Routes

* 5. Aralar, Leitzarraldea and Malerreka

San Miguel de Aralar

We reach an area of exuberant nature, dotted with small towns with large farmhouses, where the people have known how to maintain their nature, identity and traditions. You will be met by a wonderful landscape that is a joy for art-lovers: we can start in the north, starting our visit with the peaceful reservoirs of Leurtza, or in the elegant town of Doneztebe/Santesteban. If we travel south we find historical trails such as the Plazaola Greenway, or the route of the dolmens, the village straight from a film set,  Leitza, the beautiful cave of Mendukilo, or the Romanesque Sanctuary of San Miguel de Aralar.

Estimated duration of the route: 1 day, not including the alternatives marked with an asterisk (*)

Did you know that...?

The Romanesque altarpiece housed in the Sanctuary of Aralar is considered one of best enamel works in Europe and has been declared a Property of Cultural Interest.

San Miguel de Aralar

San Miguel de Aralar

Embalses de Leurza

Embalses de Leurza

Leitza

Leitza

Vía verde del Plazaola

Vía verde del Plazaola

Cueva de Mendukilo

Cueva de Mendukilo

Barril de sidra

Barril de sidra

Queso D.O Idiazábal con nueces y membrillo

Queso D.O Idiazábal con nueces y membrillo

* 5. Aralar, Leitzarraldea and Malerreka

Morning

Leurtza Reservoirs

Our first stop is a wander through Doneztebe/Santesteban, whose hamlet sprawls around the church of San Pedro with a charming ashlar tower. Next we move on to the Natural Recreation Area of the Leurtza Reservoirs; two hidden mountain lakes in the middle of the Atlantic part of the Navarran woodland. An interesting way to enjoy this enclave is to stroll along the various trails or to relax in the peace of the tranquil setting. (+info)

Leitza

Travelling down the NA-170 we reach Leitza, the setting for the best-selling film in Spain, “Spanish Affair”, which won 3 Goyas in 2015. It has a picturesque grey-blue stone arched church with in honour of San Miguel and a well-preserved historical old part of town. (+info)

 

2 km away and in the heart of the mountain is the Park-Museum of Stone Peru-Harri, created by the multifaceted harrijasotzaile (stone lifter) Iñaki Perurena.

Plazaola Greenway

The village of Lekunberri, at the feet of the majestic Aralar mountain range, has large ashlar stone houses, doors with rounded arches, windows with lintels and fine blazons.  Here we find the Plazaola Train Station, the line that joined Pamplona to San Sebastian between 1914 and 1953, whose route has been restored as a Greenway. Today this station is home to the area’s Tourist Office, and is the starting point of a beautiful walk that takes us into the landscapes of the Imotz, Larraun and Leitzaran valleys. (+info)

Mendukilo Cave

This grotto is located in the village of Astitz, and offers three spectacular halls measuring up to 60m long and 20m high, with beautiful stalactites and stalagmites. (+info)

 

Nearby there are two pretty walks that take us to the source of the river Larraun, or to the ruins of the forge of Betelu.

 

Sanctuary of San Miguel of Aralar

It sits at 1,341 m of altitude and is surrounded by breathtaking scenery with views over the Andía mountain range and the corridor of Arakil. With over 1,000 years of history, this austere temple with three naves and three semicircular apses houses a spectacular 12th century Romanesque altarpiece, considered a masterpiece of European enamelwork. The Baroque image of San Miguel is kept in the shrine. (+info)

Route of the Dolmens

This is one of the most significant megalithic ensembles on the Spanish mainland. A halo of mystery enshrouds the 44 dolmens and one menhir, which are dotted over a landscape of barren rock, silent beech woods and gentle meadows where sheep graze. There are various signposted itineraries to help you discover part of this prehistoric legacy. (+info)

 

Gastronomy and shopping

The most typical product is the D.O. Idiazabal sheep’s cheese. There are other outstanding products, such as the pâté, corn cakes, the beef and lamb, cider, curd desserts and artisan bread.

Activities

You can enjoy hiking and mountain biking along the Plazaola Greenway, tree-top walking in the Beigorri adventure park in Lekunberri, and follow themed nature trails all through the area.