Gaztelugatxe – San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Spain - Atlas Obscura


San Juan de Gaztelugatxe, Spain

Hundreds of stone stairs and a winding medieval bridge connect this haunting Spanish island to the mainland.  


Sitting off the Basque coast of Spain, the tiny island of Gaztelugatxe would probably just be another tiny isle left off of maps and all but forgotten, were it not for the fantastical stone bridge and famed steps that connect its single hermitage to the mainland.

Today, the crooked stone bridge that connects Gaztelugatxe to the shore looks more like something that one might see on Game of Thrones,  but when it was originally built in the 11th century, the span was simply a sturdy lifeline to the religious hermitage erected atop the sea crag. The structure, along with its attendant stone path seems to have been established by the Knights Templar. Down the centuries, the little church has been sacked, burned, and otherwise destroyed, but was rebuilt each time.

The church is still standing on the little rock, looking, maybe more enticing than ever, its history simply adding to its charm. The ancient bridge and the hundreds of stairs leading up to the church are still a popular tourist attraction and can be accessed by a well-groomed modern path. Along the bridge are smaller staircases that lead down to reflecting spots at the edge of the water. The hermitage can also be visited, and legend says that after ascending the old staircase, visitors should make a wish.

Whether or not you are interested in ancient construction or churches at all, doesn’t really matter as this spot can just as easily be appreciated for its uncanny resemblance to a location you might use in a Dungeons & Dragons game.   

Know Before You Go

If the road is open, you have a little parking at sea level. If not, you'll have a long way down the mountain, with wooden wet stairs. It is a beautiful trail to do either way.

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