Travel Tip Spain: Church of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

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On my Basque Country round trip I drove from San Sebastian to Bilbao along the coast. In order to be able to have a look at the former monastery of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in peace and quiet, I have planned an overnight stay in Bakio. And that was a good idea.

The coast of the Basque Country offers beautiful places. From San Sebastian to the west, picturesque coastal towns, enormous natural landscapes and the church of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe are lined up like a string of pearls.

This tranquil church has been an exciting destination for Game of Thrones fans since season 7. But more about that later.

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I stayed in an agriturismo in nearby Bakio for one night, so that I could have a look at the church in peace and quiet after the drive from San Sebastian. What can I say? It was the right decision. Because next to me there was only one couple left in this magical place.

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If you are planning a visit while passing through here, it is best to park directly on the coastal road to the large parking lot above the monastery. There is also a hotel and restaurant with a beautiful view of the monastery.

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A small path leads down to the sea past the restaurant. You can take this one to reach the former monastery. After about 20 minutes you will stand at the foot of the monastery. Then another ascent begins.

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231 steps towards heaven

A total of 231 steps wind their way up steeply. But then you’ll have a sensational view from this great place. I just let this place talk through the pictures and am quiet here for a moment.

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I stayed up here for a while and I can understand that the monks have built a monastery here. The chapel was built in the 10th century. At that time there were no streets or similar things here and people were rarely seen here.

Meanwhile, the monastery is used as a church by the fishermen of the region. Inside the church there are pictures of rescued fishermen and consecrated objects in the form of ships.

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The seclusion and tranquillity that I can enjoy here reminds me of my visit to Skellig Michael in Ireland. On this site there is also an old monastery complex. The Star Wars producers discovered this place for themselves and filmed it there.

Shooting location for Game of Thrones

The question also arises to me up here. Finally, in the trailer for the Game of Thrones Season 7, I discovered that the Red Priestess of the Fire is looking down from up here. So I’m curious to see how the makers of Game of Thrones have integrated the monastery of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe into the plot.

Update: I’ve seen the first episodes of the 7th season of Game of Thrones, but I’m not going to reveal any details here. Just to put it another way: instead of the small church, the film shows the entire castle Drachenstein of the Targaryen family. It’s amazing what the producers made of this place.

Another short view over the wide sea. But no dragon of Daenerys Targaryen to see. Jon Schnee from Stark’s house is also not to be seen. Then I’ll start my descent.

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Conclusion of my visit to the Monastery of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

Not only as a fan of Games of Thrones you should visit the monastery San Juan de Gaztelugatxe on the island of the same name. It’s an impressive place. But here, too, there is an urgent hint: drive to a time when there is little activity – preferably in the low season.

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If it fits into your holiday planning, take a room in the vicinity, you are here before the first day tourists or they are already gone again. Then this unique place shows its full effect. You won’t regret being up there.

A little tip for the surrounding area

If you are staying in Bakio, you can also visit the Txakoli Museum there. It is a small museum, but it’s quite modern. And Txakoli will of course also be tasted.

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