Mundaka and Izaro Island

Coat of arms

Location of Mundaka within the Basque Country

Coordinates: 43°24′26″N 2°41′54″W / 43.40722°N 2.69833°W / 43.40722; -2.69833Coordinates: 43°24′26″N 2°41′54″W / 43.40722°N 2.69833°W / 43.40722; -2.69833
Country Spain
Autonomous community Basque Country
Province Biscay
Comarca Busturialdea
  Mayor Aitor Egurrola Mendiola (EAJ-PNV)
  Total 4.15 km2 (1.60 sq mi)
Elevation 3 m (10 ft)
Population (2014)
  Total 1,893
  Density 460/km2 (1,200/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Spanish: mundaqués
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
  Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
Postal code 48360
Official language(s) Basque
Website Official website

Mundaka (Spanish: Mundaca) is a town and municipality located in the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of Basque Country, northern Spain. On the coast, Mundaka is internationally renowned for its surfing scene.

Mundaka is accessible from Bilbao by EuskoTren on the Bermeo line.


Mundaka is known as one of the most important places of the Lordship of Biscay, it was the birthplace of Jaun Zuria, the first Lord of Biscay, son of the Scottish princess who arrived in Mundaka escaping from an English King. The name of the town has Danish origin, it has been proven that the Vikings arrived there 900 years ago. According to the history of the Lordship, Mundaka has the oldest temple of Biscay, as a result, it has the first seat of the General Parliament.

The port is in the center point of the town, from there the old part of the town grew. All the houses are medieval, fishermen's houses, always looking to the sea.

The anteiglesia of Mundaka was already mentioned in the year 1051 in the donation of the Dominion of Biscay to the Monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla and in 1070 in the donation of the aforementioned church to the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña.

Coat of Arms



There is a well-known legend that attributes the name "Mundaca" to the Latin phrase "munda aqua" ('clean water'). This legend appears in the Chronicle of Biscay written by Lope García de Salazar in the 15th century. According to this story, a ship from Scotland carrying a princess who had been banished from her homeland arrived on the coast of Mundaka. The Scots called the place "in their Latin language" (sic) "Munda aqua" since there they had found a source of very clean water that contrasted with the murky waters of the estuary of Urdaibai. This princess would have a son who would come to be called Jaun Zuria and would become, according to legend, the first Lordship of Vizcaya. This legend may also explain why Mundaca is ranked "first" among the anteiglesias of Biscay.

Apart from legendary explanations, the etymology of Mundaka is uncertain. The first written mention of Mundaka dates from 1070, when it was referred to as "Mondaka".

Ego Mome Nunnuç placuit in animis meis mitto in Sancti Johannis de Orioli de Aragone uno monasterio in Bickaga (Vizcaga) in locum quae dicitur Mondaka (Mondacha)

Some have sought a Norse origin for the name, based on the likely presence of a medieval Viking settlement in the area. In Danish, "mund" means "mouth", and "haka" means "promontory, cape". Mundaka lies precisely at the mouth of the estuary of the same Oka river .

Others have related the name "Mundaca" to a stock of Basque toponyms with the endings "-aka", "-eka", "-ika", which are especially abundant in Biscay and which can be linked with the Celto-Italic suffix "-aka". To some the origin of the name would be much older and it could be traced back to an era in which Vizcaya could have been populated by a Celtic people.

Traditionally the name was written as "'Mundaca"', but nowadays it is more commonly written as "'Mundaka"', which is an adaptation to the modern rules of spelling of the Basque language. Mundaka is usually regarded as the formal name in Castilian and Mundaka in Basque. Since 1982 the official name of the municipality has been Mundaka. The new denomination was published in Boletín Oficial del Estado (BOE) in 1989.

The demonym is "mundaqués / a" in Spanish and "'mundakarra"' Basque.

Mundaca, like Munitibar (Munditibar), stem Munio, Mundio (Muniozguren, Munitiz) which means Hill, hillock. Aka is a suffix known as slope, slope, as also is Ika and Eka. And seeing where Mundaca is located this is very logical: slope of the entangled or the Hill. Note the similarity of Mundi and Mendi, as well meaning a hill and a mountain.

Coast near Mundaka, Biscay

Physical Geography

Mundaca borders to the West with the town of Bermeo, to the South with Pedernales, and to the East and North with the Cantabrian Sea. The island of Ízaro (Bermeo) and the extensive Laida arenal are located off its coast. The municipal area is concentrated around the port, at the feet of Mount Katillotxu (337 m) and the alto de Betrocol.

On the beach in Laidatxu flows the stream Errekatxu.

Its coastal location allows you to enjoy a mild climate both in summer and in winter, with infrequent frost.



The area has been populated since the lower Paleolithic, as attest the caves of Santimamiñe on the other side of the estuary and deposits found in Portuondo.

There are speculations with the arrival in the area of Vikings, who according to some authors justify the presence of blond types of blue eyes on the Basque coast, unlike the Basque type of interior. Anton Erkoreka asserts its presence in the 9th century based on Arabic chronicles, medieval stories and other anthropological data, while Jon Juaristi believed to have actually been a few exiled Saxons dethroned by the Vikings.

Before them the Romans arrived attracted by the marble of Ereño and whose presence bears witness to a branch of Roman roads in Balmaseda that reaches Bermeo.

Since the first census that has news until the 1900s (decade), the population increased reaching 2284 residents in 1910, with different ups and downs due to various avatars of the time. In the 1950s, the population had already dropped to 1500 residents, stabilizing the successive censuses around 1650 inhabitants. Since 1990 the town shows a slight positive trend.


The municipal power while the "immunity of Vizcaya" continued was exercised by the inhabitants. These were the only ones who could adopt ordinances, usages and customs that were to govern themselves, due to their nature of autonomous community and without having to submit to the terms for the granting of the Charter puebla, as happened to the villas. Thus, all mundaqueses, including the widows who were head of the family and could vote, gathered in Assembly or "stop cross" to achieve their agreements, chairing the "' faithful Alderman"'. Between the faculties of the faithful was the representation of the autonomous community in the County Councils of Biscay until they ceased to meet due to the abolition of immunity in 1876. Since then, the post became known as Mayor. Since the transition, the Basque Nationalist Party governs the Town Hall with an absolute majority.

Municipal Elections 2011

Four parties stood in the 2011 municipal elections; EAJ-PNV, Bildu, PSE-EE and PP. These were the results:

This gave PNV control of the council. Bildu, a pro-Basque independence coalition, won 3 seats, while PSE-EE and popular failed to achieve representation due to the low number of votes obtained.

Supramunicipal organizations


Distinguished Locals

Culture and tourism


The main dish of its kitchen is, by maritime tradition, fish, and especially the bass of Mundaka.

Monuments and unique buildings

Chapel of Santa Catalina.

Natural spaces



Main article: Mundaka wave

Mundaka is well renowned world wide for its quality of surf. Huge swells roll in from the Bay of Biscay and slam into the rocky coastline of the Basque Country. The estuary at Mundaka has created a perfect sandbar which forms hollow waves that can be watched from the town's harbor wall. Mundaka was formerly one of the sites of the World Championship Tour of Surfing.

Some great surfers have marked their legacy on Mundaka such as Andy Irons, Taj Burrow, Bobby Martinez, Kelly Slater, Mark Occilupo and Joel Parkinson.

Parties and events



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