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Tourism in La Rioja and Rioja Alavesa

In this section we cover the most interesting locations to be visited in both Rioja and Rioja Alavesa


Calahorra


Calahorra is probably Rioja´s most historical town.  It has a long history. As early as 200 years BC the Town had the name of Calagoricos. At that time it was an important place and there is archaeological evidence of this. The Romans invaded Calagoricos in 189 BC. They changed the name to Calagurris and made it a Civis Romanus. The town was a cultural center at the time and its influence remained till the Middle Ages.

Calahorra has a fantastic Cathedral that was built between the 13-15C. Most of it is Gothic, though Renaissance style is also present. The interior is lavishly furnished with grilles, alters and retables.

The churches of Santiago (with very interesting byzantine features) and San Andres (late gothic) are worth seeing.

 

San Millán de la Cogolla

 

The history of San Millan de la Cogolla is tied with the life of Saint Millan, a shepherd who devoted his life to solitary prayer. He lived in a cave and this became a focus for people who sought help and advice. After his dead the legend says he appeared in a white horse to help the Christians struggle against the Moors.

San Millan is one of the locations most visited in Rioja region.  The landscape is terrific here but this is not the main reason why tourists get to San Milla. The real reason lies behind its 2 monasteries, Suso and Yuso.  The oldest of the 2 Monasteries is the Monastery of Suso.  The tomb of San Millan was here and Monastery was a place for pilgrimage throughout the Middle ages.  The design stands out thanks to the simplicity of the shapes and the interior is most inusual. One of the caves contained the tomb of San Millan till it was moved to the Monastery of Yuso in 1053.

The Monastery of Yuso is also known as the “Escorial of La Rioja” It was originally built in Romanesque style in the XIX century and later rebuilt in Herrera style (like the Escorial near Madrid) between the XVI and XVIII centuries. The interior has many interesting features: The Salon de los Reyes (Hall of the kings) and cloisters of San Millan and San Agustin.  One of the most impressive things in the Monastery of Yuso is the library, which has valuable manuscripts and codices which contain the first writing in Spanish language.

 

Laguardia


This small town in Rioja alavesa was founded in 908 by King Sancho of Navarre.  The town, not far from the river Ebro was a border and at that time the village was established to defend the border. Its original name was La Guarda (derived from the Spanish word which means protection) As many other villages created with a defensive criteria in mind, Laguardia was planned with the shape of a ship.  Its fortifications were extendend several times and the town witnessed many battles.

Laguardia offer fantastic vies over the valley. Its most interesting monument is the Church of Santa Maria de los Reyes. The portal is late 14th century and it is a masterpiece of Spanish Gothic carving.  Another interesting church is that of San Juan Bautista. It was begun in Romanesque style and was continued in Gothic style.

Laguardia is home to many wineries and many good restaurants are also located in the town.

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