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Green slopes surround this gorgeous valley, with the imposing presence of the mountain Anboto looming over it.

Atxondo is a combination of the Basque atx (haitz) and ondo, which literally means “by the rocks”. The Atxondo valley, as its name suggests, is surrounded by the mountains of Durangaldea.

It’s an area of peace and tranquillity, where the strong walls of the country houses or caseríos guard and protect the essence of what makes this rural area so special.

Atxondo is made up of the old municipalities of Apatamonasterio, Arrazola and Axpe and is a charming area near the Urkiola Natural Park. It’s also the birthplace of Durangaldea mythology and a bucolic landscape without comparison. If you’re looking for peace amid mountains and rocks, this small valley is the place for you.

DISTRICTS

Axpe
La Axpe elizate (an ancient form of local government in the Basque Country) had the 9th vote in the general assemblies of the County of Durango. The Iglesia de San Martín was built in 1550 in front of the Marzana family tower house. This was one of the most important lineages in the region and the outside wall still bears the family coat of arms. It is said that the Marzana family owned two mills, two ironworks and eight country houses.

Apatamonasterio
The Apatamonasterio elizate had the 9th vote in the general assemblies of the County of Durango. It didn’t have its own parish church until 1957 and was originally part of the Abadiño parish and later of the Elorrio parish. The Parroquia de San Pedro Apóstol was built in 1957.

Arrazola
Arrazola had the 8th vote in the general assemblies of the County of Durango. The current parish church was built in honour of the archangel Michael and was converted into a parish church or parroquia in 1510.

Arrazola was an important trade hub. Its mines were a source of valuable black jasper and copper. A mining train travelled through the 5-km Arrazola valley and joined with the Durango-Elorrio route, which was operational until 1920. It’s now possible to walk the entire former railroad.

The Ollargan country house is the oldest such house in Biscay and bears an inscription from 1519.

Discovering the valley
The vía verde or “green way” is a great way to discover the beauty and tranquillity of this magical valley. It starts in Apatamonasterio and follows the old railroad to the place known as Tope or Errotabarri. Stop off along the way at Martzaa and Xantixa to appreciate their impressive and elegant country houses set amid fairytale scenery.

The trail is flat and is suitable for families –there are rest and play areas along the way. The trail ends in the former mining zone, where there are bars and restaurants to make your visit even more enjoyable. Those wanting to really make a day of it can start with a climb up Anboto.

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