Wednesday 20 January 2010


Arantzazu, according to legend, was given its name when a shepherd saw the figure of the Virgin in a thorn bush and exclaimed, "Arantzan zu?!" meaning, "In a thorn bush, you?!"   A rather less imaginative derivation is that it means a place filled with hawthorns.

The Franciscan sanctuary was founded 500 years ago in the north of Spain, in the Basque country, not far from Oñati.  It's situation is most spectacular, on the edge of a ravine and surrounded by forests, hills and meadows.  Not only is it a place of pilgrimage, but also the starting place for many trails and circuits for visiting the surrounding national park.

The sanctuary has survived three major fires and been repaired and rebuilt but in 1950 a major renovation was done and the resulting architecture is very reminiscent of Le Harvre.  The foundation set up to maintain the sanctuary also provides facilities for tourists.   In this picture it looks rather forbidding, probably partly due to the architecture and the winter trees.

The card was posted to me from Vitoria, on 29 December 2009.

My first post for ABC Wednesday where you can find many others.
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  1. It looks quite impressive, surrounded by the hills, but, perhaps, a little forbidding.

  2. I am totally unfamiliar with that story. Merci. But yes, a bit remote.

    As newly part of the ABC Wednesday team, I want to thank you for participating!

  3. I've been to Vitoria(-Gasteiz) several times because my boyfriend's from there. There are many Basque cities with interesting names but Arantzazu made me smile, above all the legend! :-)


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