Located in the Medieval centre of the city, the Palace of Arrieta-Maestu or Palace of Bendaña houses the collection of the Fournier Playing Card Museum of Álava
This really took off in 1916 when, following the death of Heraclio Fournier, his grandson Felix Alfaro Fournier took control of the playing card factory. His passion as a collector, together with a professional interest as a manufacturer, brought about the beginnings of this collection, which has gradually grown thanks to various acquisitions and donations.
Of major importance was the purchase of the Thomas De La Rue collection at an auction in 1970, which up until then had been held by the British Museum. With this acquisition the collection boasted some of the oldest examples of playing cards preserved in Europe.
Palace of Bendaña
The Palace of Arrieta-Maestu or Palace of Bendaña is located in the eastern part of the Medieval centre of Vitoria-Gasteiz. Juan López de Arrieta had it built in 1525 on the site of the old medieval tower of the Maestu family, and its construction continued until about 1560.
The three-storey building, done in ashlar stone, features Renaissance planning and ornamentation, especially in the arched galleries of the courtyard. The palace still retains some elements of Late Gothic such as pointed arch doorway on the main façade and the octagonal stellar vault over the staircase. The round tower on the main façade, is a touch of ostentatiousness by the owners of the palace.
The permanent exhibition
The exhibition at the Fournier Playing Card Museum of Álava offers an historical, technical and thematic tour through the evolution of playing cards, from the 15th century to the present day. At present it houses over 20,000 examples, including decks of cards from the five continents, from all eras and in all styles, which illustrate a wide variety of themes and providing a fascinating insight into history and art.