The 5 illustrious sailors from Guipuzcoa

At the top of the main facade of the Palace of the Provincial Council of Guipuzcoa, designed in neoclassical style by the architect José de Goikoa, we can see 5 white busts representing five illustrious sailors from Guipuzcoa. They were made by Marcial de Aguirre, who was also in charge of the two barbarians of our provincial coat of arms, which are on the same facade.

Who are these sailors, explorers, soldiers and conquerors?

Well, in order from right to left:


Admiral Miguel López de Legazpi

The “Adelantado” or “the Old”: a sailor born in Zumarraga and who served during the 16th century. He was the first governor of the Captaincy General of the Philippines and founded the cities of Cebu and Manila.

Admiral Blas de Lezo y Olavarrieta

The “Half-Man”: a Donostia native, although his neighborhood today is a town apart, who throughout the 18th century proved to be one of the greatest naval strategists of his time and who, together with the Viceroy Sebastián de Eslava, successfully led the defense of Cartagena de Indias during the British siege of 1741.

Admiral Antonio de Oquendo y Zandategui

This distinguished Donostia native was admiral general of the Navy of the Ocean Sea. He took part in more than one hundred naval battles and was one of the most experienced sailors of the 16th century.

batalla de las dunas

(Reinier Nooms – Before the Battle of the Downs – c.1639)

Anonymous portrait Admiral Blaz de Lezo Naval Museum

Miguel López de Legazpi, in the Spanish magazine La Hormiga de Oro.

Juan Sebastián Elcano

Born in Getaria, he took command of the expedition captained by Ferdinand Magellan after his death in the Philippines in search of a new route to the Spice Islands in Asia. The death of the Portuguese captain turned the tide in the history of our most famous sailor, giving him the opportunity to become the first man to sail around the world in one of the most incredible voyages ever undertaken by mankind, which this year marks the 500th anniversary of its end.


Fray Andrés de Urdaneta y Ceráin

A native of Ordizia, he was a military man, cosmographer, sailor, explorer and Augustinian religious who discovered and documented the route across the Pacific Ocean from the Philippines to Acapulco, thus creating one of the largest trade routes in history.

Anonymous portrait Andres de Urdaneta

Juan Sebastián Elcano (portrayed by Zuloaga)

No visit is complete without us finding an excuse to tell you about one of these illustrious sailors. Would you like to know more about any of them? Don’t hesitate and join one of our tours!