See and Do
Las Conchas de Haro Ravine receives the River Ebro by opening a door for it in the middle of the Obarenes Mountains. On the right-hand bank is the whole of La Rioja, except the La Sonsierra region which, as its name (under the sierra) suggests, is nestled on the left bank of the river in the shadow of Sierra de Toloño.You have just entered wine country. The almost 1,000 metres of the Cellorigo, Galbárruli and San Felices escarpments in the Obarenes mountains acts as a barrier to the humidity from the north and the limestone soil with its abundant sandstone provides a good anchor for the vines.But above all, it is the hard work of the Riojan people which makes the miracle happen. This land of vineyards, which is generous in its fruits and changes with the seasons, is just waiting for you to explore it, to come and have a drink, a meal and stay the night. It will make you feel at home.On foot, on bike, on horseback… explore the footpaths and discover the old vine sheds, stone huts which are still used for storing farming implements, and cave presses, holes carved in the rock in which wine has been pressed for centuries.Above your head, a large group of golden eagles, peregrine falcons, Egyptian vultures and griffon vultures use the crags to land between holm oaks, tree strawberries, box trees and other aromatic plants. If you climb the Toloño or Bilibio peaks, look for humid zones where the gall oaks provide shady spots ideal for taking a break and enjoying a sip of wine. Oh, and remember, every year on 29 June the Wine Battle is held on the Bilibio Crags.The Ebro winds its way through the northern end of La Rioja. Evidence of its presence includes the wide meanders lying between the towns of Briñas and Haro or between Briones and San Vicente de la Sonsierra. A serpent of water that brings sustenance to the forests on its banks and which can been seen, to name but one place, from the vantage point of a hot-air balloon in Haro. If you follow the Ebro you will arrive at Sierra de Cantabria where rocky escarpments mix with huge vertical walls standing well over 1,000 metres. Over this Sierra, the Santiago Pilgrim Trail arrives in Logroño and offers wonderful views of vineyards and poplar groves which, in places, hide the course of the river.
La Sierra de la Demanda, the roof of La Rioja, has two curious characteristics. Firstly, it contains the highest peak in the region, the majestic San Lorenzo which stands 2,260 metres above sea level and contains the modern Valdezcaray ski resort. And secondly, Gatón Peak contains the source of the River Oja, after which the region is named.Nearby, La Sierra de Urbión marks the border between Burgos and Soria in a mosaic of wild pines, waterfalls and glacial circs. Also called Picos de Urbión, the peaks contain a series of impressive, deep blue lakes, such as La Laguna de Urbión. Located on the southwest border of La Rioja, La Demanda is covered in beech and oak groves that overlook the lively town of Ezcaray and its charming villages. Don’t miss the holly wood in Valgañón. The Alto Oja forms beautiful waterfalls in the so-called Llano de la Casa. On its southern side, surrounded by wild pines, the River Najerilla winds its way along, flanked by pedunculate oaks, ashes, maples and hazels.A good example of a mixed forest containing all the species present in La Rioja is located in Roñas Valley, between the towns of Anguiano and Brieva de Cameros. All the trees in the region in a single forest! Eagles fly over La Demanda and Los Picos de Urbión watching over the wild pines, beech groves and conifer forests.Get ready to see eaglets, falcons, horned owls and elusive grey partridges. You can also fly in a paraglider or hang glider from the top of San Lorenzo. There are also many ideal places for climbing near Anguiano - conglomerates such as Peña Reloj and Peña de San Torcuato in Ezcaray, where a number of protected bird species are reared. Come and see the birds in Peña de Tobía and Peña Matute by walking the GR.93. The path, which leaves from Ezcaray, passes through San Millán de la Cogolla, where you simply must stop to visit the Yuso and Suso monasteries, the birthplace of Castilian Spanish.
The Camino de la Lengua (Spanish Language Route) starts from the San Millán de la Cogolla Monasteries in La Rioja and passes through five locations that have had a special and unique relationship with the history of the Spanish language in Spain: the Santo Domingo de Silos Monastery in Burgos and the cities of Valladolid, Salamanca, Ávila and Alcalá de Henares.
The Yuso and Suso Monasteries in San Millán de la Cogolla: birthplace of the written word.
La corrala, los ríos y la villa emergida: Canales de la Sierra, Villavelayo y Mansilla de la Sierra.
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En la Sierra, el tiempo gotea personas. El otoño comienza a vaciar calles y viviendas. En apenas unas semanas, los 1.200 habitantes que bullen y huyen del mundanal ruido de la ciudad se transforman en treinta. El invierno marca negativos en el termómetro y espanta la vida. La capital espera a 84 kilómetros, algunos de ellos concienzudamente sinuosos y escurridizos. La distancia. Este alejamiento lleva al desafecto, pero también conserva la tradición en formol. Canales de la Sierra nos recibe a un kilómetro de altitud, bajo la atenta mirada de la Demanda, pastos para ganado y antiguos litigios entre esta villa y Monterrubio de la Demanda (Burgos).
Pasear por el suelo silencioso de esta población despierta ecos del pasado. Una pequeña gruta lanza hacia La Rioja (y el mundo) al río Najerilla, el más importante de todos los autóctonos. Aquí, no es agua lo que falta. Allá por finales del siglo XIX y principios del XX, nos explican, la industria textil vivía un esplendor que hoy atestiguan las piedras y las palabras de viejos canaliegos. El antiguo lavadero, el secadero, la tintorería, la prensa. Tenían la fama y también cardaban la lana.