THE BELAGUA VALLEY

The Belagua Valley, in the municipality of Isaba, is a magical spot, a place which, once seen, is never forgotten. This is what is known as a glacier valley, which is also the head of the Roncal valley.

The Belagua Valley is an immense plain crossed by the ravines of High Ezka (oficially known as the Belagua river) and Arrakogoiti,whilst it is surrounded by high peaks such as Larrondoa, Lakartxela, Binbalet, Lákora, Lapaquiza de Linzola and Txamantxoia, with altitudes ranging from 1700 to 2000 meters.

At the bottom, much of the valley is dedicated to crops and cattle raising. This has always been the case, since prehistoric times, as evidenced by the dolmen of Arrako, next to the Hermitage of Our Lady of Arrako. The excavations made on this megalithic funerary monument have served to confirm that the customs of the shepherds inhabiting this valley over the centuries are still alive today; such as the goat-skin bag with the trousseau, in which the shepherds carried their own spoon and a stone (suarri) which, once red hot, served to heat the milk during the cheese-making process.

There are a number of shepherd’s huts in the Belagua valley that are still conserved in their purest original state. These buildings are used for farming and cattle raising purposes and have hardly changed over the centuries.

The Venta de Arrako and the Venta de Juan Pito inns, the Romanesque bridges located close to Isaba, are the vestiges of the centuries-old route which used to cross the Belagua valley, connecting Navarra with Xuberoa.

However, unquestionably, one of the most spectacular sights in Belagua are the extensive woodlands bordering the plain, particularly the Selva Grande on the slopes of Txamantxoia, at the end of which the Integrated Biosphere Reserve of Aztaparreta is to be found. This beech and fir wood is the only virgin territory still remaining in the Pyrenees.

The breathtaking scenery of this valley, surrounded by stunning peaks, makes it an ideal place to visit at any time of year.

On the 26th July, on the feast day of St Ana, there is a pilgrimage to Our Lady of Arrako, with a procession and the blessing of the fields.

The minor road 137 crossing the Belagua valley goes into France, passing through the area of Larra, allowing you to see a complete change of scenery in just a few kilometres.