Oriol-Urquijo Palace in Santurtzi

At the start of the 20th Century, the coastline of the municipality of Santurtzi underwent a radical transformation stemming from the works under way to improve navigating the waterway of Bilbao. The river banks, which until that time, reached the church of San Jorge, started to fall away due to the construction works and the draining of the marshes. Similarly the beach area between Santurtzi and Portugalete was being transformed and bathing in the sea started to become fashionable.

The was the area chosen by Lucas Urquijo Urrutia to build a small palace by the bank of the river, just above the beach, in the area known as Campo Grande. The daughter of Lucas Urquijo, Catalina, would later marry José Luis Oriol, which is why this small palace became associated with the name of Oriol rather than with of Urquijo.

The Urquijo family, from Aiala Valley, had managed to harness the economic opportunities that arose in the second half of the 19th Century by investing in railway companies, steelworks and electricity. The success of their businesses and political activity led to the appointment of Estanislao de Urquijo as Marquis of Urquijo en 1879.

Lucas Urquijo chose to appoint one of the architects who was fashionable in a city such as Bilbao to build his small palace, a city that was undergoing a period of urban expansion. This was Severino de Achúcarro, one of the drafters of the Expansion Project of the city, responsible for a good number of buildings that were included under this expansion. In an era in which eclecticism dominated the field of architecture, Severino de Achúcarro used and combined many of the trends in prevalence in Europe. Many of his works are reminiscent of Viennese, French and English styles. As well as building many homes for private individuals, he is remembered as the author of the extension to the building of the Bank of Bilbao, the construction of the tower of the Basílica de Santiago, the railway station from Bilbao to Santander and the headquarters of the Sociedad el Sitio.

For Lucas Urquijo, he designed a three-storey palace: a basement with service areas, a main floor with living rooms and rooms for semi-public use and a floor with bedrooms that could be reached by a great staircase through the middle of the building. The exterior had a very French feel to it, with highly compartmentalised spaces, facades covered with stonework, and circular windows in the roof, etc.

Over time, the building became uninhabited and severely deteriorated. Finally, in 2003, it was refurbished and turned into a hotel.