Witches, inquisitors, smugglers, pilgrims and monks have forged the identity of Urdax/Urdazubi, also known asla embrujada
(bewitched place). Two routes cross the village, the Ruta del Brujería
(witchcraft route) and the Camino de Santiago Baztanés
. (Baztan valley section of the Pilgrims' Way yo Santiago). The epicentre of both is the Romanesque monastery of San Salvador, built in the 11th century and is part of the place's historical memory. Inside, the Inquisition carried out its investigations that led to the cruel Auto de Fe of Logroño in 1610. Later on, it was a pilgrims' hospital. Get to know the church, its museum, cloister and the old mill
that is still working nowadays.
The entrance to the Caves of Ikaburu lies a few kilometres from the Bay of Biscay
and just a few minutes from the French border at Dantxarinea, in the district of Leorlas de Urdazubi/Urdax. The grotto was discovered by a shepherd in 1808 but it originated way back in time, some 14,000 years ago, as a result of the waters of the river Urtxuma perforating the limestone rock and giving rise to the beautiful formations of stalactites and stalagmites that we can see today.
The flint remains found in the caves reveal that they were inhabited by Prehistoric Man
. Many centuries later, they served as a hideout for smugglers and as a refuge during the War of Independence and the Carlist conflicts. Indeed, local legends say they are the abode of the lamia, mythological beings that are half fish and half woman.
With the aim of conserving this natural enclave, it can only be visited with specialist guides. The 40-minute visit follows an organised route with steps and lighting through the infinite forms that the water has created over the centuries in the form of the "Reception Room", the "Room of the Three Kings" and the "Column Room". Take a look at the sparkles that reveal the presence of magnesium in the rocks and let yourself be lulled by the sound of the river Urtxuma as it flows through the galleries.
An easy track with just a slight incline links the Caves of Ikaburu with those of Zugarramurdi
and Sara, these last caves being on the other side of the border. The journey, around 6,75 kilometres there and back, is signposted by little painted horses and runs peacefully through meadows and woods.
Recommended route for visiting the area around the cave of Urdax.