Gastelugatxe, one of the most spectacular sites of the Spanish Basque coast.
Comes from the Etymology Gastelu « castle on a rock » and Gatxe « difficult, Terrible » or « The dangerous castle ». Because indeed the access is impetuous and at the time I imagine it must have been very difficult to reach it since it is perched high on its rock.
If you pass by the outskirts of Bilbao I strongly advise you to visit this spectacular site.
This chapel perched on the cliffs is a place of pilgrimage since the Middle Ages. To reach it you have to take a bridge and a narrow stone path in zigzag with 241 steps. So you can better understand its etymology.
A view to the Cantarabian Sea, the cliffs and arches carved, by the sea and the waves, in the rock. You will not be disappointed.
Legend has it that the hermitage bell will have to be touched three times to attract luck and scare away evil spirits. Three times because the myth explains that it will take 3 large steps to Saint John the Baptist to reach the island. He would have left a footprint on each of those strides.
At the top of the stairs you can put your foot on his footprint, it would bring luck.
As you will have understood, Gastelugaxe is the Theater of many myths, which makes it a quite exceptional and mystical place. It is not for nothing that he was chosen to appear in the series « Games of Thrones ».
Be careful not to forget anything on the spot. I myself forgot a jacket on the stairs going down from the chapel. I obviously didn’t notice it until I got back to the site entrance. So I had to go all the way back and everything went down and then up again…. Fortunately, people took her down before the access to the stone bridge and the 241 stairs. So I didn’t have to go up all the stairs. But just going down and up before the bridge is sport. Provide comfortable trainers or shoes.
Access and practical Information
Access to the site is completely free, but to enter it you will need reserve your slot in advance because the number of entries is limited.
It is considered as a protected Biotope zone. A minimum to preserve the authenticity and beauty of this site.
From Bilbao: You can take the A3527 bus from the bus station and stop at the San Juan de Gastelugatxe stop. In winter, another line (A3518 Bilbao- Mungia- Bakio) can take you to Bakio where you can then take the Taxibus (capacity 8 people).
From Bakio or Bermeo: You can take the Taxibus or the A3527 bus that connects Bermeo to Bilbao.
For those who come by car, free parking is available.
Dogs are allowed on leashes.
Good discovery 🙂