slower crosscountry route stops in all towns and takes about 50 mins. There is also a once an hour bus to Eibar, a neighbouring town of a similar size to Durango.

Buses also run to a variety of coastal villages, such as Ondarroa and Lekeitio (from Iurreta, a neighbouring village part of the Durango conurbation). There are direct buses to Vitoria-Gasteiz and Donostia-San Sebastián.


Trains (from EuskoTren company) are narrow gauge and run on a single track. Durango was cut in two by the railway and seven level crossings caused traffic delays.

7 years after construction began, Bilbao – San Sebastian EuskoTren services started using the new 4 km tunnel beneath the town of Durango on December 17. The €232m project was funded by the Basque government and included the construction of an underground station in the town centre. It allowed for the closure of the original line, which cut through the centre of the town.

The tunnel opened in 2012, 130 years to the day after the first train from Bilbao arrived in Durango, and is a key part of the upgrading of the Bilbao – San Sebastian line, which includes 15 km of track-doubling, elimination of 27 level crossings, and construction of new stations at Euba, Durango and Traña.

Trains run to Bilbao-Atxuri station and Donostia and it is possible to get to Gernika and Bermeo also with a train change at Amorebieta.

Sister cities

Durango has two sister cities.:[8]

Notable people


  1. ^ "Situación y comunicaciones". Durango Udala. 2012. Retrieved 2014-06-11.
  2. ^ Municipal Register of Spain 2018. National Statistics Institute.
  3. ^ "Datos Generales". Ayuntamiento de Durango. 2013. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  4. ^ History of Durango at Durango's City Hall website (Basque)
  5. ^ "Historia". 2010. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  6. ^ Thomas, Hugh (2012). The Spanish Civil War (50th Anniversary ed.). London: Penguin Books. p. 607. ISBN 978-0-141-01161-5.
  7. ^ "Lariz Torre" (PDF). Turismo Durango Udala. 2009. Retrieved 2014-06-10.
  8. ^ http://www.sister-cities.org/interactive-map/Durango%20Bizkaia,%20Spain[dead link]
  9. ^ Hardie, Jane Morlet (2013). "Juan de Yciar and Decorative Traditions in Spanish "Cantorales" of the Long Sixteenth Century: Some Manuscripts from the Sydney University Collection". Acta Musicologica. 85 (2): 149–168. ISSN 0001-6241. JSTOR 24595501.
  10. ^ "Martín Ruiz De Gamboa Berriz | Consejo de Monumentos Nacionales de Chile". www.monumentos.gob.cl. Retrieved 2020-01-16.
  11. ^ Gorriti, Iban (2012-10-29). "Dos mujeres vizcainas, clandestinas de la historia". Nabarralde (in Basque). Retrieved 2020-01-16.