Source: Labayru Fundazioa Photographic Archive.

Hidden on one of the hills that span the eastern slopes of Mount Jata, the chapel of St. Michael of Zumetzaga stands in an isolated and mysterious setting. Ancient oaks, chestnut trees and the odd age-old holm oak provide the shade protecting this simple, but historically important chapel; it is believed to date back to the end of the 12th century and is in the late Romanesque style. The Zumetzaga farmstead, the guardian of this gem, can be found beside it.

The chapel faces east and is a modest building, consisting of a single rectangular nave, ending in a almost square apse. This is shored up by sturdy buttresses outside that give a peculiar look to the building. All the walls, along with the vaults, are in stone masonry and there is only an opening on each façade. Three of them are entrances, and there is a small window in the chevet which lets in the little light to the dimly lit chapel. That, and the south-facing door, are the most interesting features of the building. (more…)

St John of Gaztelugatxe. Bermeo (Bizkaia), 1994. José Ignacio García

St John of Gaztelugatxe. Bermeo (Bizkaia), 1994. José Ignacio García Muñoz. Labayru Fundazioa Photographic Archive.

This maritime sanctuary dedicated to the martyrdom of Saint John the Baptist has over the centuries been one of the most important pilgrimage destinations on the coast of Bizkaia. Pilgrims flocked here to pray, make a wish, promise, express their gratitude…, but also in search of unparalleled aesthetic and landscape experiences. The chapel and an old hermit’s house stand on the island, connected to mainland by a two-arched bridge. 232 stone steps along a narrow path lead to the hermitage, although tradition has it that there once were as many as there are days in a year. The quite inaccessible islet of Aketxe lies close. (more…)