Plentzia’s historical quarter offers visitors a charming medieval feel and is a place where colorful, inviting traditional homes of fishermen stand side by side with 19th-century aristocratic mansions and other old buildings. The historical quarter is organized around three main streets which run parallel to the river: Barrenkale, Artekale, and Goienkale, which are in turn demarcated by Erribera, the closest road to the Plentzia Estuary, and the church plaza.
Arriving from Bilbao by metro or by the Algorta highway, the first thing you’ll see is the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), a pedestrian bridge which connects the two riverbanks. Continuing along Calle Kristo Eskailara, you’ll pass through the historical quarter until you reach the Parish Church of Santa María Magdalena, the nucleus of the town. Restored during the 19th century, it was originally built in the Gothic style in the late 15th century. Its bell tower, whose base also serves as an arcade, was finished in 1522 and is clear evidence of the tower’s former defensive function as a lookout point. Inside the church is an impressive polyptych of the Passion (1440-1480), composed of five alabaster panels.
Nearby the church you can find the sole preserved remains of the old defensive wall that once surrounded the town: the Arch of Santiago. Although it is not very noteworthy from an artistic point of view, seeing as it is a simple archway between two buildings, it has an undeniable historical value. Also nearby the church, in Eleiz Plaza, rises Barri Tower. Now a private residence, this noble building made of stone features a coat of arms carved into the façade which has been dated back to 1603 and includes an even older inscription in Basque, which is also preserved.
At 25 Goienkale is Mujica Butrón Tower, a building made of ashlar stonework which is possibly the most spectacular structure in the historical quarter and one of the few that survived the fires. Built in 1562 in a transitional style between Gothic and Renaissance, its construction was ordered by Martín Pérez de Placencia. Until 1922 it housed the town hall (now located in Plaza del Astillero) and it is currently the seat of the Plentzia Butrón Museum. This institution is responsible for recovering and promoting information about the history, traditions, and landscape of Plentzia and the surrounding area.
Nearby Plentzia, you can visit Butrón Castle, a fortress originally from medieval times which was rebuilt in the Neogothic style in the 19th century by the architect Francisco de Cubas y González-Montes, Marquis of Cubas. Its current appearance is striking because it strays from the architectural standards of most castles on the Iberian Peninsula, as its reconstruction more closely followed guidelines typical of Bavarian Romanticism, mixing Gothic, Nordic, and fantastical forms.