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"The Invisible Guardian" Route in Elizondo

I'm sure many of you have already done this trip, but in case some still haven't: here you have my walk in Elizondo, following the steps of Amaia Salazar in “The Invisible Guardian” by Dolores Redondo.

Firstly, it's a good idea to start at the Tourist Information Office. They have maps dedicated especially to this route and can give you some nice tips on where to go. Luckily enough, it's basically at the same point, where the whole walk starts: on Braulio Iriarte Street (calle Braulio Iriarte), previously called the Sun Street (calle del sol), because it is south oriented and all the houses are illuminated and warmed by the sun during the day. That is where we can see an Amaia's family house, where aunt Engrasi resides (Braulio Iriarte, 38). In reality it is a guesthouse Txarrenea, a typical farmhouse and any fan of the book can spend a night there. The Tourist Information Office is next door in Puriosenea house, which now is also a museum of Baztan.

Aunt Engrasi's House

A little bit up the street is the Muniartea Bridge, one of Amaia's favourite spots. From there you can admire the view of Salazar's family house, the whole Braulio Iriarte Street and, on the other side, Txokoto dam.

“Dense curtains of rain doused the street from one end to the other, as if someone were randomly wielding a gigantic watering can in the hope of washing away evil, or memory. The surface of the river was choppy, as if thousands of small fish had all decided to come to the surface at once. And the stones of both the bridge and the facades of the houses were soaked, with water bouncing off them and forming small pools that emptied themselves back into the river, pouring down the artificial walls along its edge.” (p.350)

Before you cross the bridge, you might want to go up the street towards Menditurri street, where you can see take Foral Police Headquarters. That's where Amaia was leading her investigation. The word on the street is that inside the building you have the nameplate dedicated to Salazar, but about that you would have to ask people working there.... It's quite curious that when Dolores Redondo was writing the first part of the trilogy, the building was still under construction. You would have never guessed it reading the book and that's because she had an access to the architect's plans.

Let's get back towards the Muniarte Bridge. On our way we pass next to the bakery, or better said its workshop, so important in the book. It's the one that appears in the book and in reality is a private house. It is well marked on the map you took from the Tourist Information, so you won't miss it for sure. The workshop from the film we will see very soon too.

Just before crossing the bridge, take a good look at the bar on the corner. It's Txokoto Bar frequented by a few of the book's characters. It's even part of an alibi for one of the suspects:

“They played on a PlayStation, went to Bar Txokoto to pick up a few sandwiches and watched a film. He didn't leave the house.” (p. 48)

You can stop here for a moment for a pintxo and something to drink.

OK, now you can cross. Although I'm sure you'll stop to look at the Txokoto Dam again. I don't blame you. It looks amazing. The building that you see just over it is a Municipal Library. Once on the other side, turn left into Jaime Urrutia Street and go all the way straight to the City Hall with it's Botil Harri Stone, a stone used in the game of laxoa, a variation of pelota. It's Salazar's personal ritual to touch the stone each time she crosses the square.

From here we go directly to the patisserie Malkorra to try txantxigorri. To those who haven't read the book yet, it looks very innocent, but those of you who have, know that eating it may seem a bit sinister. The curious thing is, that traditional cake was almost forgotten and made only on special occasions, but thanks to the novel it is now sold all year long.

“'It's a txantxigorri,' Amaia interrupted him. 'It's a local speciality made to a traditional recipe, although this one´s smaller than normal. It's definitely a txantxigorri though.'” (p. 9)

From here it's just a few steps to the church, where the funeral mass for most of the victims takes place. It's a beautiful building reconstructed stone by stone between 1916 and 1925, replacing the old church from the XVIth century that was located next to the City Hall. That relocation was mostly caused by the heavy flooding in June 1913 and the damaged it provoked.

We have only two more places to visit: the bakery that appears in the film and the cemetery. The first is a huge building where the real bakery was located long before the book and the film. Now it has an enormous green sign saying “Mantecadas Salazar”. You can enter and buy there a box of txantxigorris. They look differently than the ones from Malkorra, less impressive, maybe, but the box is the one we can see in the film. I have to confess I didn't like any of the cakes, but if I had to decide which one was better, this one would win.

And our final stop: the cemetery. We have to go up the road that leads us out of the town towards France. Don't worry, it's not a long walk and the views are great. And here, on the right is a big, iron gate. The cementary is not big. Don't miss the Arbizu family grave with an angel figure: it is described in the book (obviously, in reality, it's not Arbizu family, but the tomb is the one that inspired the author).
“The Arbizu family tomb was right at the start of one of the paths. On top of the pantheon rested an angel with an expression of indolence and boredom. Indifferent to human sadness he seemed to be watching the gravediggers who had used some iron bars to roll the stone aside.” (p.133)

And that's the end of our trip to Elizondo. If you still have some time and strength, you can visit Xorroxin cascade, the place where you can encounter mythological creatures like lamias. On your way there you will pass next to a few places that might have been the set up for the film scene where they find the first victim.

I hope you enjoyed that route! In case you would like to read about it in Spanish, there are multiple blogs that have already written about it:

All the quotes come from “The Invisible Guardian”, paperback edition 2016 from HarperCollins.