Continuation of the 2023 trip
A cloudy gray and rainy weather didn't deterred us from taking a half day excursion to the charming most verdant Pyrenees countryside and visit most quint coast-side villages, about 20 minutes drive away from, San Sebastian, about which I posted. (here)
They are located in the northeastern part of the San Sebastián region, in the province of Guipúzcoa, an autonomous community of the Basque Country
The villages are part of fishing communities by a commercial port clustering around the sheltered Bay of Pasaia. connected with the open sea only by a narrow channel
It is a natural bay that has been known to be used just as it was centuries ago.
Although as a town it would be Pasaia as a whole, the division in its districts is made up of "three different towns": Ancho, San Juan and San Pedro, together with Trintxerpe , literally attached to San Pedro... (and San Sebastián.) all around the estuary that is, a fluvial channel – of the Oyarzun river – invaded by the sea and port of the same name.
S. Juan on the Left and S. Perdro on the Right side of the Channel
The 2 historical populations that make up the municipality of Pasajes are the villages of San Pedro and San Juan, born on opposite sides of the mouth of the port of Pasajes. They were originally simple fishing villages and marine pilots. Their names are due to the dedications of their respective parish churches.
Pasai Donibane or Pasaia de San Juan,(both names are in use)
There is a need to get first (by car or a bus from San Sebestian) to San Pedro village's Port, where a small Taxi boat crosses over the visitors and disembark them 10 minutes later at the tiny charming Donibane village
Taxi Boat from S. Pedro to S. Juan
Located in the eastern part of the mouth of the port, at the foot of Mount Jaizquíbel. Here is the town hall. It has about 2500 inhabitants
The Port on S. Perdro side
Pasai San Pedro - the bigger village located on the opposite side of the mouth, on the slopes of Mount Ulía with about 3000 inhabitants
Port views of S. Prdro
Arriving at S. Juan
The charming fishing village of S. Juan is made up of picturesque fishermen and sailors' houses. as well as and few of palace houses from several centuries ago..
chapel of Santa Ana, that watches over the port and bay from the hilltop
The only one main narrow street at Donibane village, - "Donibane Kalea" - the historic center which we walked through, winds between these colorful old houses, many from the 16th/17th C beneath arches, which facilitates the passage along the street, and offers spectacular views of the sea, the port and the incoming/outgoing of the ships in the narrow channel.
Town Hall/Arizabalo Palace
Victor Hugo House/Tourist Info
House # 63 in this one main street, from the 17th C, overlooking the harbor, is were the known French writer Victor Hugo lived in 1834 who succumbed to the charms of this fascinating village
Today the house has been converted into the Tourist Office
Arizabalo Palace - a 17th C Baroque building stands out, is currently the town hall.
Parish church of San Juan Bautista, the Renaissance 16 C house of the Mirandas and the Villaviciosa Palace, or the Basilica Santo Cristo de Bonanza. up to the Plaza de Santiago.
The Houses on the Main square
Plaza de Sandiago
The main small square is framed by tall colorful houses with wooden balconies
David is resting at the Plaza
There are paths and trails going up the steep Jaizquíbel Mt. and along the coast toward Puntas along the bay which offers amazing views of the entire Pasaia de San Pedro area, where also several lighthouses, among which the La Plata Lighthouse stands out., can be seem
Climbing the steps up the Hill
The narrow Opening of the Channel to the open Sea
The Scenery off the walking trail
The lighthouse path passes some old fortifications
The lighthouse on the S. Pedro side, across the channel
Much above Sea level
Small water fall Rock formation in Sea Rock formation on Land
Lunch in the Village
We had a great lunch, on the main street and close to where the Taxi boat disembarks the in-comers., which offers great sea food and views of the harbor.
There is a natural sea pool opening, (instead of aquarium) framed by a wooden rail, inside the restaurant, in which the restaurant stores its live sea creatures that are being fished out and served after chosen by the restaurants' eaters,
Donibane 79 +34 943523609
Afamily resturant since 1884
Departing S. Juan
Back to S. Pedro
Hondaraibia or Fuenterrabía (in Spanish)
The other visited coast town right on the border between Spain and France and about which the 2 countries fought a lot.
Hondarribia a colorful Basque charming fishing town, rich in history, architecture, beach and in gastronomy. which has a well-preserved Old Town, surrounded by a fortified wall, the only one to be found in Guipuzcoa province.
The Old Town consists of beautiful Basque houses, also with wooden colorful balconies as well as some baroque buildings, and narrow steep alleys paved with cobble-stoned .
Santa María stone arch Gate is the main entry to the walled old town, which was also home to the Gothic and Renaissance Castle of holy Roman Emperor Carlos V
The Castle now Parador Hotel
Located in and dominating the plaza de las Armas Square the palace castle was built in the 10th c by King Sancho Abarca of Navarre, although it was subsequently reformed by Emperor Charles V and used in both functions, connected by an interior courtyard. Besides serving as a fortress and playing an important role in several wars, it would also lodge the Royal Family on numerous occasions, like, during the wedding of the Spanish Infanta to Louis XIV in 1660.
It still conserves the structure of a medieval fortress and its defensive appearance.
The amazing stone building was once a key defense point against northern invaders
It has a quadrangular plan with thick walls and the rather small doorway, is decorated by the imperial coat of arms with the two-headed eagle of Charles
The castle is situated at a strategic area of the city, at its highest point, and provides wonderful views of the bay of Biscay , the neighborhood below the castle by the coast and the surrounding verdant mountains
Sandy Hondarribia Beach lies at the mouth of the Bidasoa River. West of the city,
On the day we visited the weather was very grey, cold and rainy most of the day, so we cut our visit short, as it was really unpleasant to wonder the streets being soaked and not from a sunny hot beach experience, which usually is the case for the summer tourists
The Castel has been restored and since 1968 the building operates as a Parador tourist hotel. Beautiful corners and rooms decorated with coffered arches surround the visitor with an a medieval ambiance Spears, cannons and armors are part of the interior design decoration.,
Beautiful 8 tapestry pieces from 17C recounting scenes from the Life of Achilles designed by the famous Belgian artist Peter Paul or as in Spanish -Pablo Pedro Rubens, are part of the decorations hanging in a special large medieval dinning area.
More to see
The 16th-c Iglesia del Manzano church., and on Mount Jaizkibel, Guadalupe Fort which was a Spanish Civil War prison.
And there is the Marina Neighborhood - the old fishing area, where the entire ancient village of Hondarribia used to be before the official foundation of the town. Today, the two main streets there, San Pedro and Santiago, form an urban grouping in which most of the bars and restaurants that have made the town famous ,can be found,
In recent years, Hondarribia has seen a boom in its culinary scene due to many young chefs who, after studying under the likes of Martín Berasategui and Pedro Subijana (see Michelin star restaurants), have taken their knowledge and set up shop in Hondarribia
To be Continued...