Rioja Alavesa is a region with an original and unique character. Having always been associated to the world of wine, it counts on varied heritage which ranges from ancient dolmens dating back over 5000 years through to the most cutting-edge constructions. In its towns you can enjoy ancient walls, numerous Baroque buildings with Coats of Arms, or religious heritage which is more than worthy of mention. One of the most well-known towns is Laguardia, declared a Monumental Site, which is just 6 Km away. It offers a mediaeval urban site surrounded by walls, manor houses such as the house of the fabulist Samaniego, the house of La Primicia, and the Portico of the 14th century Santa María Church, which conserves the posterior polychromy. The attractive town of Labastida is another place worthy of note. Likewise, Rioja Alavesa Wine Route covers a large part of tourism in the area.
On the way to Vitoria-Gasteiz:
Along the route we are going to find to very different landscapes. Leaving from Elciego towards Navaridas and Leza we will reach the crossroads at the entrance to Puerto de Herrera (A-2124). Halfway up we will have the chance to enjoy a spectacular view of the Ebro Valley from “La Rioja Balcony”. After the summit there is a drastic change of vegetation: Mediterranean in Rioja Alavesa and Atlantic in Montaña Alavesa. In this area we can discover the walled towns of Peñacerrada, Bernedo and Antoñana and enjoy their outstanding natural landscapes, either on foot or on mountain bike, Centro BTT Izki Montaña Alavesa, with over more than 500 km of marked routes.
The capital of Álava, Vitoria- Gasteiz, has one of the best conserved old districts in northern Spain, which lives in perfect harmony with the neoclassical development area and the new town. Strolling around the mediaeval core which is formed by the streets Pintorería, Herrería and Cuchillería we can see mediaeval houses, Renaissance palaces and the Old Cathedral, which remains “Open for Work”.
Transformed into a services city, Bilbao offers an interesting range of leisure and culture, such as the Museum of Fine Arts, or one of the most important exhibition centres for modern and contemporary art in the world, the Guggenheim Museum. The building is the work of Frank Gehry, and was conceived as a large sculpture of titanium, stone and glass.
This interesting place has a link to Elciego through the name of Frank Gehry, who also designed the Marqués de Riscal Hotel.
From the charismatic bay of La Concha, the city of San Sebastian offers visitors rich gastronomy, leading international cultural activities (International Film Festival, Jazz Festival, Musical Fortnight), interesting visits to museums such as Chillida-Leku and the Museum of San Telmo, or the Aquarium, which is home to a wide range of marine flora and fauna and a 360° tunnel where visitors can feel submerged in the water and contemplate large species such as sharks. Kursaal Palace is located just a few metres from the sea shore and is a clear example of innovative design. The architectural concept of this international congress centre is the representation of two rocks washed up on the beach.
Around La Rioja:
In a sphere of action of less than 50 kilometres, the Region of La Rioja includes interesting places such as Logroño (22 km) and its Calle Laurel, and the Najerilla Valley, which houses the Monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla www.fsanmillan.org/index.jsp (34 km), the birthplace of Castilian Spanish and a UNESCO heritage site, the entire Road to Santiago at its passage through La Rioja (Logroño, Navarrete, Nájera, Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Grañón), Santo Domingo de la Calzada (35 km), with its cathedral and the pair of hens on the inside, Ezcaray (49 km), a picturesque mountain town, Haro, or the area of La Sonsierra con Ábalos or San Vicente de la Sonsierra.
Valderejo Natural Park:
This is in the Western part of Álava, in Cuadrilla de Añana, on the Burgos border. It was declared a National Park in 1992. The Arroyo to Lalastra road provides the only access by car. The Casa del Parque in Lalastra can provide all the information necessary on the park and its services. The surrounding area is home to a large number of Romanesque churches, ancient Tower Houses of mediaeval reminiscence and the Salado Valley, where salt has been exploited since Roman times in small terraces or beds.
Webpages of interest:
Euskadi - Basque Country.
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