Home  WHAT TO SEE  Fidel Iturria – Cemetery tourism in Getxo

fidel iturria

Photograph on loan from Getxoko Liburutegiak – Getxo Municipal Libraries

The local council architect Fidel Iturria is the one responsible for a large part of the spatial layout of the cemetery of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, as well as for the cemetery’s finest chapel, which belongs to the Basagoiti Arteta family.

Enjoy the art, the peace and the beauty that emanate from this cemetery that contains some of the province’s finest examples of funerary art. As you stroll around, you are likely to encounter people visiting the graves of their dear departed relatives.

Its spectacular location on the cliffs, one of a group of "coastal cemeteries" that includes others such as those in Bermeo and Lekeitio … Spoiler: if you are here when dusk falls, you will probably have a heavenly experience.

When dusk falls, you will probably have a heavenly experience... This route will show you how the cemetery was designed; you will learn about the forbears of some of Getxo’s most influential families, and you will be enveloped by that aura of spirituality that surrounds burial sites .

Try becoming a “tombstone tourist”, a trend that is gaining in popularity in places such as Bilbao, Paris, Vienna, Rome, Barcelona and Prague!

FIDEL ITURRIA (1860-1922)

During his childhood in his hometown of Tolosa (Gipuzkoa), Fidel Iturria Bizcarrondo showed great interest in building as he watched his father working as a bricklayer. His wish to put his ideas onto paper with pencil, protractor and ruler came true in 1887 when he graduated from the College of Architecture in Madrid.

Fidel was part of that golden age of architecture as a member of the so-called 'Primera Generación del Ensanche' [first generation of the city expansion area], a select group of architects that also included Basterra, Acebal, Ibarreche, Picaza, Achúcarro, Goiri, Edesio de Garamendi, Achúcarro, Smith, Rucabado, Camiña...who, in turn, would pursue their careers at the same time as another famous architect: Antonio Gaudí Cornet.

Although he was born in Gipuzkoa, he spent most of his career working as a parish architect in Deusto, a neighbourhood of Bilbao. His most outstanding project, nonetheless, was the Philharmonic Society building in the city centre itself (1904).

Receiving an annual stipend of 3,000 pesetas (around €18), in 1901 he was appointed municipal architect in Getxo, although he was already working there on a temporary basis. As from 1900, he headed the project for the cemetery of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which would eventually be completed in the spring of 1908. Furthermore, he designed two of the cemetery’s most impressive chapels: one belonging to the Basagoiti Arteta family and the other to Serapia Múgica.

In 1917, Fidel Iturria resigned from his position as municipal architect due to ill health, being replaced by J. Ignacio Smith Ibarra. He passed away in 1922, leaving his mark on Getxo and, in particular, on this mystical place that we are now visiting with him as our guide.

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