The Sanctuary of Arantzazu, is located in the heart of Euskal Herria, which is apart from being a centre for unparalleled spirituality, is also one of the most representative examples of contemporary Basque art.
San Ignacio de Loyola visited the sanctuary of Arantzazu in 1522. After his conversion, when San Ignacio was on his way to Montserrat, held a vigil at this sanctuary which he himself acknowledged as useful.
Today nothing remains of that first sanctuary. The first historical data about the Sanctuary of Arantzazu is recorded by Esteban de Garibay. According to tradition, during the spring of 1468, Rodrigo de Baltzategi was trying to gather his flock when he heard the sound of a cowbell that caught his attention and found an image of the Virgin Mary. As soon as the word spread about this fact which was considered as miraculous, pilgrims started to arrive at this place.
Throughout history, the Sanctuary of Arantzazu was hit by three major fires, the last one in 1834, as a result, the Sanctuary of Arantzazu was completely gutted. In 1950, the current new basilica was built, as apparently, the one present then was too small. The work was carried out by architects Sáenz de Oiza and Laorga. Built over the ravine of the Sanctuary, it rises on the rocks, on important stones. The three towers are formed rock tips that represent the spine. The facade of the church has the Piety of Jorge Oteiza is depicted with the question over suffering. At the bottom, the fourteen apostles, image of all the men and women.
To enter into the mystery of the church we will have to go downstairs and pass through the iron gates, made by Eduardo Chillida. Inside, wrapped in the colour of wood quality, there is 600 m2 of landscape made of painted wood carving namely, the magnificent altarpiece of Lucio Muñoz. There is a small 13th century image of the Virgin Mary in the centre. The light enters here softened by the stained glass window made by Xabier Álvarez de Eulate. The paintings of the place where the image is present, Xabier Egaña shows us the history of salvation in the mystery of the woman.
If we go down to the crypt of the Sanctuary of Arantzazu, we can see the paintings of Nestor Basterretxea that depict the evolution of the history of the human being and the Risen Christ.
The day of our Lady of Arantzazu, patron saint of Gipuzkoa is celebrated on 9 September, and from May until October, a large number of people from the towns of Euskal Herria come to Arantzazu as per their turn on the day assigned to each one. In addition, the pilgrimage of all women who are called Arantxa is held every two years.
"Gandiaga Topagunea" Spirituality Centre
A place for meeting and conversation. This Cultural Centre was created from the old seminary giving it a modern appearance in this new building. This wants to be a place of dialogue without conditions. It is ready to carry out meetings.
It is the small building located between the Basilica and Gandiaga Topagunea. It received the name "mystery" from a sculpture by Jorge Oteiza found in the same building. The sculpture represents a monk of Arantzazu offering the Virgin Mary and infant Jesus to the people. It is a place to be in silence, meditate, and search. In this building we can find a spine at the entrance which is a symbol of life; the rock through which water flows; and around are witnesses, some known, but mostly unknown.
This small space is joined through ways with culture and Basilica so that every person may embark on their own way; some developing their human vocation and others in search of faith.