Camino Francés in La Rioja | Wise Pilgrim Guide to the Camino de Santiago

La Rioja

383

You have now left Navarra behind you, and the basque ‘feeling’ which has been fading since Roncesvalles will now disappear almost entirely. The name La Rioja, which first appears in a charter from 1099, is fairly new; prior to that, it was referred to as the province of Logroño (the city you enter next and the capital of the province). From a legal perspective, the name La Rioja was not legitimized until after the 1975 death of Francisco Franco when Spain transitioned into a democratic monarchy.

Logroño

Distance to Santiago: 
605.70
12.50km
Altitude: 
396

Once you have crossed the Río Ebro, you have entered Logroño proper.

Worth visiting are the Concatedral de Santa María de La Redonda (it shares the title of Cathedral with Santo Domingo, and it has a semi-hidden painting of the crucifixion by Michelangelo), the Iglesia de San Bartolomé, and the Iglesia de Santiago del Real. Of these, only the last one is located along the camino route, though all are easy to find and centrally located.

Fiesta: 

Logroño seems always to be in a state of celebration. The two big festivals are for San Bernabé on the 11th of June, and San Mateo on the 21st of September. The latter of these two, held during the fall harvest, is much to do about wine.

The Road: 

Leaving Logroño is not unlike departing most large cities in that it winds its way across town in a way that mixes landmarks with practicalities. There are plenty of arrows to mark the way, but most are painted low on curbs and can be difficult to see if you are a pre-dawn walker. If in doubt, make your way to the Cathedral and with it to your back head straight ahead along the Calle de Marqués de San Nicolás. You will pass straight through two roundabouts turn left on the third.

History: 

Like a few towns before, and several ahead, Logroño owes it’s success to the construction of the stone bridge over the Río Ebro which for a long time was the only suitable crossing point of this wide river. As such it was able to command a toll, to which pilgrims were subjected. Unfortunately very few of its medieval monuments have survived, nearly all of them destroyed. Logroño in fact, given its position both along the Ebro and on the frontier, is one of the most battled for cities in the north of Spain. In 1092 it was destroyed by El Cid.

Photo in Logroño on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Logroño on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Logroño on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Peregrinos de Logroño
Rúavieja, 32

Association
68 7
2 Albergue de Peregrinos Albas
Martínez Flamarique, 4

Private
22 12 Photo in Albergue de Peregrinos Albas on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue de Peregrinos Albas on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Parroquial de Santiago
Barriocepo, 8

Parochial
30 Donativo
4 Albergue Check in Rioja
Los Baños, 2

Private
30 12 Photo in Albergue Check in Rioja on the Camino de Santiago
5 Hostel Entresueños
Portales, 12

Private
96 10 Photo in Hostel Entresueños on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Hostel Entresueños on the Camino de Santiago
6 Albergue Logroño
Capitán Gallarza, 10

Private
48 10
7 Albergue Santiago Apóstol
Ruavieja, 42

Private
76 10 Photo in Albergue Santiago Apóstol on the Camino de Santiago
8 Pensión El Camino
Industria, 2

Pension
Photo in Pensión El Camino on the Camino de Santiago
9 Hostal La Numantina
Sagasta, 4

Hostal
Photo in Hostal La Numantina on the Camino de Santiago
10 Pensión Laurel
Gonzalo de Berceo, 4

Pension
Photo in Pensión Laurel on the Camino de Santiago
11 Hotel Murrieta
Marqués de Murrieta, 1

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Murrieta on the Camino de Santiago
12 Hotel Sercotel Portales
Portales, 85

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Sercotel Portales on the Camino de Santiago
13 Pensión Logroño
Canalejas, 7

Pension
Photo in Pensión Logroño on the Camino de Santiago
14 Pensión Parque del Ebro
Pl. de la Constitución, 24

Pension
Photo in Pensión Parque del Ebro on the Camino de Santiago
15 Hotel Calle Mayor
Marqués de San Nicolás, 71

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Calle Mayor on the Camino de Santiago
16 Pensión Saint Mateo
Marqués de Murrieta, 35

Pension
Photo in Pensión Saint Mateo on the Camino de Santiago
17 Hotel F&G Logroño
Viana, 2-6

Hotel
Photo in Hotel F&G Logroño on the Camino de Santiago

Alto de la Grajera

4.20km
517

The Alto de la Grajera is part of the park and embalse (reservoir) on the outskirts of Logroño. It is an excellent place to walk through slowly, perhaps to stop in and enjoy some nature.

The dam here, and the resulting ecosystem, was constructed in 1883 as a way to store water for irrigation. Since then the park has grown in size and importance and is one of the few wetlands that exist in La Rioja. Anyone with a keen interest in bird watching will especially appreciate the protected areas which are home to several species of birds.

Navarrete

Distance to Santiago: 
593.20
16.20km
Altitude: 
504

Navarrete, much fought over and mostly destroyed, no longer has any of its medieval history to share. It does, however, have a few covered arcades which give you a sense of its past. Like is common on an otherwise flat land, the town was developed around a hill; you will see plenty more of this strategy before you get back into the mountains.

The Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Asuncion deserves an extra mention here in case you were thinking to skip it. Don’t. It maintains hours which can be difficult for pilgrims but do try to make a visit.

If you are staying in Navarrete for the night, you might consider a small climb the ‘Tedeón’ to where the castle once stood. There is a nice picnic park there and a good view of the surrounding land.

Fiesta: 

Market day is Wednesday. In mid-August, the town turns out to celebrate the Virgen and San Roque. On the 29th of September, during the grape harvest, they celebrate their patron saint, San Miguel.

The Road: 

On the way into Navarrete you pass the remains of 12th century San Juan de Acre. While there is not much left, the footprint remains well enough preserved to spark the imagination. The original entrance to the former pilgrim hospital has been reincarnated as the entrance to the town cemetery which is passed on your way out of Navarrete.

Photo in Navarrete on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Peregrinos de Navarrete
San Juan, 2

Municipal
48 7 Photo in Albergue de Peregrinos de Navarrete on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue El Cántaro
Herrerías, 16

Private
28 10 Photo in Albergue El Cántaro on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue El Cántaro on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue La Casa del Peregrino
Las Huertas, 3

Private
20 10 Photo in Albergue La Casa del Peregrino on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue La Casa del Peregrino on the Camino de Santiago
4 Albergue Pilgrim's
Abadía, 1

Private
38 9 Photo in Albergue Pilgrim's on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Pilgrim's on the Camino de Santiago
5 Albergue Buen Camino
La Cruz, 2

Private
10 9 Photo in Albergue Buen Camino on the Camino de Santiago
6 Albergue A la Sombra del Laurel
Carretera de Burgos, 52

Private
30 15 Photo in Albergue A la Sombra del Laurel on the Camino de Santiago
7 Hotel San Camilo
Fuenmayor, 4

Hotel
Photo in Hotel San Camilo on the Camino de Santiago
8 Hotel Rey Sancho
Mayor Alta, 5

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Rey Sancho on the Camino de Santiago
9 Hostal Villa de Navarrete
La Cruz, 2

Hostal
10 Casa Peregrinando
Mayor Alta, 34

Pension
11 Albergue El camino de las Estrellas
Burgos, 9

Private
40 10

‌Minor detour to Ventosa +800m

596

With changing times Ventosa has found itself separated from the camino by the rearrangement of yellow arrows for the sake of shaving 800m from the camino. There is at least one bar and albergue.

Nájera

Distance to Santiago: 
577.00
5.60km
Altitude: 
492

The eastern entrance to Nájera is not easy on the eyes. This new part of the town grew up on the east bank of the Río Najerilla (the cliffs prohibit expansion to the west) and much of the city’s industry is located here. Leaving town is notably better as you transition quickly back to the rural roadways that connect many of the smaller villages.

The Monasterio de Santa María la Real is one of the finest cloistered buildings in all of La Rioja and merits a visit. It is built into the entrance of a cave where the image of the Virgin was discovered by Sancho’s son García IV.

Fiesta: 

The Najerinos keep a busy fiesta calendar. San Antonio is celebrated on the 13th of June. San Juan and San Pedro from the 24th to the 30th of June. And San Juan Mártir and Santa María la Real from the 15th to the 18th of September.

The Road: 

On the way to Azofra, take notice of the modern aqueducts which help to irrigate the land. They are gravity fed and are a real-world example of hydraulics in action, with sections that pass beneath the road rather than passing above it.

History: 

Nájera, named for its position “between cliffs,” is a city that has been in favor since Sancho III (El Mayor) made it the capital when Pamplona was captured. At the time the camino passed further to the north, in the rugged but more protected mountains. His efforts moved the popular route to its current location.

Sancho’s preference brought the town much prosperity, including a market which was an important element in the funding of the Monasterio de Santa María la Real.

The rolling hills that you crossed to get here are the setting for a famous set of battles between Roland and the Syrian giant Ferragut. The giant had already defeated countless warriors before the Frenchman took him to task. They both lasted through several battles, resting together between them, before Roland succeeded in finding Ferragut’s weak spot.

Tales like these, and those of Charlemagne, served to elevate towns like Nájera (and the pilgrimage route as a whole) to a near mythical status.

Photo in Nájera on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue de Najera
Plaza de Santiago

Municipal
90 Donativo
2 Albergue de Peregrinos Sancho III - La Judería
Constantino Garran, 13

Private
10 7 Photo in Albergue de Peregrinos Sancho III - La Judería on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Alberone
San Marcial, 8

Closed
44 8
4 Albergue Calle Mayor
Dicarán, 5

Private
16 15 Photo in Albergue Calle Mayor on the Camino de Santiago
5 Albergue Puerta de Nájera
Carmen, 4

Private
32 12 Photo in Albergue Puerta de Nájera on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Puerta de Nájera on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal Hispano
La Cepa, 2

Hostal
15
7 Pensión Calle Mayor
Dicarán, 5

Pension
Photo in Pensión Calle Mayor on the Camino de Santiago
8 Hostal Ciudad de Nájera
Cuarta Calleja San Miguel, 14

Hostal
Photo in Hostal Ciudad de Nájera on the Camino de Santiago
9 Hotel Duques de Nájera
Carmen, 7

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Duques de Nájera on the Camino de Santiago
10 Albergue Nido de Сigüeña
Cuarta Calleja San Miguel, 4

Private
19 10
11 Albergue El Peregrino
San Fernando, 90

Private
30 10 Photo in Albergue El Peregrino on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue El Peregrino on the Camino de Santiago
12 Pension San Lorenzo
Garrán, 10

Pension

Azofra

Distance to Santiago: 
571.40
9.20km
Altitude: 
549

A somewhat sleepy town, it is well maintained and a suitable place for breakfast if you set off from Najera in the morning. The municipal albergue here is well appointed, and all rooms are double rooms.

The Road: 

The camino between Azafra and Cirueña has been modified in recent years to navigate around a large and largely unused golf course and neighborhood, and in the process the village of Ciriñuela was bypassed entirely.

Photo in Azofra on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue Municipal de Peregrinos de Azofra
Las Parras, 7

Municipal
60 7 Photo in Albergue Municipal de Peregrinos de Azofra on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Municipal de Peregrinos de Azofra on the Camino de Santiago
2 Hotel Real Casona de las Amas
Mayor, 5

Hotel
Photo in Hotel Real Casona de las Amas on the Camino de Santiago
3 Pensión La Plaza
Plaza de España, 7

Pension
12

Detour to San Millán de la Cogolla

From the albergue in Azofra it is possible to follow an alternative route to Cañas and/or San Millán, which in turn returns you to the camino prior to Santo Domingo. There are two monasteries in San Millan, Yuso (lower) and Suso (upper).

If all of this sounds confusing don't let it deter you from going. The best way to see them all is by first getting to Azofra.

From there you can:

Ciriñuela

Distance to Santiago: 
563.60
Altitude: 
719

Santo Domingo de la Calzada

Distance to Santiago: 
556.30
7.00km
Altitude: 
641

The highlight of the town is the Catedral de Santo Domingo de la Calzada and its gothic henhouse. Santo Domingo is buried there as well, fittingly, in the middle of the road. The only remaining tower (of the original three) is detached and is located across the street. This is a rarity in Spain, particularly for a building of such importance, and the location was selected as the nearest place where a suitable foundation could be built. Tours are available.

Fiesta: 

The Feast day of Santo Domingo is celebrated from May 10th to the 15th. This is quite a celebration indeed, and the feasts themselves include a tremendous quantity of meet followed by all-night processions through town.

The Road: 

Leaving town you cross over the mostly dried up Río Oja. The bridge is a rebuilt version of Domingo’s original.

History: 

“Santo Domingo of the Road” is named after a local monk (Domingo of Viloria) who dedicated his life to the care of pilgrims. In particular, he focused on the engineered elements of the way, building roads and bridges to improve the quality of passage. It was he that built the original bridge over the Río Oja on the outskirts of town.

The town is also the setting for the miracle of the “Hanged Innocent.” The same miraculous story is told in various parts of Europe (Toulouse, France and Barcelos, Portugal), and the miracle is confusingly attributed to either Santiago or Santo Domingo depending on the telling. It centers around a family of German pilgrims who stopped to rest in Santo Domingo.

When their young son refused the romantic advances of the innkeepers daughter she laid a trap. She stashed a piece of silver from the church in his bag, and made sure to notify the authorities. He was charged with theft and sentenced to hang. These being medieval times, the body was left to hang for weeks as a warning to others. His parents meanwhile, mourning their loss, finished their pilgrimage to Santiago.

Returning through Santo Domingo de la Calzada, they stopped to visit their son (a fairly morbid visit given his state) and were astonished to find him alive and well, though still hanging. His weight had been supported by one of the saints. His parents knew a miracle when they saw one (apparently, the rest of the townspeople did not) and went straight to the officials to report that he was alive. Incredulous, one of the officials replied that the boy was no more alive than the chicken he was roasting; whereupon the miracle continues with the reanimation of the chickens which took to their feet, clucking and squawking.

The town never forgot the miracle, and part of the gallows remains on display in the Cathedral transept over the Saints tomb. Descendants of the original chickens are kept (alive and well fed) in a coop in the west transept.

Photo in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago
Photo in Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Albergue del Abadía Cisterciense Nuestra Sra. de la Anunciación
Mayor, 29

Parochial
33 7 Photo in Albergue del Abadía Cisterciense Nuestra Sra. de la Anunciación on the Camino de Santiago
2 Albergue Casa del Santo
Mayor, 42

Parochial
211 7 Photo in Albergue Casa del Santo on the Camino de Santiago
3 Hotel El Corregidor
Mayor, 14

Hotel
Photo in Hotel El Corregidor on the Camino de Santiago
4 Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada
Plaza del Santo, 3

Parador
Photo in Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada on the Camino de Santiago
5 Hostal La Catedral
Isidoro Salas, 49

Hostal
Photo in Hostal La Catedral on the Camino de Santiago
6 Hostal Rey Pedro I
San Roque, 9

Hostal
7 Hospedería Cisterciense
Pinar, 2

Pension
Photo in Hospedería Cisterciense on the Camino de Santiago
8 Hostal Miguel
Juan Carlos I, 23

Hostal

Grañón

Distance to Santiago: 
549.30
3.70km
Altitude: 
728

Of the two monasteries which once cared for pilgrims in Grañón, only a single altarpiece remains. It is in the Iglesia de San Juan, which also houses one of the towns albergues.

The care given to pilgrims in the San Juan albergue remains top notch and distinct, and the recent opening of an albergue in Carrasquedo (1.5km south and in a forest) keeps Grañón on the list of pilgrim favorites.

Photo in Grañon on the Camino de Santiago
Name Beds Price booking.com
1 Hospital de peregrinos San Juan Bautista

Parochial
40 Donativo Photo in Hospital de peregrinos San Juan Bautista on the Camino de Santiago
2 La Casa de las Sonrisas
Mayor, 16

Private
14, 36 in 2013 Donativo Photo in La Casa de las Sonrisas on the Camino de Santiago
3 Albergue Municipal Nuestra Señora de Carrasquedo
Carrasquedo

Municipal
50 6 Photo in Albergue Municipal Nuestra Señora de Carrasquedo on the Camino de SantiagoPhoto in Albergue Municipal Nuestra Señora de Carrasquedo on the Camino de Santiago
4 Casa Rural Jacobea
Mayor, 34

Casa Rural
5 Casa Rural Cerro de Mirabel
Mayor, 40

Casa Rural
6 Albergue Ave de Paso
El Caño, 18

Private
10 10