It is a protected area whose surface is located between the provinces of Alava and Vizcaya, Euskadi, forming an environmental unit with its neighbouring Urkiola Natural Park. This natural environment includes the municipalities of Areatza, Artea, Orozco, Ceánuri and Ceberio in Vizcaya, and Cigoitia, Zuia and Urcabustaiz in Álava. The summit of the mountain that gives it its name, Gorbea, with its 1,482 metres of altitude, is one of the emblematic and reference summits of Basque mountaineering. The origins of the territory of the Gorbeia Natural Park go back to the time when it was covered by the sea, more than 100 million years ago, and its subsequent folding and elevation which gives it its characteristic rocky and karstic. Formations such as the Ojo de Atxular in Itxina karst and the cave of Mairuelegorreta in Álava are clear examples of this heritage. Limestone areas with their cracks, chasms and depressions, but also their substrates of silica that give rounded shapes to the orography, such as the summit of Gorbea, are reflected.
The oldest remains found south of Gorbea date back to the Lower Palaeolithic, but the first bone remains are from the Middle Palaeolithic. In the vicinity of the Arraba Meadows, in the site of the Urratxa cave, necropolis have been found, although the traces of real human settlements in the area are from the Neolithic period. This stage has been reflected in its change in the way of inhuming corpses, the megalithic culture, which is faithfully witnessed by the numerous and interesting dolmens and tumuli that adorn the landscape of Gorbea Natural Park in areas coinciding with pastoral activities that have lasted over the centuries. From the Bronze Age the population settlements in the place have left us remains of its metallurgical development, from which it can be deduced that the Gorbea Natural Park keeps an interesting history where forgers, shepherds, coalmen are intermingled... At present, in the park, which was declared a Natural Park on 21 June 1994, there is a small dispersed population that lives in hamlets, and temporarily it is the shepherds who live in the typical shacks set up for this purpose.
The Gorbea Natural Park combines a rich natural heritage and landscape marked by traditional buildings, vestiges left by other people who were fortunate enough to settle in such a magical place, ancestral megalithic monuments, hydraulic mills, loberas, refrigerators, coal bunkers. Curiously enough, there are around 13 hermitages in the park, the most important being the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de las Nieves (Our Lady of the Snows). At the foot of the mythical summit and roof of the park, the Gorbea, extends a prolific landscape in which the steep walls are mixed with soft areas of pasture populated with pottokas, cows and Pyrenees, sheep latxas or goats azpigorri. There are also extensive beech forests such as the of the Otzarreta beech forest and oak groves where the presence of the marten or the wild cat and especially the deer is assured while the Egyptian vulture, the goshawk or the sparrowhawk cross its skies.
The Gorbea Natural Park is the ideal place for many recreational and cultural activities. Its emblematic places, Cross of the Gorbea, Karst de Itxina, Campas de Arraba, Waterfall of Gujuli or Wetland of Saldropo, among others, are ideal destinations to which numerous hiking and mountain routes take us. Cycling or horse riding also have their attraction. Speleology also claims its prominence, as the Gorbea Natural Park is furrowed by numerous caves and chasms such as the caves of Mairuelegorreta, Supelegor, Itxulegor. In short, a great natural wealth, heritage that together with traditions, gastronomy and legends, will make us enjoy the Gorbea Natural Park. It should be borne in mind that, given the ruggedness and the steep slopes of the terrain in some areas, there are routes that require a certain degree of physical and technical preparation. Furthermore, in adverse weather conditions it is not advisable to enter the park as fog can cause us to lose our bearings and get lost, snow or ice can hide the chasms and caves that populate the terrain.
The summit of Gorbea is crowned by the famous and centenary Cross of Gorbea, erected at the request of Pope Leo XIII in which he urged to raise crosses at the top of the mountains to commemorate the arrival of the new century, the twentieth century. Today it has become a symbol for Basque mountaineering. The photograph next to it is a tradition, as is climbing Gorbea on New Year's Eve and New Year's Eve and toasting with the other mountaineers for the good times past and the good fortunes that are yet to come.
The summit of Gorbea marks the boundary between the territory of Vizcaya and that of Alava. Moreover, Gorbea has always been closely linked to the history of Vizcaya as it has been one of its five bocineros mountains from which, by means of cornets and bonfires, General Meetings were summoned.
Living legends and myths fill the magical atmosphere of Gorbea Natural Park. Lamias who live on the banks of its rivers, the eternal inhabitant of its forests, the Basajaun, who takes care of shepherds and flocks in exchange for breadcrumbs, and the mythical figure par excellence, the Mari, goddess or fairy who lives in the Anboto but who moves and appears in any of the other caves of the Gorbea as that of Supelegor. Although for the zone where it appears it is a sign of good omen and future days of bonanza, if it is a person who is witness of its presence already it is possible to walk with care because the Mari will absorb all its energy to him.
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The three main access routes to Gorbea Natural Park are the N-622, which connects Vitoria-Gasteiz with the AP-68 in Altube, and the N-240, which connects Bilbao and Vitoria-Gasteiz via Barazar. From Vitoria-Gasteiz, the N-240 road borders the park to the east, allowing access from the south, from the towns of Zarate and Sarria, near Murgia. The BI-2522 regional road from Ziorraga to Llodio goes west. The local BI-3513 road that links Orozko with Artea is a good starting point to enter the Park from the north, in Bizkaia. The bus line that connects Bilbao and Vitoria, either through Altube or Barazar, is another means of access to the park.
In the Alava area, you can park in the Parketxe de Sarria and in the area of the Murua Quarries. From Zuia and specifically in Sarria we can access the recreational area located in the old power station. From Zigoitia, concretely in Murua we find the recreational area of the quarries of Murua. In the Biscayan area, in the top of Barazar, Zeanuri, there is a track that reaches the recreation area of Saldropo. From the district of Lanbreabe, Zeanuri, by a path you can access the car park located in Iondegorta. From Areatza there is a track leading to the recreational area of Pagomakurre, Larreder and Upokomakatza. In Orozko, from the Gallartu neighbourhood, a track leads to the Altzagorta recreational area. Also from Orozko, Usabel, we can access the recreational area of Belaustegui, known as Algorta. From Artea, in the direction of Orozko, there is a track that takes us to the Pagomakurre recreational area.
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Esta zona me encanta para hacer rutas de senderismo y montaña. Itxina, subir al Gorbeia, las neveras, tantos y tantos sitios maravillosos que no me canso de visitarlos. Muy recomendable hay rutas para todos los gustos.
5:15 h.19.4 km.