Must know ... LEA ARTIBAI
Lea Artibai is a region of the Basque coast located in Bizkaia. The name of this mountainous coastal area is taken from its two rivers that structure the region into two valleys, each with a distinct urban, rural and social composition, and give it its own, strong personality.
Its rivers and valleys are created as a continuation of the massif in the Urkiola nature reserve.
To the North, this region looks out into the Bay of Biscay, which gives it one of its characteristic traits: the boisterous, maritime nature of its people. These rivers have a basin that has not changed much and that is preserved in a magnificent state, with good reason Lea is considered one of the cleanest coasts in the Basque Country. In the upper sections, where the banks are well preserved, alders, ashes, oaks, and hazelnut trees grow. Aquatic vegetation is very abundant and diverse in the basin, since there are numerous dams and reservoirs that transform the rivers in some sections into small ponds or pools, thus alternating with areas of rapids.
This region has been successful in maintaining its ancestral costumes and rural life style throughout the generations, which continue in the diverse farmhouses, villages and harbors throughout its geographical landscape. With the emergence of blacksmithing activities, the wooded forest landscapes gave place to pastures and orchards, which are very typical.
Nonetheless, even today we can find enclaves of Cantabrian oak groves, with its characteristic flora of strawberries, bay leaves, climbing plants such as sarsaparilla or rubia peregrina, reforestations of oaks, chestnuts, beech trees, hawthorns, hazelnuts, as well as heather and whin.
The importance that some of these forests have played throughout the centuries can be seen in the stones used in the farmhouses; a faithful reflection of that is the characteristic sandstone used in the farmhouses surrounding the forest of Oiz, and the famous marble from Markina-Xemein taken from their quarries.
In order to obtain an excellent view of the interior land and coast there is nothing better than to climb the forests of Kalamua, Iluntzar and Oiz. The latter is the highest one in the region and has the youngest forest in Bizkaia; it is one of the 5 Horn blower Mounts in Bizkaia, from where the Gernika Committee was summoned to the General Council and to send emergency alerts to the province. Currently it can be seen practically from the entire region, given the windmill park that is located at the summit.
Related to the coast, the Lea Artibai region is made up of about 20 Km of coast, where one can find geological structures and landscapes of great interest.
Our beaches are one of the best well-known attractions of our coast. From the wild beach called Ogella in Ispaster, to the spirited beaches of fine sand in Lekeitio, Mendexa, and Ondarroa.
Another chacarteristic of the coast is the cliffs that descend to the sea, some of them almost vertical and inaccessible, but ideal for birds, such as seagulls, cormorant and peregrine falcons to build their nests protected from predators. In addition, the differential erosion of our coasts has created structures such as the Garraitz- San Nicolas Island, rocky limestone outcrops where rugged nature meets with the histories of plagues and ancient medieval monasteries.
The intimate relationship of the inhabitants of this region with the sea has been known since prehistory. Currently this intimate relationship between man and the sea it has seen in the harbors and fishing activities that take place there. No wonder the ports of Ondarroa and Lekeitio, located at the estuary of the two main rivers in the region, is an ideal example of the traditions and way of life of the sea.
While its location is quite central in Euskadi, the topography of the Lea Artibai region and the distance to the main roads have led to some isolation of the region. This isolation has facilitated greater conservation of the landscape and historical heritage, along with lower industrial development in relation to other regions. This situation has affected all areas of regional development: employment, demographics, landscape conservation, urban development ...
Must know...SANTA KATALINA LIGHTHOUSE
It's the first lighthouse in the Basque Country that can be visited. It is located in a natural beauty spot and a part of its equipment is no longer used. The lighthouse, together with the watchtower at Otoio are a named as a Navigation Interpretation Centre, where visitors can learn about the basics of navigation and how they have evolved since antiquity (signals, lights, bearings, stars, etc.) and sense the feeling that sailors got when they saw the light coming from the lighthouse connecting them to dry land. It was from the watchtower that fisherman would see whales as they came near to the coast and here visitor have explained to them the task of the watchtower keeper, his tools, etc.