It is 14 km from Anguiano and 54 km from the capital of La Rioja, Logroño, located in a place of spectacular beauty, in the middle of the mountain, in the Sierra de la Demanda, at the foot of the Pancrudos, from whose top you can see it. Its origins are lost in time because although there is documented evidence of its existence in the eleventh century, when Alfonso VI ordered the restoration of the Monastery church of Valvanera, there are those who relate it to the pre-Romanesque monasteries in La Rioja such as San Millán.
The Benedictine Monks have been part of its history from practically the beginning. During the Middle Ages it played an important role in the repopulation of the reconquered territories, the kings of the time made important donations to it and it was a place of pilgrimage and devotion for many believers. The Monastery has suffered serious fires, one of them in 1809 by Napoleon's troops during the War of Independence. Shortly afterwards, with the confiscation of Mendizábal, the monastery was left in a state of total abandonment. The image of the Virgin was transferred to the parish of Brieva, where it remained until in 1885, after the monks returned after the monastery had been restored, it was returned to its former location, and to celebrate it, in 1889, a pilgrimage was organised to the monastery. In 1914 it was once again an abbey.
The building of the current monastery is recent, but not the church, which is Gothic from the second period of the fifteenth century. It is said that the first temple was Visigothic, then in the eleventh century, the kings Sancho el Mayor, first, who ordered it built and Alfonso VI after he did extension work, erected the Romanesque church. Behind the main altar is the Camarín de la Virgen, whose image is said to be one of the oldest and most interesting in La Rioja. The carving probably dates from the 12th century, although some date it as far back as the 10th century. Curious is the position of the Child sitting on his lap and with a twist in the waist towards the side of the Gospel and his feet in the opposite direction, giving rise to interpretations such as that of taking his sight away so as not to witness a sacrilege.
The Sacristy is a modern building that houses gold and silver pieces, reliquaries of different saints and a collection of ecclesiastical vestments from different periods. In the Library are conserved manuscripts of great value emphasizing a codex of century X with the Comments to the rule of San Benito. On the sides of the church is the monastic building, an old inn and a manor house which, until it was restored for tourist accommodation, was a pilgrims' hostel. The hermitage of the Christ of the Monastery of Valvanera is somewhat displaced. Surrounding all the Monastery, the spectacular and quiet landscape of the "Vallis Venaria" or Valley of the Veins, by the quantity of streams that furrow it, and flanked by the quietness of the Distercios Mountains.
There is a lot of custom in the localities of La Rioja in making pilgrimages, during their festivities, to the Monastery of Valvanera, to worship the venerated Patron Saint of the autonomous community.
The Holy Fountain is born at the foot of where the Virgin of Valvanera is said to have appeared, hence popular fervor leads pilgrims and believers to drink from its waters, as a sign of purity and Marian forgiveness.
One of the legends tells us that the image was made by the apostle St. Luke, consecrated by St. Peter and was brought to the Valley of Veins by some of their disciples. Saint Athanasius ordered the construction of a hermitage where he placed the image. During the last persecutions of the Romans, some Christians hid it in the hollow of the tree where centuries later the converted "bandit Nuño" found it.
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In the municipality of Anguiano we arrive following the LR-113 that joins Nájera with the town of Burgos, Salas de los Infantes. This same road in Nájera communicates with the A-12, Motorway of the Way and with the N-120 between Burgos and Logroño. There is a wide schedule of intercity buses that connect Anguiano with both Nájera and Logroño.
We arrive at the monastery following the LR-113 from Anguiano in the direction of Mansilla, it is in this section and after approximately 9 km from Anguiano and 20 km from Mansilla de la Sierra, where we will find the junction with the road that ascends to the Monastery of Valvanera. Going up this road we arrive at the monastery, both at the entrance and crossing the arcade to the inn are the parking areas enabled.
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