Traditional Basque sports

basque strength

The Basque Country has an impressively rich history, and the sports from the region are emblematic!

Keep reading to learn more about traditional sports in the Basque Country.


The Basque Pelota

Basque pelota is the best known sport in the Basque Country, and is still practiced by a large number of people. Each Basque village has one or more pediments, and it is still played in many schools from an early age.

Pelota is not only played in the Basque Country, but also in other French regions such as Landes, Gironde, as well as other countries, including Mexico, the United States, Cuba, Argentina, Macao, the Philippines, Hong Kong and Italy.

For a pelota game, the outfit is required: white sneakers, white pants and white shirt (sometimes the shirts are colored to differentiate the teams).

A rolling belt (cinta) of color with a floating flap, identifies the teams.


Basque strength

In the past, Basque farmers had to be creative for fun. They challenged each other to test their strength. From these challenges between neighbors was born the Basque force.

The Basque force includes several disciplines

tug of war / soka fired

Evidence generally opposing two villages.

The sawyers / arpanariak 

Two men from the same team must saw a log into several slices in a minimum of time.

Lumberjacks / aizkolariak

The woodcutter must cut as quickly as possible and with an ax the trunks of trees on which he is standing.

The stone lifters / harri jazotzaleak

A man must lift a spherical stone as many times as possible and spin it around his neck before releasing it; or he will lift her up to the shoulder before releasing her. Finally, there is also the lifting of rectangular stones.

Cart lifting / organ joko

A man must lift a cart resting on its pole, and make as many turns as possible without the wheels of the cart touching the ground.

Bag carrier / zaku lasterka 

Road race where runners must carry a bag of wheat over their shoulder.

Can Carrier / untziketariak

Endurance race during which you have to cover the greatest distance with a can of milk at the end of each arm.

Straw rising / lasto altxatzea

This test consists of lifting a bale of straw as many times as possible and to a certain height (8 meters for example), using a rope passing through a pulley and attached to the bale.

Reapers / segalari

A plot of land must be mown with a scythe as quickly as possible.

Minebar / Barraki Launchers

Competitors must throw crowbars as far as possible.

The Muss

Muss is a card game vaguely reminiscent of poker, it is played with a deck of 40 Spanish cards and 4 players in teams of 2.

Each player bets a certain number of points on different facets of the game (highest cards, weakest cards, pairs of cards and finally number of points).


The Encierros

In the past, the toros de corridas joined the arenas escorted by cowherds and oxen. The young people of the city would then challenge them.

Nowadays, the toros are released on a marked course which joins the arenas. Throughout the course, runners accompany the bulls trying to run as close as possible to the bull.


The game of the goose / Antzara Joko

This game is a little violent, but is part of Basque history all the same.

Riders launched at a gallop must tear off the head of a goose (or duck), the latter being attached by the legs to a rope stretched in height.

Another variant is to pass in a boat under a goose hanging of the same kind above the water and to hang from the head of the goose, and trying not to slip, until the head of the goose separates from its body.


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