The Urdaibai region was densely inhabited in prehistory by groups of farmers planting crops and raising livestock, who occupied the area between the Late Neolithic period and the Bronze Age (5,500 – 2,800 BC), as evidenced by numerous archaeological finds. Throughout history, the Urdaibai estuary was a major means of communication and transit, forming part of such routes as St. James’ Way, the Wine and Fish Route or the Oath Route.
The residents of Ajangiz earned their living from agriculture and forestry, exploiting the existing natural resources of the municipality. The meadow was used for the intensive farming of cereals, in particular maize, whereas the mountains provided the raw materials for shipbuilding in the shipyards of the small seaport at Gernika, as well as to supply firewood for the various ironworks in town. There were also up to three functioning watermills in the river basins.
Earliest Record of Ajangiz
The earliest written record of Ajangiz appears in a document by Friar Martin de Coscojales, who mentions the “Lord of the High Asturias of Oviedo, who while escaping from the King of Asturias, was given refuge in Vizcaya” and his son founded the house with his name in Axangiz (788)”. Later references are related to the Wars of the Bands between factions that swept the Basque region during the 14th and 15th centuries.
“Ledania” of Ajangiz
Around the mid 16th century, when it was decided which the “Elizate”, or local governments, would acquire a right to vote in the General Assembly at Gernika, Ajangiz occupied seat number 11 according to rights, although with a peculiar legal status: “Ledania”. It is a unique case of local organisation which continued throughout the Middle Ages until the end of the Ancièn Regime, when Ajangiz was constituted as “Elizate”, a type of local government.
Construction work on the parish concluded in 1844, although for years the old Ascensión del Señor Hermitage was used as a church, with all the parish records being kept there.
Annexation and Desannexation
The forced annexation of the Elizate of Ajangiz to the municipality of Gernika took place in 1943, although in 1991 the municipality regained its former independence, albeit without the district of Renteria. Today, Ajangiz is divided in two districts: Mendieta and Kanpantxu.