The north of Spain is full of wonderful landscapes -which can be only found there and not in other parts of the country- due to the climate and the rocky coast of the area. The Basque Country is a unique region, full of history and green countryside. The people there are considerably different from the people from the south due to its location and other cultural issues. They also have their own language, which is considered the only Pre-Indo-European language extant in Western Europe. The city of Bilbao is its main city and the capital of the region. But in this story, I want to tell you about one of the gems you can only find in Euskadi: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.
Gaztelugatxe is a cute islet on the coast of Biscay that belongs to the municipality of Bermeo, Basque Country. It is connected to the mainland by a human-made bridge and 241 stairs. These are probably the stairs with one of the best views to the Cantabrian Sea ever. On top of the island stands a hermitage, whose name is Gaztelugatxeko Doniene in Basque (San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Spanish). It is dedicated to John the Baptist and dates back to the 9th or 10th century.
This place became very popular among Spanish people because a very famous Spanish TV presenter got married there a few years ago. However, nowadays it is becoming a touristic destination, known by people from all over the world due to the fantastic series of HBO, Game of Thrones (in my opinion, the best series made probably and one of my favorites).
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe has been one of the locations chosen to recreate Dragonstone, in many scenes in season 7, with a digitally created castle on top of the islet instead of the hermitage. It is quite easy to recognize Gaztelugatxe, which has probably become one of the gems and one of the most visited places in the north of Spain.
Visiting San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is free, though it is necessary to book your entrance online during weekends. There are three parking zones to leave your car, which are also free. There is 1 km distance to walk from these parking areas to the place where the stairs are. Then, get ready for the stairs with the best views ever, and enjoy the drops of water coming from the waves, which you’ll probably feel on your skin. Once up there, do not forget to ring the bells three times and make a wish- it will bring you good luck, as the tradition says. I recommend you to take comfortable footwear and to visit this place early in the morning when there are fewer people.
San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is undoubtedly a natural wonder and a gem you can’t miss when visiting the Basque Country. Enjoy this mystical islet, climb up the 241 stairs, get the best views to the Cantabrian Sea, and reach the hermitage that was replaced by the Game of Thrones’ Dragonstone, in season 7.
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