4 famous places on the Biscayne Coast, Biscay Bay, Basque Country, Spain.

In my tours of the Biscayne coast, travellers find remarkable the beauty of the natural and social environment, where the mountains and the sea meet in a beautiful continuum of beaches, rocks, cliffs, ports and villages. There are some of these places or towns that already transcend the knowledge and enjoyment of the Basques, and are known beyond the seas around this immense Gulf of Biscay. They are:

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Aitor Delgado in San Juan de Gastelugatxe.

It is an island located near the coast in a beautiful place created by nature 35 kilometers from Bilbao. Gaztelugatxe means in Basque "Castle of Rock".

The island has a chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist at its summit, which possibly exists since the 9th century (but the one surviving it was made much later). The temple houses several votive offerings of sailors who have been saved from a shipwreck.
To arrive to the chapel three are 241 access steps which have become famous for being the location of the entrance to the island of Dragon Stone, the house of Daenerys Targaryen, in the 7th season of the HBO’s series Game of Thrones.

It is mystical for locals not only for the cult of St. John or for the bucolic of the place. Once you climb the 241 steps you can ring the bells 3 times and make a wish (I wish yours will be fulfilled) others say that this will drive away evil spirits. And you can also pray for what you want to our Lady Virgin of Begoña. The Virgin of Begoña, patron saint of Bizkaia, is submerged in the waters of the Cantabrian Sea next to the island (there is a buoy that marks the place where you can find her 10 meters below the sea).


Mundaka

Mundaka town. 

A legend says that some Scots found here a fountain with crystal clear water and called it "munda aqua". Nowadays though, those who enjoy the town and its waters at its the best are the hundreds of surfers from all over the world who annually surf on their famous left wave.

The left wave is formed with moderate to intense waves (better in autumn and winter), with low tide and south wind, so you will not always see it or see surfers; but you will always see a spectacular natural landscape that changes color every season. In the estuary of the mouth of the Oka river, nutrients accumulate both from the sea and the continent, which generates a very particular biodiversity. Remember that here you are the entrance to the Unesco Biosphere Reserve of Urdaibai.

Also not to miss is the visit to the Basilica of Santa Catalina at the end of Mundaka, where the views of the Bay of Biscay, the island of Izaro and the mouth of the Oka river are a dream.


Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve



View of Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve from Mundaka town.


UNESCO Heritage since 1984 for the uniqueness of its marshes and river valleys, pastures, countryside, Cantabrian holm oaks, cliffs, beaches and dunes. It is the space with the highest levels of biodiversity in the Basque Country and belongs to the route of migration of East Atlantic birds, used by about 90 million birds annually.


In the Urdaibai Bird Center you can understand very well the importance of this reserve, and try to spot the osprey, the spoonbill, the bittern ... which are birds very difficult to see in Spain.

Guernica

Assembly House in Gernika town.

"Guernica" is the most universal painting by Picasso and one of the most important works of the 20th century in the world, due to its anti-war theme. The town of Gernika was bombed by the German forces in 1937. Today it is the political and cultural center of the Basque Country and here you will find the Assembly House “Casa de Juntas” and the Tree of Gernika, living symbols of the history of the Basque People.

This place has been a meeting point for the representatives “junteros” of the Señorío de Bizkaia since the Middle Ages, since the Lord of Bizkaia swore to respect the Biscayne freedoms (the Fueros de Bizkaia) under an oak tree. The Tree of Gernika is the most universal symbol of the freedoms of all Basques, so that important acts are carried out along with it, such as the taking of possession and the oath of the Lehendakari (autonomic president of the Basques). Of course, since the fourteenth century there have been different trees, it is estimated that the "Father Tree" was born in 1334 and lived until 1881. You can see the dead 'Son Tree' in the garden and the one which is a current referent was planted in 2015 (it was born in the year 2000).

The building is from 1833 and it is located in the same place as the hermitage of Santa María de la Antigua, where the meetings and the oath were made. This hermitage was demolished to undertake the construction of the new building, taking as reference the primitive church; the altar and the piles of holy water are originals of the hermitage.

And remember, if you are thinking to come to Bilbao, San Sebastian, Rioja, Vitoria, Pamplona or anywhere else in the Basque Country, you can get a better understading on our culture and traditions with a local guide. 


 contact Aitor Delgado Basque Private Tour Guide 


 

 Enjoy the Basque Country!