The Town Community of Lea Ibarra - Munitibar - Aulesti - Gizaburuaga - Amoroto - Mendexa

Mountain in Amoroto and Mendexa

Aulesti - Places of Historical and Cultural Interest

Aulesti Tower House

Aulesti Tower House.

This tower gave its name to the city of Aulesti. It was restored by Pedro Ibañez of Aulesti in 1456, after the brotherhoods of Bizkai were burned under the excuse that they had hidden enemy soldiers.

It is a building of great quality. The original facade is hardly visible today, as many elements have been added to it. It is basically a very large cube. Its walls are 1,90 meters thick and made of carved limestone.

The building has three floors, and its structure is made of wooden columns and beams. The entrance to the house, a big arch, used to be on the ground floor, but it is closed today; the tower has two other entrances instead. The second floor used to contain the kitchen and the bedrooms. On the last floor there used to be a large room, lighted by pointed openings connected by mullions.

Each of these openings shows the coat-of-arms of Aulesti. High up in the room there is a row of corbels. It is not the only tower in Aulesti. There were lots of towers and ancestral homes in Aulestia once.

Ibañez de Aldekoa palace.

Ibañez de Aldekoa palace

This simple building is believed to date from between the XVIth and XVIIth centuries.

It was originally a tower. The facade, with a symmetrical disposition of voids, faces the main square, and it is was built over a gothic site. It has two entrances of Renaissance style.

Argiñena palace, the palace of Aulestia family.

Argiñena palace, the palace of Aulestia family

This palace is located behind the parish church of San Juan Bataiatzailea.

The facade of this palace is very interessant because it has suffered a lot of changes but it still preserves the portico that remember the tower houser of the Middle Age and the Gothic farms.

In the picture, the main gate of the palace.

The parish of San Juan Bataiatzailea .

The parish of San Juan Bataiatzailea

Documents state that the parish of Aulesti was built between 1528 and 1640. The chapel of San Juan Burumoztua in Murelaga was the former parish, until the stoup, the baptismal font and the tabernacle were taken to the new one.

It is 136 feet long and 71 feet wide. It has 6 thick columns holding the vaults, made of limestone from Oiz; the building is divided into three ships. There is a big stone tower at the front of the church. It is thick and strong.

It has five bells, one of them called the Belen bell. It was blessed on July the 28th 1626 by a bishop approved by the archbishop of Kalagorri. People ring this bell when there is a thunder or a storm, accompanied by a spell. Added to that, the bell had another use: it was rang when a woman was about to give birth, so that she overcame those difficult moments and the baby was born healthy.

The tabernacle of the parish was built by a famous local woodcarver, Martin Basabe.

According to popular belief, when the new parish was being built there were strong arguments between two families on where the front of the building should face.

The Ibañez-Aldekoa family wanted it to be built as it stands now, but the Gorordo and the Argiñena families wanted it to face their houses. It seems that lands were also involved in the conflict. Eventually, the lord of the Tower of Aulesti interceded for the Ibañez-Aldekoas, and had it built the way it is today.

San Martin´s chapel in Malats.

San Martin´s chapel in Malats

It is the biggest chapel after those in Donibane and Murla. It is situated in the Malats neighbourhood, very close to the oldest farms in the region (such as Beti, Beti goikoa and Arliz).

It stands behind the quarry of Santa Eufemia, 280 meters above the sea level.

This gothic chapel surrounded by holm oaks was built at the end of the Middle Ages, and has pointed arches on the doors and windows. It has a saddle roof. Standing at the top there is a small stone swordsman.

It seems that the chapel has been burned on several occasions. Inside the church, on the white wall over the altar, there is a Cross. The statue of the local saint stands in one side, and there are no other figures. It has a pointed arch on the main door and blank loopholes. A long time ago, on the Monday before the Assumption of the Virgin, people used to go to the chapel to pray and to bless water and salt. They also used to put crosses in the fields and spray them with blessed water. The feast is on November the 11th, but is celebrated on the following Saturday.

The chapel of San Juan of Murelaga.

The chapel of San Juan of Murelaga

It was formerly the parish. The elements that made it a parish (the stoup, the tabernacle...) were taken to the new parish in the town centre in 1640.
It is 14,60 meters long and 8,80 meters wide. It has no bell tower and only one altar. San Juan Burumoztua (San Juan the Beheaded) is remembered and worshipped in it. The feast of the chapel is celebrated on August the 29th. There are two more figures in the altar: Herod and Herodiana. This is how the locals call them.

In the past, people used to bring children who could not sleep to the chapel. Not only the local people, but also those living near the area. This was due, perhaps, to the common belief about sleeping in San Juan´s eve. That is, that sleeping on that day brings sleepiness for the whole year.

The chapel´s clock, dating from 1918, is remarkable. According to local belief, there used to be a big statue of Christ in the chapel, as well as another one of the Virgin Mary. Today we have the two mentioned statues, located at the altar, plus two paintings brought by the locals: the paintings of the Sacred Family and San Anton.

At the top of the choir loft, in the inside wall, there is a hole which is believed to amplify the singers´ voices. It is the biggest chapel in Aulesti.

Elizatxu chapel.

Elizatxu chapel

It is in Aulesti street, in the town centre. There people worship the Merciful Mother holding the dead body of Christ in her arms.

The local feast is celebrated on San Blas´s day. On that day, people bring food and and a thread to be worn for nine days to the chapel, where they are blessed.

According to some, the chapel is the best remedy against winter. The building is less than 23 meters long.

The chapel of Santa Eufemi.

The chapel of Santa Eufemi

As Agustin Zubikarai and Juan Fdez. Egiguren state in their book "Aulesti", this chapel is very renowned in both Biscay and Gipuzkoa. The way to get there is hard and tiring, "but many pilgrims have been seen going up the field with a candle tied to their hips, and then walking up the stone stairs, sometimes under the rain and sometimes under a scorching sun". The path to the chapel has over two hundred stairs.

The chapel stands at 697 meters above the sea level. The authors of the mentioned book describe a legend about the chapel´s surroundings: "the legend has it that the ancient pagans had a forge there, and that the big stones in the area go back to that time".

According to J.M. Barandiaran, when the parish of Markina was being built the pagans used to throw stones from Santa Eufemia, and that that is the origin of the stones.

On a wall, in the cavity where the figures of saints are placed, there is a figure without a head.

The pilgrimage to Santa Eufemi had a special appeal, and many people considered it a place to meet new people. Thus, it is not surprising to find many songs like the following one:

In the fields of Santa Eufemi
Spinsters used to dance,
Old men grinned
If any falled down...

The feast is celebrated on the 16th of September.

San Bizente´s chapel.

San Bizente´s chapel

It stands in a windy place, 280 meters above the sea level, a couple of kilometers away from the town, on the way to the neighbourhood called Narea. The local feast is celebrated on January the 22nd, San Bizente´s day.

In the past, on letany days, people used to bless water and salt in the chapel.

There is one altar.
The inhabitants of Narea restored the chapel with the brotherhoods´ funds.

San Paulo´s chapel.

San Paulo´s chapel

It stands on the road from Aulesti to Munitibar, approximately on kilometer 42,5; to get there we must take the road on the right. It stands on a hill, surrounded by pines and oaks, 178 meters above the sea level. It is the smallest chapel after Elizatxu. It has no bell tower. It was restored in 1980.

In the past, on the feast of June the 29th, the pilgrims who went there were offered white wine and biscuits.

The chapel of Maria Madalena.

The chapel of Maria Madalena

On letany days water and salt used to be blessed here too, and then sprayed onto the fields. It was built on 1792, as Iturriza mentions in the History of Biscay.

The chapel´s bell is inside the building. Muxo brook runs close to it, and feeds the river Lea.

San Lorentzo´s chapel.

San Lorentzo´s chapel

It is the chapel of the Zubero brotherhood. This old building has two figures: San Lorentzo´s statue in the altar, and an ancient statue of the crucified Christ above the arch of the entrance door, in a void carved in the stone.

The bell hangs from the roof. The top of the roof is made of wood, and the bottom of cement.

There is no doubt that the shrine is very old, has a 1648 Roman Missal, which you can read the following inscription:

"Para San Lorenzo de Zubero en Aulestia, año mil seiscientos y cincuenta y un años. D. Domingo B. Legarra, cura y beneficiado de esta anteiglesia de San Juan de Murelaga. En la villa de Madrid a veinte días del mes de marzo de mil seiscientos y cincuenta y un años, compre yo el Sr. D. Domingo de Legarra el misal para la ermita de San Lorenzo de la Cofradía de Zubero. Firmado Domingo de Legarra".

San Anton´s chapel.

San Anton´s chapel

It is located in San Anton neighbourhood, near of the kilometer 44 to Lekeitio, in the right, between the highway and the river Lea. Its style is popular style and it was built in the XVI century.

San Anton´s Day (January 17th) is the celebration day of this chapel. This saint is prayed to request the cure of the livestock. In the past also the people went to him to request the help for the children with problems to speak.

Crosses

Crosses

The Basque Country is a big lover of crosses. There are many crosses in our towns, and not only in the hilltops and crossroads, but also in our homes and streets.

Small towns often have Stations of the Cross starting at the entrance to the town and finishing at the church. In Lent and Easter, people sometimes worship those crosses. Aulesti also has big stone crosses. It is easy to see that they were built by the local masons, without the skill, ornamentation and tidiness which characterised the work of masons from other towns.

The crosses from Amoroto and Aulesti are very similar. Thick, made to last forever. But when do they date from? Although they are darkened and aged by the weather, it seems that they started building them 1in 1893.

Garatxana or Garatxaga farm.

Garatxana or Garatxaga farm

It is on the Ibarrola neighbourhood, close to San Paulo´s chapel. It is extremely beautiful.

Many architects have praised it for its size and its disposition, and especially because it was built using whole trees.

Iturritza Goikoa farm.

Iturritza Goikoa

In 1388 it was the stables of the Collegiate Church of Ziortza. As an order of the Collegiate dating from 1462 states, it became a farm on that year. A 1608 order states that the farm had to hand over 4 bushels of wheat a year.

This farm, then, had to give tenths and first fruits to the Collegiate Church of Ziortza.

It has an outstanding structure from the architectural point of view, because the windows have been made in inside walls and because of the size of the stables.

Apparently, in the XVIth century, soldiers who went across this place used to lodge there.

Kortabitarte Bekoa and Kortabitarte Goikoa farm.

Kortabitarte Bekoa Baserria

KORTABITARTE BEHEKOA

This name appears in the distribution of the graves of the Parish in 1532.

In 1549, the Kortabitarte house is described as being in debt to the Collegiate Church of Ziortza. This situation continued for two centuries.

KORTABITARTE GOIKOA

It was built between 1704 and 1745.

Soloaga farm.

Soloaga farm

It is thought to be older than Kortabitarte Bekoa. It burned down in 1925. It has 32,29 hectares, 29,11 of which are hill areas.

The farm has an oven and a wine-press, but they are not in use.

Andikoetxea Torretxua or Torretxulo farm.

Andikoetxea Torretxua edo Torretxulo

It is in the San Anton neighbourhood.

This fam has a wine-press, but it has not been used for the last 25 years.

Granaries.

Granaries

There are two in Aulesti.

One of them is in Arteaga, in the Malats neighbourhood. Nowadays it is completely different from the original.

The second one is in Narea, in Goitia farm. It was half in ruins for a long time, since it collapsed under a heavy snowfall.

Seemingly, the granary was originally higher than what stands restored today. From an architectural point of view it is nothing like the original.

Malats Neighbourhood.

Malats Neighbourhood

The whole neighbourhood is wonderful, but specially
Beti, Beti Goikoa and Artiz farms.

Mills

Torre´s Mill

Angiz Mill. It stopped making flour in around 1950.

Goiko and Beko Mills. They are not in use since 1983. These two farms have 8,5 hectares altogether.

Zetokiz, Beko Errota or Zarrabenta mill. In 1745 it was called "the forge and mill of Zetokiz". Maria Cruz Aulestia was the owner, and Jose Auzokoa the miller and tenant. A text dating from 1799 shows that Auzokoa paid a rent of 660 reals a year.
It is over 50 years that the mill stopped working.

Amulua, Abadien bolua (Ibeta). It used to be a mill. It is empty now.

Torreko Errota. Take the water to the mill.

Reservoirs, dams and bridges.

Reservoirs, dams and bridges

• Aulesti has an excellent display of different kinds of dams:
- The dam of Amolua has gravitational arches and buttresses, and it is made of ashlar and stone.
- The dam of Bolintxu has arches and ashlar buttresses.
- The dam of Torreko errota is straight; it is also made of ashlar, and forms a small beach on the river. It channels the waters of Torrekoerrota farm. In the past, this farm´s hydraulic system was used to mechanise a sawmill. It is a wonderful place to visit; it has a little park, and you can also have a swim.

• This stretch of the river is full of beautiful small pointed bridges, such as Beko bridge, Bixko bridge, Errotatxo, Goikolea, Goierri, Ibakatx, Ibeta and Zierra.
At the banks of the river we can see a blend of hill and water plants and trees.

Fresh water springs.

Fresh water springs

The water from the river Telleria is very renowned.The river was found on 1743.

Iturriza mentions in his book about the History of Bizkaia that this water was beneficial for the sick, and that many people used to come to Aulesti, especially in the summer, to drink these waters and to rest.

Caves.

Caves

This area is full of caves. There are 31 in Aulesti. As Jose Migel Barandiaran points out in the Auñamendi series, "it is a well-known fact that there are big treasures hidden in some places of the Basque Country. We don´t know where they are. This is why there is so much confusion, surprise and different criteria. This is why there is so much urge to find them, and also so many difficulties."

With or without treasures, caves have always had a secret and mysterious quality, and those who like them have a great opportunity to disclose that mystery in the caves of Aulesti, even if they are small.

Here we present a few of them:

Kobaburu. It is on the east side of Iluntzain hill, above Olabarri farm, about 50 meters to the north-east. The entrance is six meters wide and three meters high; then there is an opening and a 55 meter long gallery.
Alperdo. It is near Angizola farm, between kilometers 46 and 47 of the road from Aulesti to Lekeitio. Sometimes it has water inside, and this water flows to the Lea river. It becomes a water-bridge in winter. The water-bridge connects it to cave Alperdo II. It is 150 meters long.
Lezate Kobie. It is two kilometers away from Aulesti, towards Lekeitio, three or four meters to the left on the North-South strip of Iluntzar hill. It is about 800 meters long. It used to supply water for Aulesti. Txantxane. It is on the north-east side of Iluntzar hill, over number 286. It is 56 meters long.
Belatxikia zuloa. It is on Bedartzandi hill, on the side facing Markina, between kilometers 46 and 47 of the road from Aulesti to Markina.
Zuluka. It is beside the road from Lekeitio to Aulesti, between kilometers 45 and 46, in front of the Angiz neighbourhood, on the east side of Iluntzar hill. Taking the path near Olabarri, it is near Zuluka farm, 50 meters away. The entrance is 8 meters high and 5 meters wide, and the cave 24 meters long.
Kobaederra. It is close to Zuluka. The entrance is 3 meters high and 0,90 meters wide, and the descending gallery leads to a 18- meter-long opening. A skylight can be seen from there.
Gonostieko Leizie. To get there we must take the path between kilometers 44 and 45 of the road from Lekeitio to Aulesti, towards Goierri; the cave is on the right, 500 meters away on the pine forest of the same name. It is actually made up of 3 caves.
Gantxuko koba. It is near the previous one. It is on the north-east side of Gantxu hill, as we approach from Goierri. The entrance is 7 meters high and 3 meters wide, and the cave 30 meters long.
Atxeixeko koba. It is also in the Goierri neighbourhood. The cave is on the south side of Atxeixe hill, close to Akaiturri farm. Telleriko koba. It is on the east side of Telleria hill approaching from Goierri, near Zolua farm.
Bedartzandiko leizea. Between kilometers 46 and 47 of the road from Lekeitio to Aulesti, we must take the road leading to Koba farm. The cave is on the east side of Bedartzandi hill, and close to it in the same hill, we also have Pagolaria, Sakona and Erenozulo caves.
Arrizabalaga. Between kilometers 48 and 49 of the road from Aulesti to Markina stands Artia farm. Near this farm, and close to the road to Markina, 500 meters away, there is a cave of non-natural origin. It is in the pine forest called Arrizabalaga, on the south-east side of Bedartzandi hill.
Olariako Berijeko leizea. It is in the Goierri neighbourhood, inside a big hill, next to Gontzolai farm.
Eriño.It stands on Laprestia hill, facing Zolua farm. Kanpoleza and Zulozar caves are also on that area.
Txorizulo. It is on Atxekoiturri hill, facing Zolua farm.
Lezandia. It is on the north side of Bedartzandi hill, above Iturritze farm.
Iluntzarreko leizea II. It is on the south-east side of Iluntzar hill; the entrance is five meters high and two meters wide, and the cave 7 meters long.

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