The Wine Route
One of the distinguishing marks of La Rioja's identity and its most important symbolic element is, without a shadow of doubt, wine. Not merely as a product and economic activity, but also as a social and cultural reference for an area in which an important part of the traditions and festivities revolve around wine.
10 km from the capital, on the N-232, we find Fuenmayor, a village of wine cellars, with an interesting old quarter. The traditional wine route begins here, once the site of Real Sociedad Económica de Cosecheros private association, founded on 12th April 1788 in the building known today as El Palacio.
12 km from here is Cenicero, where one can visit the centuries-old cellars that house the best Rioja wine.
Continuing along the N-232, we find San Asensio, the cradle of claret, around which a bloodless battle traditionally takes place in July. Many of the cellars date from the 17th-19th centuries. Its economy is based on the grape and the making of quality A.C Rioja wines.
After slaking our thirst with such a delicious drink, the route continues through Briones, 2 km from San Asensio. The next stop is Ollauri. 4 km further on we arrive at Haro, the wine capital of La Rioja. Its cellars are renowned world-wide. The way back, on the N-232, is through Briñas, San Vicente de la Sonsierra and ábalos.
The Dinosaur Route
The first known inhabitants of La Rioja left their traces in the mountainous lower Rioja area. Ichnites, or dinosaur tracks, can be found in many places, but the quantity and variety of tracks make this the world's biggest and best site. A visit to the Palaeontologic Centre in Enciso is a must.
The Monasteries Route
La Rioja has always been a favourite place for spiritual retreats, and for this reason numerous monasteries were built here centuries ago. But these buildings were not only religious, but also cultural centres. Thus, in the monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla (Yuso and Suso) the first written testimonies in Spanish were made. The monasteries of La Rioja, apart from being located in unbeatable landscape, hide outstandingly beautiful corners and priceless cultural treasures.
A visit to the monasteries of Suso and Yuso, cradle of Spanish and the main centre of cultural tourism in La Rioja, is a must. They were declared World Heritage Sites in 1997
The monastery of Santa María La Real, Nájera, especially the tracery in the cloister, the tombs of the Kings of Navarre-Nájera and the grotto that can be found inside the church which hides an image of the Virgin.
Nuestra Señora de la Piedad Monastery (Casalarreina), - today run by Dominican nuns.
Nuestra Señora de la Asunción Monastery (Santo Domingo de la Calzada). - founded by Don Pedro Manso de Zúñiga, Archbishop of the Diocese of Calahorra and la Calzada.
The monastery of Our Lady of Valvanera, Anguiano. In honour of the Virgin of Valvanera, Patron of La Rioja, a very ancient sculpture of whom can still be seen.
The Mountain Route
A walk in La Rioja is a gift for the senses at any time of year. A contrast of landscapes and colours, which attracts the visitor to these northern lands, between the Cantabrian Sea and the Mediterranean; its valleys and mountains, which offer a bit of everything, make nature an endless surprise. La Rioja gives us a unique chance to get close to nature. Located in the heart of the Ebro valley and surrounded by seven other valleys, it offers a wide range of unique landscapes.
The Sierra Cebollera was made a Natural Park on 20th March 1995, and is an area where Scots Pines, Beech and Turkey Oaks predominate. It has ecosystems typical of the high Iberian mountains and a terrain formed by glaciers as well as exceptionally interesting flora and fauna.
It has an area of 236.4km2 within a privileged geological area of the Iberian System, a maximum height of 2,164m in the Mesa de Cebollera, and a number of 'Hoyos' or glacial formations.
The 'Tierras Altas de Lomas de Oro' sculpture park is an open-air museum which can be walked around on the signposted Virgen and Achichuelo paths. There are eight sculptures, all in local natural materials, all part of the 'Land Art' movement.
Other places of interest are the Transhumance Interpretation Centre, the Ethnographical Exhibition in San Andrés, the hermitages in Lomos de Orios and La Virgen de la Luz, and the park's Interpretation Centre.
The Route of the Castles
Borderlands, such as La Rioja, are always peppered with castles, living proof of the struggles to control land. Many castles have vanished, but others have survived until the modern day: such as the castles of Clavijo, Cornago and Sajazarra or that of Agoncillo, which currently houses the town council.