SUMMER ARRIVES IN UROLA GARAIA WITH THE “EZPATA DANTZA” (TRADITIONAL SWORD DANCE)!

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Naia Blogger-a

For those of us from Zumarraga (50 minutes from Donostia/San Sebastián), summer truly begins with the "Ezpata Dantza" (Traditional Basque Sword Dance) on July 2, the same day as our great Festival of Santa Isabel!

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This is one of the most important days of the year, when tradition meets celebration as hundreds of people come together with their cuadrillas (group of friends) to take the two kilometer (1.24 mile) walk to the Church of Santa María de la Antigua, with the txistularis (pipers), dantzaris (dancers), and city officials leading the way.

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Surrounded by peace and quiet throughout the rest of the year, the Church of Santa María de la Antigua –together with the churches of a Loiola and Aranzazu, the other two monuments on the Route of the Three Churches– makes an amazing transformation on this day as a place where tradition and celebration come together.

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On this special day, the virgin is “courted” by the dantzaris who perform the ezpata dantza with short swords, adding an even more magical touch to this wood and stone church, which already has a special atmosphere year-round.

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Can’t make it on July 2? Don’t worry: the Church of Santa María de la Antigua, one of the peninsula’s most spectacular, can be visited year-round…it’s a magical place for both locals and visitors alike!

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Visitors to the church can also check out its Interpretation Center; this gem is located next to the regional tourism office, which provides information on everything there is to do and see in the area.

In less than 10 km from the church you can find attractions steeped in tradition…for example, the old town of Urretxu is home to the impressive Church of San Martín de Tours and its wooden interior, which is part of the Ignatian Way.

And not far away, you’ll find the Igartubeiti Farmhouse Museum (16th-century lagar, or cider press), where you can learn about the history and evolution of our farmhouses. A range of different activities are offered throughout the year, but if I could make a suggestion…come visit during Cider Week in October! The lagar offers a host of activities and people dressed in period costumes to celebrate this spectacular event!

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And, finally, you can’t miss Mirandaola! Located in Legazpi, in the foothills of the Aitzgorri Aratz Natural Park in what’s known as the “Valley of Iron”, Mirandaola Park offers the Basque Iron Museum and the Mirandaola ironworks, still in operation. And if you’re still looking for more, I highly recommend a visit to the Erreixal (cheese) and Igaralde (bread) farmhouses as well as Chillida Lantoki museum and the “Workers’ Route”, which takes a look at life in the 1950s.

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