The Sanctuary of Our Lady of the Holly Oak is a majestic Gothic style sanctuary located in the town of Artziniega that houses outstanding artistic elements such as an early 16th century Spanish-Flemish style altarpiece, recognized as an historical-artistic monument, plus the Sacred Museum where it possible to view pieces of great ecclesiastical value.
A more than 500 year old holly oak has its root securely buried next to the temple and this receives special protection as a “Unique Tree”.
The construction of the temple dates from 1498 on a site where human presence and religious worship goes back many centuries further, suggesting that there had been other temples here before. Legend attributes its construction to a Marian apparition that a girl from the village experienced next to the holly oak.
The building falls somewhere between Gothic and Renaissance and various structures and outbuildings, such as the chapels, the doorway or the inn (now a farmhouse) have been added to it over time. In 1882 the primitive bell tower which we know today was erected.
The floor plan consists of three naves of different heights, separated by two sets of pillars and an octagonal chancel, covered by stellar vaults. The south side of the chancel has a large window with a pointed arch and three on the north side with two oculus windows on either side and Gothic rosettes on the north side.
The southern façade has a doorway with pointed archivolts, similar to the northern one, although the latter is far plainer.
With regards to movable heritage, on the left hand side of the church, above the Santa Ana door, are murals depicting the Final Judgement (C16th) . The baptismal font is post medieval, with a basin decorated with a shield, standing on a column with a square base, and with a second C18th-19th neoclassical marble font with a multifoil basin.
The interior of the sanctuary houses works of great artistic value: the Gothic Spanish-Flemish style main altarpiece; the Renaissance chapel of the Christ, opened in 1608; the altarpiece of the virgin of Guadalupe, donated by someone who had made their fortune in the Americas; and the tomb of Bishop Cristobal de la Cámara y Murga.
Guided tours are given
Artziniega is 55 kilometres from Vitoria-Gasteiz, in the north of Álava, and 28 kilometres from Bilbao. From Vitoria-Gasteiz take the N-622 and the A-624, while from Bilbao it can be reached via the BI-636 and BI-2604, or the AP-68. Public transport and train can be used
The Sanctuary of Our Lady of the holly Oak is hardly a kilometre from the centre of the town, on the Coloma y Balmaseda path, and can be reached with a ten minute walk or by car.