The enchanted forest of Oma in the Basque Country, a painting inside nature
Oma Forest (the Basque Country)
View of the painted trees in Oma Forest
Have you ever stepped inside a forest where the trees and rocks are painted in living colour? Surely not. That’s why we suggest you visit Oma in the Basque Country, in the heart of Green Spain. There you'll find the Animated Forest created by the famous artist Agustín Ibarrola in 1984. It is a magical space connecting nature and art. When you arrive there you will find the work created by the artist using the landscape as his canvas. Delve into this enchanted forest.
There are many special places across the length and breadth of Spain, and we can assure you that Oma’s Animated Forest (in Biscay, the Basque Country) is one of them. Why? Because it is an extremely unique enclave inside the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. And it is here that painter and sculptor Ibarrola wanted to link the works of the ancestral Palaeolithic artists by painting on rocks with the modern tendency known as land art, painting directly on the natural landscape. The result: colourful splashes and outlines that form figures, eyes and rainbows throughout the forest and that appear before you on the paths like fairies from ancient legends.
When you are walking through this pine forest you will understand why it is referred to as “enchanted”. It’s because whichever path you walk along or whichever way you look, you'll notice that if you join together the figures from various trees, they will recompose and create new shapes as you walk. Far from the noise and hidden in the depths of Biscay you can find the tranquillity you need and a place to spark your imagination. Although there are signs showing you the most interesting trees to look at, don’t forget that the special thing about this place is that it hides different woods within it, depending on which path you choose. Take all the time in the world and discover yours.
Once you have become enchanted with this marvellous forest, don’t forget to visit the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve too. Situated very close to Oma Forest (you can reach it on foot), is the Santimamiñe cave, which contains a magnificent example of cave paintings with over a hundred animal figures. It is also possible to experience a 3D virtual journey of the inside at the Visitor Centre. You will also have the opportunity to visit the archaeological site located at the cave entrance and which forms part of the Palaeolithic Cave Art of the Cantabrian Coast, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you fancy a refreshing dip in the sea, in the area of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve you can also find some stunning landscapes of cliffs and beaches such as the ones at Laga and Laida, and which are also great for surfing. If you go further inland, don’t forget there are also some great sandy beaches around the Mundaka Estuary. And to make your day complete, why not visit one of the old farmhouses (caseríos) and sample some of the delicious local cuisine.
If you're travelling by car to Oma Forest (in the town of Kortezubi, Biscay), it is a good idea to park your car in the car park just 300 metres from Santimamiñe cave. From there it is a three-kilometre walk along a wooded path to reach the Animated Forest. If you prefer to travel by bus, there are lines leaving Bilbao and Gernika to Kortezubi. The choice of how to get there and what to visit is entirely up to you, but remember some stretches of the journey are on a slope so it would be advisable to bring comfortable clothing and footwear. Thousands of people have enjoyed this dream created by Ibarrola amidst living nature. Come and enjoy art and nature combined. Surround yourself with living colour. Please note: Oma Forest is currently closed temporarily.
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