11 Jul 2010

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is a tiny island on the coast of Biscay belonging to the municipality of Bermeo, in Basque Country (Spain). It is connected to the mainland by a man made bridge. On top of the island stands a hermitage, dedicated to San Juan, that dates from the 10th century, although certain discoveries indicate that the date might be the 9th century. Along with another small neighboring island, Aketze, they form a protected Biotope, that extends from the town of Bakio until cape Machichaco, on the Bay of Biscay.

To visit San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, there are various parking spaces on a small esplanade. On the initial climb, successive stops can be admired along what looks like a Via Crucis. From above the views of the cliffs and the coast are fascinating. The best seasons to visit are spring and autumn, in order to enjoy the peace of the setting. In the summer it can get crowded. Etymologically the word gaztelugatxe comes from the Basque gaztelu = "castle" and aitz = "rock" or "crag", forming "Crag of the castle". Another possible translation of gatxe is bad this would mean "Bad Castle.

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