Going to Guernica is a powerful reminder of the horrors of war but an encouraging sign that cities can recover and grow again. This is an easy 45 minute bus ride from Bilbao and makes a nice day trip, where you can also visit the internationally-minded Peace Museum, see the jai alai courts and wander through through the parks and old streets.
Though currently small in stature, the Oak of Guernica (Gernikako Arbola in Euskara) has symbolized both Guernica and Biscaya since the 14th century. This oak is the 4th generation of the original and stands next to the regional assembly house, which showcases key moments in Basque history and still serves as the regional seat of government.
Forever memorialized by Picasso, Guernica was attacked without warning on April 26, 1937. German and Italian planes leveled the city on a crowded 'Market Day.' However, the Oak survived, and local soldiers made a point to put armed guards around it to prevent nearby pro-Franco forces from destroying the symbol of Basque identity.