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Vines have been cultivated in La Rioja since Roman times and, today, the region is acknowledged for producing Spain's finest red wines. Deftly blending a long history with generations of tradition and a forward-thinking outlook, La Rioja is also known for its innovation, design and gastronomy.

Several of the large wine producers have commissioned striking, avant-garde buildings, which sit alongside little villages perched on outcrops and the green hills of the region. La Rioja also has a number of monasteries that were once important stops on the Camino de Santiago, the long-distance pilgrim's walking route to Santiago de Compostela.

Most vineyards cluster along the banks of the Ebro River with the medieval town of Haro acting as the capital of the wine-producing region. The alleyways of the old town are lined with bars, wine shops and bodegas, where you can sample local wines and learn about their producers. You can also see pioneering architecture at the López de Heredia Viña Tondonia Winery, where Zaha Hadid's curvilinear pavilion houses a wine store and exhibition area.

The Museo de La Rioja is set in an 18th-century Baroque building in the old town of Logroño, the region's commercial hub. It takes you through Riojan history with 5th-century stone carvings, Roman statues, medieval altarpieces and 19th-century paintings.

In Logroño’s compact old town, you can also visit the Concatedral de Santa María de la Redonda, a Gothic church embellished with late Spanish Baroque towers in the 18th century. Logroño bursts into life in late September for the Fiesta de San Mateo, which celebrates the grape harvest.

Wine cellar, La RiojaLaguardia is one of the most scenic towns in the region, its medieval fortress perched on top of an outcrop. The houses of noble families, many of which have basement wine cellars, line the quiet streets and the Santa María de los Reyes church has an intricately carved wooden Gothic doorway still sporting its vivid paintwork.

You can visit a variety of bodegas in Laguardia and sample the local wines, which are quite distinct from the rest of the region. Soft and fruity, they benefit from the local microclimate and a different type of soil from the south bank of the river.

Laguardia is also home to some of the most eye-catching architecture in the region. One outstanding example is the Marqués de Riscal Hotel in Elciego, just south of Laguardia. A flamboyant building made with free-form titanium sheets, it was created by Frank Gehry and exhibits his now-renowned and daring style. You can appreciate the hotel’s design and its winery by staying overnight, coming for a meal or taking a tour.

Best time to visit La Rioja

May to October is a good time to visit La Rioja but for wine lovers the Wine Battle in Haro in June and the grape harvest in September make these months particularly attractive times to explore. The Rioja Wine Harvest Festival in Logrono, a week of celebrations, parades, dancing and fireworks, also takes place in September.

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Suggested itineraries featuring La Rioja

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Map of La Rioja

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