Located on Calle Mayor (main street) in the centre of the medieval walled town of Laguardia, capital of the Rioja Alavesa wine region. This area is particularly famous for its first class wine cellars such as Faustino, Marques de Riscal, Remelluri to name but a few.
This is a delightful 17th century manor house featuring just 8 en-suite guest bedrooms, tastefully furnished with fine antiques. A stay here is truly like stepping back in time. Throughout this fine building one can´t help but be impressed by the original cut-stone walls, the cobbled entrance, the beautifully preserved woodwork and not forgeting the incredible subterranean wine cellar, thought to be the oldest in Rioja, where still they produce a delicious red wine which all guests are encouaged to enjoy.
The owners of the hotel, Meri and Jaime are always on hand to ensure their guests are well taken care of and that they discover the cosy wine bar and patio carefully concealed at the back of the property. The hotel also features a highly regarded restaurant.
Laguardia is located in Rioja Alavesa, where the region´s internationally renowned wines carrying the Rioja stamp, are produced. The town was fortified in the 13th C, during the reign of Sancho VII, and to this day the splendid walls still stand and even the gates still have their original jambs. Nowadays, and in spite of the raids suffered during the various wars, Laguardia still has its original medieval layout with a good number of fortified towers still surviving, two of which have been adapted to the new function of bell towers.
A walk through the narrow streets is like a step back in time. It´s amazing to think that beneath the polished cobbled streets is a network of hundreds of underground wine cellars; all of the houses have one. For this reason only pedestrian traffic is allowed in the town. A few of the wine cellars can be visited such as “El Fabulista” which dates back to the 12th century and is still producing wine to this day.
Laguardia´s “jewel in the crown” is without doubt the church of Santa María de los Reyes at the top of the Calle Mayor which has an extraordinary polychromatic portico; the finest in Spain. Also worthy of mention are the old Renaissance Town Hall building. On its façade can be seen the coat of arms of Laguardia and a chiming clock with figures which dance to the rhythm of the “passacablia” which is typical dance during fiestas in the town. The numerous manor houses such as the gothic-style Manor House “La Primicia” dating back to the late 14th century are also worth mentioning.
Another very pleasant aspect of the town is the tree lined El Collado walkway. This runs along the north of the hill where Laguardia lies, outside the town walls, between the gates of Santa Engracia and Páganos. The walk opens up onto the vineyards and villages of the Rioja Alavesa crowned to the north by the Sierra de Cantabria mountains. Midway along the walk there is a small metal structure niche which houses a bronze bust of the famous Spanish fable writer, Samaniego.
Very near the town beside the Campillo winery is the award winning Villa Lucía Wine Centre, where visitors can tour the wine cellar museum and have the opportunity to learn interactively about the wine culture in Rioja Alavesa. Of special interest too is the remarkable Ysios winery designed by Santiago Calatrava with it´s incredible wave-like roof.
Laguardia has several excellent restaurants both in the town and in the vicinity of the town.
Interesting visits close to Laguardia include the “La Hoya Settlement” which was first occupied some 3.500 years ago during the mid Bronze age. Major defence works were built around this settlement, which took in an area of approximately 4 hectares, making it an important trading centre and crucial to the organisation of the territory.
On-site there is a small museum that details the history of the place and displays some pieces recovered in the excavations.
There are also numerous pre-historical burial monuments near La Hoya, such as the dolmens of San Martin, Älto de la Huesera, El Sotillo and la Chabola de la Hechicera (the hag’s shack).
The “lagunas”of Laguardia is a protected biotype found in the centre of the region.
It encompasses three marshes. Two of these, “Carralogroño” and “Carravalseca” are natural lakes, whereas the third one, “El Prao de la Paul” is a small reservoir built on an old swamp area. This area is the habitat of a wide range of lacustrine flora and fauna. Standing out are wild birds such as the mallard duck, the grey heron, the stork and the dun-diver. The lakes also fuction as a migratory stop-off point for species such as the plover.
The Balcón de la Rioja (Rioja balcony) located at the top of the Sierra is a wonderful vantage point from which to view the entire region.
Other interesting towns nearby include Labastida which as many important monuments. Also Elciego, where the new Marques de Riscal winery designed by Frank Gehry (Guggenheim Museum Bilbao) will be opened. The cities of Logroño and Haro are also worth visiting.
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