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Zumaia, Gipuzkoa

Audioguide of the Flysch

What to see in the Flysch

Once upon a time there was an island in the middle of the sea...

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Once upon a time there was an island in the middle of the sea...

As it happens, many more years ago than most of us could even conceive of, the Iberian Peninsular was just a small island floating around an ocean on a planet on which major shifts in both its land and seas were a frequent occurance. Way back then, the ocean's coastline reached as far as what today is the southern part of Vitoria, while what is now known as the Basque Country lay deep beneath the sea.

The tectonic movements of that period led to enormous earthquakes and volcanoes, which in their turn would throw up all sorts of material into the earth's atmosphere... which then fell back into the sea... ending up on the seabed... where they stayed, alongside the remains of other microorganisms, piling up and solidifying over a period of many, many, many centuries... Layer upon layer, like an enormous sandwich cake.

Later on, our little island crashed into the continent of Europe and... wait a second!.. Picture a sheet of paper on a desk and imagine placing your fingers on the far edges of the paper. Now draw your fingers together; the paper bends and rises up in the middle... Right, so this is how our enormous sandwich cake emerged from the bottom of the sea when our little island crashed into Europe. The whole seabed rose up from beneath the ocean converting the lowest part (the most ancient layers) into the western side of the modern day coastline.

And this, more or less, is what can now be appreciated and enjoyed in this part of the coast of Zumaia: The Flysch. A German word meaning something like “sliding surface”... so just watch your step! Both the sea and the rock surrounding it love to put our balance to the test!

Thanks to all that, today we can say that what you are standing upon is a book of which the pages are the various layers of the Earth's history, which geologists are able to clearly interpret, while we can flick through without worrying too much about the tecnical details. A giant sandwich cake, made up of white limestone, interspersed with layers of softer clay seasoned with the ecosystems of the era, soaked in a variety of climactic rates and sea levels and even one black layer, which judging by its age coincides precisely with the mass extinction of the dinosaurs... And if, as we believe, this was caused by the collision of a meteorite with the Earth, followed by a long winter, here we can lay our fingers on what remains of that impact.

By the way, you should also be aware that, thanks to the 50 million years of history written in its stone pages, you are standing before one of the UNESCO world geoparks.

And to end this audioguide, you may be interested to know that so unusual is this place that it was used in 2016 as a location in which to film some scenes for the hugely popular series, Game of Thrones.


Kantauri plaza, 13 (Oficina de Turismo)
20750 Zumaia
(+34) 943 143 396

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Tags: Coast

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