Green Belt of Vitoria-Gasteiz - Green walks
Route around the Green Belt - An itinerary around the periurban parks
Technical Data Sheet
Total length: 30.8 km | Type of path: surfaced paths, pedestrian areas and road | Modes: on foot and by bicycle. Suitable for pushchairs | Approximate time(by bicycle): 2 and a half hours 1 | Difficulty: average-low | Average elevation: 100 m
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The Route around the Green Belt of Vitoria-Gasteiz is a circular route 30.8 km in length that surrounds the city, passing through and linking all the parks that form the Green Belt.
The Route can be easily accessed from any point within the city, and from the Route, the rest of the walks of the Green Belt and other itineraries, such as the old Basque-Navarrese Track, the Peña Betoño Track, etc.
Along its route, it passes through very different environments; from typical forest environments, when it runs through the Zabalgana and Armentia Parks, to urban environments, as it passes through the city's peripheral neighbourhoods. A large part runs along paths of the Green Belt and the rest through pedestrian areas; a small part, through roads. In some parts it coexists with separate cycling lanes.
The route is of medium - low difficulty, suitable for families as well as for people more accustomed to sports activities; a perfect scenario to travel by bicycle, on foot -by sections or stages- or to practice jogging.
Throughout the Tour you will find locations of environmental and cultural interest, as well as resting areas, fountains and vantage points where you can have a break. The more urban section also allows you to enjoy cafés or shops just a few metres away from the path.
The Route is signposted with directional posts, Green Belt markers -identifiable by three green points- and information panels which will help you to follow the path. We propose that you start the itinerary in Salburua, at the Ataria Interpretation Centre, and continue in a counter-clockwise direction, passing through the parks in the following order: Salburua-Zadorra-Zabalgana-Armentia-Olarizu-Salburua.
Points of interest
- Ataria Nature Interpretation Centre
- River Alegría
- River Zadorra
This is the municipality's most important river and the rest of the rivers and streams that originate in the municipality's land flow into it. It flows through the northern part of the city, acting as a boundary to the urban area. In several sections, the river and its banks host habitats of very high ecological value, where animal and vegetable species of great interest coexist; some in risk of disappearing, such as the case of the evasive European mink. Its important natural value has prompted its declaration as an SCI (Site of Community Importance) within the European Natura 2000 Network of Protected Natural Spaces.
- Greenway of the Old Basque-Navarrese Railway
The Basque-Navarrese railway track was inaugurated in 1927 to link the Navarrese town of Estella with Mekolalde, in Gipuzkoa. From the 1950s onwards the railway ceased to be profitable due to the competition with road transport and its closure and dismantlement was decreed in 1967. Today, its tracks are used as cyclo-tourism and natural environment viewing routes. The Greenway between Vitoria-Gasteiz and the Arlabán Pass is a slightly ascending route 13.6 km in length that connects with the circular itinerary that surrounds the Ullibarri-Gamboa Reservoir.
- The Gamarra Sports Centre
The Gamarra sports park, with more than 20 ha, is the largest sports and leisure complex in the city. It started out in the late 1920s with the installation of an artificial beach on the shore of the river, to avoid risks to the bathers that used the swimming holes of the River Zadorra. Today, this municipal facility has swimming pools, ball alleys, athletics tracks, a velodrome, football and rugby pitches, bowling alleys, children's games, picnic areas, a restaurant and open-air benches and tables. The woodland is comprised of more than 11,000 specimens of 70 different species, which form a green line that is almost 2 km in length.
- Urarte Ecological Vegetable Gardens
A broad space beside the River Zadorra dedicated to ecological horticulture. It is the second facility of these characteristics set up in the Green Belt, after the Olarizu Vegetable Gardens. The Urarte Vegetable Gardens emerged as a well-organised alternative to the vegetable gardens that had gradually been established illegally along the river and which had caused important ecological impacts on the local ecosystem due to water extraction, waste dumping, elimination of riverbank vegetation, contamination, etc. In this space a large number of citizens and collectives learn about and enjoy the practice of ecological horticulture in adequate social and environmental conditions. It is also a place for anyone who, without participating in programmed activities, would like to enjoy a pleasant time in contact with nature.
- Atxa Hill
Until the beginning of the century, this hill was a suburban area that was highly degraded by waste dumping and illegal vegetable plots. Its recovery is part of the "Plan for the Hydraulic Adaptation and Environmental Restoration of the River Zadorra as it passes by Vitoria-Gasteiz". It is currently a green area for leisure that provides continuity to the Zadorra Park between the Yurre/Ihurre and Gobeo Bridges, and is a key part of the Green Belt.
- Archaeological site in Atxa
It was an Iron Age II (4th and 3rd century BC) settlement and subsequently the location of a Roman military camp (1st century AD).
- Zabalgana Forest and Zabalgana and Lecea Lagoons
A natural gall-oak forest and a typical example of "island-forest", a characteristic formation of the Alava Plains, the result of breaking up forests for agricultural use. In addition to its relict value, it has enormous ecological value as it is a magnificent refuge for wild flora and fauna within a very simplified rural area. The dominant forest species is the galloak, a species of oak which in a large part of the park presents a juvenile appearance, although there are also specimens in which we can appreciate the magnificent size of the tree when it is allowed to reach adulthood. Along with the gall-oak there are maple trees, hawthorns, junipers, blackthorns, privets and other shrubs. Weasels, hares, rabbits and foxes are some of the mammals that comprise the fauna of this forest, which is also home to a large variety of bird species such as coal tits, robins, magpies, blackbirds or long-eared owls. The lagoons of Zabalgana were created after the restoration of the former gravel pit. The Lecea Lagoon, in turn, is a former agricultural pond, now unused. Despite their different origins and their reduced size, both ponds are the habitat for an exciting aquatic world. Among the birds, the coot, the common moorhen and the mallard are some of the most usual. On the water and among the reeds and bulrush that grow on the shores, there are frogs, pondskaters, common reed buntings, dragonflies and damselflies.
- Armentum Archaeological Park
- Armentia Forest
The Armentia Forest is home to a diversity of environments. Very closed, thick sections in which maple trees, hawthorns, blackthorns and blackberry bushes accompany the gall-oaks are followed by more disperse sections with large clearances, where heather, canary clover and junipers grow. In the higher areas we find beech trees, holly trees and mountain ash trees, and on the banks of the streams it is common to find maple trees, hazelnut trees and ash trees. The different environments provide shelter for a very rich and varied fauna, among which are roe deer, boars, squirrels, birds of prey and even up to thirty species of small birds such as goldfinches, finches, robins and coal tits. The environmental value of this forest lies in the fact that it is an ecological corridor between the urban and periurban green areas and the Mountains of Vitoria.
- Armentia Basilica
The San Prudencio Basilica, a 12th century Romanesque building, was built on the remains of an 8th century temple. Reformed several times, it is considered to be one of the most important examples of medieval art and has been declared a monument of the Basque Country. In its interior the image of San Prudencio, patron saint of Alava, is venerated. The festivity is celebrated on 28th April with a "romeria" (religious pilgrimage) with deep popular roots.
- Mendizabala Hill
Popularly called the "omelette mountain", it is a small hill to the south of the city. It is a location of interest due to the elevated vantage point that offers broad panoramic views of the city and of the rural-natural environment that extends towards the south of the municipality. From the point of view of nature, it is a hill practically without trees; however, it has several relictic herbaceous and shrub formations that have survived the urbanisation process, with an important botanical value, notably some species of orchids. Measures for their recovery and improvement have been proposed.
- Batán and Zapardiel Rivers
The Batán and Zapardiel Rivers are two of the numerous streams that originate in the Vitoria Mountains and flow down to the city and the River Zadorra. Both the Batán and the Zapardiel Rivers, which run almost in parallel and close to each other, have enormous ecological value as in the large agricultural area that extends between the city and the mountains they are the main natural paths or corridors that allow the transit of species from the forests towards other natural areas. The name of the River Batán comes from the fulling mills that were installed on its banks, along the section between the Salbatierrabide Path and the Prado Field, and which were used for pounding and washing the wool that was used in the Hospice for making cloth.
- Olarizu Ecological Vegetable Gardens
These were set up in 1998 on agricultural land and meadows littered with waste. Today it is a space open to the public, in which a variety of activities are carried out related to ecological horticulture, gardening and fruit farming. It has a vegetable garden area, a fruit tree area, a forest nursery, greenhouses, an arboretum of the municipality's forests, a pond and a bioclimatic building.
- Olarizu Botanical Garden
The main collection of live plants of the Olarizu Botanical Garden is the Arboretum of European Forests, a 30 ha space prepared to be home to 523 species of trees, shrubs, bushes and climbing plants that are typical of the large types of vegetation of the European continent and its main forests, such as cork forests, Spanish juniper forests, oak forests, fir tree forests, etc. Other spaces are the Olarizu Lake, with collections of plants linked to the aquatic habitats of Europe, the meadows of orchids and geophyte plants and the Olarizu vantage point, with typical vegetation of the hills of Alava and of the limestone rocky areas.
- Olarizu Farmhouse
Its origins date back to 1727. Its original function was to provide shelter for the communal livestock that grazed on the Olarizu Pasture and supplied the local butchers. Later abandoned, the Farmhouse was used as a warehouse until 1987, year in which it was rehabilitated. In 1995 it became the office of the Centre for Environmental Studies of Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council and one of the main educational and informative facilities of the Green Belt. It has a library, an exhibition room, a conference room and several classrooms and it is equipped with solar panels and a biomass boiler. It also houses the installations of the Olarizu Botanical Garden's germplasm bank.
- Olarizu Hill
A hill with an altitude of 709 metres. At the top there is a large 10 metre-high reinforced concrete cross. It provides a magnificent panoramic view of the plains. Close to the summit is the Kastromendi Fort, with archaeological remains of a settlement that was occupied during the Iron Age and up until the early Roman period.
- River Errekaleor
The Errekaleor Stream is the main ecological connector between the Mountains of Vitoria and the Salburua Wetlands, two of the most environmentally valuable areas of the municipality, both declared Sites of Community Importance (SCI), within the European Natura 2000 Network of Protected Natural Spaces. In addition, it is the habitat of two endangered species: the European mink and the sand martin. Affected by the urban planning works in the east of the city, the banks of the river are currently being restored.
- Las Neveras Hill
A natural vantage point that offers broad panoramic views of the city and of the rural-natural environment that extends towards the south of the municipality. It also has an important cultural significance as the point of entrance to Vitoria-Gasteiz along historical roads and paths such as St. James's way. On this hilltop snow was stored in wells and sold in the city in summer in the form of ice. This was common practice in times when industrial cooling was not known or was not widespread.
- Wetlands of Salburua
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