This morning we head inland to visit the Basilica of San Ignacio de Loyola nestled in the mountains of the Basque Country. This church is dedicated to the patron saint of the Basque Country, Saint Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).
The basilica is part of the Sanctuary of Loyola, which encompasses several buildings and sites honoring Saint Ignatius. The structure’s interior houses the tomb of Saint Ignatius, making it a significant place of pilgrimage for Catholics. The Sanctuary of Loyola also includes the family house where Saint Ignatius was born, known as the Casa Torre, which has been preserved and turned into a museum.
Having explored this comlpex, we return to the Camino de Santiago in Markina, a quaint town just a few kilometers away. Here, we will visit the landmark Chapel of San Miguel de Arretxinaga, built around what may have been a paleo-Christian site of worship, featuring several large boulders that serve as an altar.
After exploring the building, we settle down for a delicious Fresco Tours picnic made with local produce to rest before continuing our walk for today.
Our last destination is the Zenarruza Monastery, which has a long history dating back to the 9th century, although the current structure primarily dates from the 13th and 14th centuries. The monastery is located in a stunning setting, surrounded by lush green hills and forests. The main church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, and its interior features beautiful altarpieces, religious artwork, and a serene atmosphere.
The Zenarruza Monastery has played an important role on the Camino de Santiago throughout the centuries. It served as a spiritual center, offering hospitality to pilgrims and visitors as well as a place of study and education, hosting monks and scholars. Today, Zenarruza Monastery continues to be an active religious site, as well as a stop and hostel for pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela.
We will stop here for a stamp before finishing up our day of walking and heading to dinner. At our evening meeting our knowledgeable Fresco Tours guides will prepare us for the terrain tomorrow, explaining the map, where we will stop, and what to look at for on the path. After relaxing with the group we will transfer to our accommodations in Guernica for the night.