To the south of Mount Gorbeia, in the centre of the Zuia valley, on the slope of a rocky mountain called Rocks of Gold, next to the towns of Bitoriano and Jugo, is the sanctuary of the patron saint of Zuia, the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Gold, in a privileged enclave from which you can see on one side the valley of Zuia and the Alavesa Plain on the other. According to the archaeological remains found by the place, it is known that the area had population settlements since 750 B.C., Bronze Age, and although it is believed that before the monastery there was in the place a temple dedicated to Our Lady, the first written news of this important place of worship in the sixteenth century dates from 1138 when María López de Haro donates the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Gold to the Royal Monastery of Nájera.
The name of Gold can be that it comes from the euskera, height or elevation, or as they like to call it to the neighbors of the place "The Sanctuary of the beautiful summits". The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Gold, from its primitive Romanesque church at the end of the 11th or beginning of the 12th century, has undergone several transformations over the centuries. The vaults of the temple date from the 14th and 15th centuries, and the false plaster vaults of the sacristy date from the 18th century. Until the end of the 19th century, sessions of the Town Hall were held in the same Sanctuary. The great complex of the sanctuary almost disappeared in 1913 due to a colossal fire. After the fire and with the collaboration of the neighbours, the authorities decided to rebuild what had been destroyed.
The surroundings of the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Gold, also known as the Rocks of Gold, of great botanical and geological interest, rocky area between beech and oak forests, is a very precious place for hikers and climbers. A quiet and attractive hiking route is the one from Bitoriano to the Sanctuary of the Virgin of Gold, which houses the image of the Virgin of Gold, from the 12th and 13th centuries, which was restored around 1930. Within the sobriety of the sanctuary, which is underpinned on the rock of the crag still seen inside, on the right side, there is a beautiful altarpiece in 17th century Baroque style. Behind the altarpiece is the sacristy, from the 18th century.
A 16th-century baptismal font quietly holds the memory of the many children who have been baptized there. On the outside of the building, one of the most important architectural elements of the sanctuary, the belfry, from the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries as the original is covered, houses in its two pointed arches the bells forged in the eighteenth century. The Rocks of Gold and the sanctuary undoubtedly deserve a quiet and leisurely visit, enjoying this place of worship, the most important in the Zuia valley, and the beautiful landscape that dominates from here.
The main feast that has been celebrated in the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Gold since time immemorial is the Ascension Day of the Señor. On the second day of Easter of Pentecost a large number of devotees also gather. The day of San Antonio de Padua, June 13, is Children's Day, this day the children of the valley go up to the sanctuary to be blessed. The feast of the Brotherhood is celebrated by the men on the first Sunday of September while the women celebrate on the third Sunday of the same month.
The antiquity of the Confraternity of Our Lady of Gold is lost in the memory of the times as it is mentioned even in the oldest writings. There have always been a large number of brotherhoods, mostly neighbors of the valley of Zuia, also since 1884 if a person was admitted as a brotherhood could never cease to be one. The women could enter to form part of the brotherhood in the year 1882, until then they were only men the members of the brotherhood.
The cruise of the Gold Campaign, in front of the sanctuary, dates back to 1605 and was a meeting point for pilgrims.
Popular wisdom tells us that the three virgins of the area, Jugatxi, the Virgin of Bitoriano and the Virgin of Gold, were three sisters who had each chosen a hill or mountain, close to each other, where the inhabitants of the place built them a hermitage. Being so close, they could be visited in their respective sanctuaries. In addition to Our Lady of Gold, it is said that it relieves headaches, but it is necessary to follow a small ritual, to place the head under the bell of the sanctuary's belfry, and on your knees you pray and ring the bell with your hand.
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We must head towards the town of Murgia, which we will reach by following the road that connects Vitoria with the AP-68 motorway as it passes through the port of Altube. Once in Murgia, follow the road that joins it with Bitorino and Lukino, and on this road you will find the detour that leads to the sanctuary.
The vehicle can be parked in any of the two car parks on the road.
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