It is located in the southwest of Navarre, on a promontory that opens towards the Ebro depression from the mountainous line of the Codés mountain range. Since time immemorial, it has been a pass for pilgrims who have followed the French Way of Saint James. Although there are vestiges of prehistoric settlements in the area, the origins of Viana date back to Roman times. Its name could come from the primitive Vinetum. King Sancho VII the Strong officially founded Viana in 1219 with a clearly defensive objective against Castile. Scholars say that it was John II, King of Navarre and Aragon, who gave him his coat of arms for the heroism shown in the city's defence against Castile. This coat of arms appears in a document dated 1291. The king of Navarre, Charles III, in the first half of the 15th century, instituted for him and for all the heirs of the crown, the principality of Viana.
In Viana was buried César Borgia, who died, in an ambush in a nearby open field, at the hands of the men of the Count of Lerín when he had come to help his brother-in-law the Navarrese king Juan de Labrit to recover Viana for Navarre. The king ordered that Borgia's remains be buried in a sumptuous sepulchre in the main chapel of the church of Santa María. In 1512 King Ferdinand the Catholic incorporated it, along with other towns in the area, into the kingdom of Castile. The people of Viana participated in the war of Independence as well as in the Carlists. After obtaining the title of city in 1630, granted by Philip VI of Navarre, the nobles who settled there ordered the construction of multiple civil and religious buildings, giving it a period of intense development.
To visit Viana is to find a city in which its buildings and monuments remind, without losing the perspective of the present, its long and important history. The Town Hall, built at the end of the 17th century, conserves small coats of arms of the city. Numerous palace-houses with noble coats of arms and stately facades such as those of the Añoa and Busto, the Ripa, the Ichaso mansion, the palaces of the Dicastillo, Urra or Cereceda and the old hospital of Nuestra Señora de Gracia, now the Casa de Cultura and Public Library.
As a fortified square, the main mission for which it was created, it preserves, oriented towards each cardinal point, the portals leading to the city: San Felices to the west, Santa María or San Juan to the north, Estella to the west and La Solana to the south. Parts of the walls and tower structures are still preserved. The first church built was that of San Pedro, in the 13th century, located on the west side of the walled enclosure, with a side nave standing, part of its head, the transcoro, the tower, and the Baroque façade. The parish church of Santa Maria, has the character of a fortress, is Gothic style of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries, has undergone numerous reforms in subsequent centuries, in front of the Renaissance front, which is a real altarpiece made of stone, on the floor, is the tombstone of Caesar Borgia. On the outskirts of Viana, on the Way to Saint James and near the border with La Rioja, is located the hermitage of the Virgen de Cuevas, was the old church of the pre-Roman town of "Covas", which joined Viana in 1219. But the city also offers rest and enjoyment of nature with its picnic areas, excursions around and even a dive into the time of megalithic culture.
In September, a pilgrimage is made to the hermitage of the Virgen de Cuevas, and a pilgrimage is repeated on Easter Monday. The patron saint fiestas are in honour of Santa María Magdalena and Santiago, on 25 July. The small festivities are in commemoration of the Virgin of Nieva and have been celebrated since 1737, when the Dominican friar from Viana Miguel Martínez brought from Nieva, in Segovia, an image of the Virgin who was famous in her land for being a defender against lightning and sparks.
The feast of San Felices or the Foundation is celebrated on 1 February because tradition has it that the Navarrese king Sancho VII "El Fuerte" when he founded the city of Viana in February 1219, placed the first stone of the same in the portal of San Felices. In the same square, a milestone commemorates the figure of the king and the day of the foundation 1 February 1219.
In the Laguna de Las Cañas or Embalse del Salobre, declared a Natural Reserve, "El Bordón" a bird observatory was built to monitor and study them. The presence of European mink in the streams near the reservoir is noteworthy.
From Endregoto, the blind witch of Viana, they said she gave back the youth. Believing it so, an incautious nobleman came to her for that purpose, and the witch ready to fulfill his wish shattered him and mixed the pieces with his magic potion in a kettle, but the count not only did not regain youth but not even regained life. Thus, without understanding what failed, Endregoto died at the bonfire in Logroño, accused by the Inquisition of the count's homicide. According to some writings it is said that the "Prado Salobre", next to the current Laguna de Las Cañas, was a meeting place where the witches and sorcerers of the region celebrated their covens, to which they arrived flying over brooms or fantastic animals.
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Viana can be reached by the national road N-111 that joins the town with Logroño and by the NA-1110 that comes from Los Arcos. The NA-6320 connects it with the Way motorway between Pamplona/Iruña and Logroño. The N-7230 also links it with the nearby towns of Aras, Moreda de Álava and Labraza.
There is a daily bus service to Viana that connects it with Logroño and Pamplona/Iruña.
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