Last updated
Basilica of St. Ignatius in Loyola (contrasted).jpg
Sanctuary of Ignatius of Loyola, in Azpeitia
Bandera de Azpeitia.jpg
Escudo de Azpeitia.svg
Coat of arms
Basque Country location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Location of Azpeitia within the Basque Autonomous Community
Coordinates: 43°10′55″N2°15′55″W / 43.18194°N 2.26528°W / 43.18194; -2.26528 Coordinates: 43°10′55″N2°15′55″W / 43.18194°N 2.26528°W / 43.18194; -2.26528
Country Spain
Autonomous community Basque Country
Province Gipuzkoa
Comarca Urola Kosta
Founded1310 (1310)
   Mayor Eneko Etxeberria (Bildu)
  Total210.12 km2 (81.13 sq mi)
80 m (260 ft)
 (2018) [1]
  Density70/km2 (180/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Basque: azpeitiarra
Time zone UTC+1 (CET)
  Summer (DST) UTC+2 (CEST)
Postal code
Website Official website

Azpeitia (meaning 'down the rock' in Basque) is a town and municipality within the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country, Spain, located on the Urola river a few kilometres east of Azkoitia. Its population is 14,580 (2014). It is located 41 kilometres southwest of Donostia/San Sebastián.


Azpeitia is the birthplace of Ignatius of Loyola. The house of his birth is now preserved as a part of large Jesuit compound, the Sanctuary of Loyola, a major attraction of tourists and pilgrims alike. It is also the birthplace of Renaissance composer Juan de Anchieta.

Azpeitia lies at the foot of the massive Izarraitz towering over the town and much visited by the townspeople. Azpeitia Railway Museum is located in the town.

Historical background

Azpeitia was incorporated in 1310 by a royal decree of King Fernando IV. Its original name was “Garmendia de Iraurgi” and a year later it was renamed “Salvatierra de Iraurgi”. The name “Azpeitia” is first found in 1397. During the 13th and 14th centuries there were many battles and wars among prominent families in the town, especially between the Oñatz and Gamboa families. In 1766, there was revolt in the town against King Carlos V's policy of liberalizing the selling and buying of wheat and a rebellious town council was briefly established. However, the revolt was quickly suppressed by troops sent from San Sebastian.

The steel and wood industries have historically been the main industries in Azpeitia. The Sanctuary of Loyola is its major local tourist attraction, together with the Basque Railway Museum.

St Ignatius of Loyola (Founder of the Society of Jesus)

He was born in Loyola, Azpeitia, in 1491 and died in Rome in 1556. His family was part of the aristocracy of Biscay. As a young man he worked in the service of the viceroy of Navarre. He was injured in both legs during the defence of Pamplona in 1521. Afterwards, during his convalescence, he started reading religious books. This had a big impact on his life. He then travelled to Catalonia, first to the monastery of Montserrat in 1522 and then to Manresa, where he retired to a cave to meditate for a year. Afterwards he wrote his most famous book, the Book of Spiritual Exercises (Libro de los Ejercicios Espirituales).

After various journeys to Rome, Barcelona, Alcalá de Henares and Salamanca, he went to Paris in 1528, where he studied philosophy and theology. Together with some other students he founded the core of the Society of Jesus, which received Papal approval in 1540 and chose St Ignatius as its superior general. Afterwards, the Jesuits spread all over the world, starting in Europe and then to the Americas. When he died, St Ignatius was canonised by the Roman Catholic Church .

The Basque Railway Museum (Museo Vasco del Ferrocarril)

The museum is situated in the old Urola railway station, on a line which connected Zumaia and Zumárraga. The Basque Railway Museum has one of the best railway collections in Europe, with vehicles of all types: steam locomotives, diesel and electric; automotive and different kinds of cars.

In addition, the museum offers one of the most complete sets of machine tools in the Basque Country from the old Urola Railway garage. This installation is preserved just as it was inaugurated in 1925, with an old electric motor that drives its 16 machines through a complex system of pulleys and belts. This line is no longer operated as a service. However, the train between Azpeitia and Lasao is an important tourist attraction.

The amazing facilities of the old electrical transformer plant with its original equipment rectification, mercury vapor, reflect the most modern technology of a century ago.

On the first floor of the central building of the old station at Azpeitia, there is an exceptional sample of the uniforms used in the railroads since the late nineteenth century to the AVE. On the second floor is a great collection of railway clocks. Nowadays, the train museum is operated by Eusko Tren, a public railway company run by the Basque government.

Civil War In Azpeitia

A recent study supported by the Basque government, "Azpeitia 1936-1945" examines daily life in the period and an index of Azpeitians of the time with a summary of their political activities during and after the Civil War. It also contains reproductions of many of the historical documents of the time.

In Azpeitia, the main opposing sides were the Carlists (carlistas), who supported the Nationalists, and the Basque Nationalists from EAJ-PNV(supporting the Republicans). There were also falangists and left-wing militants (from UGT and Izquierda Republicana) and some anarchists. Nationalist troops entered Azpeitia in September, 1936. Shortly afterwards, a new council was created dominated by Carlists and traditionalists.

Azpeita has always been characterized by a wide use of the Basque language (Euskara), but its use diminished after Franco's victory. Franco himself visited Azpeitia in 1939 and in 1945 (he visited the Loyola Sanctuary, notably).

The Emparan Tower House

Its building process started in 1320. It was the property of one of the most powerful Basque families of the time, the Oñatz family. In 1456, the upper part of the tower was destroyed by order of Henry IV. It was repaired in 1535. In 1750, numerous baroque elements typical of the time were added and the tower, now a palace, acquired its current appearance. Nowadays, the palace is Azpeitia's local public library.

The Hermitage of our Lady of Olatz

It is situated halfway between Azpeitia and Loyola. It was built in the late 13th and early 14th centuries. It contains a polychrome Gothic carving of Our Lady of Olatz, for whom it is said that San Ignatius felt a special devotion. The private boards of Gipuzkoa held their meetings here until the beginning of the 18th century.

The Hospital and Hermitage of la Madalena

In 1535, after completing his studies in Paris, when Íñigo de Loyola (Saint Ignatius) arrived in Azpeitia, he was ill. However, instead of residing in the family tower house, he chose to stay in this hospital and leprosarium, together with the poorest patients. He used to preach there. He also is said to have walked the streets begging for food and help for those who were ill, homeless and unprotected. Nowadays, the old hospital is used as an Ignatian interpretation centre.

The Church of San Sebastián de Soreasu

Built by the Templars between the 16th and 18th centuries, it underwent extensive restructuring and only the tower of the old temple was conserved. The original portico was replaced in 1771 with a frontispiece designed by Francisco Ibero. The church has eight chapels in total. The Baroque altarpiece and the baptismal font where Íñigo de Loyola was Christianized are of outstanding beauty.

Notable people

Related Research Articles

Biscay Province of Spain

Biscay is a province of Spain, lying on the south shore of the eponymous bay. The name also refers to a historical territory of the Basque Country, heir of the ancient Lordship of Biscay. Its capital city is Bilbao. It is one of the most prosperous and important provinces of Spain as a result of the massive industrialization in the last years of the 19th century and first half of the 20th century. Since the deep deindustrialization of the 1970s, the economy has come to rely more on the services sector.

Euskotren Trena Train operating company in the Basque Country, Spain

Euskotren Trena, formerly known just as Euskotren is a commuter, inter-city and urban transit train-operating company that operates local and inter-city passenger services in the provinces of Biscay and Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country, Spain. It is one of the four commercial brands under which Basque Railways operates, as a public company managed by the Basque government. The entire 181.1-kilometre (112.5 mi) network uses 1,000 mm narrow gauge rail tracks which have been owned by the Basque Government since their transferral from the Spanish government; the rail tracks and stations were part of the FEVE network until its transferral. Euskotren Trena also operates the Donostia/San Sebastián metro under the brand Metro Donostialdea.

Zumaia Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Zumaia is a small town in the north of Spain in the Basque Country.

Eibar Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Eibar is a city and municipality within the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country of Spain. It is the head town of Debabarrena, one of the eskualde / comarca of Gipuzkoa.

Gipuzkoa Province of Spain

Gipuzkoa is a province of Spain and a historical territory of the autonomous community of the Basque Country. Its capital city is Donostia-San Sebastián. Gipuzkoa shares borders with the French department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques at the northeast, with the province and autonomous community of Navarre at east, Biscay at west, Álava at southwest and the Bay of Biscay to its north. It is located at the easternmost extreme of the Cantabric Sea, in the Bay of Biscay. It has 66 kilometres of coast land.

Irun Municipality in Euskadi, Spain

Irun is a town of the Bidasoaldea region in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It lies on the foundations of the ancient Oiasso, cited as a Roman-Vasconic town during the period.

Durango, Biscay Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Durango is a town and municipality of the historical territory and province of Biscay, located in the Basque Country, Spain. It is the main town of Durangaldea, one of the comarcas of Biscay. Because of its economical activities and population, Durango is considered one of the largest towns in Biscay after the ones that compose the conurbation of Greater Bilbao.

Azkoitia Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Azkoitia is a town located in the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Autonomous Community of Basque Country, in northern Spain. It is also the seat of the municipality of the same name.

Lazkao Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Lazkao is a town and municipality located in the Goierri region of the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Country.

Pasaia Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Pasaia is a town and municipality located in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Basque Autonomous Community of northern Spain. It is a fishing community, commercial port and the birthplace of the famous admiral Blas de Lezo.

Usurbil Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Usurbil is a town and region located in the province of Gipuzkoa in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country, in the North of Spain.

Zumarraga, Spain Municipality in Basque Country, Spain

Zumarraga is a municipality and industrial town in Gipuzkoa province of the Basque Country autonomous community of northern Spain, approximately 35 miles (56 km) by road southwest of San Sebastián and 10 miles (16 km) northwest of Idiazabal. As of 2018 the municipality had a population of 9834 people. The Urola river flows through the vicinity. It is the birthplace of Miguel López de Legazpi, conquistador who explored the Pacific Islands and the East Indies, and of Iñaki Urdangarín, the husband of Infanta Cristina of Spain.

Southern Basque Country

The Southern Basque Country is a term used to refer to the Basque territories within Spain as a unified whole.

San Sebastián City in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain

San Sebastián or Donostia is a coastal city and municipality located in the Basque Autonomous Community, Spain. It lies on the coast of the Bay of Biscay, 20 km from the French border. The capital city of the province of Gipuzkoa, the municipality's population is 186,095 as of 2015, with its metropolitan area reaching 436,500 in 2010. Locals call themselves donostiarra (singular), both in Spanish and Basque.

Campaign of Gipuzkoa

The Campaign of Gipuzkoa was part of the Spanish Civil War, where the Nationalist Army conquered the northern province of Gipuzkoa, held by the Republic.

Basque Country (autonomous community) Autonomous community of Spain

The Basque Country, officially the Basque Autonomous Community is an autonomous community in northern Spain. It includes the Basque provinces of Álava, Biscay, and Gipuzkoa.


Donostialdea is one of the eight regions of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Autonomous Community, corresponding to the basin of the lower Urumea River, along with a strip of basin corresponding to the Oria River, the region borrowing its name from Donostia-San Sebastián, the capital city of Gipuzkoa in Spain. The region comprises eleven municipalities extending in an area of 305.72 km2. It borders in the east with the region or subcomarca of Oarsoaldea, on the south with Leitzaldea or Norte de Aralar in Spanish (Navarre), on the west with Urola Kosta and on the north with the Bay of Biscay.

Tourism in the Basque Autonomous Community has increased considerably in recent years. According to data from the Eustat the number of tourists entering the region in the year 2009 was 1,991,790, a figure which has improved over 2010, with the final result still pending. Of the people who visit the region each year, 71% come from the rest of Spain, with the following Autonomous Communities providing the greatest number of visitors: Madrid Autonomous Community (14.2%), Catalonia (11.1%). International visitors make up the remaining 29%, with France (7.2%) being the country which provides the most visitors to the Basque Autonomous Community. Furthermore, 62% of the people who come to the Basque Autonomous Community visit one of the three capitals, 27% visit inland and 11% the Basque Autonomous Community coast. The average stay of the visitors is 1.88 days, with Gipuzkoa being the province which records the longest stays, with an average of 2.01 days.

Sanctuary of Loyola

The Sanctuary of Loyola or ‘’’Sanctuary of Loiola’’’ Shrine and Basilica of Loyola consists of a series of edifices built in Churrigueresque Baroque style around the birthplace of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Society of Jesus.

Julián Elorza Aizpuru Spanish Carlist politician

Julián Elorza Aizpuru (1879-1964) was a Spanish Carlist politician. He is best known as advocate of Basque autonomous establishments, promoted during the Restoration, the Primo de Rivera dictatorship and the Second Republic. He was member of the provincial Gipuzkoan self-government and served as its president (1919-1924). Elorza was also the founder and the first president of Sociedad de Estudios Vascos (1919-1936). Politically he refrained from Carlist militancy and remained on conciliatory terms with most other political groupings.


Buces Cabello, Javier (2016). Azpeitia 1936-1945: Giza Eskubideen zapalketa eta errepresioa Gerra Zibilean eta lehen Frankismoan (2016). Donostia-San Sebastián: Aranzadi. ISBN   978-84-944251-4-1.

San Ignacio de Loyola. Diccionario Enciclopédico Larousse. Madrid: Planeta, S.A. 1991. p. 1211. ISBN   84-320-6618-4.

"Azpeitiko historia". Azpeitiko Udaletxea. May 5, 2016.[ permanent dead link ]

"Museo Vasco del ferrocarril". bemfundazioa. May 3, 2016.

Tourism leaflet about Azpeitia (2015)


  1. Municipal Register of Spain 2018. National Statistics Institute.