Villa médiévale

Convent of Saint Augustine

The church in the Middle Ages

Plaza Berria

Early 20th century

Beroitz Etxea

High society


Defensive Hernani

Saint John church

A church for the people

Town Hall

Carlist Wars

Andre kalea


The Arch

The Hernani wall


From "hermandades" to councils

Andre kalea


Andre kalea is the “other” street that made up that medieval Hernani. Looking at the buildings, it is easy to conclude that Kale Nagusia was the street of the wealthy:successful merchants and aristocracy, mainly. In Andre kalea lived the humbler working classes, in simpler houses. They were originally two-storey buildings; the ground floor was used to store perishable foodstuffs and cider, and the living quarters were upstairs.

Most of them are separated by a firewall; fires have been a constant in Hernani’s history, and curbing their destructive power, a real obsession. The 1542 Ordinances already stated that the houses had to be built in “lime and stone”, avoiding wooden constructions. The Council also assumed the costs of extraordinary measures, such as the demolition of houses adjacent to a fire source, or, given that access to water was difficult, the use of cider as a means of smothering the fire.

Cider is part of Hernani’s identity. The Greek geographer Strabo, in the 1st century, spoke of “a special potion made with pieces of apples boiled in water and a little honey”, which the Vascones drank and called “phitarra”. Since then, there are numerous historical documents and travellers’ accounts that speak of enormous extensions of apple orchards and the use of cider as a common drink among the people. The production and consumption of cider became so important that separate legislation was needed to protect the farms and the quality of the cider. Thus, in the 16th century, heavy penalties were imposed on anyone who mixed cider with water, and anyone who destroyed apple trees or barrels could even be sentenced to death or banishment. Since the 15th century, the order of sale was established by drawing lots. The kupelas were sealed, and until one producer’s was finished, the next producer’s was not started. Likewise, as long as local cider was available, no foreign cider could be consumed. The selling price was established by mutual agreement: on the one part, the representative of the producers, and on the other, the representative of the consumers. In case of disagreement, a third authority intervened. The opening of the season was quite an event: The bells were rung and it was announced by means of a municipal proclamation.

Perhaps the most interesting chapter, however, is the link between cider and Basque seafarers. The Basques learned navigation and shipbuilding techniques from the Vikings. From the Middle Ages they traded whales, becoming the world leaders in this industry. It was in search of fishing grounds that they reached the North Sea, Iceland, Greenland and finally Newfoundland, possibly in pre-Columbian times.

These were complex expeditions lasting several months, where drinking water was a problem, as it became corrupted over time. The solution was a mixture of water and cider. It is estimated that each seafarer drank about three litres per day, totalling 50,000 litres for 8/9 month expeditions. Probably without knowing it, cider provided them with the nutrients and vitamin C they needed to avoid getting sick and scurvy.

Nowadays, the start of the cider season – the “txotx” – has become a social event, which transcends our territory, and the sagardotegis and the consumption of cider has become normal throughout the year.

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