Close your eyes and open your imagination. A visit to Ignatian Land is a journey to the past. Discover the different ways in which man over the course of history has used the elements of nature for shelter, learning, meditating or working. It is the story of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and of spectacular churches. It is the land of iron, stone and fire, the landscape that helped shape Oteiza and Chillida, and the setting for the history of humanity since prehistoric times.
Three of the most celebrated churches in Spain can be found in only 20 square kilometres. Ignatian Land is a paradise for people looking for destinations steeped in spirituality, history and religion. In addition to historical landmarks and the spirit of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, the Route of the Three Temples features architectural masterpieces as well as some of the most representative examples of contemporary Basque art.
The Ignatian Way is a pilgrimage route that retraces the journey made by St. Ignatius of Loyola in 1522 from his home in Loiola (Azpeitia) to the city of Manresa. Ignatius’ journey would eventually take him all the way to Jerusalem. Today hundreds of people walk the Ignatian Way each year, whether for religious purposes or simply for the pleasure of experiencing the cultural landscape of a pilgrimage. Each stage is well defined, passing though a number of sites of historical and artistic significance, including the Sanctuary of Loyola, the Hermitage of Zumarraga and the Sanctuary of Arantzazu. This route is an excellent way to discover the steps of a man who changed the course of history.
If you like history, you'll enjoy hearing the countless stories that capture the imagination in this part of the region: prehistoric underground sanctuaries; a museum that tells the story of two scientists in Bergara who discovered wolfram and became prominent members of the European scientific community; the first Basque University, an architectural gem declared a National Historic and Artistic Monument; and a 16th century farmhouse and cider press, showing how people once lived and worked. This is a land of great minds, great works and great people who contributed to history.
Oteiza and Chillida – or how to make magic and turn the earth's natural and historical elements into art. These two internationally acclaimed artists from Gipuzkoa were poets of iron and stone, masters of sculpture, philosophers of the artistic process, and the finest exponents of combining art and industry. Iron and concrete were the main elements used by these two universal figures in a region where industry and machine tooling have been the economic bedrock for centuries.
The Debabarrena region centres on the Deba valley, just a short step away from "Ignatian Country". It has long been the nerve centre of Gipuzkoa's industrial development. The busy towns of Eibar and Elgoibar are fine examples of Basque industrial heritage, where "work is art”.
Since time immemorial, Eibar has had close ties to the iron manufacturing and processing industries, and is famous for its sewing machines, bicycles and shotguns. The Museum of the Arms Industry, as well as showcasing the development of the sector in this region over the last 600 years, also houses a spectacular collection of weapons dating from the fourteenth century to the present day.
The fascinating Machine Tools Museum in Elgoibar pays tribute to the ironworkers, smiths and developers of the iron industry, with information on the different technologies used in mechanical manufacturing processes.
Ekain is one of the best kept treasures in the Basque Country and one of the most important prehistoric sanctuaries in Europe.
An underground baroque cathedral created by the forces of nature.
The Basque Railway Museum in Azpeitia has one of the best railway collections in all Europe, including steam, diesel and electric engines, railcars and all types of carriages.
Iron has always played a particularly important part in the evolution of the Basque Country.
La Antigua is considered the 'cathedral' of Basque chapels and hermitages.
Today the shrine is one of the main draws of spiritual tourism in the Basque Country.
At that point, people from the towns of Oñati and Arrasate began to make pilgrimages to the site.
This is a fine example of a church built over a period of three centuries, with features added in different styles.
Monuments and sculptures
In August 1950, the first stone was laid for the new basilica of Arantzazu.
This magnificent example of medieval architecture can be found in the town of Zestoa.
One of Oteiza's dreams was brought to life in Azkoitia: to experiment with empty spaces in the world of Basque pelota.
Sanci Spiritus University in Oñati is a Renaissance monument and the first university in the Basque Country.
The Basozabal palace is a beautiful fifteenth-century palacio on Calle Enparan in the centre of Azpeitia.
Ignatian Land | Reservation Center
This area, that is named in memory of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, offers us an extraordinary overview of the most important aspects of the prehistory and history of Gipuzkoa. Places that you can visit: Arrikrutz caves and Ekainberri; Igartubeiti farmhouse, one of the most interesting farmhouses in the entire Basque Country; The Mirandaola Ironworks in Legazpi, in the heart of the Valley of Iron; The surprising guided tours with historic reenactments at the Lili Palace and the Railway Museum with its delightful trip on a steam train.