Flysch of Zumaia: a wonder of nature

The coast of Zumaia is part of the Basque Coast UNESCO Geopark. Located in between a bay and the rugged coast of Guipuzcoa, this small fishing village has one of the most impressive and unusual archaeological formations on Earth: the Flysch of Zumaia. But what exactly is a Flysch and why is it so unique?


Zumaia is located only half an hour away from San Sebastián, so it's the perfect option for a day trip to explore the beautiful scenery of the Basque Country. Urban buses and trains leave every few minutes all around the year. 

My preferred option was the train, operated by the local company Euskotren. If you're staying in San Sebastián, the train leaves from the Amara train station approximately every half an hour. The service is a mixture of an underground system and a regional train, and has a price of €2.45 each way. There are some very picturesque fishing villages on the way as well, such as Zarautz or San Pelaio, so if you have additional time, they also deserve a quick visit. 

As you get off the train station, you'll see the town at the other side of the bay, where the rivers Urola and Narrondo join.

 
 

The Old Town is one of the best examples of the traditional Basque architecture, with dark red roof tiles and wood façaces filled with windows and balconies painted in vivid colours. 

The magnificent Church of San Pedro stands out above the houses, looking like a fortress overlooking the town. The building dates to the 13th century and is one of the most beautiful Gothic constructions of the region. 

 
 

However, Zumaia is particularly famous for its natural wonders. Its privileged location on the coast of Guipuzcoa have made it a local tourist destination for years, however, its recent appearance in multiple TV shows and movies have brought the international attention as well. 

The scenery is so impressive that part of the Spanish comedy Ocho Apellidos Vascos, known in English as Spanish Affairs, was recorded here. Its cliffs and beaches have also been used for the 7th season of Game of Thrones that will be broadcasted from mid-2017. 

 
 

On top of a cliff at Itzurun Beach you can find the chapel of St. Telmo, dedicated to the patron saint of the sailors. The chapel dates to the 16th century and was constructed to protect the many sailors coming from this town that risked their lives in the sea every day. The location is just breathtaking. 

 
 

But the big highlight of Zumaia is its Flysch, part of the Basque Coast UNESCO Geopark

A Flysch is a sequence of sedimentary rocks that are formed by the alternate deposition of layers of the sandstone found on the coast, mainly due to the rapid changes in sea level. These formations are created underwater, and as the continental plates get shoved and heaved, it landslides the different layers of sediments, resulting in incredible formations that can raise several meters. Flysches are as old as the origins of the Earth, and an incredible testimony of the power of nature. 

 
 

My knowledge of Geology is quite limited to say the least, but the park has very informative panels that do a great job at explaining how Zumaia's Flysch was formed. Definitely, a very unique way to learn about the history of the Earth and how the coast gained this shape. 

It's incredible to think that these impossible looking shapes were created by sediments of rocks that were pushed up during millions of years!

 
 

Have you ever seen a Flysch before? Let me know in the comments below!

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