Gaztelugatxe

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The island is approximately 270 meters long and 80 meters wide. At the top, 50 meters above sea level, is a monastery with very ancient origins and a semi-open shelter for visitors.
The island is approximately 270 meters long and 80 meters wide. At the top, 50 meters above sea level, is a monastery with very ancient origins and a semi-open shelter for visitors.
Gaztelugatxe is an islet in the Spanish Basque Country ,Province of Vizcaya in the Bay of Biscay, which lies directly on the rocky coast of the Costa Vasca between the towns of Bakio and Bermeo.

The island of Gaztelugatxe is located in the center of this stretch of coast near the small island of Aketx, a sanctuary for seabirds. Next to the hermitage there is a small refuge overlooking the sea which is used for picnics and  to protect from the wind.

The hermitage is accessible by a narrow path that crosses the solid stone bridge and halls of 231 steps (other sources mention the number 229 or 237). According to legend, after the climb, the hermitage’s bell should ring three times and make a wish.

The small church, built 80 meters above sea level, dates back to the 10th century. In the year 1053 it was donated by Don Inigo Lopez, lord of Biscay, to the monastery of San Juan de la Pena near Jaca, in Huesca. In 1593 it was attacked and sacked by Francis Drake. On November 10, 1978 it was destroyed by fire. Two years later, on June 24, 1980, it was inaugurated again. The hermitage belongs to the parish of San Pelayo in Bakio.

Gaztelugatxe has recently become a popular destination and tourist attraction due to its haunted and romantic location. The rocky beaches of the island with their numerous projections, underwater caves and gate-like rock formations are popular for divers, The islet and the environment are considered a protected reserve.

Access : Coordinates: 43.447, -2.785 / Access can be made from the road between Bermeo and Baquio (BI-3101). The best time to visit it is spring or autumn and thus enjoy the peace of the place, since in summer it is usually very crowded ,To get to the hermitage, after crossing the bridge built today like a dam, you have to climb 237 steps of a staircase carved into the rock.

Highlights :

  •  On the island there is a hermitage dedicated to San Juan dating from the 10th century, although some discoveries date from the 9th century. Together with another small neighboring island, that of Aquech, it forms a protected biotope, which extends from the town of Baquio to Cape Machichaco, in the Bay of Biscay.
  •  The rocky island is crossed by several underground passages and has numerous caves, some of which have been expanded.
  •  HBO filmed there in 2016-2017, certain scenes from season 7 of its Game of Thrones series, Gaztelugatxe recalling the description of the fictional region of Peyredragon (Dragonstone in VO) 14.

Working hours: The hermitage is open July and August and during religious events, and it costs €1 to take photos inside. Tuesdays to Saturdays: from 11:00 AM to 6:00 PM. Sundays: from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Entrance is free of charge but in order to avoid overcrowding you must obtain a ticket for visiting between 10:00 AM and 7:00 PM during Major holidays.

Activities : landscape observation / Scenic Driving- Auto Touring / photo opportunities / trekking / enjoy stunning views / Birdwatching / four-wheel drive tours

Go next : Cape Matxitxako (in Spanish Cabo Machichaco) and its two lighthouses. / the Biscayan town of Bermeo  and Bakio / Getxo , a town  in the province of Biscay, in the autonomous community of the Basque Country, in Spain.

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