Discover the most medieval Alava


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The province of Alava treasures a rich medieval heritage in the form of castles and walled towns. We propose three tours from south to north to discover and enjoy these small villages and savor the special atmosphere that permeates its narrow streets, towers and palaces.


Artziniega and Laguardia are two towns that close the limits of Alava to the north and south. They are separated by just over a hundred kilometers, but share well-preserved historic centers, towers and walls, and vineyards that are transformed into high quality wines.

The visit to these two municipalities offers an excellent opportunity to get to know other medieval villages that also stand out for their heritage, such as Salinillas de Buradón, Labraza, Antoñana and Peñacerrada. This tour also includes Vitoria-Gasteiz, capital and cultural center of Alava, and its Medieval Almond.

We propose three routes by car to discover these towns and other points of interest related to the Middle Ages without haste, in slow mode.


Route from Laguardia to Vitoria-Gasteiz

We start our tour in Laguardia. This town, considered one of the most beautiful villages in Spain, retains its medieval layout of streets linked by squares and alleys, and the whole is encircled by the "old" wall that still retains several towers and five gates.

On this medieval urbanism have been built in different periods and styles the houses of the municipality. The churches of San Juan and Santa María de los Reyes, built in medieval times, are its most important monuments, the latter standing out for its impressive polychrome Gothic portico.

The sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries are represented by many buildings on whose facades you can see beautiful coats of arms and carved eaves. Among them, the Town Hall in the Plaza Mayor and the Samaniego Palace, birthplace of the illustrious fabulist Félix María Sánchez Samaniego, stand out.

The entire subsoil of the town is perforated by family cellars or caves where, until not so long ago, one of its most precious treasures was produced and kept: wine. Strolling through its narrow streets, visiting its wineries, tasting its gastronomy is a real pleasure.

From Laguardia we have three options to reach Vitoria-Gasteiz and the first itinerary stops in Salinillas de Buradón, still in the Rioja Alavesa region. This small village has a defensive wall, two original gates and a spectacular setting in the foothills of the Toloño mountain range.

Within the town, the parish of the Immaculate Conception (s. XVI) with a baroque altarpiece and two magnificent sepulchres from the XVII century, considered a masterpiece of the plateresque style in Alava; the old pilgrims' hospital (s. XV); and the Palace of the Counts of Oñate (XVII century).

Laguardia (Plaza Mayor)

Artziniega and Laguardia share well-preserved historic centers, towers, walls and vineyards that are transformed into high quality wines.

Before arriving in the capital of Alava, it is highly advisable to take a short detour to visit the Salt Valley, a salt 'factory' with more than 7,000 years of life and one of the most unique historical, architectural, scenic, archaeological and geological sites in the world. Here, you can tour the salt flats, participate in tastings and learn how one of the best salts on the planet is extracted.

Vitoria-Gasteiz (Almendra Medieval)
Vitoria-Gasteiz (Almendra Medieval)

Route through the port of Herrera

The second itinerary also starts in Laguardia, but uses a different route to go to Vitoria-Gasteiz: the Herrera pass. At its summit, at about 1,000 meters above sea level, is the Balcón de la Rioja, a natural viewpoint over Rioja Alavesa, where you can stop for a few minutes before continuing on to Peñacerrada.

This town was located on the border between the ancient kingdoms of Navarre and Castile, and this circumstance marked its history in the Middle Ages. Today it preserves the southern gate of its defensive wall and its size gives an idea of the magnitude of its ancient defenses.

This village, in the heart of the Alavesa Mountains, has several examples of popular architecture from the 16th century, among which the house of the Duke of Hijar stands out. The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción with its two porticoes and its open-air Ethnographic Museum also stand out.

Vitoria-Gasteiz (Plaza de la Virge Blanca)
Vitoria-Gasteiz (Plaza de la Virge Blanca)

Route through Labraza and Antoñana

The third and last route has stops in Labraza and Antoñana. This first is the smallest fortified town in the Basque Country and one of the best preserved in Spain. While Antoñana has a superb wall in which the locals were incorporating their homes and houses the interpretation center of the Basque-Navarre Railway.

The route then goes to the painted churches of Alaitza and Gazeo to finally reach Vitoria-Gasteiz.

The capital of Alava is the medieval jewel of Alava. Its historic center, known as the "Medieval Almond"It is full of narrow streets named after trades, charming squares and historic buildings, among which the most outstanding are the Santa Maria Cathedral (13th century), the restoration of which has won numerous international prizes. Plaza de la Virgen Blancaand the medieval wall (11th century).

From Vitoria-Gasteiz the three itineraries converge in Artziniega, where one of the best preserved medieval old towns in the northern area awaits us.

Artziniega maintains almost intact its medieval center located on a promontory with the characteristic layout of parallel streets: the Upper, Middle and Lower streets, connected to each other by cantons. The preservation of its medieval fabric and the quality of the heritage elements explain why it was declared a Historic-Artistic Monumental Site in 1995.

You can't lose:

Navarrese Pincho Week kicks off

Pincho Week in Navarre, organised by the Tourist Association and the Association of Catering and Tourism of Navarre, is 23 years old and will be held until 26th March. Enjoy and savour it!

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