Bilbao and the Basque Country Sights

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Bibat Review

The 1525 Palacio de Bendaña and the adjoining bronze-plated building are home to one of Vitoria's main attractions, the Bibat, which combines the Museo Fournier de Naipes (Playing-Card Museum) with the Museo de la Arqueología. The project, by Navarran architect Patxi Mangado, is a daring combination of old and new architecture, though it was dubbed "the chest" because of its dark facade. The palacio houses the playing-card collection of Don Heraclio Fournier, who, in 1868, founded a playing-card factory, started amassing cards, and eventually found himself with 15,000 sets, the largest and finest such collection in the world. As you survey rooms of hand-painted cards, the distinction between artwork and game piece is quickly scrambled. The oldest sets date from the 12th century, making them older than the building, and the story parallels the history of printing. The most unusual and finely painted sets come from Japan, India (the Indian cards are round), and the international practice of tarot. The Archeology Museum, in the new building, has paleolithic dolmens, Roman art and artifacts, medieval objects, and the famous stele del jinete (stele of the horseback rider), an early Basque tombstone.

    Contact Information

  • Address: C. Cuchillería 54, Vitoria, 01001 | Map It
  • Phone: 94/520–3707
  • Cost: €3, free first Sat. of every month
  • Hours: Tues.–Fri. 10–2 and 4–6:30, Sat. 10–2, Sun. 11–2
  • Location: Vitoria-Gasteiz
Updated: 03-12-2014

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