See and Do
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.
Pre-Romanesque. Paleochristian art.Basilica of Santa María de Arcos, in Tricio.This is the oldest religious monument in La Rioja. It was originally a 3rd century Roman mausoleum which was converted into a Christian basilica in the 5th Century, re-using architectural items from the old Roman city of Tritium Megallum or Tricio the Great, which encompassed the current village of Tricio, Nájera and other nearby localities. Some 5th and 6th century Paleochristian tombs were discovered buried under the basilica floor, in addition to some re-used 1st and 3rd century a.d. Roman sarcophagi and other medieval ones; also some Roman funeral stelae and a Paleochristian stela. The chevet conserves the remains of some end-of-12th Century Romanesque paintings, repainted over the original 5th Century Paleochristian originals.The building has a typical basilican structure with a longitudinal floor plan with three naves and a square chevet. The side naves are separated from the central nave by a series of arches resting on Corinthian columns formed by fragments of 1st century Roman columns. In the 18th century, the basilica interior was covered with Baroque fine ornamental plasterwork. The original carving of the Virgin of Arcos, a 9th Century pre-Romanesque black Virgin is to be found in the parish church of Tricio.Martyrium of Santa ColomaOf reduced dimensions, it may have been constructed in the 5th Century. It is composed of three square chambers; underneath the largest, central chamber there is a small crypt accessed by two narrow stairways from the side chambers. The crypt is covered with a pendentive dome and the sides with spherical segments on pendentives. There are references of a former monastery at Santa Coloma, restored by Ordoño II in the 10th century, and of martyrs’ tombs. Pre-Romanesque. Mozarabic art.The use of the horse-shoe arch and ribbed vaulting can be seen at: the Hermitage of Santa María de Peñalva, in Arnedillo; the Hermitages of San Pedro and San Andrés, in Torrecilla in Cameros.
The RomansThe Romans left an important legacy in our lands: roads, bridges, aqueducts...
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La Rioja is most famous for its pinchos (small tapas) and wine. Shall we go out for pinchos?
Our suggestion to enjoy a day around wine and culture begins in the Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine, in the town of Briones. This museum is an essential visit to learn how wine is made, aged and distributed. Learn all sorts of trivia about this product and discover the amazing influence of wine in cultures across the world.
Do not leave La Rioja without enjoying a walk through the vineyards, which have such special characteristics at each time of the year. If you wish you can hire the services of a guide who will explain the grape growing tasks while you walk between the vineyards. You can even get to know the vineyards by bicycle, on horseback, from a canoe or from a hot-air balloon. There are several companies in La Rioja which offer these services.
Brieva de Cameros aparece de repente entre el manto verde. Estamos escondidos en el Valle del Najerilla, junto a un asentamiento que une el río Berrinche con el bravo nacimiento del Brieva. Mientras paseamos por calles serenas, a ratos casi intactas, nos dicen que a unos cuantos cientos de metros el agua brota del suelo como si fuese una aparición. Más allá, asciende una ruta, que en realidad es un reto, hacia Cabezo del Santo, la cumbre que sonríe sobre nosotros (1.854 metros).
La naturaleza se apodera del tiempo mientras caminamos junto a la corriente. El entorno evoca tópicos entre los urbanitas. Es una postal viva de la Sierra. Aquí, la vida es piedra, madera y agua. Y el conjunto es limpio, simple y bello, incluso envidiable. Nos cuentan que el apellido de Brieva es accidental, un retazo para diferenciarse de otras poblaciones españolas con nombre idéntico. A principios del siglo pasado, había más de 1.200 coincidencias.
La Rioja can be an adventure for children. Where else are they going to find dinosaurs, castles, windmills, waterfalls and adventure?Start by discovering the oldest animals on earth. The dinosaurs left their tracks in La Rioja thousands of years ago and can still be seen. Can you imagine your hand within the footprint of a dinosaur? Try to see who leaves the biggest impression.To understand the lives of these animals, how they left their tracks and above all, how the tracks have survived until present day, you have to visit Barranco Perdido, a complete palaeoadventure park where children can pretend to be explorers and families enjoy themselves while learning. In Enciso and other locations around you will discover most of the finds, life-size replicas of animals and the most curious stories: a struggle between dinosaurs, a whole family, a lame dinosaur... Yes, oddly enough, you can see all this in La Rioja.Wine can also be fun for children, who cannot drink it, but they can learn how the must is made, taste it while their elders taste the wines and admire the enormous wineries with their stainless steel tanks that look like spacecraft, play among the vineyards, learning how grapes are picked, how the vines are cared for... The possibilities are many and children love to behave like grown-ups in a grape juice tasting session and learn how grapes turn into wine... a mystery, isn't it?But family fun does not stop there. Did you know that La Rioja is full of castles? With famous battles and everything, like Clavijo Castle, where Santiago appeared on his famous white horse to win the battle.Between castles and monasteries you can live medieval tales of princes and kings, like the King of Nájera - Pamplona, who was hunting one day when he spotted a dove that led him to a cave in which he found an image of the Virgin Mary, a bunch of lilies, a bell and an oil lamp. In that same place he built the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Nájera and if you visit it with children you can enter the cave at the back of the pantheon where the kings are buried.La Rioja is full of medieval legends, such as the hen that crowed after being roasted in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. In the cathedral there is a chicken coop with live chicken and cock who crows for visitors.Also hiding in a forest in La Rioja there is the small monastery of Suso (almost a shrine) where centuries ago the first words were written in the Spanish language and also in Basque, on the margin of a book written in Latin, like a side note written on a textbook.If you're looking for adventure, what you need are sport activities: snowshoes, bicycles and horses among the vineyards, hiking picking blackberries or other wild fruit... What seems most fun?Also in La Rioja you can have fun while learning, in the Interpretation Centres (transhumance, bee-keeping, snow, celtiberian, the groves of the Ebro), by visiting a wind- or water mill, by playing in the House of Sciences or enjoying activities at the Vivanco Museum of the Culture of Wine or family visits to the Würth Museum of Modern Art.You thought that the children would get bored in La Rioja?