Viniegra de Arriba doesn’t even have the four hundred inhabitants it had at the end of the sixteenth century. In 2013 there was just over 50. But, of course, it still retains the incomparable charm of a stone-built village situated at almost a thousand and two hundred meters above sea level.
In the highest of the known Siete Villas, Seven Villas, it is frequent to see sheep, mares and cows wandering around the centuries-old buildings because both things form part of an identity that has remained almost intact for a very long time.
However, not as much as the Roman necropolis that was discovered right beside the old quarter. Tombs that could have been there since the first century and, as is always the case, they raise a lot of unanswered questions.
Fortunately, at least we know more things about less distant times. For example, both Viniegra de Arriba and Viniegra de Abajo were part of the medieval estate of Cameros. Juan Ramírez de Arellano was rewarded with this estate by Enrique II of Trastámara for helping him in his wars against Pedro “the Cruel”. That’s how things worked back then. It was common to exchange favours of all kinds for all kinds of land.
But, in addition to wars, beautiful things were also done, such as the original Hermitage of La Magdalena of the thirteenth century. It was later modified, resulting in a Romanesque interior and an exterior with a Gothic appearance. It is as Gothic as the Church of the Assumption, which was built in the fifteenth century, and has such a peculiar architecture that it leaves the experts in the field a little confused.
You must see both, of course, and the fountain of the three pipes, and the town hall. This is a village where you shouldn’t miss looking at any of its stoneworks because, in addition to being so beautiful, great care has been taken to maintain the aesthetics of the streets and houses. To give you an idea, we are talking about a town where until 1986 there was no proper street lighting, and in which transhumance is still practised, something very common in the past.
You may associate this transhumance with the beautiful landscapes, which are not lacking in the beautiful natural environment of Viniegra. The forests of oaks and beeches are abundant, and the walnut tree is so characteristic that it has given the local people the nickname of noguerones (“walnut trees”). But perhaps the most spectacular is the peaks and hills that surround the village, one of which is called the Rastraculos, meaning “ass-dragger,” and guess why? A clue is that there, you can find a meadow with a drop of 300 meters, crossed by a track of eroded stone and very slippery ...