Friday, October 21, 2011

0071: Urdax Lore - Navarro, Spain

These Urdax caves are located in northern Spain, very close to the French border, and lie on the slopes of the Otsondo mountain pass. The entire area is steeped in witch folklore that led to an inquisition resulting in many deaths in the early 1700s.  (Tidbit: The Salem witch trials were in 1692 and 1693.)

"They" say these caves were once the home of lamia, mythological monsters which had the head and torso of a woman and a fish tail. All sorts of legends exist from hundreds of years ago to a few decades ago when soldiers and smugglers used to occupy the caves. Witches, inquisitors, smugglers, pilgrims and monks all forged an identity in Urdax/Urdazubi - also known as "asla embrujada" (bewitched place).

We happened upon the caves as we were driving north of Pamplona on a sightseeing route from our tour book. I was the driver of the moment and the hairpin turns were terrifying, my hands were sweating and one of my brothers was teasing but also concerned I was about to freak so trying to calm me down. It is now funny - in hindsight!! So these mountains had steep slopes and were very green, some parts were carpeted with moss and ferns while ancient trees grew throughout. It was gorgeous!!! I almost felt like I was in Hansel and Gretel's neighborhood about to come across the beautiful witch cottage...

We were in the Navarra region, in the western Pyrenees; it was obviously a region of amazing and scenic landscapes showing the power and wealth of medieval times. Among the green meadows were medieval bridges, beautiful country houses and ancient ruins - as well as cows, sheep, goats and donkeys... The area has been and continues to be enriched by a constant procession of pilgrims following the Road to Santiago (I definitely have to tell you about this on another blog!!).

Here are some of my pictures of the area:

All these guys were laying down but once they heard the first shutter they stood up and posed for us.
Or maybe they were just getting ready to pounce if we got too close?
Either way, how cute is the baby!!
This one just cracked me up. These goats were already privileged with a great view,
then they all perched on these pedestals!  
That Hansel and Gretel feel.... 
These pictures hardly do justice to the gorgeous landscapes we saw...
One of my favorite spots, I loved the natural carpet.
Ahhh, I can still feel the fresh air!

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