When you think of the province of Gipuzkoa, the bay of San Sebastián, the beach of Zarautz or the port of Getaria automatically come to mind. However, there is much more. What differentiates the traveller from the tourist is that he is looking for what preserves the essence of a territory, in this case the secret places of Gipuzkoa– to give it a somewhat romantic or mysterious title.
1. Ataun (Ataun)
One of those secret places in Gipuzkoa that goes unnoticed by tourists is Ataun. It is said to be the ‘longest town in Gipuzkoa’ because it is made up of four separate villages. Some say that it upholds the most immaculate landscape in the Basque Country, although it would be very difficult for us to choose. It boasts a panoramic view tinged with green in all its complexity, surrounded by the beautiful mountains of the Aralar Natural Park… pure nature. To understand its exciting history, we recommend visiting the Barandiarán Museum in Molino Larruntza, where the memory of the great Basque anthropologist is preserved. In addition to its rich traditional gastronomy, you can try a visit to two neighbouring towns: Ordizia with its market and Idiazabal, the birthplace of the famous cheese.
2. Sanctuary of Arrate (Eibar)
On a hill above Eibar is the Sanctuary of Arrate (17th century), a place of secular pilgrimage every weekend and of religious pilgrimage every September 8th. This day celebrates the festivities of the Virgin of Arrate and is an event that brings together Basque traditions. Her venerated image is escorted on the altar by four valuable paintings from Ignacio Zuloaga– a native of Eibar– in which the artist appears to be on a pilgrimage with his family.
3. Ametzagaina Park (Donostia-San Sebastián)
One of those secret places in Gipuzkoa with a lot of charm is Ametzagania Park. It is located in the city of San Sebastián, between the districts of Egia, Loiola and Intxaurrondo. It is a fairly large green area, occupying 27 hectares, but it is not very well known. What makes it special is that it contains the remains of an old fort from the Carlist wars of the 19th century. During this period, the so-called Beautiful Easo resisted up to three sieges, never falling into the hands of the insurgents. In addition, you can enjoy privileged views of the city from this secret park.
4. Pool Formations in Urumea (Hernani)
The purity of its waters and the value of its natural environment makes the Urumea an ideal river for bathing. It’s one of the Basque rivers that can be crossed by canoe from the sea. Along the middle and high course of the river there are numerous quiet and pleasant corners to enjoy a refreshing swim. The Urumea pools are a great option when San Sebastián’s beach is crowded. When you get to the shore of the Urumea you are surprised by a wide area, with mini stone beaches scattered on both sides, white and totally surrounded by leafy trees.
5. Lookout Points at the Chapel of Guadalupe (Hondarribia)
Hondarribia is known for its spectacular historic centre and its lively area of bars and grills. But what few know about, and which therefore becomes one of our secret places of Gipuzkoa, is the chapel of Guadalupe– especially the various viewpoints from the imposing fort next to it. As in Eibar, her feast day is September 8th, the night of which is marked by the magnificent ceremony of the uprising of its terrible siege.
6. Plaza de San Juan (Pasaia)
Pasaia is known for its fishing port and for its authentic maritime atmosphere; its essence is concentrated in the Plaza de San Juan. It is one of the secret places in Gipuzkoa where you can enjoy good food at a reasonable price and forget about the hustle and bustle of the surrounding area. You can experience the best grilled sardines accompanied by the best views of the bay. In general, the whole area of Pasaia is an advisable place to stay in overnight, as the accommodation is somewhat cheaper. In addition, the Pasaia Maritime Festival will be held in May of 2018, an occasion that will feature classic boats from all over Europe.
7. Hermitage of La Antigua (Zumárraga)
In contrast to the industrial area surrounding Zumárraga, the hermitage of La Antigua is one of the three main religious architecture attractions in Gipuzkoa, being smaller but of a similar caliber to the other two: Loiola and Arantzazu. Surrounded by green meadows and hills, it is considered “the cathedral of the Basque hermitages.” All you have to do is access the interior and look up to the ceiling to understand why. It is covered with wood built with such perfect carpentry skills that it was not necessary to use a nail. They say that if the hermitage were turned around it would float on the water, since the shape of the roof is reminiscent of a ship’s hull. It is an authentic jewel of the Basque Romanesque style.
Written by: Paloma Díaz Espiñeira
Translated By: Shannen Smith