Zugarramurdi, part of the Witchcraft Route
, is a small village of just over 200 inhabitants located in the western Pyrenees of Navarre next to the border with France. Its streets and white houses contrast with the endless palette of greens that colour the surroundings.
On leaving the village, just 400 metres further on you will come across a natural setting of breathtaking beauty: the Olabidea stream, which originated in Hell according to its Basque name "Infernuko erreka". This stream has excavated a natural tunnel 120 metres long with walls of up to 12 metres high and two raised galleries.
There are no stalactites, stalagmites or cave paintings in the cave, but its unique appeal lies in their vastness and the legends
that surround them. In it is easy to imagine the akelarres
, and sense the stories that speak of witchcraft, pagan rituals and banquets presided over by the Devil. The names the cave have been called accentuate its relationship with that magical world. It is known as "Sorgin Leze"
(witches' cave) on the most open side of the tunnel and as "Akelarre Leze"
(covens' cave) in its narrowest part.
Myth or reality? What is true is that history linked the name of Zugarramurdi to witchcraft for ever thanks to the Auto de Fe of 1610. Constant accusations of preparation of potions, spells and witchcraft led the Inquisitor Valle-Alvarado to take 40 'suspects' to Logroño, where the Court of the Inquisition sentenced 11 people to die at the stake. Five of them, already dead, were burnt later. A plaque at the entry to the cave recalls the names of the people who died.
A celebration relives the festive use for which the caves were used each year. It takes place on 18th August, the last day of the village's festivities, which is when the traditional zikiro jate
takes place, a multitudinous meal attended by 800 people at which lamb roasted on stakes is served.
A picturesque and easy walk links this cave with those at Zugarramurdi and Sare: the 6.75-kilometre-long Sendero de los Contrabandistas
(smugglers' path). It is signposted with a blue horse, involves no difficulty and runs peacefully through meadows and woods.
Recommeded route for getting to know the area around the cave of Zugarramurdi.