Things to Do in Ezcaray

The Old Textile Village in the Mountains

Ezcaray is an ancient and picturesque village located in the center of the Oja River valley, the heart of the Riojan slopes of the Sierra de la Demanda. It was the base of an important clothing industry, to which the old installations can attest. Today, it is a magnificent tourist destination in the winters and summers.

Planning Your Trip to Ezcaray

There is a lot to do in Ezcaray if you love active tourism. This town is a perfect base from which you can visit the Parque de las Sierras de la Demanda y de Urbión. It perfectly alright to skip the museums in Ezcaray if you would not enjoy their beautiful facades and atmosphere; we mention the most notable of these in our specialized section. If you’re more interested in cultural and monuments, there is always the nearby Nàjera, San Millán de la Cogolla, and Santo Domingo de la Calzada. There are many options for places to stay in this area. You can take a look at your options in our web page about eating and staying in Ezcaray.

Want to Get to Know this Place?

This region was originally populated by the Basqye tribe of the Austrigones, which is where the area got its name. After the defeat of the Muslims in this area in the 10th century, it was practically abandoned. Before the end of this century, the king Sancho Garcés de Navarra repopulated the area with Navarros Basques, which led to the use of the Basque language. Until the 14th century, Ezcaray was a stronghold for the Basque language.

In 1076, the area was annexed to Castilla under the rule of Alfonso VI. In 1312, Fernando IV granted independence to the valley, which, among other things, exempted its inhabitants from taxes and payments to Portazgo, with the exception of the cities of Toledo, Murcia, and Sevilla. It was later linked to the lordship of the Manrique de Lara.

In the 15th century, Ezcaray started making clothes, taking advantage of the wool from the migratory sheep that visited their fields every spring. This meant that fewer wool exports were needed in the North, since they could be produced locally. The Royal Cloth Factory of Santa Bárbara was inaugurated in 1752, which produced wool textiles of the highest quality. In 1785, however, it suffered a fire. It was later rebuilt with stronger materials.

Argolla Fuero Ezcaray
Argolla del Fuero

These cloth factories were very important in providing uniforms for the military. For this reason, during the War for Independence, they were occupied by Napoleon’s toops, liberated by a siege led by Wellington, only to be attacked again by the French until the end of the war. In the first Carlist War, the situation repeated itself, until the Royal Factory was ruined for good. However, in spite of these setbacks, in the mid-19th century, the 29 factories employed almost 1,000 workers.

Today, its natural environment and its extensive, well-preserved monuments to its heritage attract visitors every year in search of activities related to nature, hunting, or other sporting events. The latter can be linked to the ski resort at Valdezcaray.

The urban center of Ezcaray is picturesque, well-kept, and conserves the group of buildings that make up one of the most attractive urban centers in all of La Rioja, especially as far as popular architecture is concerned.

From the central Plaza del Quiosco wind a series of streets and porticoed plazas full of traditional three-floored houses which functioned as homes, as well as warehouses. Among the existing houses are the Palacio del Conde de Torremuzquiz, the Palacio Barroeta (18th century) with two coats of arms of the Fernández de Tejada on its façade, or the Palacio del Ángel with an emblazoned façade which also exhibits a ceramic image of San Miguel.

In the Plaza de la Verdura, attached to an arcade column, is the Argolla del Fuero, which was used to show the public who broke the law, and at the same time, it served as a reminder of the strength of the law and the consequences for breaking it. Additionally, if an accused person wanted to receive a more just trial, he/she came here, and, if he/she grabbed this ring, they would be eligible for thieir jurisdiction. Given that the Fuero de Ezcaray granted many rights to its inhabitants and those of the surrounding areas, to achieve it was a privilege.

The Iglesia Parroquial de Santa María la Mayor, dating back to the 12th-16th centuries, was constructed where another Romanesque church used to be. The building, declared of cultural interest, is a fortress-like church made of Ashlar stone, a single nave covered with ribbed vaults, and cylindrical towers at the angles. The Romanesque part is composed of the chapel of the Immaculate Conception and a tower, and the rest of the place is mostly Gothic. It presents a beautiful Gothic façade with a Plateresque door (1532) which is adorned by a frieze. Its interior houses the Museo Parroquial, which takes care of works from nearby, uninhabited villages.

Plaza Quiosco Ezcaray
Plaza del Quiosco

The Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Allende is another interesting Baroque construction from the 18th century. It has a floorplan in the shape of the Latin cross and a dome over a transept and vaults with lunettes. It contains a notable main altarpiece with a Gothic carving of the Virgin of Allende, patron of Ezcaray, as well as a valuable collection of ten oil paintings of arquebusier angels of the school of Virreinato from Peru (17th-18th century).

Finally, it is worth mentioning the building of the Royal Cloth Factory of Santa Barbara, whose Casa de Tintes is also known as “El Fuerte.” It was fouded in 1752 with the support of the Marguis of the Ensenada and remodeled after it suffered a fire in 1785. In 1992, it was declared of Cultural Heritage, and it is currently functioning as a hotel.

Essentials

Iglesia Santa Maria Mayor Ezcaray
Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor
Skiing in Valdezcaray
Valdezcaray Station

Practical Information

Coordinates

42° 19′ 36″ N, 3° 0′ 48″ W

Distances

58 km from Logroño

75 km from Burgos

319 km from Madrid

Parking

Around the town hall and the Plaza de la Verdura

Altitude

813 m

Population

2031 (as of 2013)

Santa Bárbara (Monday of Pentacost)

San Lorenzo (the week of August 10th)

Nuestra Señora de Allende (September 24th)

San Juan (June 24th)

Jazz Festival (First two weeks of June)

Mantles and other wool textiles: Hijos de Cecilio Valgañón, Carretera y Manta, Ezkarlan

Nearby Destinations


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