Complete guide to visit La Rioja Alta

Upper Rioja es la región más al oeste de la región y está bañada por los ríos: Tirón, Oja y Najerilla.

There are 3 counties within La Rioja Alta:

  • The Haro region con 26 municipios.
  • The Nájera region con 25 municipios.
  • The the region of Santo Domingo de la Calzada con 16 municipios.

Below, you will find a list of the most emblematic places not to be missed in La Rioja Alta

La Rioja Alta Map

0. ÍNDICE PARA VISITAR LA RIOJA ALTA

1. HARO, NÁJERA AND SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA

In La Rioja Alta there are three localities that stand out in terms of number of inhabitants and these are Haro, Nájera and Santo Domingo de la Calzadathe three county capitals.

Let's take a look at the main reasons that justify the visit to each of these localities.

1.1. Haro Capital del Rioja | Una tierra con nombre de vino

Haro

Haro es una pequeña ciudad con nombre de vino and airs of grandeur as the popular saying goes: "Haro, Paris and London", or the other, "Here we are in Haro and you can see the lights", referring to the fact that it was one of the first towns to have street lighting.

The first thing that catches Haro's attention is the Station DistrictIt is home to the largest concentration of century-old wineries in the world, which welcome more than 250,000 tourists every year.

Ya en el casco antiguo de Haro encontramos su zona de tapeo más tradicional, La Herradura.

In the old town you can visit the St. Thomas Aquinas Parish Churchas well as the Peace Squareits City Council, its tourist office and library, and various small palaces that reflect the economic strength of certain families in the past.

A visit to the Gardens of La Vega and the Basilica of La Vega to which the Jarreros are so devoted.

If you want to enjoy great views and a unique spot, you can go to the San Felices de Bilibio Chapel at the top of the cliffs. Every 29th June, the famous Batalla del Vino (Wine Battle) takes place here.

If you are someone who enjoys heights, you will discover the best viewpoints in La Rioja.

1.2. Nájera, cuna de reyes del Reino de Nájera

Santa María La Real

Nájera was the capital of the Kingdom of Nájera between 923 and 1113. It was the cradle of the Kingdoms of Navarre, Aragon and Castile.

Historically, the Monastery of Santa María La Real of Nájera is one of the most important in the region, as we will see below.

For its part, Nájera is one of the most important towns in La Rioja along the Camino de Santiago. Highlighting others religious monuments such as the Convent of Santa Elena, the church of La Santa Cruz and the Chapel of the Mother of God.

In recent years, major excavations have been carried out at the Cerro de la Mota where the Castillo de la Mota and the fortress stood in the caves between the castle and the town centre.

1.3. Santo Domingo de la Calzada in La Rioja Alta

Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Santo Domingo is a typical village on the Camino de Santiago which is fully serviced and of which the following stand out its cathedral with a free-standing tower. A visit to both the cathedral and the tower is a must. You can't leave Santo Domingo without being told about the Miracle of the Hen, As a clue, its Cathedral is the only temple where animals live, a rooster and a hen.

Santo Domingo has a walled enclosureThe largest that remains in La Rioja invites you to discover its squares, palaces and the atmosphere that pervades the villages that form part of the Way.

2. CASTLES WORTH A VISIT IN LA RIOJA ALTA

Due to its strategic position, La Rioja has been for centuries, and depending on the period, a border region between the kingdoms of Navarre, Castile and also Al-Andalus.

This led to the construction of numerous castles and fortresses for military purposes to help each side defend its territory.

As a result, today in the 21st century, we can still contemplate a large part of this historical heritage. Although some castles have completely disappeared today, as is the case of the castle of Cellorigo, others have been perfectly restored, as is the case of the castles of Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón or Sajazarra.

2.1. Castle of Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón

Cuzcurrita Castle

In the heart of the historic centre of Cuzcurrita, next to the river Tirón, is located the castle de los Velasco which was built at the end of the 15th century by Pedro Suárez de Figueroa. It is a walled enclosure with cubes at the corners and a slender keep, which has no windows in its walls.

In the 16th century, during the reign of Philip II, Pedro de Velasco, IX lord of Cuzcurrita, founded an entailed estate when he married Marta de Rojas y Osorio, by carving out the coat of arms of the pointed arched doorway on the north wall, defended by a beautiful matacan.

In the back of the castleNext to the washhouse is the waterfall that falls from the channel that starts at the dam and joins the river Tirón at this point.

2.2. Castillo de Sajazarra

Castle of Sajazarra

In the 15th century there was a primitive tower in Sajazarra that was destroyed for building the castle which, a century later, continued to undergo remodelling and changes until it became the imposing construction that we can see today.

Its history is linked to that of Haro, which passed into Castilian hands in 1430. Its owner, Pedro Fernández de Velasco, also owned other castles such as Cerezo, Ojacastro and Arnedo. It belonged to the Counts of Nieva and defended the northern part of the town and the road from Haro to Miranda.

The tower of homage rises above the rest of the building. It is located in the centre of the fortress. It is rectangular in shape and has four octagonal-shaped garitons at its corners.

The entry is framed by two cubes which serve as an aid to its defence. It seems that the fortress had a moat that is now covered.

Like all these buildings, the material used for its construction was stone. Its state of conservation he is very good at being a holder private.

2.3. Davalillo Castle

The castle of Davalillo is a Romanesque building from the end of the 12th century Alfonso VIII reigned in Castile.

Davalillo was a village that has now disappeared, and now belongs to the town of San Asensio, 5 km from it, of which part of the castle is preserved and at its foot the Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Davalillo.

In 2019 the castle was acquired by a major local winery with plans to renovate it.

2.4. Castle of San Vicente de la Sonsierra

San Vicente El Calvario

The castle of San Vicente de la Sonsierra was built on the top of a hill by order of the King of Navarre Sancho IV in 1170. Opposite it and on the other side of the river Ebro is the castle of Davalillo, which belonged to the Kingdom of Castile.

It is a military construction which was used until the end of the Carlist Wars in 1876.

It has undergone numerous restorations in recent decades.

Here you will find a list of all the castles and fortresses of La Rioja.

3. MONASTERIES, CHURCHES, CATHEDRALS AND HERMITAGES OF LA RIOJA ALTA

The religious heritage makes up an important part of the cultural wealth throughout Spain.

In addition to the many churches and hermitages that can be found in every village in La Rioja, there are several in the La Rioja Alta valley area. monuments worth noting.

3.1. Monastery of Santa María La Real in Nájera

Santa María La Real

Historically, the Monastery of Santa María La Real of Nájera is, together with the monasteries of Yuso and Suso de San Millán de la Cogolla, the most important in the whole region, since Nájera was the capital of the Kingdom of Nájera between 923 and 1113. It was the cradle of the Kingdoms of Navarre, Aragon and Castile.

In 1044, the King of Navarre, García Sánchez III, while hunting for falconry, found a small chapel with the Virgin, a bouquet of lilies, a lamp and a bell. Due to the triumphs in successive wars, he ordered the construction of a new chapel. the primitive temple to the Virgin of the Cave which opens in 1052.

The present church was built between 1422 and 1453.

The cloister of the knights was built between 1517 and 1528.

The list of historical figures buried in the monastery more than thirty, most of them belonging to royalty.

3.2. Monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Piedad in Casalarreina

Monastery of La Piedad

The construction of the convent began on 10 April 1514 in Elizabethan Gothic and Renaissance Plateresque style.

It has church and cloister Gothic with a square floor plan and double height.

Despite its single nave, the interior of the church is spacious and bright. In the nave and in the niche-shaped side chapels, which are connected to each other, there are further Baroque altarpieces and a small Plateresque altarpiece. On the floor of the hall, a slab of marble belonging to Juan Fernández de Velasco proclaims in an epitaph composed in golden letters: "O Jesus, do not look upon my woes, for do not forget your name".

Today, it is a monastery of Dominican Contemplative nuns.

3.3. Monastery of Santa María de la Estrella in San Asensio

Monasterio la estrella

The Monasterio de la Estrella, from gothic and neo-gothic styleIts construction began in 1419 and its period of greatest splendour was in the 15th and 16th centuries.

During the 19th century it suffered great deterioration until 1951, when the Brothers of the Christian Schools acquired the monastery.

Since 1997 it has housed a Secondary School.

3.4. Cistercian Monastery of Cañas

Monastery of Cañas

This Cistercian Abbey is one of the first to be founded in Spain.

The construction of this monastery can be divided into three stages, the Romanesque of which hardly any vestiges remain, the gothic which would correspond to part of the church and chapter house, dated to the second half of the 13th century, and the post-16th century in which the construction of the central nave was continued, leaving the two side naves unfinished.

The church of the monastery is surprising for its high brightness through its large windows. The large renaissance altarpiece was ordered to be built by the abbess Leonor de Osorio around 1523 in the form of a triptych that until 1975 was in the prebistery, and is now located at the foot of the church.

The façade of the chapter house stands out for its singular beauty with its three pointed arches decorated with plant motifs. Inside, the most outstanding feature is the gothic style tomb from the early 14th century by the Blessed Doña Urraca López de HaroShe was the daughter of the founders, who wore the habit from a very young age and became the fourth abbess of the community. She died in 1262, and her body is preserved incorrupt.

The abbey has two museums: the Relic Room containing four groups of collections dating from the year of the monastery's foundation to the 20th century; and the chair museum in which the following have been installed various altarpieces that existed in the churches, carvings, reliefs and paintings of singular interest.

The community of Cistercian nuns have continuously inhabited the monastery since its foundation. and devotes himself to manual labour and prayer. They decorate porcelainthey elaborate sweetsthey make rosaries and have a small hostelry.

3.5. Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Santo Domingo Cathedral

The Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada is one of the most important obligatory stop on the Camino de Santiago French.

It was built over a primitive Romanesque church from 1098 and became a cathedral in 1232.

The current free-standing tower dates from 1762 and was the work of Martín de Beratúa.

As a curiosity, the cathedral houses a gothic chicken coop that with a white cockerel and a white hen in memory of the miracle of the Santo Domingo de la Calzada, where the hen sang after roasting.

Discover 7 monasteries in La Rioja full of history and mysticism.

3.6. Hermitage of San Felices de Bilibio in Haro

San Felices de Bilibio

It is known worldwide The Battle of the Wine which takes place in the early morning of 29 June in Haro, more specifically, on the Bilibio cliffs, in the Hermitage of San Felices.

This site is located 6km from HaroThe access is by a fairytale road.

In the lower part there is a multitude of shaded picnic tables and enjoy a meal or a good chat. However, it is at the top of the cliffs that the Hermitage and the image of San Felices which is visible from afar.

Stairs to the top every nook and cranny is a place to pause and observe. The Conchas de Haro, the quarry, the vineyards, the mountain... until you reach the Hermitage.

3.7. Hermitage of Santa María de la Piscina in Peciña

Santa Maria de la Piscina

The Hermitage of St. Mary of the Pool is located on a small hill overlooking the Ebro Valley one km before arriving at the village of Peciña.

It is the The best preserved Romanesque building in La Rioja, built in the 12th century.

The archaeological ensemble consists of the Hermitage of Santa María de la Piscina, a repopulated necropolis, a settlement with semi-rural dwellings and the remains of fortifications or watchtowers.

Following restoration work on the hermitage (1976-1978), a series of excavations around it that they discovered the existence of a medieval village from the 10th to the 14th centuries.

Around the 14th century depopulated by the Castilian Civil War and its inhabitants would later form the nearby village of Peciña.

Just 300m from the hermitage in the direction of Peciña is the access to the dolmen of La Cascaja in a good state of preservation.

3.8. Hermitage of La Esclavitud in Cihuri

Hermitage of La Esclavitud

The Ermita de la Esclavitud is a building erected on the site of a monastic caveIt was already inhabited in Visigothic and Mozarabic times, being one of the many hermitages in the basin of the River Tirón and the Obarenes Mountains.

The cave still exists and can be seen from the back of the present building.

The Hermitage built in 2019 is in the shape of a vine guard and was built on the basis of sacred numerology.

The surrounding area has a car park, trees, fountains, barbecues, picnic area, pergolas and a lake. In addition to a magnificent views of vineyards, the Demanda mountain range, with its peak of San Lorenzo and to the north, the Obarenes Mountains with its Peñas de Jembres.

The whole of La Rioja is full of chapels of all ages and sizes. Every village has its own, and sometimes more than one. Visiting these constructions is a great way to discover the past of this territory and its history.

San Asensio
Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón

4. THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BRIDGES IN LA RIOJA ALTA

The upper Rioja is bathed by the Ebro, Tirón, Oja and Najerilla Rivers The villages are naturally located around them. Each village has one or more bridges to facilitate access.

Here are some of the most interesting ones to visit.

4.1. Briñas Bridge over the Ebro River

The one known as Briñas bridge is one of the bridges that crosses the Ebro, in this case in the territory of Haro, despite its name.

It is a gothic style bridge with 7 eyes, 150 metres long and 4.6 metres wide.

Both the bridge and the surrounding area enjoy great beauty.

4.2. Roman Bridge over the River Tiron in Cihuri

Roman Bridge of Cihuri

In Cihuri you can find the 2nd century Roman bridge on the River Tirón in a good state of conservation.

In the immediate vicinity is the Priory House and a cave.

Crossing the bridge you can start a path along the banks of the river Tirón that takes you to the exact point where the River Oja joins the River Tirónabout 800m away.

4.3. BRIDGE OF SAN VICENTE DE LA SONSIERRA OVER THE EBRO RIVER

La Rioja

The bridge of San Vicente de la Sonsierra is located to the west of the town, below the castle, on the local road from Briones to Peñacerrada. It is the first thing we see if we access it from this road.

Due to its excellent position, it defended the Ebro crossing of the border between Navarre and Castile. It is possible that its existence dates back to 1172, however, the earliest preserved can be traced back to the 13th century.

It consisted of thirteen pointed archeson triangular cutwater piles and rectangular spurs and two defensive towers, one in the centre, and probably another at the entrance on the left bank. This construction was rebuilt at the end of the 16th century, becoming a bridge with twelve arches and a single tower.

It is built in ashlar and masonry. Currently has nine archesin different lights and shapes.

5. VINEYARD RANGERS TO VISIT IN LA RIOJA ALTA

The huts or huts are small constructions characteristic of La Rioja which served as a shelter farmers and their animals.

The ones that exist today were mostly built in the 19th century. Most of them are located in the towns of Briones, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, San Asensio and Ábalos.

5.1. Guardaviñas del Bombón in San Vicente de la Sonsierra

Mountain guards in La Rioja

Very good ranger of very easy access as it is located at the foot of the LR-318 road in the town of San Vicente.

This locality has a good number of these constructions scattered throughout its jurisdiction.

5.2. Pangua and Necropolis Caveguards

From St Vincent on the way to Rivas de Tereso we come across the Pangua gamekeeper on the right hand side.

Following the same road that turns off the LR-317, you will reach the necropolis of the former convent of San Martin de Pangua.

Por la zona puedes visitar numerosos cave wine presses entre los que se encuentra el gran Lagar de Pangua.

San Asensio
Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón

6. MUSEUMS AND EXHIBITION HALLS IN LA RIOJA ALTA

Scattered throughout the Rioja Alta region we find some museums and exhibition halls that help us to understand the history of the area and to discover local and foreign artists.

6.1. Torreón Museum of Contemporary Art in Haro

In the Plaza de la Paz you can find El Torreón, a museum of contemporary art with temporary exhibitions that keeps a nice surprise.

In addition to enjoying the exhibition, by climbing to the top of the building, we reach a viewpoint with fantastic views of the Plaza de Haro.

Opening hours from Tuesday to Saturday from 11h to 14h and from 16h to 19h. Sundays from 11h to 14:30h.

6.2. The Enchanted House in Briones - Ethnographic Museum

haunted house

The museum is located in the Palace of San Nicolás which also houses the municipal offices.

It has a room for temporary exhibitions and the rest of the floors represent the different rooms of an early 20th century house, its furniture, fixtures and fittings and their daily tasks.

The timetable is from Tuesday to Saturday from 11h to 14h and from 16h to 18h. Sundays and public holidays from 11am to 2pm.

6.3. Museum of Nájera

The building that houses the Museum was constructed in the 18th century as a abbot's residence of the monastery of Santa María la Real.

The permanent exhibition presents significant aspects of the archaeology of the Najerilla Valley. Throughout its three halls and central corridor ****una selection of materials of the archaeological collection comprising from Prehistory to the Modern Age.

Opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday from 11am to 2pm and from 5pm to 8pm. Sundays and holidays from 11h to 14h.

6.4. Romanesque Interpretation Centre in Treviana

The Romanesque Centre de Treviana has three spaces:

A projection room, with a spectacular audiovisual presentation. An exhibition room, with information panels, pieces of stonework and space for educational workshops. A documentation room, with an extensive library dedicated to the Middle Ages in general and Romanesque Art in particular.

Open Sundays and public holidays from 12h to 14h.

Cuzcurrita de Río Tirón

7. THE LANDSCAPE OF LA RIOJA ALTA ALONG THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES

Through La Rioja passes the The French Way of Saint James listed as a World Heritage Site in 1993. The last stretch of the route known as the "La Rioja Alta" also runs through La Rioja Alta. Basque Way of Saint James.

7.1. The French Way of Saint James

Grañon Viewpoint

The French way enters La Rioja Alta through Nájera coming from Logroño and other villages of La Rioja Media.

From Nájera it reaches Azofra, Cirueña, Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Grañón.The route continues on to Belorado, now in the province of Burgos.

7.2. Basque Way of Saint James

The Basque Way of St. James is a variant that starts in Irún and crosses the Basque Country until it reaches La Rioja through Briñas, Haro, Zarratón, Madrid de los Trillos, Bañares and joining the French Way in Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

A different way of touring the Rioja Alta region and enjoying its landscapes.

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