Saturday, 6 September 2014

Island of Gaztelugatxe Spain

Gaztelugatxe is a small island located in the Bay of Biscay just outside the Spanish coast in Basque Country. The island is crowned by a slight hermitage called San Juan de Gaztelugatxe mainly dedicated to John the Baptist that dates from the 10th century, but could be as early as the 9th century. With another little neighboring island, Aketze, they form a protected biotope that extends from the town of Bakio until Cape Matxitxako, on the Bay of Biscay.

The beautiful island is well connected to the coast by a narrow path, crossing a two-arch stone bridge and the most glorious staircase containing of over 230 steps that head to the hermitage. The island is a planned spot for controlling the coast. However, the history tells us that Gaztelugatxe constituted one of the bastions of resistance against the vanity and rapacious desire of Alfonso XI, the King of Castile. This treacherous enclosure was defended in thirteen century (somewhat in 1334) by seven knights who resisted the attacks of a well-organized army for over a month. But they having failed to siege the island, the Monarch withdrew humiliated. Well, in 1593 it was attacked again and sacked by Francis Drake, whose troops plundered everything to be found in that sanctuary and threw the hermit off the cliff.

Nowadays, the serenity of the island, the magnificent views of the rugged coast, the persistent sea pounding against the rocks and the flocks of seabirds is what drives tourists to this not-so-remote island adjacent the towns of Bakio and Bermeo. Moreover; the best place to visit the island is during spring and autumn season. However; summer months are often crowded with tourists.