The East Coast from Gipuzkoa (Oarsoaldea)

Leave Donostia – San Sebastian crossing the quarter of Gros and through the High Miracruz (Alto de Miracruz) and after, take the national road N-1 direction Irun. Soon, you will reach the area of Pasaia. Pasaia rises out of the sea, from its harbour. Its magnificent location, in one of the only natural fjords on the Basque Coast, adds to its charm, keeping all its maritime flavour in the four districts which meet in the waters of the Bay: Pasai Donibane, Pasai San Pedro, Trintxerpe and Pasai Antxo. The last three villages are very industrialized and the first impression it is not nice, but if you come closer to the port of Pasai San Pedro, you might enjoy the beautiful view to the other side where its located the village Pasai Donibane. To come to the other side there are two different ways, you can take a boat from the same port or you can drive taking the national road N-1 again until you see the sign on the left side indicating Lezo.

Once you reach Lezo, you should not leave this village from Oarsoaldea without contemplating the gothic statue of Christ (The Church of Saint Juan Bautista) , whose uniqueness lies in being one of the three existing beardless Christ’s in Europe. There are also a number of 16th century buildings of interest, such as the Town Hall, with a sober and elegant Renaissance style. The historical centre contrast with the Mount Jaizkibel nearby, which has several walking trails to enjoy the natural surroundings and magnificent views.

If you follow the same road, a few kilometres you will reach the village Pasai Donibane. This village has a savour of salt and sea: maritime culture permeates the entire town. A stroll along the only street, which is narrow and cobbled, with its bridge-houses leads you to the fishing villages charming and typical square, Plaza de Santiago, where Victor Hugo’s house also stands; and the Chapel of Santa Ana looms over the roof tops of the houses. Every corner is an adventure: the old fishermen’s houses, the traditional Ontziola shipyard, the churches and the Cemetery of Saint Pedro (which preserves the architectural remains of a primitive Parish Church – built in 1457 – with a fabulous Gothic doorway “now the entrance of the cemetery”), the Platain House, the Arizabalo Palace, the Rowing Club are mute witnesses whose praises have been sung by such illustrious visitors as the French writer Victor Hugo, the Marquis Lafayette and the German philosopher Humboldt.

Once you have visited Pasai Donibane, you return to the village Lezo and from there, you take the secondary road which is indicated as Mount Jaizkibel ( GI-3440 ), and at the end of this road you will come to Hondarribia. As much on the ascension as on the high point, there are wonderful views to the Coast, to the river basin of Bidasoa and the “Peñas de Aia” Mountain. In your way coming down, you can visited the Sanctuary and Fort of Guadalupe, home to a 15th century French Gothic statue. The chapel was originally built in the 16th century, only to be destroyed and then rebuilt for the last time in the 19th century. The Virgin of Guadalupe is worshipped all over the Bidasoa district. Closed to the chapel, you might find the Fort. These permanently armed fortifications, situated at strategic points, served to defend the territory against possible invasions, particularly from the French. The fort is entirely surrounded by a 7-8 metre moat and was used as a prison for some time. It was militarily active until the seventies. Today, the renovated part can be visited at the weekends in the summer months.

Few kilometres later, you will reach the town Hondarribia, a fishing village on the Bay of Txingudi, which is a protected natural area. The old part of the town, that has been declared a historical-artistic monument, is located on a small fortified town. Go through the Santa María gate and continue along Calle Mayor, where several unusual buildings are to be found. Just as you enter the street, turn right to visit the Bishop’s Palace. Go back to Calle Mayor and continue until you reach the Plaza de Armas, where the Carlos V´s building, which has now been turned into a Parador, stands. Stroll through the old cobbled streets leading off this square and discover the typical ancestral homes to be found there. Continue across the Plaza de Gipuzkoa and down the street “Calle Santiago de Compostela”, until you reach the street “Calle San Pedro” in the Marina quarter. You should stop and try the fish and fresh seafood – like the very known “Pintxos” (Snacks)- at one of the numerous sidewalk cafés or small restaurants that fill the streets of this area, which is very colourful thanks to its typical fishermen’s houses, filled with flowers. This picturesque town beautifully adorned with an abundance of flowers and gardens has a pleasant promenade which leads to the fishing port and borders the 700 metres long beach and the yachting harbour. Interesting boat trips are organised along the banks of the river Bidasoa, and there is an 18-hole golf course just 2 km from the town centre.

Hardly a three kilometres you will reach the town Irun which is s border town and it is an important centre for connections with Europe. The town has a number of interesting buildings, such as Urdanibia Palace, the Church of Nuestra Señora del Juncal, the Town Hall and the Chapel of San Marcial. It is to remarks that “The Pyrenees Peace Treaty” was made at Pheasant’s Island.

To return to Donostia – San Sebastian, you can take again the national road N-1 or you can take the motorway A-8.