The landscape of the Urkiola Nature Reserve is made up of endless forests, rocky outcrops and surprising mountain ranges.
A place full of magic and legends
Its forests are home to a wide range of wildlife, including foxes, wild boars, griffon vultures, roe deer, civet cats, badgers, stoats, martens and stone martens, among others. Most are fairly difficult to see, but if you walk along one of the marked hiking trails, you may get lucky.
The Urkiola Sanctuary is located at the heart of the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country. Even before the arrival of Christianity, our forebears considered this to be a sacred space, and although no one knows exactly when the Sanctuary was built, it is thought to data from the 8th-9th century.
The stone located opposite the Sanctuary is particularly worth noting. The local inhabitants claim it is a meteorite, although in reality it is a lump of iron ore. According to legend, if an unmarried person walks around the stone, they will soon find a husband or wife. An old couplet in the Basque language also reflects this belief: ‘Aita San Antonio Urkiolakua, Aita San Antonio Urkiolakua, hamaika neska mutil uztartutakoa…’ (Father San Antonio of Urkiola, who has managed to bring together many young boys and girls …)
Of all the mountains and peaks located in the Urkiola Nature Reserve, Mount Anboto is the highest and most symbolic in Durangaldea. Standing 1,331 metres above sea level, the summit can be reached from Urkiola, Atxarte (Abadiño), Arrazola (Atxondo) and Aramaio (Álava). The mountains that make up the range are: Anboto, Alluitz, Astxiki or Aitz Txiki, Untzillatx, Mugarra, Saibi, Urtemondo and Pagozelai.
Many legends have grown up over the years about this mountain. It is thought to contain a cave that is the dwelling place of Mari, the goddess of the Basques who travels from mountain to mountain at night inside a giant ball of flame.
What to do in the Urkiola Nature Reserve
The Urkiola Nature Reserve offers a wide range of options for enjoying this unique environment, including climbing, caving (in the Mañaria Caves), guided tours and an extensive network of hiking trails.
Toki Alai Visitors’ Centre
If you want to learn more about the Urkiola Nature Reserve, the Toki Alai Visitors' Centre contains an interactive exhibition about the area. The staff at the centre will also be happy to provide you with information about the different hiking trails and guided tours available. Other activities include challenge trails, geopoint searches and birdwatching.
April – October: 10:00 – 14:00 / 16:00 – 18:00
November – March: 10:30 – 14:30 / 15:30 – 17:30