An environmental centre in the heart of UrdaibaiEkoetxea Urdaibai is located in the Basque Country's only biosphere reserve. At just 22,000 hectares, the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve is small in size but huge in its biodiversity: 729 species of animals, 821 of plants, 86 different habitats, 52 sites of geological interest, 3 Special Areas of Conservation (SAC) and one Special Protection Area for Birds (SPAB) which forms part of the Natura 2000 network. The reserve has been classed as a wetland of natural interest under RAMSAR since 1993, and is home to 85 species in danger of extinction or of Community interest. The architecture, history and culture of the area are also of great importance. A case in point is the building that houses the Ekoetxea centre itself: the 15th century Torre Madariaga fortified tower-house. Ekoetxea Urdaibai offers a wide variety of activities for all ages and all types of visitor. The centre has a permanent exhibition where visitors can start their tour by looking at the wealth of biodiversity around the world and then gradually zooming in on that of the Basque Country and focusing on the great ecological value of the Urdaibai Biosphere Reserve. It also stages temporary exhibitions, which change frequently, and has an observatory with a wonderful 360º view over the marshes. The Ekoetxea centre is based at the Torre Madariaga, a unique building strategically located at a point that provides views of the whole Urdaibai estuary.It dates from the 15th century, and was built as a defensive tower in factional struggles between noble families of that time.The adjacent palazzo was built in the 17th century to provide more residential space. Over the years the defensive tower was incorporated into the local farming community and the residential area was extended to house the families that worked the 5-hectare estate on which it stood. The clock tower dates from 1851. It was built by a resident of San Bartolomé with the idea that it would be used by the village of Busturia. Ekoetxea Urdaibai has clearly signposted parking facilities for cars, coaches, motor-cycles and bikes. Outside the building there is a play area and a maze for children. The path around the perimeter is an excellent place to stroll and admire the beauty of the various ecosystems in the surrounding area: an artificial wetland, an insect sanctuary, an arboretum where visitors can learn about the different species of local trees, a number of sculptures and more. It is a place for enjoying nature, alone or in company.