Unique history


Brief history of the Artxanda Cable Car

At the end of the 19th century and in the first years of the 20th century, numerous people from Bilbao visited Mount Artxanda as a venue for entertainment and leisure. A casino was built as well as several “txakolis” where people could comfortably while away their spare time.

This was the reason why, from 1901 to 1912, it considered the project prepared by Bernardo Jimenez of a rack railway that would link the centre of the Town with mount Artxanda. This project was not carried out due to lack of funding.

But later in 1915, the Directorate of Public Works approved a project by Mr. Evaristo San Martin y Garaz. And on 19 July, a letter was sent to the Governor in which the construction of the Funicular was approved, but with the addition of a series of comments regarding improvement, such as:

  • build a side path for emergencies
  • have a  spare third cable car
    that the maximum speed did not exceed 8 km / h
  • that both the start and arrival of the cars to the stations travel as smoothly as possible
  • Refuse passage to those users who are inebriated, who carry “smelly” packages or firearms
  • and that the travellers could request the cable car operators to expel those people who expressed themselves with vulgar words or aggressively or with disrespect towards others
  • that the seats have certain minimum dimensions (0.45 × 0.65 × 1.45 m)
  • or that the trips never left before their scheduled time and announced with ringing bells.
  • and what was not expressly indicated, it would follow the instructions indicated in the Madrid newspaper dated 19 January , 1913, referring to the Igeldo Funicular, which was already in operation

On October 7, 1915 the first trip took place. Mr. Benito Marco Gardoqui was Mayor of Town at the time.

At about this time the Artxanda Funicular Society was created. The machinery was designed by a Swiss company, specialised in this type of mountain trains L.Von Roll. The cost of the construction was 488,407.30 pts (€ 2,935.39).

On 7 of October of the 1915 it realizes it first trip. At the time Mr. Benito Marco Gardoqui was Mayor the Town.

During the siege of Bilbao in the Civil War, the roads and the upper station were bombed, with which the service was interrupted until 18 July, 1938 when the service was resumed, with provisional arrangements, in accordance with the project of Mariano del Corral.

Then, as some employees remember that for the price of the ticket (60 cents of a peseta) they came down from the village marketplace to sell their goods, as well bringing Motorcycles to repair and calves for the abattoir.

An unfortunate accident took place on 25 June 25, 1976, which caused a prolonged stoppage of the service. While changing the drive cable, a failure in the grip brakes and blocks caused a wagon to fall to the lower station with four operators inside: Jose Landa, Jose Mª Bilbao and Juan Rekalde managed to jump out of the wagon but Isidro Aurrekoetxea who was lying on the floor of the wagon was not able to do so and the wagon fell and crashed into the lower station where, Isidro was dragged out of the rubble and rushed to Basurto Hospital, where he recovered. The former Company Manager Julio Rodriguez was also slightly injured.

After seven years of being out of service, in 1983, the facilities, which included the tracks, wagons and stations, were completely rebuilt. At that time, Rafael Pineda was the manager and the service was inaugurated on 30 April of the same year. In the upper station, there are a series of photographs that show all the construction and assembly work, as well as the present condition of the old facilities.


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