San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a Breathtaking Ocean Pathway
Art & Culture

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a Breathtaking Ocean Pathway

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe,Spagna

San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, a Breathtaking Ocean Pathway

San-Juan-de-Gaztelugatxe-Spagna-1Gaztelugatxe is a small Spanish island which is joined to the mainland by a narrow and winding stone walkway which picturesquely overlooks the sea. The pathway is located in the municipality of Bermeo, off the coast of Biscay right in Basque Country. The hermitage of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is just at the top of the islet and is reachable only by a route formed by a staircase of 240 steps built by the Templars over seven centuries ago.

San-Juan-de-Gaztelugatxe-Spagna-2This incredible wall looks out onto the most extraordinary views of the ocean through a series of high and low floor levels, sharp curves and breathtaking cliff views, all the way up to the top of the fortress where you will find a charming medieval church. The hermitage, known as Basque Gaztelugatxeko Doniene or San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spanish, is dedicated to St. John the Baptist. For many centuries it was a strategic point that survived fires and pirate raids, a fortress-church that still contains many marine artifacts, such as a rudder, life jackets and even a boat hull.

San-Juan-de-Gaztelugatxe-Spagna-3Today, the hermitage is a popular destination for pilgrimages. It consists of three religious processions that take place during the year which are on June 24 to commemorate the feast of St. John the Baptist, on August 29 that of San Giovanni Decollato and on December 31st to celebrate the Mass at the end of the year. It is a mystical place which is not only surrounded by numerous legends that evoke witches and pirates, but it is also considered a lucky charm against migraines and infertility. Tradition has it that if you want to drive away bad luck and fulfill desire, it is sufficient to reach the top and ring the church bell three times.