If we tell you that Laguardia is located in the Rioja Alavesa and is surrounded by vineyards, you might get an idea which way the wind is blowing. But what is waiting for you in this fantastic town, it’s much more than that.
We will start with the most remote, the area preserves a good number of dolmens and boasts with the Poblado de la Hoya, an important pre-Roman archaeological site. But we have to take a leap back into the Middle Ages to find the pure seed of this town: the magnificent castle of the Navarrese King Sancho Abarca erected in the tenth century to defend himself a little from the Moors and a little from the Christians. That’s how complicated things were back then.
With time and wars, another King Sancho gave Laguardia the title of Village, and another Sancho fortified it and surrounded it with enormous walls. That way this was a place in which blood would have to be spilled if anyone tried to conquer it.
The area was in so much danger that it was divided into neighbourhood organisations to defend it better. Each group had to fight in a stretch of the wall and was entitled to the protection of a specific saint. That is why today, in the gates of access to the village, the gaps with images of those Saints, defended and at the same time defenders of the inhabitants of Laguardia, can still be seen.
In those long gone days, they started to build the Church of Santa María de Los Reyes whose portico in carved stone and polychromed is a marvel that you cannot miss, just like the Abacial Tower and the Church of San Juan. It is these constructions, together with the walls and the cobbled streets, that give such a medieval flavour to this place.
Although the flavour, the real one, is kept under the houses, in hundreds of underground caves that serve as cellars. They were excavated five hundred years ago when peace gave a break to this warrior population and allowed it to prosper thanks to its magnificent wines and the presence of some families whose palaces still remain standing.
Laguardia still conserves the product of its vineyards in underground galleries which, they say, they cover the whole village. But it is difficult that the underground walk would surpass what we can see on the surface, with its ancient walls and its cool houses. One of them belonged to Felix de Samaniego, who although today is remembered for his fables, he also wrote some saucy texts which brought him a few problems with the Inquisition. It is no wonder that over time he was devoted to writing less modest things like the fable The Fox and the grapes, isn’t it?