2019 #BasqueCountry | Gastelugatxe
Updated: Jan 8, 2020
Visiting Gastelugatxe was a must in my bucket list, while I was planning this trip to Basque Country, and even though I guessed it should be awesome, but I didn't think it would be so incredibly beautiful. It's a place to be never forgotten, and perhaps some time I'll come back.
Gaztelugatxe is a small island on the Atlantic coast in Basque Country, which is connected to the mainland by a man-made bridge. A church named Gaztelugatxeko Doniene in Basque (San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spanish) stands on top of the island, it dates from the 10th century. The word Gaztelugatxe comes from the Basque gaztelu = "castle", "fort" and gaitz = "difficult", "tremendous", forming gaztelu gaitza, gaztelugatxe "the craggy fort".
It's a bit less than an hour driving from Bilbao heading north to Atlantic coast's side, there are a lot of brown signs on the road showing "Gastelugatxe" direction, so no worries to get lost. A good organized free of charge parking is on top of the mainland hill, restaurants and tavernas are there as well, so the place in general is very well managed for visitors' convenience.
Surroundings are super cool, as all the places along Atlantic ocean. Take your time, having a glass of local Txacoli wine and portion of pintxos, sitting on the terrace and enjoying the view of this perfect place.
Once you're ready, it's time to go to the island to enjoy the miracle of Gastelugatxe.
First, no kidding, the way isn't easy at all. You should be ready to hike around 1.3 km down to reach only the stairs, which are 241 pieces heading up to the island then. Don't forget, you have to be ready to climb up back all that path then, so it's totally about 2.5 km of steep up&downs + 482 stairs up&downs.
Be sure you're in a right shape to do it, as the slopes are desperately steep. Take care of your most comfortable shoes, hiking or training ones. I saw some ladies on the way, who were wearing kind of high heels, it looked like they were just walking somewhere in the city and then recently thought "Oh, let's go hiking into the mountains, sure I'm ok in my high heels fancy shoes"... at the end I saw how hard it was for them doing that path, especially on the way back. Just be sure you get a pair of your comfortable sneakers in the trunk, before coming to this amazing place. Because the way is like this... and it's only the beginning.
On top it's all wet because it's in the forest shadow, almost no sun to make it dry, this's really a challenge, you'll be going down on totally wet slippery road following the very steep slope, just be careful and watch out the steps.
By the way local security do kind of control check in the beginning, there is a small checking point, where they fix how many persons pass at once and where you come from.
The views on the way are awesome.
Once you reach out the island, stunning views of Atlantic Ocean's coast showing you the magic of this place much closer, just at the arm's length.
This is the staircase, and yes, it's 241 stairs one way only.
The panorama on the way is fabulous.
By the way if you're a fan of #GameofThrones of HBO, then you'll be glad to know that 7th season was partially filmed here, it was standing for Dragonstone, with castle digitally created on the top of the island.
The top part of the island is teeny tiny, just a small place where the church itself is located 80m above sea level, dates from the 10th century. There are just few narrow paths to let people move around the cathedral, which is closed for public.
The winner is the top view, for sure, absolutely stunning.
I'm totally in love with #Gastelugatxe. Nevertheless it was super hard to get there, but every step 100% worth doing. Once you're on top of the island, just spend an hour chilling on the rocks, watching this spectacular panorama of Basque Country's Atlantic coast and enjoying life.
Frankly speaking, I'm still feeling same emotions while looking at these pics, even after some time passed. This place has tons of cosmic energy, which fully recharges your batteries and makes visiting it really unforgettable, imprinting somewhere really deep inside your memory.