History of San Juan de Gaztelugatxe
History says that Saint John was at Gaztelugatxe and that he got to the sanctuary in just three long strides. The last one of these is meant to be visible. Locals say touching this footprint will bring you good luck. The bell is another element connected to good luck in the sanctuary and legend says if you make it ring three times you will also enjoy good luck.
Many of the legends and elements inside the shrine are connected with fishing activity, fishing boats, and sailors. You will find paintings from shipwrecks, small-scaled fishing boats, and votives from sailors.
As you can well imagine by taking a quick look at the pictures, the area was considered as highly strategical in times of war. In the late XVIth century, no other than Sir Francis Drake himself (a pirate for Spaniards, a Lord for the British) attacked the sanctuary and killed his keeper.
But well before Drake was there, Gaztelugatxe stood where it does. Historians date back to the IXth century the construction of the first temple and it was built by the Templar knights. Fires and battles changed the shape and look of Gaztelugatxe through history. The last renovation was undertaken in 1983 following a fire.
How to get to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe?
First, you will have to get to the Basque Country. Arriving to San Juan de Gaztelugatze from Bilbao and San Sebastián is easy. Your best bet is to fly into Bilbao, it’s fast and easy and relatively cheap from Madrid or Bilbao. The road from Bilbao to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe is simple, no more than an hour and the road is beautiful. You can also take a bus from Bilbao to Bakio and walk from Bakio to San Juan (some 4 kilometers of a rather flat walk). You can also use public transportation from Bakio (or from Bermeo) and take a bus that will stop near San Juan de Gaztelugatxe.
Now, from either San Sebastian or Bilbao, the best and most comfortable way of getting to Dragonstone is by car, but you can also get there using public transportation. The A3518 bus from Bilbao will take you directly there in about an hours’ time. There is no public transport option unfortunately from San Sebastian.
How to get to San Juan de Gaztelugatxe from Bilbao?
If you are driving from Bilbao it will take you 50 minutes: