Rioja - Ceramic welcome sign © Michelle Chaplow
Rioja - Ceramic welcome sign


by Saskia Mier

Rioja is particularly special in October, when the residents flood the streets to celebrate the festival of their patron saint, the Virgen del Rosario. It has about 1,450 inhabitants.


The geographical situation of the town in the Andarax River Valley, a topography of easily defendable mounds between the river and the Sierra Alhamilla, has favoured settlements of various civilizations since the third millennium BC. More>


Iglesia de Nuestra Señora del Rosario
The church was built in the sixteenth century and is a very simple piece of architecture. Its front façade opens onto the Plaza de la Iglesia, whilst its other sides are exposed to vast open countryside. The church has a rectangular plan with a gabled tile roof, and a tower which stands out over the town. Located in Plaza de la Iglesia.(Location)

Centro de Interpretación de la Naranja
This Interpretation Centre of the Orange is a new establishment, built in 2014, that has been strategically designed and conditioned to show visitors the history and evolution of the orange and its impact on the region. The modern, geometrically designed building has two floors, with the exhibition area located on the upper floor, and the reception area, audiovisuals etc. on the ground floor. Located on Calle Félix Rodríguez de la Fuente.(Location)

Visits by appointment.

Tel: 950 31 02 54


Cerro Fuerte
Cerro Fuerte is an archaeological zone situated in an important rocky mass, which importantly includes a Roman settlement related to the mining exploitation of the area, and a megalithic necropolis belonging either to the Ancient Copper or Final Neolithic era. The Roman occupation is documented in the same Cerro de El Fuerte and in another small hill located to the northeast and separated from the previous one by a small valley. It preserves important remains of a wall from this time, whose layout can be largely followed. In the lower foothills of the southern slope is the prehistoric necropolis, of which twelve structures (tumuli) have been unearthed; all of them very damaged but preserving part of the tumulus and the chamber.(Location)


Paraje Natural Sierra Alhamilla
Only 15km northeast of Almería city is this largely barren and rugged 8,500Ha mountain range, designated a protected natural area in 1989. Riven by deep gullies, particularly on its southern slopes, it rises to 1,387m at its highest point of the Colativí peak. It is a sparsely populated area, with only 50 inhabitants within its boundaries. Despite being semi-arid, the Sierra has some outstanding examples of holm oak woodland in places over 800m.


If passing through Rioja, try local dishes such as bacalao de Semana Santa (cod and artichoke), choto al ajillo (lamb cooked in garlic) and olla de nabos (turnip stew). For something sweet, try arroz con leche (rice pudding), leche frita (fried custard), torrijas (eggy bread soaked in honey), papaviejos (doughnuts) and roscos (aniseed biscuits).


Popular festivals in Rioja are Fiesta de San Isidro, Semana Santa, Cruz de Mayo and Fiesta de San Marcos and Jueves Lardero. More>



The neighbouring villages to Rioja are Benahadux, Pechina and Santa Fe de Mondújar.