Pedro Bernardo Villareal de Berriz

The life of Pedro Bernardo Villarreal de Berriz y Andicano elapsed from 1669 to 1740. Despite being born in Arrasate, from the time he married in 1694, until he died in 1740 he lived in this town, of which he was mayor several times and where he held a scientist gathering at his home, the Uriarte Palace. He was an important figure in the scientific revolution of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in the Basque Country. We may call him a preillustrator, as he was a man interested in useful knowledge which would improve the living conditions of his peers, open to beneficial innovations and the means provided by science, pioneering ideas of the later Enlightement, in the second half of the 18th century.

His life is an evidence of the society between the 17th and 18th centuries; a society open to travelling, the knowledge of nautical science, the developments in engineering and the development of new, more educated concepts that would suit the social needs of the time. He published a Treaty on Hydraulic Machines for mills and blacksmiths, in which he stated that since he was emancipated at the age of 18, he had not lacked labour on his estate. His scientific hobbies led him to become an experienced architect and constructor, who would take part in many private and public works.
This figure was four times mayor of Lekeitio (1696, 1699, 1703 and 1711), and among his duties we would like to mention the following: he travelled to major urban centers in order to purchase wheat during famine periods; he supervised several public works and even designed a water supply system. Furthermore, he was twice general deputy of the domain and councilman, and took part in the resolution of the”matxinada” (revolts generated at various points throughout the eighteenth century for various reasons: economic, political, social …).
A new period in the life of Pedro Bernardo began as a result of his marriage to Doña Mariana Rosa de Bengolea, originally from Lekeitio. The married couple took up their residence in the Torre de Uriarte, in Lekeitio –even though at that time the place was known as “the place of the Nuns”, due to its location near the Dominican convent. It is a mansion built in the 17th century, which its successive inhabitants embellished and improved throughout the different stages of its history. The tower is accessed through a stairway that leads directly to a hallway with a triple arcade of semicircular archs, in which the main door leading to the inner house is opened. On the main facade, an emblem gives account of the lineages of the house (Bengolea, Churruca, Olaeta and Olano).