Baztan (valley)

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Baztan
Baztanaldea
Comarca
Navarra 2000 Baztán.svg
Country  Spain
Autonomous community  Navarre
Capital Pamplona
Municipalities
Area
 • Total 390 km2 (150 sq mi)
Population (2007)
 • Total 8,713
 • Density 22/km2 (58/sq mi)
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
View of the Baztan comarca

Baztan is a rural comarca located in a wide valley in Navarre, Spain, with the Baztan river running through it. Down the valley, the river is one of two forming the Bidasoa, on the Atlantic basin. The valley belongs to the Merindad de Pamplona, a historic administrative unit of Navarre.

The valley provides the access to the French Basque regions of Lapurdi and Lower Navarre by means of the Izpegi Pass and Dantxarinea.

History[edit]

Early on in the 15th century the Baztan people earned their freedom from nobility as a consequence of their legendary bravery in the battle of Las Navas de Tolosa.[citation needed] This gave them a right to self-rule, with several important consequences: it strengthened territorial organization, helped demographic balance by preventing more inhabitants from coming into a valley with limited resources, the major exception being the Agotes (cf. the Cagots).[clarification needed] They considered themselves ´nobles´, and some Baztan inhabitants made a fortune at the Court in Madrid and in America.

On 19 July 1522, the castle of Amaiur was the scene of one of the final battles for the Kingdom of Navarre´s independence. The remaining 200 Basque knights finally surrendered, exhausted and starving to forces loyal to the Castilian Count of Miranda. One of these knights was a brother of Francis Xavier, patron saint of Navarre and of Baztan blood. The castle in Amaiur was dismantled stone by stone as Navarre was annexed to Castile, but its ruins and ramparts are nowadays exposed after being unearthed by an archaeological survey.

Nearly a century later, villagers from Zugarramurdi were denounced by the abbot of Urdax as witches, which prompted a famous witch trial by the Inquisition at its nearest substation, Logrono, an event that Zugarramurdi commemorates annually with bonfires during the summer solstice, as well as with a museum.

The valley bore witness to the War of the Pyrenees, the Peninsular War as well as the Carlist wars, and up until the end of the 20th century served as a vital back-door entrance into France used by pilgrims, refugees, allied airmen and smugglers. The latter contributed greatly to the local Baztan economy.

Significant immigration from the valley to Latin America took place. The Errázuriz family in Chile traces its roots back to the Baztán Valley.

Municipal terms[edit]

There are 14 villages in the municipalities: Oronoz-Mugaire, Arraioz, Almandoz, Berroeta, Aniz, Ziga, Irurita, Lecaroz, Garzain, Elbetea, Arizkun, Erratzu, Azpilicueta, and Amaiur.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Atlas de Navarra, Geografía e Historia, Departamento de Educación del Gobierno de Navarra y EGN Comunicación, 2006, ISBN 84-934512-1-5