San Juan de Gaztelugatxe

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Bermeo Tourist Office
Askatasun bidea, 2.
Tel: 946 179 154
Fax: 946 179 152


Gaztelugatxe Protected Biotype (158 ha) covers a section of the Vizcaya coastline, from near to Bakio to the west, to Cape Matxitxako (Bermeo) to the east. It is a somewhat singular part of the coast (formed by cliffs and steep slopes), particularly if we take into account the absence of islands and islets off our coast. Moreover, one of its endpoints, Cape Matxitxako, is its most prominent section, an accident of geography which acts as a reference point.

Travelling along the road between Bermeo and Bakio we will see two rocky islands, both showing the clear tones typical of limestone: San Juan de Gaztelugatxe and Aketze. The first of these, which is more of a peninsular, is attached to land by way of a bridge constructed on the rocks which remained between the island and firm ground; in one of the ends, the waves have dug out perfect tunnels in the rock. At its peak, which can be accessed by crossing the bridge and going up a long flight of steps, is the Hermitage of San Juan; according to legend, St John the Baptist reached this place after disembarking in Bermeo, with three of his steps being set in the rock of the road. This hermitage dates back to the 10th century, and may have been a Templar monastery. Over the years the Hermitage suffered many ups and downs, including fires and pillaging by plunderers such as Francis Drake, although it has now been completely reconstructed.

Aketze crag rises up prominently from the sea. Over centuries, human presence on the island has been negligible, as it can only be accessed by boat. This isolation has led to it becoming a sanctuary for seabirds; 200 pairs of commun petrels, feathered cormorants and yellow legged gulls all nest in this exceptional place.


Coordonnées GPS San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
- Latitude: 43,4474978624861
- Longitude: -2,78469085693359

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