A fascinating journey back in time in an exceptional natural setting.

Mount Irulegi (893m) stands in the valley of Aranguren, between the Pyrenees and the river Ebro, dominating the Basin of Pamplona and the Valley of Lizoáin, just 15 kilometres from the capital city of Navarre. During the weekends and in summer, its exceptional views make it a popular destination for hikers. From the summit, on the clearest days, it is possible to see the Pyrenees, as well as the Sierra of Aralar and Gaztelu and other peaks of well-known mountains in Navarre, such as Saioa, Txurregi and Adi.

There, on the top of Mount Irulegi, in a strategic position, lie the ruins of a 12th century medieval castle, which apparently served to defend the town of Noáin. And, on a ridge close to the castle, the remains of an Iron Age settlement were discovered. The archaeological investigation of this site has led to one of the most important findings in the history of Navarre: the Hand of Irulegi. This explains why this archaeological area has been declared a BIC (Cultural Heritage Site) with the name of "Conjunto de Irulegi" or Irulegi Complex.

How about exploring one of the places that offers the most information on the history of Navarre and its ancestors? Come to Irulegi for a great day out, where you can combine cultural heritage with some good exercise in an exceptional natural setting.


3 reasons to visit Irulegi

  • Visit the archaeological site where the Hand of Irulegi was found

    Visit the archaeological site where the Hand of Irulegi was found

  • Discover the ruins of a medieval castle

    Discover the ruins of a medieval castle

  • Enjoy a day out hiking in the countryside

    Enjoy a day out hiking in the countryside

The Hand of Irulegi

ESince 2007, Mount Irulegi has been the scene of a number of archaeological excavations. From that time onwards, the ruins of the castle standing on the summit were explored and, in 2018, excavation work started on an Iron Age settlement, which is located on the esplanade alongside the castle. As a result of this work, two dwellings were uncovered, with a surface area of approximately 70 m2.

And, in June 2021, next to the entrance to one of the dwellings at the site, a finding was made: the Hand of Irulegi. This is a bronze hand that is spread out and carries an inscription on the back, written in a Paleohispanic script called the Vasconic script, a precursor of the Basque language. Of the four words inscribed, only the first has been deciphered so far: “Sorioneku” (good fortune).
Did you know that the Hand of Irulegi is the oldest and most extensive document to be written in the Vasconic language to date? Thanks to this discovery, we now know that people were already writing in this language ... more than 2000 years ago!

The Hand of Irulegi
The settlement

The settlement

If you're feeling curious, then we'll tell you a little bit more. This settlement, which was inhabited from the Bronze Age until the early 1st century BC, was abandoned after having been burned down by Roman troops during the Sertorian wars. During the fire, the walls of the dwellings collapsed, leaving under the rubble the remains that are now coming to light. We are therefore lucky enough to have a photo that is frozen in time for that period. The archaeologists have found pottery and everyday items that are exceptionally well-conserved, allowing us to learn a little more about how the Vascons lived.

The Hand of Irulegi is currently being restored so that it can be exhibited to the public in the Museum of Navarre towards the end of 2023.

If you would like to learn more about this finding and the rest of the archaeological investigative work, and to sign up for a guided tour of the archaeological site, then go to the following website: Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi (Aranzadi Science Society).

How to get there

The most common route to access the Valley of Aranguren is via the PA-30 ring road, taking the exit for Tajonar leading to the road to Aranguren. Then, take the road to the village of Ilundáin, where you should park in the car park available to visitors.

To access the car park, you need to book in advance through the website:

At the end of your day out, leave in the direction of Sarriguren and carry on along the road instead of going back the way you came. This is to avoid problems from oncoming traffic as some sections of the road are really narrow.




Advice for climbing Irulegi

Advice for climbing Irulegi

In order to make the most of your visit to the Irulegi Complex, we would recommend wearing comfortable footwear and suitable clothing for the climate, and taking a camera to capture those unforgettable moments.

The climb has a total elevation gain of 300 cumulative metres along the longest route, yet with a gentle slope. You are recommended to choose the best one for your physical fitness level. Neither route is over-demanding, but you do need to consider which one to take in the case of youngsters, older people or those with mobility difficulties.

  • Please remember to respect the environment. The Council of the Valley of Aranguren is making a considerable effort to ensure the protection and valorization of the natural resources of the valley.
  • The villages around Irulegi are very small and with few inhabitants. Park in the visitors' car parks and respect the peace and quiet of the villagers.
  • Drive slowly and carefully, as some sections of the roads are very narrow.
  • There are no fountains, toilets or litter bins on the trail. So, bring your own water and make sure that no litter is left behind.

The trails

From the car park at Irulegi (between Ilundáin and Laquidáin) there are two options for climbing up Mount Irulegi, where the castle and the archaeological site of the Iron Age settlement are located. The length and level of difficulty are different in each case.

  1. A short trail (shown in blue on the map) which is almost 2 kilometres long. This runs through the Cañada Real Milagro Aezkoa transhumance route, passing by the Centre for the Recovery of Wild Fauna of Navarre and goes up along the Poche de Idoate pass.
  2. The long trail (shown in green on the map) is approximately 3.9 kilometres long. It also passes by the Recovery Centre, but then goes on to cross through the Bosque Animado (animated woods), featuring tree stumps that have been carved and painted with figures of animals, created by the Ilundain Foundation, which are sure to delight your youngsters.

    ​​​​​​​This trail also allows you to enjoy some wonderful scenery, the woods, flowers and native fauna. Also, very close by, you will find the Graellsia isabellae butterfly reserve, considered to be one of the most attractive butterflies among the European fauna, with a wing span that can reach 10 cm.
  3. As well as these two trails, once you have visited the archaeological site, there is the possibility of going down to Ilundáin through a third return trail (shown in yellow) of just over 2.5 kilometres and which goes through Laquidáin.
The trails
The trails

You may also be interested in

Your reason for coming to Irulegi may have been driven by history, culture, nature or hiking, so we're going to tempt you with some similar plans that you're sure to love. Take note!

  • 5 nearby trails for families

    The Council of the Valley of Aranguren offers a great plan for youngsters: ARAN Ipuinak. These are 5 trails through the valley and which take their inspiration from the 5 video-stories by Ventura Ruiz. By doing these trails, you can learn about toponyms, history, fauna, flora, etc. As well as different songs, riddles and traditional oral expressions of Navarre.

  • Other museums and archaeological sites

    If you're into history, we would recommend starting at the Museo de Navarra museum, and if you are particularly passionate about the ancient age and archaeological sites, in this region we have a few examples of the Roman period and the Iron Age, that you might like.
    Go to the museos de Navarra (museums of Navarre) website and explore our past, our ethnography, our gastronomy... No secret will be left untold!


  • Hiking and nature

    One of the attractions of Irulegi is the possibility to do some hiking in the area. So, if you want to do more trails, allowing you to discover awesome scenery and breathe clean air, you've really got it easy, because there's a lot to choose from. The countryside in Navarre is set to surprise you with its incredible diversity. You can go from the lush green valleys of the Pyrenees in the north to the aridity of the south and the desert of the Bardenas Reales. Check out all the options and choose your favourite.

  • Plans and activities in Navarre

    You can round off your outing to Irulegi with the following plans in the area: gastronomy, active tourism, birding, interpreted trails with a guide, guided tours, and even a visit to an organic pasta workshop. Take a look, because you're sure to find something that appeals to you!