Basque Country Must Sees

Every year Dr. Herrera takes a group of graduate students to the Basque Country, in north of Spain to explore a successful truly democratic model of organization. Through participation in this course, students open their minds to the co-operative model of leadership, a model that was built (and remains functioning ) on principles of cooperation, participatory management, payment solidarity, and social transformation. The Mondragón cooperative is today one of the leading Spanish business groups, integrated by autonomous and independent employee owned cooperatives with production subsidiaries and corporate offices in 41 countries and sales in more than 150.

Since we understand that the course itself is only part of the experience, we have compiled a list of MUST SEES in the region to maximize your time and enhance your cultural exposure while abroad.


Guggenheim Museum- Frank Gehry’s architectural masterpiece, said to be one of the most important structures of its time.  In addition to its artistic accomplishments, this museum is attributed with revitalizing and transforming the city.  The building and its extensive collection of modern and contemporary art are must-sees.

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

The Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao

Casco Viejo – The old town and medieval neighborhood of Bilbao. Beautiful architecture, full of little bars, shops and restaurants.

Plaza Miguel de Unamuno – Visit this bright, open plaza named in honor of Bilbao’s greatest intellectual.

Parque de Doña Casilda de Iturrizar – A whimsical, peaceful park with an English-style garden.  Relax in the open, green area and enjoy the fountains and large duck pond.


La Concha Beach – A crescent shaped beach with clean, blue waters framed by a mountain and the old city.  Enjoy the coastal promenade walkway and check out the nearby restaurants and bars.

Dr. Herrera with students in San Sebastian

Dr. Herrera with students in San Sebastian

Parte Vieja – The old city is located between the harbor and the Urumea river.  Wander through the streets to see the characteristic shops and pintxo bars.

Monte Urgull – This mountain, located across the gulf, offers a variety of nature trails with views of the surrounding bay and city.  Take a 20 minute walk to the peak and enjoy a sweeping view of San Sebastian and La Concha beach.

MONDRAGÓN: Opening eyes to co-ops

Interesting facts:

  • Cooperative initially started in 1941 by Catholic priest, Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta
  • 147 companies
  • 80,000 workers
  • Salary Range: the highest paid worker can never make more than 6.5 times the lowest paid worker.
Students gather around Don Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta's statue - founder of the Mondragón corporation

Students gather around Don Jose Maria Arizmendiarrieta’s statue – founder of the Mondragón corporation

PAMPLONA: La Fiesta de San Fermín!

Famous 8 am daily event in Pamplona - running with the bulls !

Famous 8 am daily event in Pamplona – running with the bulls !

About an hour south of Mondragón is Pamplona, a city that welcomes hundreds of tourists each year for the famous San Fermín celebration. San Fermin is internationally known for the event of the running of the bulls, where the bulls are let loose through some of the streets of the old part of the city. The runnings of the bulls take place from the July 7th to July 14th at 8.00 am in the morning.

If you are going to be in North of Spain during the San Fermín celebration and would like more information about the event click here.

 Food in the Basque Country:

It has been said that San Sebastian has the best food you will ever eat. In fact, with its nearly 40 Michelin starred restaurants, the Basque Country is one of the best fine dining destinations in the world. From traditional to experimental dishes, it’s all here.

Here is a small list of the MUST EATS:

Pintxos – Basque tapas

Txikiteo is the Basque word for pub crawl. It is a ritual rooted in the values of cooperativism (and solidarity) itself since locals prefer to eat only a few pintxos in one bar and move on to the next one (and another one after that, and another one) in order to give business to their entire community.


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Seafood – balacao (cod); marmitako (fish stew)


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Wines – Txakoli (dry, sparkling wine w/ high acidity)

wines in the Basque country

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For more information on the Basque cuisine check the links below:


We look forward to seeing you all in Bilbao next week!

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