Section 7 - La Rioja

Nájera - Santo Domingo de la Calzada - 44Km

Leaving Nájera on several very pleasant farm roads we cross Azofra and Alesanco to pick up the route towards Cordovín and Badarán. A landscape of vineyards again dominates as the imposing Sierra de la Demanda comes into view on the horizon. The route now leads towards Berceo to reach a first-rate historical and cultural destination which has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO: the Monasterios de Suso y Yuso at San Millán de la Cogolla, the birthplace of the Spanish language and a cultural nerve centre in the early Middle Ages. Contemplating the 8th-century Mozarabic layout in Suso in a natural environment where silence prevails, strolling on the paving of the Yuso Cloister, or visiting a room such as its library gives us a real opportunity to interiorise history.

We continue pedalling once more on the route. Now we are heading for the village of Cañas. The 13th-century Monasterio de Santa María de San Salvador, of the Cistercian Order, is defined as a unique space owing to its simplicity and the purity of its lines, and also to the light flooding the entire apse, owing to which it is known as the “Abbey of Light”.

Through the fields of Manzanares and Gallinero de Rioja we come to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, an essential milestone on the French Pilgrims’ Route to Santiago where a visit to the old quarter and the Cathedral is a must. The town originated and grew from the Pilgrims’ Hospital which was founded by the Saint in about the second half of the 12th century, and also from a bridge over the River Oja which allowed the passage of pilgrims. The hostelry encouraged its growth and by extension the Jacobean Route, which made it a very important artistic, religious, and economic centre in the Middle Ages.

Points of Interest

Heritage: 5
  • This Cistercian abbey was one of the first to be founded in Spain. Its construction was undertaken gradually from the 12th century onwards, essentially during the Romanesque and Gothic periods. The church of the monastery surprises the visitor with its great luminosity through the large alabaster windows, which gives it the name of “the Abbey of Light”.


  • The monastery was founded by King Don García Sánchez III “he of Nájera” and his wife Doña Estefanía de Foix who ordered its construction in 1052.
    The current church dates from the 16th century and its ensemble is noted for the Royal Pantheon of the Kings of the kingdom of Nájera-Pamplona, the 12th-century sepulchre of Doña Blanca of Navarra, and the choir and the Cloister of Knights which is decorated with a open stone tracery in the plateresque style; it is a National Monument.

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  • The building which holds the Museum was built in the 18th century as the residence of the abbot of the Monasterio de Santa María la Real.

    Nowadays its permanent exhibition contains items of the archaeological collection of the area, which ranges from prehistory to the Modern Era.

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  • Together with the Monasterio de Yuso in San Millán de la Cogolla, this Visigothic monastery was declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1997; its caves were inhabited by a hermit saint in the 5th and 6th centuries. It was expanded in the Mozarabic and Romanesque periods; Benedictine monks arrived at the monastery in the 10th century. San Millán was a centre of political and cultural power in the Middle Ages and it was on its desk that the first words were written in Spanish in the 10th century as the Glosas Emilianenses, annotations to a Latin text.

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  • The current Monasterio de Yuso stands on the site of a former Romanesque monastery of the 10th and 11th centuries; it was built between the 16th and 17th centuries. When the community of monks increased in number they had to move from Suso to this...

Nature: 2
  • This valley is of great importance to the region as it runs near places of great importance such as the Monasteries of San Millán de la Cogolla, Suso and Yuso, which have been declared World Heritage Sites, and the Monasterio de Valvanera, the patron of La Rioja. This area holds extensive natural landscapes of mixed woodland of beeches, oaks, and pines.

  • Wine gives La Rioja a unique landscape of vineyards which carpet the whole of the territory; on this stage in particular you will find excellent views all along the itinerary. Spring and autumn are especially beautiful owing to the colours which you can enjoy.

Gastronomy and wine: 3
  • There are many wine cellars in the region that can be visited when you take a break from your route to get to know what is more than a way of life in La Rioja; the true culture of wine; passion for the land and the production of quality wines.

    Bodegas Nájera

    Bodegas Badarán



  • La Rioja has a rich and varied gastronomy with a Mediterranean influence. It has large extensions of crops which provide fresh produce on a daily basis. There is a wide range of establishments: traditional restaurants, signature restaurants, carveries, cheap eating-houses... and of course tapas bars.


  • The Rioja Alta Wine Route is the centenary landscape of wine. It is so named because it is the region with the most density of centuries-old wineries in the world. That´s right, this landscape where wine is legend and it´s reality. It’s no wonder that it homes the greatest number of centennial wineries in the world... Read more



Shops and cycling services: 1

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Section 7

Nájera - Santo Domingo de la Calzada - 44Km: 44

  • Elevation
  • Heritage
  • Shops and cycling services