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The two Roads to Santiago by the Basque Country
By Basquetour | 10/09/2019
On the Camino along the coast coexist sea and land, cities and nature
The Camino de Santiago along the Basque coast, of 214.00 km, consists of 8 stages and is one of the most primitive routes, even prior to other more known ones. It is home to the Basque seaman and the agricultural, as well as urban and rural. It crosses in its first section the coast of Guipuzkoan, from the mouth of the Bidasoa to the border with Bizkaia, characterized by a high level. The abrupt areas disappear as they enter Bizkaia, via Markina-Xemein, and it allows to know the corners of the Biscayan districts of Lea-Artibai and Busturialdea until reaching the enchanting places of the Encartación.
Step 1: Hondarribia - San Sebastián
The Camino starts on the bridge of Santiago de Irun, which saves the natural border of the Bidasoa River, or in Hondarribia, if you want to cross by boat from Hendaia. In this first stage the pilgrim walks through a mountainous landscape next to the sea, through rivers such as Pasaia and seafaring villages such as Hondarribia, until reaching San Sebastián, an ideal colophon.
Step 2: San Sebastian - Zarautz
Once the Gipuzkoan capital is abandoned, the Camino regains its rugged face through solitary farmhouses, cattle farms and paths that open way between the vegetation, until reaching Orio, a former whaling village.
Step 3: Zarautz - Deba
From Zarautz, without losing sight of the waters of the Cantabrian coast, the ports of Getaria and Zumaia meet. Before reaching the end of the stage at Deba, the journey temporarily indoors in a more rural Euskadi at the height of Itziar, with a shrine where the Middle Ages worship their black virgin, one of the oldest and venerated in Gipuzkoa.
Step 4: Debbie - Markina-Xemein
It is the last stamp from the Basque coast to the border with Cantabria. From now on, the Camino unveils the Basque mountain, wooded, much more demanding and, at the same time, singular and beautiful. Few stretches of the North Road are as far removed from civilization as this. And surprises don't stop: stately Markina-Xemein is the ideal prize in this part of the journey.
Step 5: Markina-Xemein - Gernika-Lumo
Few beginnings are as stimulating as the one awaiting the exit of Markina-Xemein. First, the idyllic village of Bolibar and then the old Collegiate of Ziortza, with over nine centuries as a witness of the passage of walkers. At the end of the stage, in the historic village of Gernika, the House of Joints and the historic oak of Gernika are the best of the prizes imaginable for this day.
Step 6: Gernika-Lumo – Bilbao
From Gernika-Lumo the picturesque villages of the rural Bizkaia began to take place, where the Juradera Route was formerly carried out by the Lords of Bizkaia. The pilgrim leaves behind the beautiful landscape of Urdaibai to enter the valley of Txorierri to later reach the one that was industrial capital of the Basque Country, Bilbao.
Step 7: Bilbao - Portugalete
From Bilbao, the Camino goes through places in a modern city, very different from those of the first days. As soon as you cross the Biscayan capital, you go up to Mount Kobeta which closes the city south and gives a panoramic illustrator of the Nervión Valley.
Step 8: Portugalete - Kobaron
The journey in this last stage returns to the coast and runs through the mining area of Bizkaia, with barely startles to the beach of La Arena. Once Pobeña is left behind, the Camino del Norte gives one of its sections with better views: the Via Verde of the old mining railway.
The Interior Road, axis of secular communication
The Camino de Santiago inland are 249.70 km that allow to know, in just seven days, a huge geographical, historical, social, economic and cultural diversity. Moreover, this route has been, since the Roman era, one of the most important communication axes of the north Peninsular.
Step 1: Irun - Hernani
In Irun the walker finds traces of the Jacobean importance of this border city. And, after contemplating the most emblematic places of the town (the church of the Juncal, the Hermitages Santa Elena and San Marcial, among others), continues towards Hernani.
Step 2: Hernani - Tolosa
The second stage begins in one of the oldest villas of Gipuzkoa, with a rich historical-artistic heritage: the church of St. John the Baptist (XVI's), the house-tower of the Gentiles or the Casa Portalondo, of medieval times.
Another characteristic building of Hernani, the chapel of the Humiliadero de la santa Cruz, is related to the following urban center, Urnieta, where it is reached parallel to the train tracks.
Step 3: Tolosa - Zegama
In which it was the capital of Gipuzkoa, after crossing the bridge over the Oria and performing the Paseo de la Ribera, an ascending road reaches Mount Ollaun to descend, then, to Altzoazpi, next to the Gothic church of San Salvador. There, the road to the municipality of Alegia leaves behind the chapel of the Holy Christ.
Step 4: Zegama - Salvatiheim-Agurain
From Zegama, the stage runs in ascension towards the San Adrián pass. After leaving several crosses, you can see the hermitage of Iruetxeta and the dwarf Buenabista, and then go through the forest of Iturzabal. Later, there is the chapel of Sancti Spiritus, a former pilgrim hospital.
Step 5: Salvatiheim-Agurain - Vitoria-Gasteiz
The walker can breathe peacefully: the journey to Vitoria-Gasteiz is a nice walk with very few urban concessions, a few drops of solitude and several religious monuments with duende, such as the church of San Martin de Tours de Gazeo or the shrine of Estibaliz, both medieval. In this area there are also prehistoric manifestations such as the Dolmens – that of Sorginetxe is one of the most fascinating in the Basque Country – and Roman footprints such as those of Arcaya or Renaissance, such as the palaces of Salvatierra.
Step 6: Vitoria-Gasteiz - La Puebla de Arganzón
Once the pilgrim leaves Vitoria-Gasteiz and leaves its urban and industrial structure, the trail is again submerged among cereal fields, as it crosses sober and welcoming villages like those of the previous days. The Romanesque art practiced in this corner of the Basque Country still reserves a couple of pleasant surprises in Armentia and Villanueva de la Oca.
Step 7: La Puebla de Arganaki - Briñas
The continuous ‘ups and downs’ of the first days once again feature this long journey of almost thirty kilometers, in search of the French Way. Once you reach Briñas, the retina keeps the image of the four rivers of the stage: the Zadorra, the Help, the Inglares and the Ebro. On the way there are villages walled in the bottom of valleys, downhill ports and a peak more than demanding, the portillo of the Lobera. Eventually, after overcoming it, there is Rioja Alavesa, land of orderly vineyards that domesticate the landscape.
More information: www.euskaditurismo.eus