A mythological walk through Gorbeia
Gorbeia is one of the most important mountains in the Basque Country, and where the best known and most iconic peak in the area is located.
This mountain is located in Gorbeia Natural Park, an idyllic place with all types of hiking trails.
Gorbeia is also very important in Basque mythology because it is home to various mythical beings, including the goddess, Mari.
Gorbeia Natural Park
Gorbeia Natural Park is a leading traditional name in Basque mountaineering and in mountaineering nationwide. Its uniqueness, spectacular countryside and different routes, together with its location close to urban areas, have made this mountain one of the most popular to visit in the Basque Country for many years.
Gorbeia has very different landscapes of steep rocks, gentle pastures and forests, mostly of beech and oak trees. Its summit, at an altitude of 1,482 metres, marks the boundary between the Bizkaia and Araba districts, and it is there that we can find the famous and recognisable Cruz del Gorbeia (Gorbeia Cross).
In Gorbeia Natural Park we can also find the Itxina Protected Biotope and Gujuli waterfall, with water falling more than 100 metres.
One of the most deeply rooted traditions among mountaineers in our region is to climb Gorbeia on the last and first day of each year, gathering there to celebrate the start of a new year.
Itxina Protected Biotope
Within Gorbeia Natural Park is the Itxina massif, a labyrinth between mountains full of chasms and caves. It is a really lovely area to visit, but you have to be extremely careful not to get lost. The best option is to visit Itxina with someone who knows it well, or to use a GPS.
You can see from its shape that the rainwater has erode the rock over millions of years, creating countless underground channels which have turned into caves.
Gorbeia's landscape is spectacular no matter when you visit it. This is, for example, how the beech trees look in autumn when they are at their best.
Ojo de Atxulaur
Ojo de Atxulaur is a natural gateway located on top of the rocky slopes of the Itxina Massif, from which we can see and enjoy the entire plateau with its different labyrinths and interesting caves. According to legend, Mari, the goddess of Basque mythology, lives near Ojo de Atxulaur.
Inside Gorbeia Natural Park, we also have the town of Gujuli. Many visitors come to this town to see its wonderful waterfall which stands more than 100 metres tall. We suggest that you go up to its viewpoint perched on the edge of the precipice so that you can enjoy even more of all this natural panorama.
Basque mythology and its mysticism
Gorbeia and its surroundings play a leading role in Basque mythology and are the scene of many Basque mythological stories involving lamias, witches and gentiles.
Basajaun, the Lord of the Forest
It has always been said that Basajaun (the Lord of the Forest) lives in its forests and that, despite his large size, he is kind and friendly, always taking care of the shepherds with their flocks in exchange for breadcrumbs. The shepherds do not see him, but they know that he is always close to them. By the way, many people do say that they have seen him. So now you know, if you hike one of the routes in this wonderful natural park and see a flock of sheep, you may come across Basajaun!
Lamias and their beauty
Legend says that Lamias bathe on the banks of its rivers. These are mythological beings with duck feet who comb their long hair with golden combs. Due to their great beauty, many hikers have been abducted by the Lamias. So the best solution is probably not to run into any of them.
Mari, the ancient goddess
Another of the mysteries found inside this beautiful natural park is the Basque mythological figure, Mari. She usually appears in different caves in the area. She is a fairy, an ancient goddess who lives in the depths of the caves and has magical powers.