La Cueva de las Brujas

La Cueva de Zugarramurdi - Sorginen Leizea

Useful Information

Location: Calle de Beitikokarrika, 18, 31710 Zugarramurdi, Navarra.
Less than 500 m west of the town of Zugarramurdi, on the Zugarramurdi-Sara trail.
(43.268099, -1.549402)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst Cave
Light: bring torch
Guided tours:
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Las Cuevas de las Brujas, Calle de Beitikokarrika, 18, 31710 Zugarramurdi, Navarra, Tel: +34-948599305.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1609-1614 during an Inquisitorial trial the cave was used as proof for the practice of witchcraft in Zugarramurdi.


Cueva de Zugarramurdi. Public Domain.

La Cueva de Zugarramurdi (Cave of Zugarramurdi) is named after the nearby village Zugarramurdi. But the more common name of the cave is La Cueva de las Brujas (the Witches' Cave) or in Basque Sorginen Leizea. The huge chamber is once a year during summer solstice the location of a sort of witches' service, an event is called Aquelarre or Witch Coven. The festival commemorates the alleged witches who died by fire during the Basque witch trials of the 1600s.

The cave was said to be the meeting place of witches during the Spanish Inquisition. It was reported that the witches of Zugarramurdi met at the meadow of Akelarre (Basque for meadow of the he-goat). Even today Aquelarre is the Spanish word for a black sabbath. The cave is also called Cueva del Akelarre. The inquisitors believed there was a widespread witch cult in the Basque region. In 1610 the Tribunal of the Spanish Inquisition in Logroño tried 40 women accused of witchcraft by their neighbours. Of these, 11 were sentenced to be burned at the stake. A panel at the cave entrance remembers their names. In 1611 the junior inquisitor and lawyer Alonso de Salazar Frías travelled through the area and offered pardon by an Edict of Grace to all those who voluntarily reported themselves and denounced their accomplices. He collected 2000 confessions and 5000 denunciations.

The cave is a huge passage with numerous karstfensters and collapses, actually a cave ruin. The river cave was formed by the stream Infernuko Erreka (the Stream of Hell), which still runs through it today. The remaining cave passage is 120 m long, 12 m wide at the west end and 26 m at the east end, and about 12 m high. There are also two larger side branches.