The Sanctuary of Arantzazu is a Franciscan sanctuary standing on the edge of a cliff in Oñati, Basque Country, Spain. The 14th-century structure was dedicated to the Virgin Mary who, according to legends, showed herself to a shepherd in Oñati. The construction of the new basilica in Basque avant-garde architecture took place in 1951.
The new basilica involves three limestone towers with diamond-shaped tips which reference to the thorn bush in which the Virgin Mary appeared. According to the story, upon seeing the Virgin Mary, the local shepherd asks Arantzan zu?, meaning “You on a hawthorn?” in Basque. Therefore, the legend not only gave the sanctuary its name but also inspired the shape of the modern basilica.
The old sanctuary underwent three fires before the construction of the new basilica. The plan of the avant-garde basilica was first vetoed because it was seen as radically modern. Nevertheless, the reformist acts of the Second Vatican Council prompted the basilica’s construction. Designed by the architects Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza’s and Luis Laorga, the basilica bears the sculptor Jorge Oteiza’s 14 apostles on its façade. The design of the iron gates belongs to Eduardo Chillida and the paintings to Nestor Basterretxea and Lucio Muñoz.