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The cross of Gorbeia


pop-cruz-foto1.jpg, a larger image will be opened The Cross of Gorbeia is a metal structure standing on a square plinth whose sides measure 5 metres each. Each of its four feet is embedded in concrete shoes set above the terrain to protect them from corrosion. The north and south feet are in Vizcaya and the south and west feet are in Alava. These feet are set diagonally in the base and they are curved in shape. They have two levels and the interior level gives the structure a horizontal base.

With its curved lines, the metal structure offers a delightful pyramidal perspective that becomes more progressively stylised as height increases. From the top, a Latin cross with a flaming or fiery base and clover-shaped arms points to the east and west. The sculpture used to be crowned with a piece of wire used as a lightening rod. The Cross is currently 17 metres high, though popular belief and several books affirm that the Cross is really 18 metres high.

The reason for the Cross being erected on Mount Gorbeiagane can be found in the recommendation made by Pope Leo XIII to commemorate the dawning of the new century. Several initiatives were taken and monumental crosses were erected on top of the most famous mountains.

In 1899, the priest of Zeanuri decided to follow this recommendation and formed a commission in order to collect funds from believers and Institutions alike. After multiple drawbacks, work began on the 16th July 1901. The different pieces of the Cross, which was going to be 33 metres and 33 centimetres high (in memory of the age of Christ on the Cross), were manufactured in Baracaldo using 13,000 kg of iron and were transported up from Izarra (which was where the train station was located) on the backs of mules and oxen. The initial budget amounted to some 50,000 pesetas and the Cross was inaugurated (before being totally completed) on the 12th of November 1901.

pop-cruz-foto2.jpg, a larger image will be openedOne month later, on the 12th of December, a tremendously strong wind that was to cause uncountable damage throughout Vizcaya was responsible for dashing the Cross to the ground for the first time. The wind bent the Cross some 6 metres from the ground and threw it to the ground to the north in the direction of Aldamin.

Construction work on the second cross began after the winter of 1902. The new cross was going to be 23 metres tall. It was inaugurated on the 1st of October 1903, but unfortunately had no better luck than the first one, falling to the ground on the 12th of February 1906 after having endured a strong wind and rain and snowstorms only a few days before.

Given the results of the previous attempts, the third project contemplated a cross that was not only much lighter in weight, but also reducing its height by almost half (17 metres). The Cross was erected during the spring of 1907, (but this time without a solemn inauguration ceremony).


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