Friday, 09 June 2017 06:43

Zestoa, from the Paleolithic to the spring tastes of today

I have a friend named Ekain, and I always thought the reason behind that was the month of June (Ekaina in Basque), but in a talk about names we had a few days ago we commented that his was connected to a cave of the Paleolithic located at one kilometer from Zestoa. That same night I started looking for information on the internet and discovered that in 2008 UNESCO named Ekain World Heritage Site. It was clear, I had to arrange a visit to Zestoa.


ciudad zestoa


I approached the tourist office of the village for information, but before entering I found a large house made of stone and wood. I believe that in Zestoa I will find more than mere information about prehistory.


oficina turismo


casa portalekoa


In the office, I was treated by a very nice girl named Nerea. She explained to me that Ekain cannot be visited but that I will feel the same feelings in a replica. Consequently, she sent me to Ekainberri.

Downhill, I passed an old bridge (Zubizarra) above the river Urola.


puente zestoa


There I found the old laundry room called Lauiturri (four fountains). The posters indicate the way to go, so I've kept the map in my pocket. 


lau iturri 


señales camino zestoa


Suddenly I found myself in front of a great palace. It has to be Lili's palace. Here they usually show the theatrical life that was taken centuries ago in these lands, but it is only open on the weekends so I will have to leave your visit for another day.


palacio lili


Leaving Lili behind, the road drives you among trees, where I have stopped, and take a good breath of fresh air. Moreover, I have taken a 360 degree turn to see the mountains and hear the rustle of the stream.


paseo ekainberri


paseo tranquilo zestoa


I do not know why, the movie "The Sound of Music" came to my mind and I started to sing the song "Edelweiss", but it is better not to tempt the rain, so I'd better go my way. I have found Ekainberri in 500 meters.


ekainberri edificio 


ekainberri senales


It is a spectacular concrete building that stands on the slopes of the mountain Sastarrain. Architecturally it is very special, and it is divided into two: the replica of the cave and the museum. I have been able to visit the cave next to Jon, who has demonstrated an infinite patience with me. I do not know how many times he had to say that I could not take pictures inside. As soon as you pass through the iron-gate you have the feeling of entering a cave; coldness, the noise of every drop of water, darkness ... the paintings that look like those made 14,000 years ago. Jon has explained to us that what is seen is not the replica of the whole cave but one of the most important parts. 


pinturas ekain


The paintings are preserved so well because it seems that some 12,000 years ago there was a landslide that buried the cave. You cannot see many places in the world with paintings of this period so well preserved and one of them is right here. I have known that humans did not live here and only used this place to come and paint. We can say that Ekain was the San Telmo or Guggenheim of today. With the music and sounds, I have felt a great inner peace, the peace that brings relaxation; I guess artists feel something like this when they start looking for their muses. Anyway, it's a good thing I do not have to paint anything ... my paintings are worse than those of three-year-olds.


museo ekainberri


With that sense of peace I have entered the museum and found an exhibition on bears with skulls and tools of that time. 


esqueletos oso


esqueletos oso femur


That has led me to think how humans of that time would do to hunt such animals and I found the answer immediately: Ekain Abentura! In this park I have joined a group that has come to spend a few days at the spa (with the hustle that I take I need to rest, so do not be surprised if I finish talking about this site) and showed us how they made fire, painted and hunted. 


ekainberri caza practica



I have imagined myself with a spear and a loincloth of skin and a YABADABADOOOOO! came out of my mouth! The general laughter has been great and my face has taken the color of a cherry tomato.



inaki sare firma


Nevertheless, I could not leave the place without seeing the real Ekain, even the smallest part! I walked the 600 meters that separate me from the real Ekain with pleasure, and I set the camera on fire taking pictures until I started to hear noises: my stomach.


cueva ekain


I returned to the tourist office to ask for a place to eat something and asking for a guide that would show me the village. They gave me the telephone number of Vicente Dabila, but he had another visit and I will not be able to be with him in two hours. Therefore, I am preparing to fill the gut. I approached the bar Fati and see the poster of "Urola Gustagarri", so I have not thought twice and I have entered inside. 


fati taberna


Arantzazu have attended me and explained that Urola Gustagarri is a project in which different bars of the valley participate with the intention of using different pintxos or food dishes, thinking of all tastes and pockets, giving importance to seasonal and local products (that's why it is also named Udaberriko Zaporeak or Sabores de Primavera). And of course, I could not resist eating the "Lumagorri (farm chicken) in its nest" along with a good beer. In a small casserole, forming a nest with the potatoes, I have eaten the wings of the lumagorri in the blink of an eye. Juicy and delicious. 


pintxo gustagarri


I liked the idea and I went in search of another bar enrolled in the project. I have arrived at the bar Mollergi and I have swallowed the pintxo "Euskal Kebab". The product is really worthy, in the form of Kebab but with native flavors. Lumagorri, lettuce, tomato, onion ... all washed down with a special sauce: it makes you want to lick your fingers!


mollergi taberna


euskal kebab



Once I have recovered my strength, I am ready to join Vicente and visit the village. Following his advice we have begun the visit in the Cross of Zestoa



cruz zestoa


We arrived in just three minutes. This cross is of the 17th century and apparently after the Medieval age this type of crosses were placed to mark the beginning of the town. It is a special place for the native ones, because they usually do the tamborrada here. In addition, it has a peculiar history, because they had to renew it in the decade of the 50s, but some "enlightened" bricklayer thought that it would be better turning the capital around and thus we can see it today. We started with the visit and have seen many houses and monuments:


casa licenciado


pio baroja casa


The house of Pio Baroja, house in which he lived when he was the doctor of the town; the town square that becomes a bullring at parties, as wide as it is full of charm (the views that look over its buildings are beautiful), there recorded the movie "Arriya", for example, and there we will find the building called "Toriles ", designed by Ignacio Ibero in 1767 to see the bulls.


zestoa pueblo


The Town Hall, apparently the oldest building in Gipuzkoa fulfilling this task, because in Euskal Herria normally people used to gather under the oak trees to discuss the issues, but in Zestoa this house was built for these works in 1601; the hamlet "Lizarritz", perhaps the oldest building of the town since it appears already documented in 1469, although its present aspect took it in the 18th century; 


lizarritz baserria


The "Casa Torre", made by municipal commission to host the knights who arrived at the General Boards of Gipuzkoa; or the church of the Nativity of Mary, built in isolation from the rest of houses to avoid the risk of fire.


torrea etxea iglesia zestoa


There had been a lot of things in a short time and I ended up busted, but glad to have the opportunity to know more about this town. I'm going home, with the notebook full of notes. I do not think I will have trouble sleeping today. Will I dream that I have become Peter Flintstone?


mano inaki sare


Before saying goodbye, I would like to thank Nerea from the tourist office, Jon and Aintzane from Ekainberri, for the incredible experience they have made me live and, of course, Vicente Davila (626 036 990 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) for showing me all the incredible corners that Zestoa hides.




Iñaki Sare





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