Geoparkea –the UNESCO World Geopark of the Basque Coast which is characterized by flysch formations on the coast and an interior karstic zone– is comprised of the municipalities of Zumaia, Deba, and Mutriku and contains some of the most wonderful history ever written. Its pages were formed under the sea and today, layer by layer, they represent an ongoing book of more than 13 kilometers of cliffs where geologists can research more than 60 million consecutive years of the Earth’s history. The great extinction of the dinosaurs, which occurred at the end of the Cretaceous, and the great global warming at the beginning of the Eocene are some of the critical moments told to us by the history written on these rock formations.
The ancient seabeds eroded, giving rise to capricious shapes that created an unreal world of cliffs where the human scale of time becomes a mere anecdote. It is a true journey through time. With each step we take, we advance 10,000 years and, thus, we reach Zumaia, one of the meccas of world geology. Among the layers of its beaches we can distinguish a fine, black line directly linked to the extinction of the dinosaurs, and we witness the Earth’s climate variation – even a great global warming.
The Geopark’s interior is a green world full of small surprises where our most distant ancestors left traces of their cultural concerns in caves like Praileaitz and Ekain – the latter having been declared a World Heritage Site for the excellent collection of horses painted on its walls. Pyramid-shaped limestone mountains, hidden valleys, caves, small streams that appear and disappear, and –above all– a large collection of farmhouses which provide color to the landscape and safeguard the customs of our people in the rural world are the elements of this karst universe. The Lastur and Olatz Valleys are excellent examples of this.
The possibilities to get to know the Geopark are endless. There is a wide array of guided tours that allow you to view the cliffs from the sea or explore the interior valleys while learning about cheese making in Olatz or making “talos” (a traditional, filled cornstarch wrap) in Lastur. The annual program of guided tours offers varied and suggestive options aimed at all ages in order to promote knowledge and dissemination of geological and cultural heritage. It represents a series of unique visits that combine geology, landscapes of great beauty, culture, and tourism. In addition, there are several recreational areas and more than 20 kilometers of marked, themed trails that will take you through the most special corners. For those who want to discover the variety of landscapes that the Geopark has to offer in a single day, there are also georoutes, created for visitors to learn about and value the geological heritage of the Geopark. These georoutes are designed to be downloaded on cell phones so that visitors can get a general overview of the heritage of this place.
By visiting the three towns that make it up, Geoparkea is also the perfect place to connect with local tradition, as well as Basque culture and its ancient language, Euskera, without forgetting our excellent Basque gastronomy.
A charming coastal town that invites you to stroll through its old quarter among palaces and the monumental San Pedro Parish, or to wander through its natural spaces like the dunes and Santiago Beach, taking the opportunity to get to know the Ignacio Zuloaga Cultural Space. From the tip of Algorri, the San Telmo Hermitage, and the Itzurun Beach, you can enjoy the incredible landscape offered by the imposing flysch cliffs, as well as the impressive sunsets. A visit to the Algorri Interpretation Center will allow you to get to know all this natural and geological heritage in depth in an educational and entertaining way.
Deba has geological, natural, and cultural values that make it a “must.” Its magnificent beach is ideal for surfers of all levels. On its rugged coastline you will enjoy impressive cliffs formed by the well-known black flysch of the Geopark. In its town center, the Santa María Parish Church stands out, a jewel of the Basque Gothic style. Among its streets, one can imagine what the medieval town and its famous whaling port were like, learn about the importance of the stone extracted from its quarries for the local economy, and enjoy the “txikiteo” atmosphere (Basque for “going out for a few drinks”), as well as the gastronomy.
Getting lost in the narrow, cobbled streets of the historic center of Mutriku, declared a Monumental Complex, is a delight for the eyes. Walking along its streets, you will discover beautiful palaces and towers from the fifteenth, sixteenth, and seventeenth centuries. Without realizing it, you will end up at the old port – one of the oldest in the province. For years, the inhabitants here worked in whaling and today many continue with fishing activities. In Mutriku, you have to visit the Nautilus Geological Interpretation Center to discover the oldest flysch in the Geopark.