Shopping tourism and the alliance with heritage

For decades, the arnedanos (La Rioja – Spain) looked with nostalgia towards two of the places that have written and defined their history, their identity, but that were consumed in the deterioration of disuse and the passage of time. After two processes of recovery, the millenary castle and the complex of the cave of the Hundred Pillars are two of the main bastions of the tourist attraction of the city of footwear.

If shopping tourism has been and continues to be the driving force behind the arrival of visitors to Arnedo, the introduction of both heritage references has revived the city’s tourist destination. As in those medieval stories that pass through them, castle and caves form an alliance that wins and convinces the visitor, both by the story they house and by the recovery they have lived to bring them back to the day to day of this twenty-first century.

This is demonstrated by the data compiled by the Tourism area of Arnedo City Council during the first semester of 2019, consulted by LA RIOJA Newspaper. During these first six months, the caves of the Hundred Pillars continue convincing the visitor and the arnedano and reigning. Thus, if they received 3,257 visits in the first six months of 2018, during the same period this year have reached 3,824. And does so in positive trend month by month: 130 in January, 444 in February, 769 in March, 830 in April – with Easter as an attraction, 798 in May and 996 in June.

Visitors respond to different profiles and come from all over Spain and even France and the USA.

After the completion of its consolidation work, the thousand-year-old castle opened for visits in November, open days in which it received more than 6,100 people, most of them Arnedans anxious to know the result of the recovery. Now, in the circuit of proposals for visits from the Municipal Tourist Office, the castle continues to demonstrate its strength: between January and June, 1,459 people have taken guided tours of its history, buildings and finds.

Variety in the groups

For these guided tours, the Tourist Office from the New Cinema building offers the alliance of both heritage treasures to show them to the visitor. Now, in the heat of these summer months, the visit begins at 10.30 a.m. through the castle and then, around midday, as the heat advances during the day, move and take refuge in the coolness of the caves, in order to get to know both the dwelling cave and those of the Hundred Pillars.

Those who visit this alliance show a great variety of places of origin, of types of groups and they are from familiar and curious to studious. During the last few weeks, the castle and caves have been visited by the schools and institutes of Arnedo and Quel, the Association of Traders of Arnedo, the Casa de Riojanos of Donosti and groups from all over Spain, especially from the Basque Country, Catalonia, Castile and Leon, Navarre, Aragon, Cantabria and, of course, also from La Rioja; and even visitors from France or the United States.

Author: Ernesto Pascual. La Rioja