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Mount Jaizkibel

Pasaia, Gipuzkoa

At 543 metres, you stand before the highest mountain along the coastline of the Cantabrian Sea, also considered to be the most western point of the Pyrenees and sheltering at its feet the towns of Hondarribia, Irun, Pasajes, Rentería and Lezo.

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At 543 metres, you stand before the highest mountain along the coastline of the Cantabrian Sea, also considered to be the most western point of the Pyrenees and sheltering at its feet the towns of Hondarribia, Irun, Pasajes, Rentería and Lezo.

Its name, Jaizkibel, is derived from the Basque Haitz-Gibel (literally, stones on the back), which may be a reference to the sandstone cliffs that for many years were quarried in order to build the towns of  Hondarribia, lrun, Oiartzun, Errenteria, St Jean de Luz and Bayonne, among others... which can still be consulted in the exploitation rights of the quarries of the era.

It should also be noted that, geologically, the two faces of the mountain are very different: the south face is steep and craggy and located alongside a wide stretch of farmhouses spread out between the woodland at its base. The north face, meanwhile, is much smoother having suffered erosion due to frequent storms off the coast of the Cantabrian Sea, which also limit the vegetation here to 4 bushes and the odd scraggy tree... 

If you take a walk along its summit you can still visit the ruins of the five turrets that remain standing to this day, a sixth one having hitherto vanished, which served as lookouts and defence towers during the carlist wars which took place between 1872 and 1876.

For similar military purposes, a number of forts were also erected along this summit. For example:

  • The San Enrique (St Henry's) Fort, which is located just next to the summit and from where the whole Oarso valley can be observed...
  • The Fort of Guadalupe (the patron saint of Hondarribia), found just a way up from the aforementioned town; with a capacity for 69 cannons and 250 soldiers, from here the French coast, the Bidasoa and Jaizubía valleys and the Peñas (rocky mountains) of Aia would be closely monitored. Due to remaining militarily operative until as recently as the 1980s, the Guadalupe Fort remains in perfect condition. So much so, that in the summer months one can explore its impecable interior by signing up with one of the of organised tours. Information about how to get in touch is available here (+34 943 64 36 77).
  • A third fort, called the Fort of Lord John, is situated in the western-most point of Jaizkibel where it keeps an eye on the port of Pasajes.

In any case, human activity on the mount can be traced back to prehistory; on its mountainsides as many as 5 burial sites or megalithic tombs (dolmens and cromlechs) that date back around 50,000 years to the Bronze Age, have been discovered.

And to end, one final fun fact... you are now standing on the mount where the oldest human burial ground in the whole of the Basque Country was discovered, dating back some 8,300 years.


Mount Jaizkibel

Acceso desde Pasajes y Hondarribia
Pasaia

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Tags: Coast, Nature

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