Santa María de la Antigua, the “Cathedral” of Basque hermitages

22 05 2014

Absolutely off the beaten path, and hardly visited by any foreign tourists, near Zumarraga lies the“cathedral” of Basque hermitages. It´s believed that this amazing church was built on the remains of a XII century fortress. While the outside walls and façade are austere and without much interest, the interior is surprisingly outstanding, completely covered in oak wood coffering. There´s a complex wooden framework all over the ceiling, that makes the interior of this big hermitage a beautiful, relaxing sight. If there´s someone singing on the choir, as it happened during my visit, the effect is simply breathtaking.

Together with the sanctuaries of Loiola and Arantzazu, it is part of the Route of the Three Temples (Arantzazu, Loiola and Santa María) in the Ignatian Land (St Ignatius, founder of the Jesuits, was born in Loiola in the Basque Country). The legend says that the church is made of the stones thrown by the Giants that inhabited the Basque Country before the arrival of Christianism, who wanted to destroy it, as churches were a menace for their survival.




If you really want to see a different church, in a non touristy part of the Basque Country, but close to eveywhere you may stay…this is the place.