This palace was built in 1891 by French architect Alfred Feine for business tycoon José María Abaroa Uribarren, who used it during summer. He brought an architect from Paris, who used the then popular “Second Empire” style, because he lived in the French capital after having inherited his uncle’s wealth. The palace is placed in a small hill from which the whole city can be seen and is surrounded by gardens. Nowadays it belongs to the city council, which has opened the garden to the public.
When it was built, Lekeitio hosted aristocrats from all around Spain during summer, including Queen Isabel II, who was in this town when a military rebellion threw her out of power in 1883. In the following century, the Empress of Austria Zita found refuge in the Uribarren palace in Lekeitio for six years, after she had to leave her country. Local and Austrian businessmen Adolfo de Urquijo and Wilhen Wakonigg paid for the palace, which was destroyed during Spain’s Civil War.
The Uribarren palace had been built for José Javier Uribarren, uncle of Abaroa, in 1857. Uribarren had become rich in Mexico and later created a company in Bordeaux, Aguirrebengoa Fils & Uribarren. Its main activity was investment banking, which explains why it finally moved to Paris. As he had no children, his nephews José María and Pascual Abaroa Uribarren inherited his companies.
The original project:
Uribarren Palace, which faced the beach:
Lekeitio in 1895 (the Uribarren palace is on the left):
Lekeitio in 1902 (the Uribarren palace is on the right and the Abaroa palace on the left):