SPAIN | Gaztelugatxe

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When we found this little gem only about 45 minutes’ drive from busy Bilbao, we were really happy! You’ll arrive at Gaztelugatxe after a walk of about three kilometres from the car park. Once we reached the top of the island, we could enjoy the wonderful view. And of course we rang the bell three times, because it’s meant to ward off evil spirits. Fun fact: you can see the stairs at Gaztelugatxe in the famous series Game of Thrones.

Off the coast of Biscay is a mystical island with a church on it, called Gaztelugatxe. The name has two meanings: castle rock and unreachable castle. That it’s unreachable became clear quite quickly. Because to reach the island, you’ll need to walk about 150 metres up a stone staircase. At least it’s a well-maintained staircase! It’s quite a climb, but definitely worth it. Once you’re on the island, you’ll have a beautiful view of the sea, and you can visit the church too, with its rich history. The church was built in the eleventh century by the Knights of the Order of the Templars, and served as a place of pilgrimage. Moreover, the church was burned down, robbed and destroyed in other ways time and time again, and each time it was rebuilt.