On the central coast of Biscay is one of the most special places in the Basque Country, the hermitage of San Juan, within the islet of Gaztelugatxe. It is one of the most visited places around Euskadi. We are talking about Gaztelugatze to give advice to access the island.
As in other hiking trails, it is basic wear proper shoes and have looked at maps or having them downloaded to the mobile in any app that allows us to consult them even without the internet. Some water and food, and ready to discover one of the most beautiful spots in the Basque Country.
How to get
To reach Gaztelugatze need to drive to Bermeo, which is also near the port of Mundaka? After visiting the shrine, you can also go to one of the hot spots of surfing, thanks to its famous and spectacular wave. You can leave your car in a parking lot at the exit of Gaztelugatze.
From the parking, you have an hour’s walk to the chapel. At the beginning of the road, you will find a restaurant with a lovely view of the island of Gaztelugatxe, which is very useful to assail a coffee or buy a snack for the road views. Please note this restaurant in case of rain. To us, he saved us from a storm in the Basque Country, where rainy days are many.
The road is very simple. With good shoes, you can cross it without much trouble. The hardest part is the beginning. The road begins as a good ramp down to down to sea level, and if it rains can be waterlogged and muddy.
After 15 or 20 minutes you will find a viewpoint very well positioned with which, for me, it is the most spectacular view of the chapel and the islet. You see what I say, that the hermitage of San Juan is in the most inaccessible place, trapped on the island of Gaztelugatxe. We took advantage of the gazebo to eat the sandwich.
Then you have another 15 or 20 minutes more downhill until you reach a very narrow road that takes you to the bridge that connects the island to the mainland. From there are great views of the chapel and cliffs in the area.
Once you stand to sea level you will play climb a grand staircase that climbs the island to reach the hermitage of San Juan? The climb a little tired but the gradually sight of the goal helps to finish the climb. In addition, as you go up you will meet with some crosses numbered with Roman numerals up to No. XX cross, which indicates that you will have reached the hermitage.
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Customs in the chapel
The hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe dating from the tenth century . It is normally closed to the public. It has a bell that all visitors touch. According to tradition must ring the bell three times back to the chapel and then make a wish.
This custom is also supposed to scare away evil spirits. There are other legends related to this chapel, as it cures many headaches related to diseases, or the Inquisition kept some accused of witchcraft in small caves on the island.
This island has also been a strategic point for some wars, including the Civil War. In the waters near the island of the Battle of Cape Machichaco, where there was a great battle between the contenders.
The way back is a bit more complicated than the first leg, because there is more rise to fall, but it is just over an hour’s walk. Once I reached the parking you can make one last photo to Gaztelugatze, the hermitage trapped on an island of Euskadi.