Declared a Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO, the Parque Natural de las Bardenas Reales
is a semi-desert area covering 42,500 hectares where erosion has carved out a landscape of high plains, hillocks and gullies that contains three Natural Reserves: el Rincón del Bu
, las Caídas de la Negra
and (to the north) the Natural Reserve of Vedado de Eguaras
You can cross Las Bardenas on foot or horseback and by bicycle or car. All the routes are well signposted, whichever means of transport you choose. Two of the best views of Las Bardenas are from the Alto de Aguilares
and from the Balcón de Pilatos
, which can only be reached on foot or by bicycle.
The main city in La Ribera, and the second most important in Navarre, is Tudela
. It was founded by the Arabs in the 9th century and remained under the control of Islam until 1119, when it became part of the Navarre-Aragon kingdom. Arabs, Christians and Jews lived together here for 400 years; a stroll through the city reveals many examples of this rich cultural heritage. As well as its Baroque and Renaissance palaces, the highlight is the Cathedral
, declared a National Monument. It was first built in 1180 on the site of an old mosque, and its major features are a tower from the end of the 17th century and the façades of the Virgin Mary, Santa Maria and the Final Judgement. Inside, the Romanesque cloister conserves some decorative elements from the old mosque.
Other places of interest in Tudela are the Plaza de los Fueros
(the central square), the Muñoz Sola Museum of Modern Art
, the Palace of the Marquis of Huarte
, the bridge over the River Ebro, the church of La Magdalena
, the Palace of the Marquis of San Adrián
and various other buildings of interest.
La Ribera offers much more, however. Fitero
is home to a Cistercian monastery
, the first one built in the Iberian Peninsula. It is an architectural jewel from the Middle Ages and was declared a National Monument in 1931. Fitero also has a well known spa.The Vía Verde del Tarazonica
is a 'green route' that covers the 22 kilometres between Tudela and Tarazona (Zaragoza province) along an old railway line.
Near Arguedas is Senda Viva
, a theme park with over 50 species of animals in semi-captivity and attractions and shows for all the family.
Other places of interest are Corella
, where the town centre reveals a wealth of churches, convents, palaces and noble houses, and Valtierra, which has recovered some old caves in the hills behind the town as rural accommodation. Between Mélida and Caparroso stand the ruins of the castle and walls of the Despoblado de Rada
, dominated by the renovated 12th-century church of San Nicolás.Gastronomy
La Ribera of Navarre and Tudela are synonymous with excellent cuisine. The Ebro runs through the area so the land along the river is extraordinarily fertile and covered with market gardens.
La Ribera produces high-quality vegetables
such as artichokes, asparagus, chard, crisp lettuces, spinach, etc. These can all be found in the area's restaurants, with a special mention for the most typical dish, menestra
, which is prepared from a variety of vegetables.
La Ribera also has a wide variety of confectionery and excellent red and rosé wines with designation of origin.Events
The carnavales in La Ribera have peculiar characters: zipoteros
in Tudela, zarramuskeros
in Cintruénigo or zarrapoteros
Of particular note are the very ancient Easter Procession
in Corella and the massively attended ceremonies of El Volatín
and the Bajada del Ángel
(festivities declared to be of National Tourist Interest) at Easter in Tudela or the arrival of transhumance livestock from the Pyrenean valleys in the Bardenas Reales.
In July Tudela celebrates its fiesta in honour of Santiago (St James) and Santa Ana with a varied programme, the highlight being the lively Revoltosa dance around the bandstand in the centre of the city's main square.
Dancing is considered important in La Ribera, as illustrated by the paloteados
(dances with sticks) that are common to a number of towns, such as Cortes.