The most beautiful forests in the Basque Country
Are you looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in the natural beauty of Euskadi? In this article, we’ll take you on a journey through the most breathtaking forests of this beautiful region. Euskadi is home to a wealth of forest landscapes that will take your breath away.
What makes these forests so special? They are not only havens of biodiversity, but also ideal destinations in which to go hiking, breathe fresh air and reconnect with nature. Get ready to immerse yourself in the most magical and photogenic corners of the forests of Euskadi!
Biscay: Painted Forest of Oma
One of the most unique and popular forests in Biscay is the Oma Forest, located in Urdaibai. This extensive pine forest became the setting for one of the most outstanding examples of land art in the early 1980s.
In 2022, the Provincial Council of Bizkaia decided to use a plot of land adjacent to the current Painted Forest of Oma to preserve the work of Agustín Ibarrola, the author of the first phase of the Forest. The main objective was to guarantee the continuity of this artistic work, due to the state of the original trees where the drawings were made.
The first phase of this project was carried out during the summer of 2022 and consisted of the creation of 14 artistic ensembles, covering a total of 454 painted trees. The second phase of relocation and restoration began in March and lasted until the end of the summer, during which a further 400 trees were painted and 19 additional art sets were completed. This resulted in a total of 33 artistic ensembles that make up the impressive Bosque de Oma as we know it today, as it is due to reopen later this month.
It is important to note that a harmless paint was used in the painting process, and an effort was made to respect the type of paint originally used by the artist. The process was carried out faithfully following the same technique used by the author at the time.
Alava: The Ortzarreta beech forest
One of the most emblematic places in the Basque forests, especially in autumn, is this beech forest, which has become a real postcard of the region. What makes this forest truly unique are the trees that make it up. If you look closely at the branches of the beech trees, you will notice something extraordinary: instead of spreading horizontally, they have grown upwards, forming majestic wooden candelabra. This peculiar feature is the result of decades of successive pruning that these trees have undergone, mainly for the purpose of obtaining charcoal using a technique known as pollarding.
Throughout the 19th century, the arrival of mineral coal gradually displaced the use of this technique so characteristic of the Basque Country, which had also been used in other regions of Europe. However, the imprint of these human interventions is undeniable and contributes significantly to the sublime aesthetics of this beech forest. But it is not only the peculiarity of the trees that makes it stand out; the winding Zubizabala stream, which meanders through the forest with its unmistakable zigzag, also creates corners of unparalleled beauty. This natural corner is a natural jewel that you cannot fail to explore.
Guipúzcoa: The enchanted forest of Oianleku
The Oianleku area, like many other parts of Oiartzun, is a clear example of a cultural landscape. In the foreground, the mountain pastures stand out, reflecting the continued importance of livestock farming in this region. In these fields, several cromlechs can be glimpsed, but beyond their physical presence, these landscapes have been the origin of numerous myths and legends.
The cromlechs, large stone rings embedded in the earth, are burial monuments dating back to the Iron Age. Among the 57 megalithic monuments studied in the municipality of Oiartzun, the Oianeku Norte cromlech stands out as one of the most impressive. With stone circles that can reach up to 10 metres in diameter, this monument is located in a green setting, with the imposing Aiako Harria ridge on the horizon. On this route, we will have the opportunity to compare it with five other different cromlechs, which invites us to reflect on the reasons that led our ancestors to choose their sites and to contemplate the landscape with a renewed perspective.
Next to the cromlech is a quiet area ideal for a picnic or simply to rest. This recreational area, located in the beech forest, has wooden picnic tables and benches, a fountain, information panels and a small traditional building.
These beautiful forests are true natural treasures that give us the opportunity to disconnect from the daily routine and immerse ourselves in the majesty of nature. If you are interested in exploring and learning more about these fascinating forests, we invite you to join our next guided tour that will take place this Sunday 15th October. The tour will take us through beech forests and other wooded landscapes, where we will discover the mark left by human activity in these natural spaces.