San Adrián tunnel
You can get to the tunnel by car and walk the last 20 minutes or take a 2 hours circular route by foot, which is very beautiful and well sign-posted. Zegama and Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park will be your North star. Just keep in mind these simple directions:
If you’re coming to Goierri through the port of Etzegarate, take the first turn on the road to get into Zegama, instead of getting in through the town centre.
The parking area in Aldaola has plenty of signs to explain the hiking trail. At the beginning, you will cross the small channel of water and keep going up the mountain towards Casa de los Mikeletes -an old construction for taxes collection and goods control-. When you get there you will start to see the tunnel and the mountains. Go through the tunnel! Inside there’s an old hermitage and the remains of other old constructions.
The route continues following the green and white marks. Stay on that path and to get to San Adrián’s balcony… amazing views are waiting for you! This is one of the best viewpoints in Aizkorri-Aratz Natural Park. You will see the tunnel from the opposite side and Guipúzcoa and Navarre’s orography.
Connecting Europe to the Cantabrian Sea
You are in a magic place known by the ancients as the hole to hell, where significant evidence of prehistoric settlements was found, and not just burial sites. From the Bronze Age to the Middle Ages, San Adrián was one of the entrances to the mountain chain. When Guipúzcoa and Álava became part of the Crown of Castile, San Adrián was the mandatory route connecting Europe and the Cantabrian Sea. There was even a castle that guarded the border to Navarra. San Adrián was the scene of many clashes and an area frequented by bandits. The citadel was abandoned when Castilla was annexed to Navarra in 1512. The stone path you will see looks Roman, and it’s popularly known as Calzada Romana (Roman Road), but it’s actually from the Middle Ages and it was the “Royal Path of Relay”.
[…] We crossed the Pyrenees through San Adrián’s port, and both the ascent and the descent were rough, full of stones and mud…
– Andrea Navagiero, Ambassador of Venice in the Court of Madrid, 16th century.
San Adrián became a famous legend, feared in the whole world. Travelers would describe it as a daunting place: cliffs edges, trees beaten by the wind, caves that were the shelter of muggers, isolated spots.