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Exposición de Cuadros del Certamen de pintura al aire libre Villa de Elciego

Fin de semana del pregón de Fiestas en honor a la Virgen de la Plaza

Thanksgiving Day

Elciego town is very closely related to wine.  Once the work of harvesting, extracting and pressing the grapes is complete, and with the intention of seeing the new wine being made, this date is imbued with deep secular roots and celebrates the end and the beginning of the new productive cycle.

In the past it had no fixed date, but now is celebrated on the last Saturday of November. 


Brotherhood Festivities (San Roque, San Vicente, San Gregorio, San Andrés)

1.- Festivity of San Roque and San Gregorio

On the 1st October 1662 the Bishop of Calahorra Mr Juan Joanibie Echalar confirmed the brotherhood of San Gregorio y San Roque de Elciego, after examining the chapters and ordinances.
San Roque is celebrated on 16th August. The religious festivity in honour of the Saint is held in the Hermitage, which was refurbished and is now looked after by the members of the brotherhood. The profane celebration takes place in the town.
San Gregorio is held on 9th May, with the members of the brotherhood taking part in a Requiem Mass on the eve, followed by an evening meal. The next day hot drinking chocolate is offered at San Roque Hermitage, with the Mass in honour of the Saint represented in a small statue which is worshipped at the Hermitage.

2.- Festivity of San Vicente

The festivity of San Vicente is on 22nd January, although it is put back to the last Saturday in August. It is a very deep-rooted festivity, since nostalgia takes us back to the origins of the town. Thanks to the members of the brotherhood, who every year invite us to enjoy their programme with events such as a cards championship, hot chocolate, music, etc, the Hermitage and its history remain very much alive.

3.- Festivity of San Andrés

The festivity of the patron saint of the parish is celebrated on 30th November. The festivity includes a Mass and an evening meal for members of the brotherhood, who also offer hors d'oeuvres to the local authorities.
The figure of San Andrés is of special importance in the history of Elciego; the entrances of numerous houses have a cross of St Andrew.

Local dances

The most outstanding folkloric jewel still conserved in Elciego is without doubt the local dances which, every 8th September, are faithfully performed by the town people underneath the fixed, smiling look of its patron saint, Virgen de la Plaza. This eclectic mix of popular feeling and religion come together in a musical tone which our town has maintained up to the present with complete warmth and loyalty towards its existence. We are going to try to discover and develop the main aspects of most interest to ethnographers, inquisitive people and local residents who, without any theory or research, come every year to see the dancing and listen to the pipers, driven by an internal force. 
Until a few years ago, the pipers of the area, mainly from Villabuena and Laguardia, were most heavily involved in the promotion of music by religious bodies. Nowadays only pipers from our town are entrusted with this function.
Eight girls, led and encouraged by the Cachimorro, are currently entrusted with dancing our ancestral dances. The quick, even brusque, movements, always rhythmical and symmetric, remind us that the town's elders were formerly entrusted with performing these dances, as well as some others which since been forgotten. With the passage of the years, they left behind their sticks, their adorned barrel string instruments and the various bows which decorated and enlivened the dances. Perhaps their aggressive leading role has left less margin for changes of gender or composure.
Five dances over the last 50 years have been performed and established as dances of Elciego:

Pasacalles: This accompanies Virgen de la Plaza to the parish, and vice versa. It is also used to introduce and conclude the dances.

La Danza: This begins with a V-shaped choreography, followed by a series of entrechats huits, finishing with the arms outstretched, parallel to the floor and positioned opposite each other.

Las cuatro calles: This has a pure stick dance structure, repeated five times amongst endless crossings and uncrossings.

El Árbol: A colourful dance found exclusively in the Basque Country. Despite being a Zinta Dantza, the bows are not braided but rather left to hang from a tree. The dancers kneel down and hug the tree and, after hanging the last bows, return to their original position.

La Jota: This has a different structure to the previous dances. A very popular dance for all ages, using the same scale as the others.

Who dances

Nowadays the group comprises eight girls and a Cachimorro. Formerly there were eight boys who danced, a Cachimorro and a Bastonero. As set out above, the dancers are male, with quick, brusque movements which are not very feminine. The change from boys to girls has a straightforward explanation:
In our town, as in most of the surrounding area, it is easier to recruit girls than boys.
In the 1940s, the female section took on the task of performing the dances, which had not been performed during the war, and when it came to putting together a group it was with eight girls plus the Cachimorro.
Local dances email


Formerly the boys wore a shirt and white trousers on the eve of the festivity. On the day of the festivity they would add a white serge shirt decorated with sequins. As of this moment they wore espadrilles, a red girdle to support the serge shirt, a handkerchief or colour strip across the chest, a handkerchief on the head known as "Chorongo" (which was decorated with a twig of basil) and a scapular of each of the eight brotherhoods in Elciego, meaning each brotherhood provided a dancer.
Nowadays the clothing used is very different. The explanation is as follows:
In 1945 the dancers of Elciego attended the Feria del Campo in Madrid. As of this moment it was necessary to change the masculine clothing of the recently formed group to something more feminine, which was usually done as follows: The handkerchief or strip which crossed the boys' handkerchief was replaced by a mantilla, which was highly fashionable at the time, particularly in Madrid. The white serge shirt was replaced with a more colourful one, which was provided for the occasion by the Villabuena group. The white trousers were replaced with knee-length or frilly skirts finished with colourful lacing. Finally, the white shirt was replaced with a white blouse, the neck and cuffs of which were decorated with lace. The only part of the male outfit which did not change was the espadrilles and the red handkerchief worn on the head.
The Cachimorro, the only male in the group, is dressed in a patterned, polychrome suit with wide colour bows in the neck and small bells around the waist, plus a pointed cap. He leads the dance with a long stick with a bunch of coloured bows on the end, wearing espadrilles and tights in unmatching colours. When this dance is performed, it is easy to see that he plays the role of Bastonero who leads the dance, whilst dressed as a buffoon like the Cachimorros. We are not aware of when one personality absorbed the other.

The dance group was made up of boys and girls but at the end of the 1970s the group disappeared. In 2015 the older male dancers decided to take up the already existing “paloteado” (stick dance) and created the “Valduengo” stick dance made up of “Gaiteros de Elciego” (Elciego pipers) and choreographed by Amaigoia Egiluze and Jon Fernandez.

Pipes and Pipers

We believe it is important to dedicate a section to the pipes, since they have developed into the most important local instrument in Rioja Alavésa. In the documental archives of Elciego the pipes are, with the exception of the organ in religious acts, the instrument which accounted for most payments during the 17th and 18th centuries. The presence of the pipes was obligatory in all religious and festive acts in the town.

In the 19th century, and particularly at the beginning of the 20th century, pipes often had to take second place to musical bands, which were more colourful and fashionable. However, the pipes did not abandon this leading musical role in the festive traditions of the town. As our grandparents often say: "there is no party without pipes". And, naturally, no resident of Elciego would dream of performing the old dances without the presence of the pipes.
With this brief introduction we are going to describe this relationship: Pipes-Pipers-Elciego.

Pipers in the 17th and 18th centuries

Given the absence of documentation from previous centuries in the municipal archives, we shall offer a brief analysis of the centuries for which documentation does exist. We do not believe it is necessary to reproduce all the listed payments to pipers, but rather we shall briefly describe the conclusions we have reached from the documentation obtained.
It appears that the pipers were not locals, since payments were assigned for a day's work and food. Moreover, some payments specify "the visiting piper" (years 1679-1680), without any variation from the amounts assigned in other years.
The performer was a single person, since the piper duo was after the mid-18th century.
The presence of the drummer is detailed for the first time in the 18th century.
A piper is named in the year 1707: Juan Jiménez (we are considering the possibility that he may be an Elciego local, something which the parish archive birth and death records will clarify).
The term Dulzaina, which would then be used to refer to the pipes, appears in payments for the first time well into the second half of the 18th century.
The piper appeared every year in the festivities of Santa Isabel and of the Virgin in the month of September, and occasionally as a result of novenas or rogations in the procession and dances.

Pipers in the 20th century

Throughout the first half of the current century the pipers were present mainly in the September festivities (Dianas, Pasacalles, Bailables and the execution of the Danzas). The pipers came from the neighbouring towns of Villabuena and Laguardia two places where the pipes acquired significant development, extending and maintaining our music and dances throughout the area. Until the 1940s the pipers from Villabuena were entrusted with this task, whilst Laguardia pipers took over later on.
It is precisely at this time, when these pipers had started to fade away (Perfecto Gil had stopped playing in Villabuena and Jesús Martínez endured a lengthy illness which finally took his life),and the continuity of the instrument in the area was in jeopardy, that the Pipers of Elciego appeared.

We could say that they came about to support the Danzas of Elciego and as a result of their concern for local music. In 1977 Jesús Fernández Ibañez and Juan Carlos Gómez Palacios formed the first pair of pipers, accompanied by the drum of Juantxu Gómez Palacios. Their beginnings, as always, were particularly difficult.
Jesús had to leave Elciego for work reasons, whilst Juan Carlos found the musical accompaniment of his brother, who began to play the pipes. José Luis Gallego took charge of the drum, replaced occasionally by Víctor de Marcos. Their performances were ever more numerous, and they collaborated with other dance groups of the area as well as being called on to take part in festivities throughout Euskalerria (Vitoria-Gasteiz, Azpeitia, Azkoitia, Baiona, Bilbao, Pamplona, Tudela, San Juan de Luz...); moreover, they have performed in Barcelona, Villafranca del Penedés, Madrid, Seville, Tenerife, and in the ancient music festivals of Najera and Brussels.
They have taken part in concerts along with the Municipal Bands of Vitoria-Gasteiz, Elgoibar, Laguardia, Elciego, Azpeitia... in addition to collaborating on different recordings.
In 1987 they recorded their first record, ARABAKO DANTZAK, which brought together Danzas from Laguardia, Villabuena, Páganos and Yécora. This work culminated in 1993 with the recording of their second record, ARABAKO DANTZAK-II, which included Danzas from Elciego, Kuartango, Oion and Pipaón. With this record they had now recorded all the Danzas of Álava for pipes, as played today in each of their respective towns.
In 1997 they recorded their third record. Whilst the previous two records were compilations of Álava Danzas, this new work was dedicated to former pipers of the neighbouring locality of Laguardia NICOLÁS GARCÍA and JESÚS MARTÍNEZ. To this end, they made a selection from among the 760 musical scores of the repertoire of Nicolás García, which Jesús Martínez inherited and broadened, the result being 22 tracks of the most widely used rhythms of the time, along with two innovative arrangements: one for Pipes and Band, and another for Pipes and a Latin music group. It was then that the idea of collaborating with the group "The Latin Gasteiz Band" came about.
The two collaborated on the record dedicated to Nicolas Garcia, combining the sound of the pipes with metal wind instruments, bass guitar, piano and a wide range of Latin percussion instruments, leading to a series of concerts throughout Euskaherria. In 1999 they were reunited to take part on the record TRIBUTE TO JULIAN ROMANO.
They are currently working on a record to commemorate their 25th anniversary in 2003. They also envisage publishing a book of musical scores of their repertoire which will include a review of their 25 years as Pipers of Elciego and an exhibition which will bring together photography, anecdotes, newspaper articles, instruments, etc. Further information will be available at this website.
Check them out on the YouTube channel Gaiteros de Elciego.

Santa Isabel Festivities

This is the name given to the festivities of 2nd July. However, there is no real relation to this Saint. It is believed that the relationship between this festivity and the "independence" of Elciego can be found in a festivity or ritual regarding the flag which formerly existed in Elciego.
The festivity currently involves saluting the flag. This flag presides over all the events and summarises everything else: the declaration of the town, the Coat of Arms, independence...

In a singular act, the flag is taken down from the Town Hall balcony and the Town Council Official carries it in a procession to the parish to lay it out in front of the altar during consecration, as a sign of worship and respect.
After the Mass, there are dances with the pipers before the authorities and the general public at the Pillory, symbol of Independence of the Town.

Festivities of the patronesse Virgen de la Plaza

These are the most important festivities in the town. The town's local festivities are held on the 8th September. On the previous Sunday, the festivities are announced in the church by way of a Pregón (Opening Speech) by a leading personality. This event was first organised by the group known as "Los Ilustres" back in 1988, and continued uninterrupted until 2000, at which point it was taken over by the Town Council.

On the 7th there is a Floral Offering to Nuestra Señora de la Plaza, followed by the launch of a firework rocket (txupinazo) which announces the start of the Festivities. The Main Square is beautifully decked out and, naturally, our Barrihuelo joins in the party with the youngsters dressed in blouses, arms held high, cigar in mouth, moving along to the Town Hall and then coming down to greet us. At this moment the music band, the pipers and the big heads leave the square to start the traditional street parade.

The 8th September is the most important day, dedicated to Virgen de la Plaza. The procession, the solemn Mass and the different offerings all take place in an exquisite musical environment with Pipers, Dances and the Band, along with the different authorities who give this day a particular character, with the local residents taking the Town as their own. This ceremonial ritual has been documented as dating back to 6th September 1885. Bull runs, evening parties, competitions, performances and the burning bull, amongst other activities, keep young and old alike entertained until the 11th, when the Barrihuelo, who is equally as tired, says "Until next year" in an event enjoyed by all, when he goes over the high points and anecdotes of the festivities, known as "Barrihuelo's Burial" (Click on the attached file to enjoy the last burial).


1988Javier Cameno (Journalist and Cultural Animator)
1989Antxon Urrusolo (Journalist and Television Presenter)
1990Juan Claudio Cifuentes (Television Presenter, expert in Jazz)
1991Pedro Ruiz (Television Presenter)
1992Antonio Guerrero (Director of the daily newspaper "El Correo")
1993Miguel Durán (Director General of the O.N.C.E.)
1994Emilio Palacios (Lecturer at Universidad Complutense de Madrid)
1995Patxi Antón (Writer and Gastronome)
1996Juanjo Mena Ostériz (Orchestra Conductor)
1997Camino Urdiain Martínez (Director of the Provincial Archive)
1998Luis Hernández Sánchez (Director General of Osakidetza)
1999Alberto Schommer García (Photographer)
2000Ángel Jaime Baró (President of the Rioja Origin Regulation Board)
2001Fernando Savater (Philosopher)
2002Emilio Guevara
2003Alfredo Amestoy
2004Gotzone Mora
2005Florencio Asenjo Contreras (Primary School Teacher)
2006Nerea Haig Santamaría (Director of the review "Sustraia")
2007Miguel Larreina (Director of Laguardia House of Wine)
2008Joseba Arregui (Former Regional Culture Minister of the Basque Government)
2009Unai Vergara Díez-Caballero (Professional Footballer)
2010Jesús Fernández Ibáñez
2011Manuel Ruiz Hernández
2012Gorka Aguinagalde (Actor y humorista vasco)
2013Gurutze Beitia
2014Gaiteros de Elciego
2015Maribel Salas y Santi Ugalde
2016José Ramón Triana


Attached files:

Entierro de Barrihuelo 2013

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Entierro de Barrihuelo 2012

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Entierro de Barrihuelo 2011

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Entierro de Barrihuelo 2010

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Entierro de Barrihuelo 2009

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Entierro de Barrihuelo 2008

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Entierro de Barrihuelo 2007

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Map showing artistic heritage

Attached files:


Download (PDF - 0.86Mb.)

Stately Houses | Typology of the houses

Elciego was a Laguardia village until well into the 16th century Some buildings from this time remain today, although they now present a very different appearance; they conserve the entrance with its round arch, and in some a Coat of Arms with the cross of St Andrew can be seen in the keystone. This Coat of Arms seems to indicate the dwelling of the members of the brotherhood who constituted the foundational core of the town. It is said that formerly there were thirty-three, although currently no more than eleven or twelve remain.

In the 17th century "Palatial Houses" began to be built, with very similar characteristics. They all fulfil the same economic and residential functions of their owners.

These are block houses, compact and cubic, with a hip roof; in the best conserved ones the eaves, which are usually no older than the 18th century, comprise modillions carved with stylised vegetal motifs.

The Baroque constructions are classified in three kinds: agricultural or craft houses, manor houses and palatial houses. The latter generally have the same distribution. On the ground floor are the areas dedicated to the economic exploitation of the estate (stables, equipment areas and general storage). The staircase is of great importance and occupies an extensive area, and is often crowned by a skylight, providing a connection between the two floors. The first floor is laid out around a staircase. The kitchen was important on the first floor, although less than in the most popular dwelling models, where it was a fundamental; also notable is the extensive bedroom-dining room which opens onto the main facade on the portal; the bedroom-living area system is also common and functional for the time. Some of them also include a gallery which is open at midday.

Exterior decoration throughout the Rioja Alavesa area uses Coats of Arms and, above all, interesting ironwork cast using previous models and dating back, at most, to the 18th century. Elciego also has magnificent examples, such as the House of "Los Hierros".

Navarrete Ladrón de Guevara Palace or "Casa de los Hierros"

This is situated on the north side of Plaza Mayor. This house was the birthplace of Mr Francisco Manuel Navarrete Ladrón de Guevara, who was the Bishop of Mondoñedo and Archbishop of Burgos, and who ordered the construction of an altarpiece in the parish church, which is located under the organ.

It is commonly known as the House of the Hierros, a magnificent Baroque mansion with two floors and a basement, which counts on an impressive elongated and corner balcony which is hugely impressive when seen from the main square. The balconies rest on splendid iron gussets which in some cases reach down to the floor. The ironwork is considered excellent, not only around Rioja Alavesa but also in the Basque Country.

On the outside the notable carpentry work is conserved in the carved modillions of the eaves, supported on the carved cornice in the part which belongs to nº2, the best conserved one. Internally it is possibly one of the constructions which has been most affected by the passage of time; it is currently divided into three dwellings which occupy numbers 2, 4 and 6 of Calle del Norte, which has led to its interior restructuring. The original access was through nº 4, where the staircase starts underneath a segmental arch supported on carved imposts; this staircase culminates in an impressive dome with a skylight in the centre. The corner Coat of Arms covers two facades: south and west, this is posterior and is the Coat of Arms of the Bishop, although it counts on elements of his home highlighted in a simple and stylised manner.

Ramírez de la Piscina Palace

The manor house of the Ramírez de la Piscina family is located in numbers 1 and 3 of Calle del Barco, on the S-E corner of Plaza Mayor. These are two Baroque palaces from the 17th and 18th centuries, which on the exterior are in a good state. These are two outstanding two-floor buildings which, as with others in the town and area, are built from stone. The grillework is of good quality in the two buildings, with the balconies having ringed dual-spindle balustrades, sheered metal handrails and spiral gussets. The woodwork is also notable, as can be seen in the carved modillions which are supported on a carved cornice. The main facade has two Coats of Arms, with the side Coat of Arms belonging to the Ramírez de la Piscina family.

It fulfils all the characteristics of this type constructions in terms of the interior distribution, whilst the staircase is crowned by a skylight in the shape of a polychrome dome.
They also count on a wine cellar in the basement, which comprises a series of round and pointed arches crowned with elongated stone voussoirs; the wine cellar has galleries which run from underneath the building, crossing the street and finishing at the opposite block. Moreover, the original layout has been respected in the rear of the buildings, where the patios are found.

This palace was declared a Monument in the category of Classified Cultural Heritage by the Regional Government of the Basque Country.

Zarate Nabar Palace

This is a palatial house located at numbers 14 and 16 of Calle Capitán Gallarza. On the outside it is a two-floor stonework building with significant ironwork such as the side balconies which are positioned on embossed gussets; the attractive central balcony rests on a magnificent stone bracket, whilst the main facade also has a Coat of Arms positioned asymmetrically with the legend of Zarate Nabar.

The interior fulfils the canons for this type of buildings (upper floor as a dwelling and the lower floor as a storage area for cattle and equipment of the estate), the charming portal forms a motif with the Coat of Arms which presides over the palace, whilst the wide staircases start up through a segmental arch. It is currently divided into two dwellings, which has led to interior changes, although these are not as radical as in Casa de los Hierros.