The tour begins with your arrival in Bilbao, where you will collect your rental car to begin your exciting journey. The drive is approximately one hour to your destination of Santo Domingo de la Calzada in La Rioja. When you arrive, settle into your accommodations at the Parador of Santo Domingo. A beautifully restored building, this elegant hotel occupies a former pilgrims’ inn that dates back to the 12th century. The medieval inn offered shelter to pilgrims taking the “The Way of Saint James” route to Santiago de Compostela.
Today, this luxurious hotel reflects the regal character of the past in its beautifully decorated rooms. All rooms have traditional decorations and some have four-poster beds. Amenities include telephone, television and minibar. The building has magnificent lounges and the original Gothic archways lend an atmospheric quality. The property also has a cozy bar for gathering with friends and family as well as a gourmet restaurant, allowing you to enjoy an excellent meal without leaving the hotel. This restaurant’s cuisine features delicious dishes made with Piquillo peppers, such as Menestra de Verduras (hearty stew of vegetables). The restaurant also offers a wonderful selection of the local Rioja wines.
There is an interesting story associated with this historic inn. According to legend, centuries ago, the innkeeper’s daughter was in romantic pursuit of one of the pilgrims staying at the inn, but unfortunately the young man was not interested in her. To retaliate, she placed another guest’s possessions in his room, then claimed he committed the theft. In those days, he would have been punished with death. The story was told to the son's parents that Saint Dominic would protect their son. When a magistrate heard the tale, he disagreed and announced that the boy would be dead—just like the roast chicken on his table! At that moment, the chicken flew right off the table! Ever since, this tale has been commemorated by a cock displayed in the Cathedral Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
Spend some time today discovering the ancient city of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the most important stops along the pilgrims’ “Route to Santiago.” The city was founded in the 11th century by a religious man devoted to helping pilgrims make their way along the Way of Saint James. Being extremely devout himself, Domingo made the pilgrimage his life’s work; he helped to build a cathedral and hospital. Tied to its history as part of the Pilgrims’ Route, the town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada was declared a National Historic Interest Site.
As you stroll through the medieval cobblestone streets and admire its impressive cathedral, soak up the ambience of this old city. Your hotel is just next to the cathedral that dates back to the 12th century, with interesting later modifications. Admire the unique blend of architectural styles: Romanesque, Baroque and Plateresque (Spanish “silversmith” style). The cathedral’s sacristy also holds precious works of art. Adding to the Old World charm of the city, the cathedral’s clock strikes religiously on the hour every day.