Wine tourism is, surely, the main reason that will take you to visit Haro in La Rioja, as I did for the first time many years ago. But Haro is much more than the capital of Rioja wine, which is how it is known. On the contrary, it is a town with a long history whose historic center already justifies a luxury getaway, beyond the obligatory visit to any of its popular wineries.
Brief History of Haro
The current location of the town of Haro was in ancient times occupied by the Celts and later by the Romans, and it seems it got it’s name from a lighthouse that was located at the confluence of the river Tiron with the Ebro.
During the Middle Ages the village of Haro remained under the lordship of the Count of Haro.
And in 1808, under the Napoleonic occupation, it was one of the first populations in Spain to adapt to the administrative model of Joseph Bonaparte.
What to see in Haro
Your visit to the historic centre of Haro will focus on the Plaza de la Paz and its surroundings, where the numerous palaces stand out.
First of all, the Horseshoe (la Herradura), which is the two streets that join the square with the plaza of the parish church of Santo Tomás, make up the shape of a horseshoe.
The Horseshoe is the place of daily appointment of tourists and residents in Haro to go of wines, because in these narrow alleys there are the tapas bars and skewers, as well as the restaurants.
Graffiti in La Herradura de Haro in La Rioja
In the aforementioned Plaza de la Paz, the neuralgic centre of Haro where you will get the attention the characteristic kiosk located in the center of it, highlights the 18th century building of the town hall, with its arcades with four arches.
The Palace of Bendaña or Paternia Palace is also located in the aforementioned square.
In the Plateresque style, this palatial building has a 15th-century Mudejar gallery. You will recognize it because that is where the tourist office of Haro is located.
Also deserves a look, the Church of Santo Tomás, from the 16th century and is built in a florid Gothic style.
Although it is the parish church of Haro and the closest one is to the Plaza de la Paz, the most important temple of the city is the Basilica of Our Lady of the Vega. In Gothic style from the middle of the 15th century, this church stands out for hosting the image of the patron saint of Haro, the aforementioned Virgen de la Vega.
Original of the 10th century and located next to the gardens of the Vega, the current building is from 1703, and in its interior highlights the main altarpiece of Baroque style, of 1740.
Basilica of Our Lady of the Vega in Haro in La Rioja
Now, on your walk through Haro will be your palaces what will get the most attention.
For example, the Palacio de los Condes de Haro, located next to the church of Santo Tomás, in Baroque style, from the 16th to the 17th century.
Palacio de los Condes de Haro in Haro in La Rioja
Or the Palace of the Bezaras, baroque building of the eighteenth century also known as the Palace of the storks by the great nest that there is on one of its chimneys, which you find in the central street of the Vega and now it is seat of a bank institution.
Palacio de las Bezaras in Haro in La Rioja
Another noteworthy building in Haro is the former headquarters of the Bank of Spain branch.
Established in 1892, its presence is a sign of the great importance that historically this Rioja city has always had as a wine producer.
Also the building of the convent of San Agustin, now headquarters of the Hotel Los Agustinos, which since the sixteenth century has had diverse uses, like prison, school or hospital.
And, of course, your visit to Haro will also have another different side as soon as you get into the well-known Barrio de la Estación (train-station district). Haro’s century-old bodegas have been located in this quarter ever since the railroad opened in 1863. This is where you will find most of the wineries to visit, because in this historical neighborhood near the center of Haro are concentrated many of the most popular Rioja wineries from the region.
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