Famous for its footwear, Arnedo has a rich monumental heritage that stands out in its urban center. This town is marked by a modern and industrial appearance. It has a nice environment and a good quality of life, and it is an excellent place for active tourism. You can explore the natural parks and destinations to the south and east of La Rioja.
Planning your Visit to Arnedo
In Arnedo, you must check out the Museum of Footwear, its castle and the nearby Monastery de Nuestra Señora de Vico. The temples and other monumental places are mentioned in the section of this article about what to do in Arnedo. You can take half a day to visit this destination. There are lots of fun options for exploration. Trekking enthusiasts can head south for a walk in the Sierra de Cebollera, or do various active tourist activities in the nearby Park of Peñas de Arnedillo, Peñalmonte and Peña Isasa. Those interested in dinosaurs can go down to Enciso. It is also a region where you can eat well and sleep at a reasonably priced but wonderful hotel! To book a room, you can check out our pages on sleeping, as well as eating in Arnedo.
The city of Arnedo sits on a sandy area, which was the inspiration for its original Latin name, Arenetum. Having existed since the Neolithic era, it was an important center of passage that linked Numancia with Calahorra during the domination of the Romans. Under Muslim rule, Arnedo was a prominent administrative and military headquarters. It was ruled by the dynasty of the Banu Qasi until, towards the year of 909, it was reconquered by Sancho Garcés I from Navarra.
During the following two centuries, the city was owned by both Aragón and Navarra until finally, in 1256, it was indefinitely incorporated into the crown of Castile, and stayed under its dominion during the following centuries.
In 1388, King Juan I of Castile signed the Treaty of Arnedo with the Ambassador of the King of France. This was based on a mutual defense pact and an alliance to invade England. In the 15th century, one of the first banks known in the world was founded in the locality to finance its inhabitants. In addition, the Vico Monastery was founded.
In the modern age, Arnedo was distinguished by several monarchs, such as the Austrian king, Felipe IV, who granted the title of city in 1653, or the Bourbon king Carlos III, who created a nine day fair and the idea of a weekly market during the eighteenth century.
During the nineteenth century, different factories manufacturing sneakers were formed. These would eventually become important factories for all kinds of footwear. On January 5, 1932, shortly after the Constitution of the Second Republic was created, there was a fight between workers from one of these footwear factories and a Civil Guard member, who opened fire and killed fifteen people. The military court acquitted the officer in charge of the guards, and Arnedo became a symbol of oppression for the workers.
The urban center of Arnedo has a modern and industrial feel to it, in which there are some noteworthy patrimonial areas worth visiting. The most important is the Castle, which sits on two terraces on the promontory that shelters the city. It was the main defensive fortress of the municipality when it was originally founded in Roman times. It currently mirrors the architecture during the Muslim ruling, which was built on the foundation of the original. There is a slender circular tower on the northwestern wing of the castle, made with materials carried from the Cidacos River, which runs through Arnedo.
There are several important religious buildings. The Church of Santo Tomás is a late Gothic temple from the 15th – early 16th century which features an impressive 8-pointed star and its Gothic façade with six pointed archivolts. In the Church of San Cosme and San Damián, built between the 16th and 17th centuries, you can admire a great baroque altarpiece next to the main altar and a Romanesque carving of the Virgin of Vico. The Church of Santa Eulalia, from the 16th century, is a Renaissance Gothic temple. It has a good copper collection of flamenco style.
About three kilometers from the city is the Monastery of Nuestra Señora de Vico, where legend has it that in the year 1045, the Virgin appeared to an Arab chief. The monastery was founded in the 15th century by the Franciscan friar Lope de Salinas, although the current building was erected during the 16th century, with no visible remains for the original structure. Nowadays, it is inhabited by a community of Cistercian nuns that are economically supported by selling porcelain and baked goods.
In the urban center of Arnedo, we find several civil buildings that currently serve as centers for artistic or cultural things. The Baroque Palace of the 17th-century Archbishop Argaiz is now the headquarters of the House of Culture and the Museum of Natural Science, which has an interesting collection of minerals and fossils, of which a large sample of pyrites stands out. The House of the Baroness, also known as the House of Art, is a modernist building from the beginning of the twentieth century. It currently houses the tourist office and a center where artistic and musical activities are held. Another interesting civil building is the House-Palace Sopranis, the residence of the Fernandez de Velasco family, who stayed there from 1378 to 1881. It is a building from the end of the eighteenth century erected on the remains of an older one.
Footwear has become the standard item of Arnedo, whose municipal slogan is in fact, “The City of Footwear.” In relation to this, as a tourist attraction, we find the Footwear Museum, where visitors can learn about the history and evolution of this industry from the 16th century to the present day, and you can dive into the manufacturing process of various types of footwear .
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