San Juan de Markinez Hermitage and Artificial Caves
Markinez, a small town under the jurisdiction of Bernedo Town Council, has two cultural and historical sites, just a short distance apart, that can be visited consecutively: the hermitage of San Juan, a 13th century Romanesque temple, and several artificial caves that served as home to people in the first centuries AD.
The hermitage of San Juan, declared Heritage of Cultural Interest, is very close to the village of Markinez, conveniently signposted, next to the road that connects this town with Arlucea. It is a small Romanesque church with transition to Gothic that is noted for its rounded arches and the chequered decoration.
A tablet on the main façade bears silent witness to the year of its construction: 1226.
Close to this temple, hewn into the rocks Askana and Larrea, are the artificial caves. These grottos were excavated in the 5th century and were where the hermits lived, as shown by the reliefs carved into the cave of St. Leocadia: a woman mounted on a horse representing the goddess Epona and a man standing showing one of her followers praying.
These figures, protected by a metal railings, were modelled before the Christianization of the location, just before the fall of the Western Roman Empire.
Also interesting, from a scenic point of view, are several solitary monoliths on the outskirts of Markinez.
Consult special opening hours for Easter and bank holidays
These are a 35 minutes by car from Vitoria-Gasteiz The quickest way is via the A-2124 through the Vitoria mountain pass to Ventas de Armentia, now in the county of Treviño, turn left and take the CL-127 to Markinez.