If yesterday's stage seemed hard to you, then you should take today's stage much more calmly. The journey on the third stage from Zarautz to Deba was only the training necessary to cross over the border between the provinces of Guipúzcoa and Biscay.
The good news today is that from the fourth day of pilgrimage, our body begins to get used to travelling long distances every day and therefore we will begin to feel better and much more rested, starting from tomorrow.
Today's stage is a mountain stage, which runs almost completely through the interior. In fact, on the first section of the route, we will say goodbye to the Cantabrian Sea, which we will not see again for three or four days.
The day, one of the most feared on the northern route, will not be completed by the official route by those pilgrims who make the journey by bicycle, they must follow the path of the main road.
Today's effort, however, will present us with the pure air of the Artibai Valley and various temples of great historical interest. We conclude the stage in Markina, a quiet town where we can rest and recover from the hard journey.
Itinerary Deba - Markina
The fourth stage on theCamino del Norte is one of the most complicated stages. The route is not very long, 24.3 km separate Deba from Markina, but faces pronounced slopes, both positive and negative, which in the rainy season can be very slippery.
To this, we must add that much of the route is made through mountains so that there will be very few services during the trip for pilgrims.
Deba (Km. 0). Beginning of stage
Practical tips for this section: On today's stage, mainly mountain, you will find few services, so it is advisable to leave with enough water and food for the trip. However, in this section, you will find at the Chapel of the Calvario de Maia, both a fountain and something hidden behind the temple, such as a bar! Buen Camino!
We start the morning crossing the tracks and then the estuary. We continue alongside the local GI-638 road for 150 metres, which goes to Mutriku, and we turn left next to a sign indicating Buztiñaga.
Here, we face the first climb on the stage. By a cement road, first, and then by a path surrounded by laurels, hazel trees and various kinds of species of deciduous trees, until we arrive at the hamlet of Pikoaga.
From there with the Cantabrian Sea as a backdrop and surrounded by a rural spot dotted with cattle huts, we reach the Chapel of the Calvary of Maia (km. 4.4), where we can enjoy partial views of Mutriku.
We continue on a paved road, accompanied by a cross. We pass the Azkenetxe Grill restaurant and cross the GI-3330 road. Then we go onto a shady path, where we will have to go over several wooden gates.
We go out onto an open area, near a cattle barn, we go over the last gate and we cross the GI-3562 road to take a track that leads us to Olatz, in the village of Mutriku.
Olatz (km. 8,5)
Practical tips for this section: Olatz is the last town with a bar that we will find for the rest of the journey. Buen Camino!
After the visit to the Chapel of San Isidro, we follow the official signage that indicates "Arnoate 5.5 km ", advancing in the company of the Anu stream. On the left, we move away from the stream, following up a track that goes into a forest, where we reach an altitude of 500 metres.
Always ascending, we arrive in Bizkaia (km. 11.2). Then, descending, we pass by the hamlet of Damukorta, where we find a spring (km. 13.3). Following the track, we reach the hamlet and Arnoate Hill, where we find a fountain (km. 14.2).
Here, we turn right to continue along a rather difficult path, which passes through the hamlet of Sakoneta (km. 16.3) which then transforms back into a track that leads us to the hamlets of Atzorinzabal (Km 17.8) and Amulategi (Km 18.7).
Caserío Amulategi (km. 18,7)
Practical tips for this section: On this section, you will encounter a very hard descent, if you carry sticks or a staff with you, we recommend that you use them. Buen Camino!
After the latter, on the left, a very pronounced rise begins that saves you a slope of 60 metres.
After the hard climb, we arrive in the Artibai Valley, from where we begin to descend to a landing, where we deviate from the right to face a descending stretch with a steep slope.
The descent leads to a meadow that allows us to access the neighbourhood of Arretxinaga, where we will have a couple of visits that will allow us to relax our legs: Torre Barroeta and theChapel of San Joaquin and Santa Ana (Km 23.2).
A few metres later, we find the Chapel of San Miguel de Arretxinaga. After the bridges over the River Urko, we continue straight on Avenida Arretxinaga and turn left on Calle Artibai. Here, we take Calle Osteko and we finish the route in the centre of this locality.
Markina (km. 24,3). End of stage
Practical tips for this section: Markina is the perfect location to complete your period of adaptation and to recover from the hard day. A nice place to sit and enjoy a good chat with other pilgrims. See you tomorrow!
Markina is an ideal stop to recover from a long day because we can visit without going any long distances or we can simply enjoy a relaxing afternoon.
If you decide to go out for a coffee or a walk around the village you can visit places such as the Conjunto Monumental del Carmen, Convento de la Merced, Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción, Convento de la Iglesia de San José. Or, los Palacios de Ansotegi y Solartekua; and Torre Antxia.
Comments Deba - Markina
Here are some recommendations for you to complete without difficulties one of the hardest stages on theCamino del Norte. In the same way, we suggest some dishes to refresh yourself after your efforts.
Precautions stage Deba - Markina
Today's stage is a mountain stage, almost devoid of towns or villages. This, coupled with the route's terrain, with pronounced slopes, make it one of the most widely-respected stages on the Camino del Norte. Our advice is to complete this stage with others.
At all times of the year, it is advisable to do the route with caution, but in winter time this must be extreme because the ground tends to be muddy and very slippery, so it is easy to end up suffering some sort of injury.
Also, at that time of year, there are not so many pilgrims on the route, and if the stage is done alone, we can find ourselves in a potentially difficult situation.
The slopes on the route and the frequent gates make it a stage that the cyclists will not be able to complete following the official route. It is advisable to follow from Deba to Ondarroa on the GI-638 road, and then continue on the BI-633 road until reaching Markina.
Food stage Deba - Markina
The following dishes from Basque gastronomy will help you to replenish your strength after a hard day.
Salsa Vizcaya (Onion and Pepper sauce)
Grilled or baked Hake or Monkfish
White Tuna stew with potatoes
Marmitako (Tuna Stew)
Bilbao Canutillos (pastry cones filled with cream)
Kokotes, a locally-made triangular pastry filled with cream.
What to do Deba - Markina
Here you will find information about places of interest that you will find on your route today.
Ermita de San Joaquín y Santa Ana
The Chapel of San Joaquin and Santa Ana is located on the outskirts of Arretxinaga, at the foot of the Camino de Santiago. The temple and the Barroeta Tower form a medieval-style architectural site.
The small chapel is dedicated to St. Joaquin and St. Ana, who were, according to tradition, the parents of the Virgin Mary.
The couple, after twenty years without having children, begged God to make offerings in the temple, which were rejected by the priest.
Then when Joaquin retired to the desert to fast for forty days, the Archangel Gabriel appeared and told them that they would be parents of a girl: Mary.
Torre de Barroeta
Barroeta Tower is located on the outskirts of Arretxinaga, at the foot of the Camino de Santiago. The building, together with the Chapel of San Joaquin and Santa Ana, form a medieval-style architectural site.
The tower dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries and has a simple appearance and structure.
The tower was not constructed as a defensive measure, but it worked as a fortified house, belonging to a family of nobles dedicated to the exploitation of wood.
The tower, in addition to giving shelter, allowed them to monitor the business that extended from the port of Ondarroa to the interior.
From the 16th century, as clashes reduced, the tower was remodelled and windows were opened, giving it a more palatial air. In the 17th and 19th centuries, the nobles donated the tower to the peasants, who adapted the building to operate as a farm.
Ermita de San Miguel
The Chapel of San Miguel de Arretxinaga was built between 1734 and 1741, on a ruined building in the parvis of Xemein. The temple is part of the architectural heritage of Arretxinaga, where the old Town Hall is included.
The Chapel has a hexagonal floor covered by a dome of six plates, which are joined in the centre forming a striking vegetal decoration. On the wall, there is a system of vaned lintels that bring luminosity to the temple.
Inside the church, there are three boulders, supported by each other, belonging to an ancient structure, which forms a small chapel.
The locality of Markina belongs to the municipality of Markina-Xemein of the province of Vizcaya and has a population of almost 5,000 inhabitants. The town has a lot of charm and places of great historical value.
As an example of religious architecture, you can visit the Conjunto Monumental del Carmen, the Convent of La Merced, the Church of Santa Maria de la Asunción and the Convent of the Church of San José.
As samples of civil architecture, the visitor will find the Ansotegi and Solartekua Palaces and the Antxia Tower.
Conjunto Monumental del Carmen
The Carmen Monumental Historical site is located in the centre of Markina and dates from the late 17th century. The area is composed of a cloister, on two floors, with five arches, and a church, in Latin cross plan, and a terraced chapel.
The façade of the church is made of ashlar and consists of three parts. The centre part is home to the access door, on which there is a figure of the Virgen del Carmen, and the façade is completed with a triangular pediment that houses the coat of arms.
The two lateral sections have lobulated spans, with the structure topped by two bells, one located on each side.
Convento de la Merced
The Convent of Merced de Markina dates back to 1547, although the final construction of the church, in Baroque style, was not carried out until 1793.
Both structures, attached to each other, are made in ashlar, except for the upper floors that are built with brick and concrete.
Inside you can differentiate two heights, on which rise three more levels where a school is located. The ground floor has a lintel access door and decorated with a shield from the patron saint of the Temple, the Virgen de la Merced. On one of the sides, another access door is located, similar but with a simpler shield.
The church has a Latin cross plant and is made up of a single nave topped with a chancel. At the foot of this, we find the choir. The entrance door to the church is adorned with feathers and the coat of arms stands out on the top.
Convento de la iglesia de San José
The convent of the Church of San José is located in the town of Markina. The site was founded by the Countess of Peñaflorida, Doña Epiphany of Argaiz and Munibe.
On the façade of the building, you can see the shield of the Carmelite Order, on the Sphinx of San José. On the left wing of the transept are the tombs of the founder and her husband.
Fuente del Carmen
The Fountain of Carmen is formed by a column of grey marble, topped in white marble fretwork that appears as a capital. In the past, a bowl was placed on top, but in 1923, it was replaced by the image of the baby Jesus of Prague.
In the fountain, you can see four white pieces of limestone on which are painted the shield and some quartets in honour of Juan Antonio Miguel.
Iglesia de Santa María de la Asunción
The Church of Santa María de la Asunción originally belonged to two entities at the same time, the village of Markina and the Parish of Xemein.
The temple goes back to the foundation of the village, approximately to 1335. The temple is made up of three naves, in which Gothic and Renaissance elements are combined. The highlights of the interior are its irregular windows.
Palacio de Ansotegi
Ansotegi Palace is located on Calle Guen Kalea in Markina, next to the Antxia tower. The present main façade belongs to the old building that existed in the place before the palace was built. The Palace's main floor has eight openings, where flower vases stand out to help make the building stand out.
Palacio de Solartekua
The Solartekua Palace, also known as the Palace of Mugartegui, is located in the old part of Markina-Xemein and, at present, is the seat of the Town Hall. The building dates back to the 17th century and is Baroque in style.
The construction is the work of Lucas de Longa and was carried out by the command of Juan José Fernández de Mugartegui.
The property has two floors, the main one, with curved pediment and the image of an angel, and the superior, in which you can appreciate the family crests of the Mugartegui-Lac and Mañozca families.
Torre de Antxia
The Antxia Tower is located in the town of Markina and dates from the 15th century, although at that time only the façade of the building was erected in stone. Nowadays, the building is made up of a façade built in ashlar and consisting of three floors.
The tower was used as a dwelling of the Antxia family lineage, hence the name of the construction. Subsequently, the property was occupied by other important families, with each one of them undertaking changes in the building's structure.