Dema plaza

This square is the hub of the today's town centre. It is defined by the church, the Basque pelota court and the town’s beautiful timber and stone historical buildings. Squares are places where the community gathers and that is the Dema Plaza’s role in Usurbil. Yet it is not a usual square as we know them, but rather a square designed for competition.

Contests involving stone dragging by men and oxen, those highly tradition spectacles in the Basque culture, are held in the competition squares (dema plazak). These contests or wagers consist of clocking up the largest number of lengths dragging a stone in a set time. At 38 metres long, it is one of the longest competition squares in Gipuzkoa and the stones used in the contest can be seen along one of its sides. A heavy stone is dragged by oxen, men or women over an attractive geometric designed surface made up of round pebbles.

Stone being dragged by men in Usurbil
Stone being dragged by men in Usurbil

Stone dragging by men clearly depicts a sentiment to found in all Basques. It is often said and heard that we carry a great weight on our shoulders: the weight of the past, the weight of the commitment to the people, the weight of concern about the language, the weight of the responsibility of protecting and reviving culture, etc.

In 1966, in this very square, an initiative was launched that was strictly linked to Basque culture and Basque identity: the tribute offered to Juan Jose Alkain “Udarregi”, the versolari or Basque troubadour. The sculpture honouring Udarregi dates back to that time.

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