The bridges of La Rioja Alta have played a fundamental role in the history of the territory. The Ebro is a geographical feature that divides our territory. Overcoming a river of this magnitude is not an easy task. But other rivers, which often carry a significant flow such as the Tirón or the Najerilla, have also been major obstacles.
Two reasons made the bridges a place of great importance. On the one hand, in the periods when the river marked the border between the kingdoms of Navarre and Castile, they became places of unquestionable military interest. On the other hand, they were essential for trade in a territory that has always produced wines for sale in other areas. And therefore they needed to ensure the availability of good communication routes.
That’s why ensuring the ford of the river through proper steps has always been a concern. As a result of this situation, today we can see a good number of historical bridges that are well worth a visit.
Let’s start with the bridges over the river Ebro. Mantible the first dating of this bridge goes back to the 2nd century A.D. It seems that it was destroyed around 1099, although there are authors who delay its destruction to the Muslim period. Its layout is fantastic. Although it is still in ruins today and only retains two arches and some abutments, we can get an idea of the importance this bridge had in the past and the significance of the construction work.
Our next stop will be at San Vicente de la Sonsierra. We find here a long bridge of 248 meters long. Its construction corresponds to different moments as a result of the numerous breaks that the river floods caused in its construction. Its origin is medieval, from this period it conserves the first three eyes of the left bank. It suffered an important reconstruction in the 16th century. In the 18th century several avenues of the Ebro left the bridge unusable. In the 19th century it underwent further works that gave it the appearance we can see today. In medieval times it had two defensive towers, one of which disappeared in the 16th century reform.
It is, together with the castle, one of the most representative elements of the town. Its nightly illumination gives us a beautiful picture.
We are now heading for the so-called Briñas Bridge. It is another of the important historical steps. It is also of great bearing, with 154 meters in length. The first news of the existence of this bridge is dated in the 14th century. In the following century it must have been in poor condition and it was usual to allocate funds for its maintenance. This situation continued in the following centuries. In the 19th century it finally reached the configuration that we can see today. In this century, a starred fort and different defences, of which we cannot see any remains today, were erected on the hill on the right bank. In the 1940s, the bridge over which the road passes today was built, leaving the historic one unused. It has been recently restored.
From the Oja- Tirón basin we will highlight three, Casalarreina, Cuzcurrita del Río Tirón and Cihuri.
The one in Casalarreina on the Oja had its origin in a plank bridge. In the 18th century a more solid bridge was built, given the importance of this route for the wine trade which, from La Rioja, went to the north. After different works that were destroyed by several avenues throughout the century, which forced the completion of continuous works, it would be at the end of the century when the bridge would be finally completed.
Located next to the Cuzcurrita del Río Tirón catillo and washing place, we find this bridge of almost 50 meters in length. Its origin dates back to the 15th century. At the end of the following century it suffered great deterioration as a result of a flood, which forced important repairs. New works became necessary in the 18th century. In the following century, works would be undertaken that would give it its final shape.
We will finish our visit at the bridge of the Cihuri Priory, also over the Tug River. It is a bridge of Roman origin and one of the most interesting and beautiful we can see. The current layout may date back to the 13th century. The bridge was owned by the monastery of San Millán. The surroundings are of great beauty. Next to it is the Priory building and a small winery district.
They’re certainly not the only ones in the area. We can also visit the Stone and Iron bridges in Logroño; the one in Torremontalbo, over the Najerilla, the one in Cenicero and other smaller ones, but of great interest for lovers of civil engineering. You can obtain more information in the Arrúe and Moya Bridge Catalogue prior to 1800.