Elizondo lies at the geographical and nerve centre of the Baztan valley
. Located in the north of Navarre, the valley encompasses fifteen towns within its municipal boundaries, which are dotted throughout the luxuriant green landscape of the Atlantic Pyrenees. The town, divided by the river Baztan, enjoys a mild, damp Atlantic climate.
Its civil architecture is characterised by houses with white walls and reddish ashlar stones on the corners and spans -from the nearby Almandoz quarries- gabled roofs, wooden balconies on the top floor and bearing the valley's coat of arms.
Elizondo is notable for the large number of mansion houses and palaces
in its historical quarter between the streets of Jaime Urrutia and Braulio Iriarte. Most of these properties used to belong to local people who emigrated to America and wanted to leave a legacy of the fortunes they made there.
One of the most outstanding buildings is the Baroque palace of Arizkunenea
, also known as the Count's (or Governor's) Palace. It was built in 1730 by Miguel de Arizkun, a prominent courtier in the court of Felipe V. It is laid out in a U-shape and the façade, in Baroque style, evokes the French palaces of that era. Two buildings jut out on either side, with austere façades, and although the central part is offset, it stands out for the concentration of decorative motifs. It is finished off by a pediment and presided over by a spectacular coat of arms, which sports a decorative border with lions, child bearers, plant elements, horns of plenty and the Marquis's crown. In front of the façade a patio opens up which is accessed through a grille dating back to 1740.
During the first Carlist war, the palace was home to some illustrious guests, including Carlos de Borbón, the pretender to the Spanish throne, and generals Zumalacárregui and Espoz y Mina. We recommend that before you continue your journey you go round the back of Casa Arizkunenea, where there is a magnificent view of the river and its bridges.
Close to the palace is the Town Hall, a porticoed building from the 18th century. Inside, the old flag of the valley is still kept, which according to legend was flown at the Battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212. The Datue Palace and the Viceroy's House are another two of the most representative civil buildings in the municipality.
With regard to religious architecture, the Church of Santiago
is a prime exponent. Built during the first decades of the 20th century, its monumental façade and the Baroque-style towers that flank it are most noteworthy. Of equal interest are the chapels of San Pedro and Santa Engracia.Popular festivals, gastronomy and sports
The fun-loving nature of its people has made Elizondo the ideal setting for holding festivals and livestock fairs. At the end of July), the Baztandarren Biltzarra
(Day of the Valley) is held, a celebration that brings together the 15 villages that form the valley. Festivities include colourful processions of floats and the traditional 'multi-dance' in the Town Hall square, amongst others. Another interesting event is the livestock
, agriculture and craft fair that takes place on the first Friday after Easter.
Local cuisine is another of the main attractions of this region. One of the most traditional dishes is Txuri-tabelz, a stew made from lamb tripe. If you're sweet-toothed, look out for urrakin egina in Elizondo's cake shops, a delicious chocolate confection containing whole hazelnuts