The spectacular island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe Basque Country
After showing you one of the most incredible places in the world, the tree cemetery in Namibia, today we return to Spain to tell you about another surprising corner, although of a very different beauty. We are talking about San Juan de Gaztelugatxe , a small island located off the coast of Vizcaya, specifically in the town of Bermeo, which is connected to the peninsula by a stone bridge that has been made by the hand of man.

Would you like to discover this beautiful Basque corner in more depth? Well then you can’t miss anything that we tell you below! We assure you that you are going to love it!

The rock castle

If you have the opportunity to travel to the Basque Country or are lucky enough to live in this beautiful autonomous community, we recommend that you visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a cone-shaped island where a small hermitage can be found at its highest point. It is dedicated to Saint John the Baptist; hence the first part of the name. As for “ gaztelugatxe ”, it comes from the Basque words “gaztelu”, which means “castle” and “aitz”, which means “rock”. Therefore, we could say that the name means "rock castle."

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The way

Beyond the beauty of the island and its hermitage, one of the most surprising things about this place is the stone bridge that connects it with Bermeo . Made by man, it is a narrow stair-shaped path that zigzags all the way to the top. In total there are 241 steps that lead to the church, a path that is worth it just to see the picturesque church and enjoy the beautiful views of the brave Cantabrian Sea and the impossible cliffs, tunnels and arches that the water has managed to carve on the island .

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And speaking of the church, the legend says that if you ring the bell located on the front wall three times and make a wish, it will come true. Also, ringing the bell will serve to scare away evil spirits. Of course, it must be borne in mind that this is not the original church, since this religious building has had to be rebuilt numerous times over the centuries due to battles and fires. Apparently the first hermitage was built in the 9th century. In any case, the fishermen of the area feel a deep devotion for this saint and for the issue. In addition, on June 24, the day of San Juan, a pilgrimage is held in which many people from Bermeo and the surrounding towns come in procession to the hermitage to give thanks or fulfill promises made to the saint. A floral offering is also made to an image of the Virgin located under the natural arches at the foot of the islet. Another very celebrated festival in the church is San Juan Degollado, which takes place on August 29.

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Although the waters of northern Spain are not too warm, the truth is that the sea that surrounds the island of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is full of marine life, making it an ideal place to dive. But not only scuba diving enthusiasts will enjoy this place, but bird lovers will be able to contemplate numerous specimens, since they reach the rocks to reproduce without being disturbed by humans, who cannot reach them. Then we leave you with our gallery , where you can see more beautiful images of this spectacular corner of the Basque Country. Do not miss it!

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