Navarra hides in its subsoil a very well kept secret: its caves. The abundance of limestone soils has allowed water to create caves of extraordinary beauty over the centuries, many of them full of myths and legends, which has contributed to their popularity and to the fact that visiting them is not only a walk through the bowels of the earth, but also a journey to a dark and remote past, when no one doubted the existence of witches and lamias.
The hollows opened by the water over centuries and centuries of slow action on the limestone rock have allowed the region to have an impressive catalog of caves that attracts many speleologists from all over the world every year. Among the most spectacular caves is the Sima de San Martín, in the Larra karst, with a drop of more than 1,300 meters from the entrance to the end and a route of more than 50 km. But leaving aside the realm of specialists, visitors to Navarre can enter the interior of three extraordinary caves for different reasons: Urdax, Zugarramurdi and Mendukilo.
The Urdax caves were discovered by a shepherd in 1808, although their origin dates back some 14,000 years, thanks to the erosion caused by the Urtxuma River, which flows through it. They were occupied by guerrillas and smugglers, although the flint remains found inside testify that they were inhabited by man long before.
The legends also assure that these caves were occupied by lamias, mythological beings half fish and half woman.
The conditioned tour, which lasts about thirty minutes, allows you to discover the infinite forms that water has outlined in the "reception room", the "room of the three kings" or the "room of the columns".
Visit the caves of Navarra
thanks to the guides of the area
who will give you indications
Zugarramurdi, the village of witches, hosts one of the most visited caves of our geography. You will not find stalactites, stalagmites or any other formation. Its attraction lies in the fact that, until the 17th century, it was home to the witches' covens, pagan gatherings of men and women in which unbridled feasts, orgies and dances were held in honor of Satan. Leaving the village, just 400 m away, you can discover this impressive site: The Olabidea stream, which, according to tradition, originates in hell, has dug a 120-meter tunnel with a height of up to 12 m and two elevated galleries. Two festivals are held annually in the cave: on June 24, the night of St. John, and on August 18, when the "ziriko jate" or lamb roasted on stakes is served.
There is an 8 km long path that connects, without difficulty, the caves of Zugarramurdi and Urdax. It is marked with a blue horse and runs through forests and meadows, an evergreen landscape.
In the valley of Larraun, in the council of Astiz, a few minutes from Lekunberri, are the caves of Mendukilo, a cave of extraordinary beauty that was used as a stable until it was conditioned for its visit.
Accompanied by expert guides of the area, visitors enter the cave in Artzainzulo (Shepherds' Shelter), a large room that allows the entrance of natural light where the first geological formations can be appreciated. Then you will enter Laminosin (Hall of the lakes) with an incredible amount of formations. At the end awaits "the abode of the dragon" characterized by its colossal size of 60 meters long by 20 meters high.
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