Itsaso, a living heritage
Discover Itsaso's highlights, such as restaurants, shops, leisure activities and other interesting opportunities.
Welcome to Itsaso
You are in Itsaso, in the Goierri (Highlands) region of Gipuzkoa. This municipality has a population of around 165 inhabitants and an area of 8.8 square kilometers. It features many points of interest and the community supports initiatives that keep the historical and cultural heritage alive. Here are several places to visit within the town center.
1. Ostatu and new Town Hall
In 1962 the City Council was moved to the first floor of the Ostatu building. Two years later, like other towns of Gipuzkoa, Itsaso was forced by Franco's decree to form a single municipality with Ezkio. But the Foral Decree of 2016 approves the separation of Ezkio-Itsaso and created the independent municipality of Itsaso. Since then, the Town Council remains in force in the Ostatu building. On the lower floor, with entrance from the square, the Ostatu is the meeting place of the neighborhood and offers bar and restaurant service.
2. Church of San Bartolomé
This church includes works of different architectural, sculptural and pictorial styles because elements of different construction periods have been preserved. The main portal is from the first Gothic period of 1300, and the arches of the portico are Gothic. The altarpiece with sculpture by Juan de Lizarazu and polychromies by Tomás de Oñate (1550-60) is from the Renaissance period, the interior architecture and sacristy are Baroque, and Pablo Uranga's mural frescoes are impressionism.
3. Goiko Ostatua or Municipal Council House
In 1461 King Henry IV of Castile and in 1476 the Catholic Monarchs granted the towns that constituted Areria (Itsaso, Arriaran, Lazkao and Olaberria) the right to elect their own mayor, to administer their treasuries and to administer justice. This baroque palace hosted the Town Hall of Itsaso until 1962.
4. The cross of Calvary
This cross, the 12th of Calvary, is currently in the cemetery and in the words of historian Josetxo Zufiaurre is "one of the most profusely decorated and best preserved in all Gipuzkoa" (Jose Zzufiaurre Goya: Cruceros, cruces, picotas y santutxos en Gipuzkoa). In it the objects associated with the Passion of Christ are carved in relief.
5. Pott Keramika
This studio was created by Jone Urain and Maite Salutregi in 1992 and, since then, they have created genuine pieces of ceramics and transmitted their knowledge, enriching the artistic culture of the region.
6. Oria Homestead
Itsaso has about 80 homesteads, 10 of which are cataloged in the Register of Historical-Artistic Heritage of the Basque Government and the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa. One of those civil monuments is the Oria Homestead, located in the village.
7. The base of the pillory
This remnant tells us that some councils had full competence in civil and criminal matters: "The pillory corresponded to the condition of villas with their own municipal life and administrative autonomy; and it was from the beginning a sign of criminal jurisdiction "(F. Videgain Agós, Navarra 274). Throughout the nineteenth century, by the 1811 decree of the Cortes of Cádiz and later decrees, pillories were ordered to be destroyed, symbolizing the new times.
8. The Itsusturri pool
This spot is fascinating for Itsasoans because of its inexhaustible freshness. In 1942 the inhabitants of Goendegi began to build it, but needed the help of all the people. It is therefore public property. Nowadays, every year it is reconditioned through auzolan (a community work day) and its surroundings are taken care of.
You are in the Venta de Mandubia, in the pass where the Murumendi and Kizkitza mountains meet. This Venta is located in the municipality of Itsaso, although it is very close to the border with Beasain (Astigarreta).
The Beasain-Azpeitia road crosses this magnificent place, connecting the valleys of Oria and Urola. For hikers, the GR-34 Donostia-Arantzazu and the St James’ Way (alternative to the inland way) cross the pass.
With splendid panoramic views, this place has always been a crossroads and a meeting place of great renown thanks to the services it offered such as bar, restaurant, pilgrimage, bowling, farrier, etc.
Today, the kitchen that began its journey more than 200 years ago continues to offer good work and quality in all its products, breakfasts, excellent lunches and in the two exceptional dining rooms for all kinds of celebrations.
Right next door, we can see the Mandubizar farm where beef is produced with ecological certification and, a few meters away, one of the elements of the Murumendi Megalithic Station in the Itsaso area: the Mandubizelaia dolmen.
Kizkitza, Itsaso’s light
This is the highest point of Itsaso at 664 meters above sea level. September 8th is the day of Kizkitza, a very important day for Itsasoans and for many people from the surrounding area, which has been transferred and maintained from generation to generation.
Celebrating kizkitza day in 1991
Celebrating kizkitza day in 2017
The first documented evidences of the hermitage date back to 1622, but many believe that an earlier one existed from time immemorial. In 1934 it was completely renewed in the form of a coastal chapel, almost identical to the one we see today. A fire in 1959 destroyed it almost completely, but Itsasoans in auzolan reconstructed it following the same design in 1962.
Kizkitza hermitage soon after consecration in 1934
Kizkitza hermitage destroyed by fire in 1959
The square suggests the stern, the rear part of the prow, and the mast is the lighthouse that was brought from Tarifa and that is taken care of so that its light shines every night.
We can also admire the works of artists who contributed their work to the interior of the hermitage: the ship of Eusebio Igartza, where the Virgin of the Rosary was placed; the works of Jose Iza of Itsaso, such as an anchor in wood; and the fresco by Laura Esteve on the back wall (black and white originally), coloured when it was restored in 1996.
For Itsaso Kizkitza symbolizes the auzolan, the community work day. Based on this model, maintenance of the building and the surroundings are carried out for the enjoyment of all.
Urteaga, 16th century heritage
This wooden architectural heritage is located in the hill of the same name, between the mountains Aizpuru and Arrobizabal, on the border between Itsaso and Arriaran.
It has been a strategic place throughout history due to the passage of important roads: Segura-Azpeitia (Courthouse Road), Itsaso-Arriaran and Eztalaldea.
We must remember that Arriaran was part of Itsaso for more than two and a half centuries, until in 1927 Arriaran decided to join Beasain. Therefore, even today, the cairns that look towards Arriaran (Beasain) are carved with the Y of Itsaso.
Currently this road is a World Heritage Site, the St. James’ Way, as an alternative to the road inland. The GR-34 Donostia-Arantzazu also overlaps it through Itsaso, from the Venta de Mandubia to Arane of Ormaiztegi, with excellent panoramic views of the Aralar and Aizkorri mountain ranges.
Urteaga-Urkulegi also produces organic food in these fields, guaranteeing a sustainable model for the environment.
Hermitage of San Lorentzo
This hermitage is specially interesting, because it is one of the few known cases where a cemetery of the 19th century remains inside.
This place was also a very significant point for the neighborhood of Maduraldea, being along the road that went from Zozabarro to Mandubia. It was relevant for centuries, as were the celebrations on the saint day. We know that until the end of the 19th century Ezpatadantza was danced on that day.
Today, thanks to the auzolan, this beautiful hermitage keeps its original wooden structure standing and in good condition and preserves two religious functions: the via-crucis of Good Friday and the 6 o'clock mass the Sunday after the day of San Lorentzo.
Neighborhood of Alegia
This district extends in the three directions at the junction of two rivers: towards Itsaso, towards Gabiria and towards Ormaiztegi. The boundary marker of the three municipalities is located on the bridge. As such, it does not divide the neighborhood, but unites it, creating the community of Alegia.
During the last decades new parts have been built, as the fronton court and the park (with figures created by the children at Pott Keramika). The Zelai-Ondo Gastronomical Society, which was created in 1976, is an important part of the neighborhood, as a social collaborator and promoter of cultural and festive activities.
1. Fronton court
2. Playground and public toilets
3. Zelai-Ondo Gastronomical Society
4. Madalena church
Ibur riding club: visit their website
Canine residence Itsaskan: visit their website
Elements and remnants of medieval constructions
This riverbank has maintained elements and remnants of medieval constructions in the monuments and toponymy: Jauregi, Church (former hermitage) , Gartziandegi (Hospital of pilgrims), Ostatuzahar, Miranda, Errota-Errementari, Butro, Armaindegi and pillory, Aroztegi, Agirre... The Church preserves parts of the 16th century, such as the lower part of the walls, the arch of the half-point doorway, the stoup and the old carving of Mary Magdalene.
Zozabarrotxiki, witness of Iparragirre
This industrial environment was a very important place until the beginning of the 1960s when it was bought by Iberduero to build a power plant. Zozabarrotxiki was an inn located next to the Ormaiztegi-Zumarraga highway and where the historic roads from Mandubia and Gabiria converged.
It was a stopping place for many muleteers, carters and pilgrims and there were several mills in operation nearby: Uribar, Zabalegi and Orue. Throughout the twentieth century until its disappearance it maintained a great social life thanks to the bowling game with its own "bolatoki" and 3 generations of renowned players: the Ugarteburu.
Until the construction of the plant, wicker was grown in the plot, which was common in the 20th century.
Jose Mari Iparragirre. Source: guregipuzkoa.eus
Zozabarrotxiki homestead in itsaso. House where iparragirre died in 1881. Source: guregipuzkoa.eus
Monolith in Iparragirre's memory
But this place deserves a special mention, because the Basque bard, poet, singer-songwriter and musician Jose Mari Iparragirre (Urretxu, 12 August 1820 – Itsaso, 6 April 1881) spent his last years in this inn, where he died. For that reason, in that precise place a monolith stands in his memory.