EXPLORE THE AGURTZA, A TRADITIONAL FISHING BOAT
The Agurtza is a fine example of the wooden fishing boats that once operated in our waters. Built at the Murelaga shipyard in Lekeitio in 1968, it was engaged in surface fishing along the Bay of Biscay coast and further afield for most of the second half of the 20th century.
Santurtzi acquired it when it was about to be scrapped and turned it into a fishing interpretation centre.
Wooden structures were erected around the Agurtza to look like the old riverside shipyards that abounded along the coast here until fairly recently.
A unique item
It is one of the last traditional wooden fishing vessels left on our coast, and the only one open to visitors in Bizkaia.
Santurtzi and the sea
The town was one of Bizkaia’s main inshore fishing ports for many years. Up to the turn of the 20th century people fished from rowing boats. These were later replaced by vessels powered by steam or combustion engines which needed smaller crews and could carry bigger loads. Early motorised vessels were built of wood, but were later superseded by iron hulls.
In the peak years there were 50 such vessels based in Santurtzi, with almost 200 people making a living from fishing. The Agurtza has been preserved here to help new generations remember how important this industry was in our past.
Visit the fishing boat Agurtza
This boat has been converted into a museum and interpretation centre focused on the fishing and canning of white tuna. It is the only vessel of its kind in Bizkaia.
Visitors hear about what life was like for crews, the role of cabin boys on board and the tough working conditions of the engineers, and can visit the bridge from where the skipper commanded the vessel. The role of the women on shore is also explained: they sold and marketed the fish, mended the nets, offloaded catches and took care of other day-to-day jobs.
The Mirador del Abra lookout point
The Agurtza stands half-way along the sea-front promenade between the fishing port of Santurtzi and the Puente Bizkaia transporter bridge, at a spot with one of the best views over the El Abra Bay to be had anywhere.
Custom tours in a safe environment
We offer regular tours in Basque, Spanish, English and French, plus customised group tours
We also hold occasional dramatised tours.
Tours aimed at family groups feature a game in which children can build a model of the boat.
Numbers are limited to ensure that visitors get the most out of the experience, but the minimum is just two people.
A safe area
The fishing interpretation centre at the Agurtza Museum Boat has undergone a meticulous external assessment to confirm that it has suitable protocols in place to be classed as a safe area.
It holds the SCTE Safe Destination distinction, awarded by the Secretariat of State for Tourism and Basquetour (the Basque Tourist Agency).
The Agurtza on the European Route of Industrial Heritage
Fishing and industry shaped the landscape and people of Santurtzi.
The Agurtza symbolises the importance of fishing to the town, which was one of the busiest fishing ports on the southern Bay of Biscay coast in the mid 20th century. It is typical of the traditional wooden-hulled vessels that fished out of Santurtzi and other ports along the Basque coast.
Tours include explanations of two fishing methods: Purse-seine fishing is used to capture live bait. That bait is then used to catch white tuna using hooks and lines.
The role of women on shore is also explained: they handled jobs such as net mending, offloading and cleaning of catches and the selling of the fish.
The Agurtza Museum Boat is part of the Basque Industrial Tourism Network, which seeks to highlight the history of the Basque Country.
It belongs to the EUROPEAN ROUTE OF INDUSTRIAL HERITAGE.
It is also a member of the BASQUE COAST MUSEUM NETWORK.