Ataun is a town of rugged orography, moulded as it is between the River Agauntza and the forces that formed the dome. Since 1994, 75% of its surface area of 58.7 km2 is protected by the Aralar Natural Park.
As it is a town that has lived off the primary sector, the landscape, closely related with the use of the land, blends in with the natural limits of the crags, combining present vegetation with potential vegetation.
Lizarrusti Information Centre is also situated in Ataun; strategically situated as it is, it is the main entrance to the Aralar Natural Park, interpretation centre, inn and also bar and restaurant; it is also the starting point for excursions to Lareo, Alleko, Berrenoa… and many other places and it agglutinates many PR and GR routes.
The dome of Ataun
Dome is the name given to the plateau formed by the Jentilbaratza, Aizkoate, Aizkorrandi, Arastortz, Agautz, Leizadi, Asundi, Loibideko Mailoak and Ikarandieta mountains, which is referred to by the people of the town as Atizarte. It is a highly peculiar geological structure and its present form, which is in the shape of a ring, attracts people’s attention. This form is a consequence of the action of the forces derived from the Pyrenean orogenetic movements which, together with certain local forces caused the surface to rise up and form a dome-shaped mountain.
This formation was made up of materials of different hardness, specifically limestone and clayey stones. The strong pressure generated as the land rose cracked the upper layer of limestone and that is how this strong layer began to break up, which brings us to the present situation whereby, as a consequence of the erosion, what was once a dome is now a ring. It goes without saying that the fissures in the area of Arrateta and Artzatezar were brought about by the erosion of the Aitzarte and Kobatxo streams.
A good place from which to view the dome in its entirety is the peak of Mount Arantzazumendi, on the border between Ataun and Idiazabal. However, we can see a part of the dome from any peak or depression in the area. For example, if we climb up to the peaks of Mounts Agautz, Sarastarri or Leizadi we can see the northern end of the dome.