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Legends of mystery and witchcraft in Navarre

  • Witchcraft Museum © Antonio Olza 'Reyno de Navarra' Tourism Archive

    Witchcraft Museum © Antonio Olza 'Reyno de Navarra' Tourism Archive

  • Las Brujas Cave. Zugarramundi © Turespaña

    Las Brujas Cave. Zugarramundi © Turespaña


" During the 16th and 17th centuries, witchcraft and tales of sorcerers were common currency in Navarre. ..."

During the 16th and 17th centuries, witchcraft and tales of sorcerers were common currency in Navarre. The original idea that we suggest here offers a chance to discover reveal the most 'mysterious' towns and villages in this region, and features four routes by car which reveal, 400 years later, the 'dark' traditions and curiosities of these lands.

The first of these routes (about 50 kilometres) covers the areas of Auritz/Burguete, Orreaga/Roncesvalles, Ochagavía, Burgui and Vidángoz, where several witches were burnt at the stake for having supernatural powers. Along the route you'll find 'enchanted forests' such as Basajaunberro, and places like Muskilda, where witches used to gather to hold their covens. One of the best times to go this route is in the last week of August, as the town of Vidángoz stages a dance around a bonfire in the dead of night known as the 'Descent of the Witch', to welcome Maruxa, the local witch.

The second itinerary (around 30 kilometres) includes the villages of Urdazubi/Urdax, Zugarramurdi, Bertiz, Arraioz and the five villages known as the Cinco Villas. You'll find this route particularly interesting, as in Zugarramurdi you'll be able to visit the Witchcraft Museum and then experience the magical aura in the famous local cave where devil worshippers used to hold their feasts and orgies by the light of the moon. Specifically, this village commemorates the auto-da-fé involving all the local townspeople with dramatised visits, guided routes to the caves, dance performances and fireworks displays, and courses on medicinal plants. Another attraction not to be missed is the medieval palace of Jauregizarrea, in Arraioz, where women accused of witchcraft were incarcerated and tortured in 1612.

The third route (about 70 kilometres) covers the valleys of Larraun, Leiztarán and Araitz. This is the actual location where the film 'Aquelarre' (Witches Coven) was shot. Finally, the fourth route takes in the villages of Viana and Bargota (about 10 kilometres). Bargota is thought to be the birthplace of one of the most popular figures in Navarran witchcraft, the sorcerer Johanes, who as well as being a cleric in the church of Santa María was also a witch-doctor, and was reputed to be able to cure headaches and travel on clouds... The town holds a varied programme of activities on this theme every summer.

Witchcraft, magic, potions, legends, persecutions… all the ingredients of mystery are present to be explored in this area of Spain. And if you look carefully, even today you can see thistles hanging upside down on the door of old houses to keep evil spirits at bay.

Things to remember:
Route 1 is reached on the N-135 road from Pamplona to Orreaga/Roncesvalles
Route 2 is reached from Pamplona on the N-121-A and 121-B
Route 3 is reached on the A-10 and A-15
Route 4 is reached by taking the A-12

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