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Aralar Range
View of the Aralar mountains from Txindoki
Country Spain
Regions Gipuzkoa, Navarre
Highest point Irumugarrieta
 - elevation 1,431 m (4,695 ft)
Geology Karst

Aralar (IPA: [a'╔żalar], arguably stemming from '(h)aran'+'larre', meaning 'valley'+'field') is the Basque name for a mountain range, which broadly speaking separates the province of Gipuzkoa from Navarre in the North of Spain. In Spanish it is called Sierra de Aralar and is a popular destination for hiking, hill-walking and other outdoor activities.

It covers an area of 208 km2 and consists of a karst massif with all the typical features of rocky landscapes, gullies and caves that have provided the source for numerous and invaluable Basque mythic legends, folk beliefs and tales. Many of these were collected by the famous anthropologist Jose Miguel Barandiaran, a native of the neighbouring town of Ataun. The limestone formations in the massif are a mass of rocky cavities and chambers full of water, some of which have been opened to the public recently such as the cavern of Mendukillo in the village of Astitz.

Furthermore, a number of mostly small dolmens, stone circles and other prehistoric vestiges dot the area, 17 on the Gipuzkoan side and 44 of the Navarrese side, so adding to the mythical nature of the place for the Basques. These prehistoric traces and the fact that the original primary forest has long been restricted to the fringes and mainly the Navarrese part bear witness to the early presence of man and grazing in the widespread pastures and fields (larre) of Aralar, at least since the Neolithic era.

The 10th century shrine of Aralarko San Migel Santutegia (Santuario de San Miguel de Aralar in Spanish), home to the famous statuette of Saint Michael, is located at the southern end of the massif near the town of Uharte-Arakil, with both the site and the saint being much revered by the Navarrese since early in history. Furthermore, the site holds a famous legend linked to the origin of the place and the expansion of Christianity in the area.



The most important peaks are:

  • Aldaon (1,411m)
  • Artubi (1,262m)
  • Artxueta (1,343m)
  • Balerdi (1,195m)
  • Beoain (1,359m)
  • Ganboa (1,412m)
  • Irumugarrieta (1,431m)
  • Pardarri (1,393m)
  • Putterri (1,299m)
  • Uarrain (1,346m)
  • Txindoki or Larrunarri (1,346 m). This is by far the most widely known and visited peak in the range.

Flora and fauna

The vegetation mostly consists of beech and vegetation typical of the Atlantic side of the Iberian Peninsula.

Fauna includes populations of Pyrenean desmans, bearded vultures, Alpine choughs, wood pigeons, Alpine newts, European snow voles and black woodpeckers.

The Gipuzkoan part has been a nature reserve since 1994, covering an area of 10,971ha.

See also

External links



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