The Sanctuary of Loyola Monumental Site
The Sanctuary of Loyola monumental site is a key element of religious tourism in the Basque Country and is one of the points of the three temples route. It is a set of buildings erected around the tower house of Loyola, the birthplace of San Ignacio de Loyola, today known as the Holy House.
The Basilica de Loyola emerges from the centre with force among all these buildings of religious and spiritual nature dominated by a dome and preceded by a large portico decorated in churrigueresque style, an exuberant modality of the Spanish baroque.
Tower House of the Loyola - The Holy House
The old medieval tower house, the Holy House, plot of the lords of Oñatz and Loyola where Ignacio de Loyola was born in 1491 and later converted to God in 1521 is the heart and the raison d'être of the Sanctuary of Loyola.
The lower half of the Holy House is built in stone, almost solid without gaps; A true fortress built at the end of the 14th century by Beltrán Ibañez de Loyola, the great-great-grandfather of San Ignacio de Loyola.
The upper half of the Holy House is built with bricks and in true mudejar style with numerous windows and four ornamental sentry-boxes at the angles, adorned with festoons of mozarabic lacework: a palace rather than a military tower. It is a reconstruction done in 1460 by San Ignacio's grandfather Juan Pérez de Loyola.
Today it is open to the public and can be visited using an audio-guided tour which explains the life and work of San Ignacio de Loyola and one can see how the day-to-day life of Oñatz Loyola transpired by visiting the different rooms of the house. Among all, the so-called Conversion Chapel located on the top floor of the building stands out and it is here where Ignacio de Loyola overcame operations and risk of death. His readings on Christ and the Saints when he was ill enlightened him here and the oratory of his house that he had to change his life and embark on a pilgrimage in search of Jesus Christ. He did so and ended up as San Ignacio de Loyola.
Basilica of Loyola
The construction of the basilica of Loyola, a firm reference of baroque architecture started in the 17th-century and was inaugurated in 1738 in honour of San Ignacio.
This imposing temple was designed by the Italian architect Carlo Fontana who was a disciple of Bernini who fashioned it as a mini Vatican. It was built by the Basque master builders Zaldua, Lekuona and Ignacio Ibero. True to this style, it has a circular layout topped by a majestic dome and a graceful lantern. The high altar made in churrigueresque style since 1758 houses the statue of San Ignacio in its centre.