C'est une maison bleue adossée à la colline. On y vient à pied, on ne frappe pas, ceux qui vivent là ont jeté la clef.
Maxime Le Forestier, San Francisco
The house, which dates back to the 17th century, has been recently renovated in the traditional style.
It has all the pristine features of Lower Navarrese architecture including, on the outside, exposed stones in the corners of the walls and the frames of the openings, a majestic front door and a carved lintel with the inscription :
“Built – Arnaud Etcheto – Dominique Errande – Spouses
And Charles Etcheto – Priest – Year 1812”
The front door opens onto a splendid reception area, the “eskatz”, which was in former times used as a warehouse and gave access to the barn and stable. The inside of the mansion rivals the charm of the exterior. You will appreciate its warm terracotta floor tiles, pristine parquet floors, exposed joists and a superb dog carved on the pilaster of the staircase.
In the Middle Ages, the pilgrims arrived in the Etchetoa hamlet exhausted after a grueling stage of their journey, through a forest which one can imagine was inhabited by wolves and brigands. This place surrounded by woods was named "Harambeltz", which means "black valley" in Basque.
La Chapelle d'Harambeltz, TVPI report Lionel Andia
In the Middle Ages, Harambeltz housed an important priory-hospital dedicated to pilgrims, and the Saint Nicolas chapel, dating from the 12th or 13th century and classified as a historic monument, remains the precious testimony.
The organization of the priory was based at the time on a community of hospital donates. Half laypeople, half clerics, the donates were dedicated to the priory and bound by minor vows: obedience, poverty and chastity in the event of widowhood.
In 1784, the special status of donates was abolished by an Edict of King Louis XVI. Shortly after, during the French Revolution, when Church property was confiscated by the State, the Saint-Nicolas chapel was no exception to the rule. But original fact: in 1795, the four families of donates from the hamlet bought the chapel from the State in joint possession, and it was handed down from generation to generation. Descendants of donates still live today in the houses near the chapel. Co-owners of this historic monument, they take charge of its maintenance.
The path which passes in front of the Etchetoa gîte is registered in the Unesco world heritage list under the Ways of Compostela.
To find out more: do not hesitate to consult the website of the Association des Amis d'Harambeltz