Route of the castles of Rioja Alta

Experience data

Frontier territory, La Rioja Alta saw many castles rising. Strengths that are in strategic places and have survived wars and over the centuries to reach our days in general in a very good state of conservation.

Let's start our tour in Davalillo. Its location has made it one of the references of the landscape of the Rioja Alta. From its height a natural ford of Ebro is dominated; It is also an excellent watchtower to control the entire valley.

In the foothills of the hill where the fortress sits there was the village of the same name whose first documentary reference can be found in the 11th century. It is probable that the castle would rise at the end of the 12th century, during the reign of Alfonso VIII, in a moment of conflicts between Navarre and Castile. In the successive centuries, Davalillo would be depopulated in favor of San Asensio, losing also the place strategic interest. It is probable that in the fifteenth century the locality was already abandoned.

The fortress has a plant in the form of irregular polyhedron of seven sides. The main gate faces north, towards the face of the hill where the Old town was located, and is defended by two towers. The homage tower is square and in its lower part a chapel was still easily identifiable. The set has an acceptable state of conservation. From the Otero where you will find you can enjoy excellent views. In the lower part of the castle we find the hermitage of Davalillo where a traditional pilgrimage is held twice a year.

The second stop of our route will be San Vicente de la Sonsierra. We find here an impressive fortress that dominates the locality and protects the bridge over the river. A place without a doubt of high strategic value.

The castle is likely to rise at the end of the 12th century. The strength of its construction and characteristics made the enclave an impregnable place. The primitive castle was in the upper part of the hill, standing out the homage tower. Currently a spiral staircase allows us to access the top of it from where we will enjoy a magnificent view.

Surrounding the castle, a walled enclosure was erected that sheltered much of the town's houses from the 14th century, a situation that remained well into the nineteenth century. Among the found remains a former cellar and a winery similar to the rock found in the area with sediments dated in the 12th century.

Our next stage takes us to Cuzcurrita of the river heave. This is a 14th-century fortress, although the castle has undergone some modifications over time. It stands out from him the Tower of the homage. It is a solid square-floor building that presents defensive reinforcements in its upper corners as small towers. The tower is located in the center of a walled space, also in quadrangular form, with defensive cubes in each of its corners. Outside this wall there is a second enclosure formed by another that would serve as the first defensive line. It's castle is currently privately owned.

Sajazarra is our last stop. The current castle was erected in the 15th century on a previous defensive tower. It features a rectangular-shaped exterior wall with defensive cubes in the corners. The front door is also protected by two other cubes. The homage tower occupies a large part of the courtyard. It's also rectangular in shape. The corners feature octagonal shaped towers. As in the previous case it is now private property.

They are not the only castles in the Shire. Remains of the Briones Castle are preserved, walled villa of undoubted interest. Today we can see remains of the Tower of homage. Torremontalbo and Anguciana present strong towers in a very good state of conservation (today private properties). Haro also had strength from which some remains are preserved.

Visiting the castles in the area is taking a trip to a war and border past. And it is to enjoy with a patrimony that gives us the possibility to discover a past that today is presented to us thanks to these testimonies.

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