The mill of Zubieta, renovated and opened to the public in 1998, is located in the foothills of the western Pyrenees in the Malerreka valley just 45 kilometres from the sea. Large stone country houses with balconies decked with flowers are dotted all over this valley, characterised by a combination of green meadows and oak and beech forests. It you arrive at Zubieta on the NA-170 from Leitza (in the direction of Doneztebe/Santesteban) you will see the mill before you get to the town, just after crossing a mediaeval bridge over the river Ezcurra.
This ethnographic jewel was built in 1785. After the desamortización (confiscation of church property) by Mendizábal in the mid-19th century, it stopped being a 'royal' mill and became a communal one at the service of the people of the area. The miller was paid in cash; he received a laka, that is, one-sixteenth of the corn brought by the farmer. After two centuries of activity the mill continues to operate and only its associates have the right to pay in cash.
The visit to this eco-museum in Zubieta is divided into three parts: The first teaches you the miller's trade in detail. You will see for yourself how the wheat is ground, using traditional methods, and you can make your own corn pancake. The next part of the visit is a small exhibition of ethnographic objects of the area related to milling, wood handicrafts of and traditional farming practices. The final part is a commentary that gives information on traditions in the area such as the ancestral carnivals of Ituren and Zubieta.What to see in Zubieta and the surrounding area
As well as the museum, take a stroll through the town of Zubieta to see its paved streets and noble houses such as casa Etxebarría or the house-palace of the Irigoyen family. If you visit at the end of January you will coincide with the town's carnival; together with those of nearby Ituren and Lantz, it is considered one of the most important in Navarre.
Just 15 kilometres from Zubieta is the Bertiz Natural Park
, which has a beautiful 20th century botanical garden just inside the entrance, a palatial home and a Nature Interpretation Centre. Make sure you visit the northern area of Navarre along the river Bidasoa, well-known for its trout and salmon; go up to Etxalar in the valley of Cinco Villas (five towns) and admire its impeccable large country houses and popular palomeras (pigeon hunting posts).