Regarded as one of the most significant palaces in the Basque Country

Zubieta Palace History

Since time immemorial, Zubieta Palace has belonged to the lineage of the Adan de Yarza family. Since the Middle Ages, it served as a tower, with one of its bases still preserved. This impressive structure overlooked the road leading to the interior of the estuary and the small port of Arropain.

The magnificence of the building and its unparalleled setting alongside the Lea River designate Zubieta Palace as the most significant rural palace in the Basque Country. While the palace itself is not open for public visitation, it is accessible for events and weddings (www.palaciodezubieta.com).

Inspired by the European ruralist movement, Miguel Velez de Larrea commissioned the construction of the current palace in 1716, using plans by Churriguera and skilled craftsmen such as Abaria, Zaldua, Malaxbeitia, Amezua and Monasterio.

Although the Vélez de Larrea estate was significant, the estate owned by Jacinta Adán de Yarza, whom he married, was even larger. It was this marriage that resulted in the construction of Zubieta and Urgoiti Palace.

Several distinguished members of the Adán de Yarza family resided in these palaces or the preceding towers, including Rodrigo Adán de Yarza, who had begun to make a name for himself in history as the mayor of the Fuero de Bizkaia since 1338.

During the Late Middle Ages, members of this lineage participated as Lords in the Banderizo wars, usually siding with the Oñacinos faction.

Another historical curiosity is that Pedro Adán de Yarza served as one of the mayors of Bizkaia, negotiating with the King under the Gernika tree – the initial codification of the Basque Fuero in 1342. Later on, Mario Adán de Yarza attended the April General Assembly of 1877 as the Deputy General of Bizkaia to the same location to oppose the Law that abolished the Fueros. Nevertheless, in that same year, the Fueros were abolished and the General Assembly of Bizkaia was dissolved.

The remarkable services rendered to the King deserve special mention, particularly those of Rodrigo Adán de Yarza, who served as: secretary to the Catholic Monarchs from 1487, president of the Royal Treasury, of the Indias and their Royal Council. He is also credited with involvement in the conquest of Granada, Seville, or the defense of San Sebastián. Additionally, he held the positions of Admiral and Captain General of the coasts from Bizkaia to Portugal. Similarly, Antonio Navarro de Larreategui (1554 – 1624), who changed his surname to Adán de Yarza, served as the secretary to King Philip III, secretary of the royal archives of Simancas and secretary to Prince Filiberto Manuel de Saboya. He was also the mayor of Logroño and Lord of Los Arcos and served as the Provost of Lekeitio like his predecessors.

History - Hotel Zubieta

Francisco de Mendieta
Kissing the hand of Ferdinand V by the people of Bizkaia in 1476, 1609
Bizkaiko Batzar Nagusiak / General Assemblies of Bizkaia

In the late 1780s, Francisco de Goya, who was then the court painter, painted portraits of Antonio Adán de Yarza, his wife María Ramona de Barbachano and his mother Bernarda Tavira. These individuals were members of this distinguished Basque family, which also played a significant role in promoting and advancing sciences, literature and arts. Antonio was a member of the Royal Basque Society of Friends of the Country and one of the promoters of the first theater in Bilbao, which was built in 1799 and named Coliseo.

Carlos Adán de Yarza (1812-1863), a liberal politician and fueros supporter, mayor of Bilbao and General Deputy of Bizkaia, deserves special mention. He devoted himself to experimenting with new tree species by planting trees in Bilbao and Bizkaia, as well as in the garden of Zubieta Palace. Additionally, Mario Adán de Yarza (1846-1920), who also served as General Deputy of Bizkaia, shared his father’s botanical passion. He introduced and began the industrial exploitation of the Monterrey Pine or Radiata Pine. After a trial in the gardens of Zubieta Palace and later using the grounds of Urgoiti Palace, he introduced the species, known as “green gold” for its reforestation of the mountains of Bizkaia and the wealth it brought to rural soil, which had been damaged by prolonged overexploitation.

Zubieta was a favored gathering place in the 19th and early 20th centuries when Lekeitio became a summer retreat for royalty. Queen Isabel II embarked on her long exile from here during one of the summer seasons, while Empress Zita of Austria regularly visited every afternoon for tea.

In 1997, the former stables of the Palace were restored, giving rise to the charming 3-star Hotel Zubieta, located at the entrance of the palace gardens.


History - Hotel Zubieta

María Ramona de Barbachano
c. 1787-1788
Oil on canvas. 114.4 x 83.6 cm

History - Hotel Zubieta

Antonio Adán de Yarza
c. 1787-1788
Oil on canvas. 114.4 x 83.6 cm

History - Hotel Zubieta

Bernarda Tavira
c. 1787-1788
Oil on canvas. 76.6 x 59.3 cm

These are three portraits painted by Goya: Antonio Adán de Yarza, his wife María Ramona de Barbachano and his mother Bernarda Tavira, members of this illustrious Basque family.

These paintings were most likely executed in Madrid around 1787-1790, a period during which Goya undertook an intense portrait activity while serving as the King’s court painter.

The portraits remained in the family home, Zubieta Palace in Ispaster (Bizkaia), until the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War, when the Basque Government removed them for protection and transported them to Paris to participate in the 1937 Universal Exhibition. Without being exhibited, the three paintings were returned to their rightful owner, María Adán de Yarza, who was a refugee in the neighboring country.

After 80 years, in 2019, the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum presented these three unpublished portraits to the public for the first time, along with documentation detailing their unique history. They can currently be admired at the museum in Bilbao.