It is located on a hillock and is flanked to the north by Sierra Cantabria and the river Ebro to the south, and is an important town in the Rioja Alavesa region. It is known that since the Neolithic period there were already settlements in the area and that different settlers and cultures, Indo-European, Celtiberian Berones, Romans... But it was in the 10th century when Laguardia was founded with a clear defence mission, as King Sancho Abarca of Navarra erected a castle on the hill to guard and protect against Castilians and Moors. In 1164 the Navarrese king Sancho the Wise granted privileges to the town and its villages, with the consequent increase in the population who, attracted by these privileges, built their houses around the castle. It was another Sancho, the VII called the Fort, who years later fortified not only the castle but the whole town.
After several centuries of belonging as soon to Navarrese as to Castilians, in 1461 it passed definitively to the power of Castile and years later Laguardia and its villages were included definitively in the province of Alava. During the Modern Age, the town enjoyed a period of tranquillity and prosperity, not exempt from vicissitudes and risks such as the plague that devastated the population, but it also gave illustrious sons such as Félix María de Samaniego, born in Laguardia in 1745, who became a clear exponent of the Enlightenment in literature. The 19th century and its wars, that of the French Independence, the Carlists... also affected Laguardia and its urban configuration, going on to become once again a true fortress and then ended up destroying its castle and lowering its defences and walls, even demolishing part of them. Today Laguardia is a contemporary and modern town that keeps in the memory of its stones the long history of its existence.
Laguardia is a beautiful town with a medieval layout that shows in its narrow streets and retains part of its walls and five access gates known by the names of Mercadal, Carnicerías, Páganos, San Juan and Santa Engracia. At the southern end of the main street is the fortified church of San Juan Bautista, of Romanesque style and of which it conserves an interesting door and at the northern end the one that can be admired is the church of Santa María de los Reyes, its construction lasted IV centuries and in it several styles are mixed, its headboard calls the attention, its Romanesque façade and the beautiful bell tower which is located free at the foot of the temple and is known as the abbey tower because it is believed that it could have formed part of a Templar monastery of the Order of Saint Benedict, but what has made this church more visited is its well-deserved famous Gothic door, one of the most spectacular examples of Spanish medieval art. Immersed in the medieval streets, surrounded by centuries of history, you reach the Square of San Juan where is the House-Palace of the Fabulist Samaniego, now converted into the Tourist Office. In the Main Square, all of it porticoed, are the buildings of the Town Hall, the old one is from the XVI century. The oldest preserved civil building is La Primicia, from the 14th century, where the tax on tithes and firsts was collected. In its surroundings and very close to the town centre, Laguardia continues to show its history in dolmens and sites, such as the Poblado de La Hoya, a true archaeological jewel, or shows its great environmental value in its landscapes and lagoons.
Laguardia celebrates festivities in honour of San Juan and San Pedro in June between the 23rd and 29th. The Brotherhood of San Juan 'Degollao' celebrates its day on 29 August. In the district of Páganos San Blas is celebrated on the Sunday closest to the 3rd of February.
On the first Saturday of September, the traditional pilgrimage to Berberana is celebrated, a small chapel located on the slopes of the sierra, very close to the Sotillo dolmen and about three kilometres from Laguardia, to which all the villages of the area come. It is also a tradition in Laguardia to go to the Páganos neighbourhood on the Sunday closest to 3 February, when San Blas Day is celebrated. On this day and after kissing the relic of the saint and dancing the chulalai, we taste chorizo soups and puff pastry, all well sprinkled with hot red wine.
Long ago and for a long time the area of the Ebro Valley was flooded by a large lake. Later, when the river Ebro made its way through the Catalan coastal mountain range and came to flow into the Mediterranean from the initial lake, only a few gaps remained in the depressions, which without drainage and fed only by rainwater with the consequent intense evaporation gave rise to a significant concentration of salts, hence its whitish colour. This is how the lagoons of Carralogroño and Carravalseca were formed in Laguardia. This, together with an interesting and characteristic flora, has meant that they are now declared Protected Biotopes.
Throughout the 16th and 17th centuries, the characteristic caves or cellars were built in Laguardia, true underground corridors, and the locality could be walked through by its subsoil. Each house, large or small, had its own cellar where the wine was kept and conserved, but it is said that in some moments of history they could be used as shelters or also as meeting places where war plans could be drawn up.
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Laguardia can be found on the N-232a that comes from Logroño on one side or from Briñas, on the N-124 between Haro and Vitoria, on the other, passing before Labastida, Ábalos and Samaniego. We can also arrive from Cenicero by the A-3210 that joins both localities passing through Elciego. Laguardia is also reached by the A-3228, which connects it with the nearby towns of Elvillar and Cripán, among others. From Vitoria, another option is the A-2124 which joins the N-232a after passing through the port of Herrera.
Laguardia has bus services that cover different routes and connect it with Logroño, Vitoria and Bilbao, as well as with neighbouring towns and other localities along these routes. Passengers who use one of these routes are also offered a transport service on demand in which a taxi will take them to the nearest bus station. You can also enjoy a regional transport service that connects you with the towns in the region.
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