Want to be a stoker on a historic steam engine? If that' s your dream, the Basque Railway Museum in Azpeitia is the place to be. It is operating a heritage train every weekend on a five-kilometre narrow-gauge line right through the Urola Valley in the Basque mountains. The ride is the highlight of a museum tour that takes visitors back to a time when the railway was the number one means of transport in the Basque Country, for both people and goods. Although these railroads are already a thing of the past, Azpeitia has preserved everything in its original state: the station building from 1925, the depot, the mechanical workshop and, of course, the wide range of rolling stock originating from Spain, but also from many other European countries, including Germany, Belgium, Scotland, France, Holland, Hungary, Sweden and Switzerland. In addition, there are two unique collections to be discovered on the upper floors of the station building. Up there, the museum displays a kind of history of trainman's fashion - a collection of over 100 railway uniforms from the last 160 years - as well as more than 200 historic station clocks.
Basque railways have always used narrow tracks: the gauge was exactly one meter - 668 millimeters less than the rest of Spain's rail network. Why? The rugged mountains of northern Spain, criss-crossed by narrow valleys, simply did not allow for anything other than light railways. In addition, narrow rails were cheaper because they required less construction work.
Since 1994, the Basque Railway Museum, located in the historic railway station of Azpeitia, has been keeping the memory of the heyday of rail transport in northern Spain alive. It boasts a large rolling stock that includes steam engines of the late 19th century as well as diesel and electric locomotives. In fact, the Urola Valley railway, originating in Azpeitia, was one of the first in Spain to be electrified. A mercury vapour rectifier made by the Swiss electronic engineering company Brown Boveri in 1925, which is still in its original state, illustrates how the power supply worked - state-of-the-art technology from the beginning of the 20th century that was applied until the 1970s to generate high-voltage DC. The largest exhibit in the museum is the depot: it is one of the first buildings of its kind to be constructed entirely from reinforced concrete. A particular experience is the mechanical workshop, which looks exactly as it did when it was built in 1925, with 16 machine tools driven by transmission belts connected to a single 18-hp Siemens engine that is still operational. The unspoiled state of the equipment, a lucky coincidence from today's perspective, is due to decades of neglect of the Urola railway. In the 1980s, it was so outdated that all its rails were dismantled. Only the station of Azpeitia was preserved. The heritage train, now operating between Azpeitia and Lasao, runs on tracks rebuilt especially for this purpose.
|Recommended duration of visit:||3 Hours|
|Access for persons with disabilities:||For details see website|
|Infrastructure for children:|
|Gift and book shop on site:||yes|
Tuesday - Saturday 10am-1.30pm, 3pm-6.30pm
Sunday, bank holiday 10.30am-2pm