http://player.soundcloud.com/player.swf?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Ftracks%2F24623566 Laguardia church bells by HighlanderImages
This is the small hill town of Laguardia in the La Rioja wine district of North Spain. Laguardia is one of the most perfectly preserved medieval villages in Spain. It is also located right in Rioja wine country and is the perfect base for your wine tour of Spain’s most well known red wine region. Laguardia is a medieval hill hamlet (called “villa” in Spanish), reminiscent of Tuscan hilltop villages. It is surrounded by an ancient wall, and has a delightful jumble of cobblestoned streets lined with “Tabernas”, wine shops, palaces, and cafes. Laguardia was founded in the year 1164 by King Sancho Abarca, and the spectacularly preserved wall dates back to the 15th century. The entire village became protected as Patrimony of Spain in 1964. The name “Laguardia” originates from “La Guardia de Navarra”, the “Guard” of Navarra, referring to its strategic importance in the kingdom of Navarre.
Before the medieval village was built (as we can see today), deep tunnels were carved out in the hill and the village of Laguardia was actually underground. The tunnels were used as a defence tactic, but over the centuries came to be used to store wine and eventually to even make wine. In 1486, Laguardia was incorporated into the Kingdom of the Catholic Monarchs (Isabel and Ferdinand), who would unite the kingdoms of Castille and Aragon in 1492, to form what is now “Spain”, and the village was built on top of the existing village. The medieval wall was erected as were many aristocratic palaces, many of them restored and still standing. In the 19th century, much of the medieval wall was destroyed during the “Carlista” wars and the War of Independence.
These days, Laguardia is a wealthy hamlet, full of gourmet restaurants, charming small hotels, beautiful views over vines and the amazing backdrop of the Cantabrian Mountains. Whether you visit Laguardia with Cellar Tours or on your own, the important thing is that you come to spend a few days and that you eat and drink well. A visit to Laguardia is like stepping back in time, and the village is simply one of the loveliest places you could hope to visit in Spain.