The capital of La Rioja offers a wide range of activities to enjoy over the Constitution Day long weekend, there’s something for everyone, with special emphasis on the 500th anniversary celebration of the French siege of the city in 1521.
In San Francisco they have the Golden Gate, in London, the Tower Bridge, in Florence, the Ponte Vecchio. We have the Puente de la Inmaculada (Inmaculate Conception Bank holiday weekend or ‘bridge’), which is less impressive but always welcome. During this holiday period, from 6th to 8th December, the possibilities are endless. There are those who make the most of a rural getaway, others who prefer some sport, coinciding with the start of the ski season, and those who opt for some cultural tourism. But why choose, why stick to just one of these options?
At this time of year, Logroño offers limitless possibilities, with something for everyone. From couples and groups of friends, to those travelling solo, whether they are pilgrims on their way to Santiago or people who are curious, but not in mysticism. Whether or not you are en route to the capital of Galicia, it goes without saying that, with bread and wine, the journey is better. That is why La Rioja, a wine-growing region par excellence, is always a good place to stop, either to visit its wineries or to stay in the centre, and sample the products produced on the ‘Elephant Walk’ or in the Ruavieja.
As steeped in viniculture as it is, Logroño is a place where wine is more than just something to drink. Here it becomes an experience to be enjoyed with all five senses. To see for yourself, all you have to do is buy a ticket for the Campo Viejo Wine Bus, which, up to 12th December, lets you discover the secrets behind producing the most exquisite of drinks, with unbeatable views over the 54 hectares of vineyards that stretch along the fertile banks of the River Ebro.
Visits take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings. The afternoon is free and a great time for other activities. One of which is a visit to the recently opened exhibition “El camino del vino” (The way of wine). Based at the Calado de San Gregorio and the Espacio Lagares, finally reopened to the public, this is a didactic journey that will show visitors the close relationship between wine and the history of the city.
But Logroño’s historiography does not end here. The year 2021 marks the 500th anniversary of one of the hardest, most heroic chapters this city can remember. The siege of 1521 was an event that should be framed within the conflict that, at the beginning of the 16th century, pitted two of the most powerful monarchs in Europe against each other: Emperor Charles V and the French monarch Francis I. The war, which had its epicentre in the divided Italy of the time, involved a siege of Logroño by French troops that ended on 11th June, the day of St. Barnabas. Due to this coincidence, St. Barnabus is the patron saint of the city to this day, and it is the most important of the local festivals.
The invaders were defeated thanks to the unity of the Logroño people, who, half a millennium later, are celebrating the event with the dramatised tour “1521 con nocturnidad y alevosía” (1521 at night and with malice aforethought). On until 19th December, this family show recounts events in an amusing way, introducing characters such as Navarrete the mute or Gumersindo, brother of the hermitage of San Gregorio, and even a mysterious character from the future. Learning and leisure go hand in hand in this guided tour that aims to demonstrate that lessons and having fun are perfectly compatible.
In a similar vein, although designed for a more adult audience, on 3th, 4th and 7th December, the Calado de la Calle Ruavieja will host the show, “La Galana”. Promoted by the Council to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the famous siege, these events focus on the role of the taverns at this time, weaving a story together with music, dance and wine.
As well as the special events of 2021, other events of interest to tourists take place throughout La Rioja that have successfully survived the passage of time, To discover them, you must leave the capital and take a little route through its neighbouring villages. Just 15 km from Logroño is Sorzano, a town of just over 200 inhabitants that has a mechanical nativity scene of undeniable interest. The story goes that a parish priest, José Miguel Rubio, was a skilled man who dedicated his spare time to making the more than six hundred figures that make up this Christmas scene, thanks to disused parts of machinery.
A little further away is Alcanadre, a prestigious community famous for its nativity scene, that not can move but also comes alive, and has done so, with the support of a large part of the villagers, for over 50 years. To see it, however, you should visit La Rioja after the Constitution Day bank holiday. And just so no one is disappointed! When you leave Logroño it’s time for some sport, skiing to be precise. What these holidays do coincide with is the opening of the Valdezcaray ski resort. An ideal place to start the season, with 23 slopes, 3 summits and 112 canyons, designed exclusively for you to enjoy.
If, back in Logroño, you still have some energy left, you can finish your visit with the “Look very closely” tour, which, as a route-game, helps you discover some of the details of the city that often go unnoticed by its visitors. Playing has always been a good way to get to know what’s around us, to experiment and to grow. The best way to enjoy the only city in the world that has a square dedicated to the Game of Goose is by playing.