For those of you who may be lucky enough to get to visit the Basque Country sometime, we thought we’d share a few of our favorite places with you.
Toward the western extent of the Basque Country, less than 20 miles from Vitoria-Gasteiz, lies the Añana Salt Valley, next to the town of Salinas de Añana / Gesaltza Añana, Araba. This weird and wonderful landscape, made up of thousands of salt pans, springs, channels, wells, and storage facilities, is a living testament to human development of a single, vital natural resource: salt. This is said to be one of the oldest continuous salt production sites in the world, stretching back some 6,500 years.
In recent years special efforts have been made to revamp this site of major historical and cultural importance, so that there are now guided visits around the salt pans, and visitors can even take part in the salt production process themselves. What’s more, the area also now hosts other kinds of initiatives such as festivals and shows.
Just in case you didn’t realize just how important salt was and is in human history, check out the epic tale, Salt: A World History by a great friend of the Center, Mark Kurlansky. Mark is, of course, also the author of The Basque History of the World. Check out Mark’s books at his website here.