The Painted Forest of Oma

This extraordinary sight in the North of Spain was originally blogged about in March 2013. The forest has been closed to the public for a couple of years but on Monday 25 July 2022 it will re-open. There have been major changes. The original 3.5 hectare site has been transported to a massive 13.5 hectare location right next door. Work on painting the trees will continue during the year so if you go, expect some disruption, but an incredible experience nonetheless. The official website still shows the forest as closed, but this will no doubt be updated in due course. Have a look at the video to see some of the work in progress. If you can’t cope with the Spanish in the speeches, just mute the sound and enjoy the sights!

If you want to read more about the reasons behind the closure and moving of the painted forest, El Correo have a good article in Spanish. It gives a lot more information about the project and how it will develop from this point. Below is our original blog complete with pictures from back in 2013.

Painted Forest of Oma

A short drive from Guernika we found one of the most extraordinary sights we have seen on Northern Spain – the Painted Forest of Oma. To get there we had to park up in the small village of Lezika where we had lunch at the restaurant. If you have time you can also visit the Santimamine Caves. We didn’t have enough time but it looks like there are some impressive cave paintings inside.

Painted Forest of Oma

From there you have to proceed on foot. We decided to walk up through the forest of Oma instead of taking the low road to the village of the same name. It was an easy to follow footpath and is quite well maintained. The only danger at the moment is the number of processional caterpillars. The barbs on their skin could cause quite a severe allergic reaction in many people! Nevertheless, it was quite impressive to see them making their way up the hill alongside us!!

Painted Forest of Oma

At the highest point of the path a signpost leads you downhill deep into the forest. Before you know it you are surrounded by bizarre colourful shapes in the trees and it all feels a bit surreal. Luckily there are yellow markers in the ground which tell you where to stand and which direction you should be looking in to get the best view of the paintings. After seeing the Guernica in the Woods painting a few months ago, I think we were expecting something similar. Unfortunately the paintings at Oma are not quite that impressive. Even so, it’s quite a bizarre experience wandering through the pine trees and seeing the random collections of shapes and colours come together to form recognisable shapes. There are far too many pictures to try to see and they cover a wide area up and downhill.

Oma Valley

After having our fill of psychadelic artwork we made our way further downhill leaving the forest at the tiny village of Oma. It’s quite traditionally Basque with its architecture and it was extremely peaceful away from the main road. About 3km along the path we were back at our car and heading home to Pamplona before darkness fell. Quite an experience really!

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