We begin our Ignatian Way with great courage and a spirit of generosity, hoping to make the most of our Ignatian pilgrimage. We take our leave of the House and Shrine of Saint Ignatius and set off along the asphalt road that begins near the parking lot of the sanctuary and runs parallel to the river, towards Azkoitia. We walk along the edge of the gardens of the Shrine on our left. Straight ahead, we go into Azkoitia towards Alameda del Ferrocarril in the direction of the river.
We don’t cross the River Urola, but we walk parallel to it with the river on our right. We continue straight on and the street meets a cycle lane that leads back towards the river. We continue with the river on our right until we reach some factories and a petrol station. We see a bridge in front of us: we will pass underneath it and go straight on. Once we pass the bridge, a road begins on our left. We take it and in that way we pass the IBARMIA factory on our right.
We continue going straight ahead along the same path. The road bends to our right at right angles, but we go straight ahead to a secondary road that passes under a bridge. The road brings us across both the river and the GI-631 road by a bridge. We continue straight ahead and after 800 metres, we cross the road once more. We pass through the first tunnels of many tunnels.
Continuing straight ahead on the same asphalt path, parallel to the GI-631, we reach a new bridge that crosses the road twice. A few yards beyond that we come to a new bridge over the GI-631. We continue on the same path, crossing the road yet again. We pass the little village of Aizpurutxo on our right. We continue straight ahead and our path meets another path coming up from the road. We continue straight on, looking for the path that is parallel to the GI-631 and a little higher than it and the river. Still more bridges and another tunnel lie ahead. We continue straight on and we pass a quarry on our right.
The road forks and we take the right branch parallel to the road and to the River Urola. We go through a new tunnel and we approach the houses on our left. We take another tunnel and our path finally leads us to the GI-631, which we take to our left, walking along the path to bring us close to the village of Urretxu. Keeping close to the road, we pass a sewage treatment plant and following the path parallel to the road, we enter Urretxu and Zumarraga, after crossing the river. These two villages are separated only by the River Urola. The pilgrim will find accommodation in either of these villages.
Pilgrims’ Hostel ABARAXKA . (50 beds) Altamira 5, Tel: 679 464 473
Taxi Azpeitia . Nazabal 943 81 13 84
Taxi Azpeitia . Sasieta 639 336 363
Taxi Azpeitia . Vallina 943 39 38 48
Taxi Azpeitia . Martin 669 394 565
Hostel of Urretxu . CLOSED IN WINTER. A little more than 4 kilometres from the town, going up the mountain slope, next to the hermitage of Santa Bárbara, is the Urretxu Hostel with a capacity of 56 beds and reasonable prices. Tel: 943 723 387. Ask always at the Town Hall.
Pension Juana Elgarresta . Ipearrieta, 2 Tel: 943 722 250.
Town Hall . Tel: 943 72 90 22.
Hotel Etxeberri . Calle Etxeberri, s/n. (right at the entrance of the village, ask for the address in the first park) Tel: 943 721 211
Pension Balentiña . Urola, 6-8. Tel: 943 725 041
Urola Pension** . Antonino Oraá, 2. Tel: 943 533 008/ 679 525 259
Pension Zelai** . Legazpi, 5. Tel: 670 264 922
Gaztañaga Taxi . 679 443 483 / 943 725 912
Taxi Ivan Molina . 620 511 533
As we are still in the early stages of our Ignatian Way, the stages are short. If you prefer to walk a longer distance on each stage, you have a choice of itineraries. Each to his own, but as Ignatius would say, “There is no need to run, it is not walking a great distance that fills and satisfies the soul, but rather tasting it internally.” An important aspect to consider in this first phase of our Ignatian Way is that unfortunately, low-priced accommodation is scarce so you have to pay between € 30 and € 50 per night. However, once we get to La Rioja you should be able to find cheaper accommodation.
AZKOITIA: It has a population of over 11,000 inhabitants. Being so close to Loyola, we suggest that the pilgrim visits it before leaving on the pilgrimage, perhaps during their personal preparation time at the Shrine of Loyola. Close to the Town Hall Square is the impressive church of Santa María la Real. There are also some medieval tower houses, such as the one of the family of Ignatius in Loyola. Idiakez Tower or Etxe Beltza’s black appearance is due to a fire suffered in the Second Carlist War. This village is known as the “cradle of Basque pelota,” because here the tradition of this famous Basque sport has deep roots.
AIZPURUTXO: A number of houses are scattered on the slopes of the mountains which offer no facilities to pilgrims.
URRETXU: A town of about 6,800 inhabitants. On Iparraguirre Street you will find well-preserved 16th century stately homes which retain their similarities in structure and in the materials used (such as ashlar stone). The church of San Martín de Tours, an austere building of stone and wood, with a mixture of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque elements inside, is worth mentioning. The municipality is located in a seventeenth century palace. Urretxu has been declared a protected archaeological site; its Fossil and Mineral Museum contains over 1,000 cataloged and classified minerals as well as numerous fossils from the five continents. It offers a wide choice of restaurants, pharmacies, supermarkets and banks.
ZUMARRAGA: A town of more than 10,000 inhabitants. Not until 1660 did it gain the title of town and its independence. When, in the 19th century, it found itself on the newly built Madrid-Irun railway line, Zumárraga became relatively important. The building of the magnificent church of Our Lady of the Assumption began in the 16th century. It is built in Basque Gothic style with baroque covers, a tower and a main altarpiece. In the de Euskadi Plaza, in whose centre stands the statue of the coloniser of the Philippines, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi, is the town hall building, behind which is the River Urola. Do not miss the huge stone that men and women use to test their strength in competitions.A wide choice of restaurants, pharmacies, supermarkets and banks is on offer. The Town Hall has a specific seal to stamp the Ignatian Way passport.
Notes: Let us begin our journey calmly, taking up our subject seriously. It is very useful to spend some time reflecting on the Preparatory Prayer. If you find “depth” in some word or at some point, it is better not to move on, but to remain there, asking what the Spirit is saying and allowing it to speak to us in our heart. Ignatius tells us that “to know and taste something interiorly” is more important than knowing a lot about it.
Ask for the Grace I want: Lord, grant me the grace to feel your love in my life interiorly, and to be profoundly grateful for it.
Reflections: Spirituality has been defined as «turning one’s journey through life into a journey towards God.» We hope to transform our journey through Spain into a spiritual journey.
We begin by contemplating what surrounds us in these beautiful places near Loyola. We walk slowly, aware that it is a gift to be able to dedicate time to this encounter with God, with the world and ourselves. It is a privilege to be able to do these “exercises”! Let our hearts leap in gratitude as we begin our pilgrimage. The One who has loved us from the beginning and leads us in our lives is the One who has brought us here. With this conviction we begin our walk. God who is Father and Mother to us comes to meet us in every person and thing we see. May His presence fill us with gratitude.
Isaiah 55:1-11. God, in his love for me, invites me to come to Him.
Psalm 63. I respond to God by expressing my desire to meet him.
Final Colloquy: Sum up what I have thought about or felt during my prayer, talking to Jesus as one friend does to another. Be frank with him about what you have experienced and felt (or not felt) during this stage of your walk with him.