Tag Archives: French route
STAGE 9: FROM LEÓN TO ASTORGA – FRENCH WAY BY BIKE
Distance to Santiago: 305 km
Stage distance: 49 km
Estimated time: 4-5 hours
Minimum height: 800 m
Maximum height: 950 m
Route difficulty: Low
Places of public interest: Santuario de la Virgen del Camino, Hospital de Órbigo, Astorga
Itinerary map: To see the journey on Google Maps clik here
The exit from León can turn a little bit chaotic and also quite long, since Trobajo del Camino and the Virgen del Camino seem to be an urban external extension. After passing by this residential and industrial area, we come to two options to get to Hospital de Órbigo, which it’s the middle point of this area. The traditional way follows the course of the N-120. The alternative one is a bit longer, but gets away from traffic by some lands and second highways.
After crossing the amazing bridge of Hospital de Órbigo, the way becomes a fork again, making us choose one more time between highways or lands in order to get to the top of Toribio Cross, where we will have a panoramic view of Astorga. The entrance of Astorga is much simpler than the one from León, the only difficulty is the height change we have to surpass.
In general, the industrial character of these populations in which the traditional itinerary passes by, can make this stage a little bit heavy. If we prefer going by lands we will travel in a longer distance.
The only really hard-time we can have could be the weather conditions. If it has been raining, we recommend you to go through the N-120, because the agricultural tracks tend to get muddy. If it’s windy, the way’s height by Villares de Órbigo can turn a little harder.
PROFILE AND STAGE’S MAIN ROUTES
Because of how confusing is the León’s exit, we will try to make the instructions simpler to the maximum. We have to leave the city by the San Marcos Bridge, right next to the parador. Once we get to the cathedral, the easiest thing to do is going down the Ancha Street and turning to Casa Botines, keeping up forward until we border San Isidoro. Turning obliquely to the left we will get to Renueva Street and Suero de Quiñones Avenue that will lead us directly to the bridge.
After crossing the San Marcos Bridge we must keep on moving forward through the Quevedo Avenue, going across a roundabout. Once we travel a kilometer or more, we will see how the avenue turns into a curve to the right, while at the front a metal walkway shows up. Both ways cross the train tracks and that’s why for cyclists, it is better to keep on going by the avenue.
Once we arrive to Trobajo del Camino, we continue going through the avenue until we get to the curve to the left. After passing that curve, we need to pay attention because we must take the first street to the right. It is a perpendicular slope that will take us to the Virgen del Camino. This vertical gradient will become soft little by little.
Going parallel to the N-120, we arrive to the Virgen del Camino (7,5 km of route). After passing it, we take the Paz Street, a left fork of the N-120. In about 500 meters away, we see how it begins to appear contradictory arrows on the ground. This is the moment when we have to decide which way we want to take in order to get to Hospital de Órbigo:
1. Traditional way: Follows the course of the N-120, so we have to go through the pedestrian paths or by the highway. It is about 24 km that go by San Martín del Camino. This profile, in general, is in a light negative slope.
Moving forward through the detour, we must cross the A-66 by a tunnel and then keep on moving parallel to the N-120 to get to Valverde de la Virgen (Km 12), San Miguel del Camino (Km 13,5), Villadangos del Páramo (Km 21) and San Martin del Camino (Km 25,5).
2. Alternative way: This doesn’t have a historical justification indeed, but it allows us to avoid the traffic on the highway. It’s around 28 Km by track and, after some initial leaps, the profile is in a light negative slope.
Turning to the right, we take the LE-5522 to get to Fresno del Camino in about 5 minutes and to Oncina de la Valdoncina in 10. Once we get to the land tracks we will go to Chozas de Abajo and, by secondary road again, we will get to La Milla del Páramo and by good firmed tracks to Villavante, there we will be in about 4 Km to get to the traditional way and entering Hospital de Órbigo.
Once we are in Hospital de Órbigo (Km 33) we cross its amazing medieval bridge and we go back on deciding which way we’re going to take next. We have two options:
1. Traditional way: It goes parallel to the N-120 until just before arriving in San Justo de la Vega, where changes course to the right in order to get to the Cruz de Toribio. It’s about 9 Km changing course and one more to get to the cross. It is a flat profile during the first 5 Km and later, it becomes a light positive slope.
2. Alternative way: It changes course to the right after passing by Hospital de Órbigo to get to Villares de Órbigo and to Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias. In total, it’s about 3 Km more to cover, but the land tracks can be muddy due to rain. The profile alternates positive and negative slopes a little bit harder than the traditional way, but they are reasonable.
Whatever the case may be, we arrive to the Cruz de Santo Toribio (Km 45), a structure located at the top that offers us magnificent views of Justo de la Vega and Astorga.
From this point, we go down through a slope of 1,5 Km with a difference in height of 73 meters, that will take us to San Justo de la Vega, where we will hook up the N-120 one more time.
In order to enter to Astorga we have to cross the train tracks. The pedestrians do it by a high walkway (with slope and without stairs), although we can also continue through the N-120 from San Justo and avoiding the walkway. After we cross straight the roundabout located at the entrance of the city and deal with another short slope that leads us to Astorga, right next to the Mayor Square.
If you start your journey in León, we help you getting there.
- En autobús. The station is located in the Ingeniero Saenz de Miera Avenue. The company that runs the most is Alsa, because it is connected with almost the entire North of Spain. From Salamanca you can also come with Vivas and from smaller towns such as Burgos or Palencia with Abel.
- By train. León is a very important railway center. To check schedules and prices, go see the Renfe website.
- By airplane. The only permanent connection flight that the León Airport has is run by Air Nostrum.
Remember that in Tournride we leave the bikes in your lodging back in León if that’s your starting point and we can take your extra baggage so it can wait for you at the end of your Camino.
The distances between towns are short and full with services, you won’t find any problem with the supplies.
If you take this route at summer do not forget to take good sun protection and water with you. The straight lines between lands without trees are left behind already, but we’re still in León and hence the sun is still intense.
When it comes to choose the ways,it’s a matter of taste. Direct but with traffic or longer by agricultural tracks, even though the distance on bike don’t mark any difference. As an advice, if it has been raining we recommend going through the traditional way of N-120 to avoid mud.
DETAILED ITINERARY AND HISTORICAL-ARTISTIC PATRIMONY
This stage has as starting and ending points two cities charged with history and cultural patrimony. In between, we will say goodbye to the wasteland plains from León, because tomorrow the profile will get broken again in the Cruz de Ferro ascent going to Ponferrada.
The N-120 has become the spinal column of a lot of populations which name reflects the Jacobean past they carry on.. So many places of “El Camino” remind us how historical these paths are. Today, less historical alternatives have appeared but that run away from the noise and traffic created by the highway.
Even though the whole itinerary can be done more to the North or South, the only must-see point of the stage still is Hodpital de Órbigo, which we have to be thankful for. This stop gives us the chance of knowing love medieval stories and crossing its historical “Paso Honroso (Honorable Pass).”.
WE EXIT LEÓN BY INACCESSIBLE STREETS AND VISIT THE MODERN SANCTUARY OF LA VIRGEN DEL CAMINO
At León’s exit we pass by some of the places we recommended visiting on the final term of the stage through León, so if on the previous day we didn’t have the chance to admire them, we recommend you seeing them now.
Bordering the basilica of San Isidoro we get to the Parador, where we must cross the Bernesga through the gorgeous San Marcos Bridge from the XVI century. It is made of ashlars, with big starling piles that support cannon vaults. In the XX century it was necessary to expand it but they did it respecting its original form.
After crossing the bridge we will go through some streets from the residential neighborhood. To enter in Trobajo del Camino we have to cross the train tracks, whether it’s through highway or walkway. From its Jacobean past, the only things left are its name and one chapel out of four that existed before that are still standing unemotionally between concrete giants. It is dedicated to the apostle and its origins go back to the Middle Age, although what we see today is a renovation of a construction from the XVIII century.
Once we leave Trobajo del Camino behind we go into the western industrial estate of León. After crossing it, we go back to the N-120 until the Virgen del Camino, a commuter town where the highway passes by.
Despite the fact that everything in this locality screams modernity, even its unmistakable main sanctuary, the town’s name indicates it has been a pilgrim’s pass for centuries. There’s a legend that says that in the C.XVI the Virgin showed up to a pastor named Alvar, asking him to notify the bishop so he can build a church in this place. Doubting on the bishop’s word, the pastor asked the Virgin for help in his task. Mary took a slingshot and used it to throw a big stone so the bishop could see it and testify the miracle. They built a chapel right in the place where the miracle stone was located and around it they created the town, that became bigger and bigger thanks to the pilgrims’ pass.
In 1957 they began to build a new temple that it won’t be hard to recognize thanks to its marked modern character. It mixes a variety of materials such as concrete, glass, stone, or wood in a building which its horizontal marked nature breaks by a really high vertical cross as a tower. The facade sculptures are by the artist José María Subirachs and the stained glass windows were made in Chartres (France).
Passing by the temple we have to take the left position of the N-120 in order to exit town. Taking the Paz Street we have to choose, after 500 meters, which way we want to take so we can get to Hospital de Órbigo.
WE CHOOSE OUR WAY FROM THE VIRGEN DEL CAMINO TO HOSPITAL DE ÓRBIGO
As the several contradictories painted art son the ground, there is a little rivalry between both towns that are the favorite ways of pilgrims. Actually the traditional way was invade of traffic noise due to the N-120 construction, so that’s why some close populations started taking advantage to offer more peaceful alternative.
It takes 4 Km more going through the alternative way to Villar de Mazarife, which it’s practically an insignificant distance on bike, so choosing between itineraries is a matter of taste.
If you go through the traditional way you will follow the course of the N-120, having to avoid a junction of roads. By the highway shoulder we can go across without any problem, but going by the pedestrian way we have to change course a little to pass through an underground tunnel underneath the highway.
By land and concrete paths, the view allows us one more time to see the León’s wasteland with some scattered trees alternate with some industrial ships. In less than 2 Km we will get to Valverde la Virgen and in 1, 5 Km more to San Miguel del Camino, both locations have the N-120 as backbone.In San Miguel there was a pilgrim’s hospital since the C. XII and today is actually home of the most important golf club of the León providence.
Following the highway course we leave behind to the right an industrial estate and a big urbanization, and due to how close it is to the French Way it has been baptized as the one of “Camino Santiago”. That’s how we arrive to Villadangos del Páramo, which by the way the name is not that original considering how wasteland the environment is. The Jacobean tradition of this resurrect town during the Reconquest denounces the abdication of its parish church to Santiago Apóstol (C. XVII-XVIII). By its door, miracle episodes are being told, like the one about the appearance in the Batalla de Clavijo (Clavijo Battle). In order to remember this fact each July 25th a resident from town dresses himself up as Santiago Matamoros and enters to Villadangos brandishing his sword on top of a snow colored horse.
Following through the N-120 or by land path parallel to its left shoulder, we get to San Martín del Camino in a soft negative slope. In spite of not counting with excessive services or outstanding patrimony, its almost equidistant position between León and Astorga has made of it an important point of the French Way, also due to its several overnight visits.
In a continuous but light slope, we cover 7 Km separating us from Hospital de Órbigo, passing by cereal and corn fields. In a parallel land path to the right shoulder of the N-120, a Jacobean sign with the yellow scallop Shell shows us where to turn to right so we can enter into town. If we go by highway we need to be careful of not missing it.
In case you chose the alternative way from the Virgen del Camino, you had passed by land paths and secondary roads between small towns until arriving to Villar de Mazarife. Some of these paths match with some old roman streets. We recommend precaution in the N-120 cross by the roundabout just before hooking up again with the traditional way.
WITH “PASO HONROSO” WE CAN KNOW MEDEVIAL LEGENDS AND CHOOSE OUR WAY TO LA CRUZ DE SANTO TORIBIO
Hospital de Órbigo is divided by the homonymous river, over it is located the bridge that has made the whole city famous. El Puente de Órbigo (Órbigo Bridge) is one of the most important monuments of the entire stage, so we recommend pilgrims who go on bike through the highway, to change course in order to visit this bridge.
The bridge’s surface is made of cobblestone, quite uncomfortable for cyclists. The construction seems out of proportion for how the river’s flow is today, but before the Barrios de Luna reservoir was built, the torrent was a lot higher. Historically, there is proof of some structures that were built with the intention of navigating the river since roman times, because the road between León and Astorga was located there.. Besides, so many battles took place in that location, like the one of Swabians against Alans in the V century, or the one that took place against the French people during the Independence War in the XIX century.
Anyway, this place is known especially for being the setting of the “Paso Honroso” (Honorable Pass) according to some chronicle stories. An informative sign located in the middle of the bridge relates this achievement for all the visitors and that we sum up today in Tournride.
Although in the XV century, the horses jousts were practically obsolete, rumors has it that in this location a knight named Suero de Quiñones was so in love of a girl named Leonor that he asked the king to call up a tournament so he could win the lady’s admiration. The king allowed him to do it and the tournament was celebrated during July of the Jacobean year 1434. Its historical name, the “Paso Honroso”, comes from the fact that every person willing to cross over the river, must first battle in a joust, or otherwise, must swim the entire Órbigo and gain the fame of a coward. This included everyone but pilgrims.
In order to praise his participation on the tournament, Mr. Suero promised to break more than 300 spears during the whole month and carrying a huge metal ring around his neck. Once he fulfilled all of his promises, he went on a pilgrimage to Compostela and asked the apostle for Leonor’s love, telling him: “If you are not willing to take my love, there is no joy for me really”. It is said that in the actuality, the ring belongs to the gold short necklace hanging on the apostle’s reliquary in the cathedral.
The jousts of the Paso Honroso were written by many poets and put in many different chronicles. They were so famous back then that even Miguel de Cervantes talks about Suero de Quiñones on Don Quixote! El Quijote! Today, on his honor, the first day of June is the celebration of medieval jousts at Hospital de Órbigo in the Paso Honroso. It is a big medieval festival where people put on some costumes from the period, pretend to have spear fights, sell crafts, and eat in big marquees.
After crossing over the bridge, we keep on moving forward through Santiago Street. A few meters away we will see to our right the Church of San Juan Bautista from middle of the XVIII century. In the beginning it belonged to San Juan’s order, the Jerusalem knights. Inside there’s a plateresque altarpiece quite attractive.
Once we reach the end of Mayor Street from Hospital de Órbigo, we find again some double Jacobean signs, right on the second road fork of this stage. Moving straight forward, we’ll go by the N-120 until Cruz de Toribio, nearby Astorga, without passing by any locality. If we take the wide track that makes way at the right, we will get lost among fields and agricultural vegetation, visiting two more towns in about 3 Km of route.
The traditional way is the one that follows the same course of the N-120. The profile is quite simple, just by the end the slope turns into a light positive one. As an advice, we recommend you to be careful in two of the crossroads of the N-120 that we have to take so we can take the Jacobean paths that can easily go from the right to the left shoulder. If we do this by highway, we must be careful after taking the second curve to the right, because that’s where we change course to go the Crucero de Toribio (Toribio’s Cross).
The alternative way can be more recommendable, except if the weather conditions are unfavorable, especially with rain because the surface can get very muddy easily. This has way more services than the previous alternative way, the one from Villar de Mazarife.. The profile is more complicated, especially because at the end there are a couple of slopes between leaps, but it’s reasonable.
The landscape is not that wasteland, farmlands full of vegetables and reduced forest, with the Órbigo River showing up its big poplar groves in both meadows.
In less than 2 Km we reach Villares de Órbigo, this town has the same name as the municipality where less than 700 people live, who have as a job, mostly, field work. In Villares there is a church with romance origin and baroque remodeling, dedicated to the apostle but with a beautiful sculpture of the Virgen del Carmen. The town connects with Santibáñez de Valdeiglesias through a way and a local highway that we will actually pass by in a few minutes.
Santibáñez also counts with a parish church, dedicated to the Holy Trinity representing the nucleus’s center. Inside, there is a spectacular famous sculpture of San Roque and its Jacobean tradition is reflected in its iconography that appears to be dressed as a pilgrim.
Even so, this Santibáñez town is even more famous thanks to a really fun hobby that people tend to do each summer: one of the biggest corn labyrinths of the world.The tour changes each year and it’s a great attraction for pilgrims who stay the night at the town’s lodging.
Actually, the fact that in this case they choose just one labyrinth has a very symbolic meaning. In the Logroño road, of our fourth stage, in Tournride we tell you how we believe that the Game of the Goose could have been designed by the Templars, being an accurate representation of the Santiago Way. As we told you about bridges in Navarra“entre los que nos llevaba la corriente”, here the labyrinth represents the 42th square from the Game of the Goose, that would lock us up or would take us from “Labyrinth to the 30th”.
At the exit of Santibáñez the surface turns a little more complicated, with dozens of little stones. Besides, there appear the slope changes. We must avoid a couple of slopes between leaps, we almost forget about it after all the flat tracks!
Before arriving to the Cruz de Toribio we pass by the “Casa de los Dioses” (House of Gods). This project, created by the Catalan David Vidal in 2009, involved the restoration of an old industrial ship to build up a reception place and help pilgrims. They offer juice and food for free in exchange of goodwill that must stay exactly like that so future pilgrims could enjoy the place and pay in some way all they take, as David announced. At the end of 2016, they informed about the closure of this curious point of the French Way, but even though the place’s future is not certain, it’s still publically open today.
From the Casa de los Dioses, we continue moving forward by the land path and, after turning left, we arrive in about 1, 5 km to the Cruz de Toribio. Before us, a panoramic view of Astorga will open, for the first time.
WE ADMIRE ASTORGA FROM THE CRUZ DE SANTO TORIBIO AND BY SHORT SLIDES WE COME TO THE END OF THE STAGE
The cross that rules this Astorga’s views was built up in honor to Toribio, a religious man from the V century.. His saint life began when he sold everything he had so he could go on pilgrimage to Jerusalem. And later, he was named bishop of Tui and Astorga.
The chronicles say that when he was the Astorga’s bishop we wrote a letter to the Pope, showing his concern about a doctrine that was becoming popular in town. That was actually the Priscillianism, that years later would be condemned as heresy. The Pope, worried about the situation, asked Toribio to plan a meeting and gave him the power to excommunicate everyone who wouldn’t condemn Priscillianism during convention. Apparently, everyone who was excommunicated confronted Toribio and he ended up being expelled from Astorga.
Years later, Toribio was persecuted by Visigoths and, when he arrived to Astorga he asked for shelter, but they denied him the entrance. Upset, he climbed up to where the cross is and pronounced his most famous words: “De Astorga, ni el polvo”(meaning he didn’t want anything from Astorga). Today, the city actually pays tribute with this cross to one of the most historical characters of town.
After enjoying all the views offered by this cross, we go down the slide that connects with the N-120 and it takes us to San Justo de la Vega, satellite population of Astorga. To get to the end of the stage, we can continue through the N-120 or going through pedestrian paths. You must know that if you’re not going by highway, you have to pass over the train tracks using a high inclined walkway that will make you get off your bike.
After two roundabouts and a heavy slope, we enter into Astorga, the old Asturica Augusta of romans.
AN AFTERNOON PROMENADE THROUGH ASTORGA
Astorga is a simple city to go all over and with so much to offer, which make of it a perfect end for the stage. In this case, it only takes 7 minutes of walking to see the main monuments of the city. In this map that we have created you can see the location of the main monuments and museums, as well as the promenade itinerary that we propose.
Astorga is the capital of Maragatería, a region from the central part of the León province. When we visit it, the most outstanding impression of this culture is the meeting point with all the several stores that offer the famous cocido maragato(a traditional dish). In addition to gastronomy, this entire area shares other folklore elements and traditions. This unit’s origin is actually argued, people say that it may derive from a Latin expression that means “moros cautivos” (mauri capti) thanks to having some type of Berber origin. Also, as we told you in the historical summary of the city, it could also refer itself to the mule drivers’ work, as the name says it they were traders who carried merchandise on a mule through this entire area. The mule drivers went from Galicia (sea) to Madrid (where los Gatos are), that’s where the name really come from, they were going from mar-a-gatos (from sea to cats).
We encourage you to taste the delicacies from Maragatería, but also to visit a city with a glorious roman and medieval past. In order to organize yourself better, we give you the schedules and prices of the visits.
Take a good rest, pilgrims!
To begin, here’s a little bit of history…
We know most certainly that the current city of Astorga was an important roman center. What it’s not clear is what exactly was in the mountain where the city is located before they arrived. The wise roman Ptolomeo says on one of his books that there, it was located the capital of the Asturia’s tribes, so it contradicts the fact that its most important center was not located in the place where Asturias is today.
There’s not clear archeological proofs that there was something in that place before the Romans came, we only have chronicles and old texts of other populations talking about it. It seems a little strange because of the privileged position of the settlement, on a mountain and with great views of the environment.
What it is certain is that in the year 19 B.C the Legio X Gemina arrives to Astorga. In the previous stage we found out how another legio, one of those entities that divided the Roman Army, have founded León. In Astorga, they were also installed with the purpose of controlling the conquered territory and the benefits of the gold mines of las Médulas.
The huge importance that this center was gaining made it into a capital of one of the roman “conventus”, which today would be the same as province. Thanks to its political and administrative function there is a legacy of a great forum, underneath the Mayor Square.
With the arrival of Christianity and the Barbarian invasions that caused the defeat of the Empire, the city finds a way to improve its defensive system building up some huge walls. These big walls from the IV century were restored in the Middle Age and even today there are still some remains in good estate of preservation. /span>
After a tumultuous period of Arabic attacks, since the year 1000 the city becomes again a permanent settlement. That’s how its medieval evolution starts, and that’s when it starts to lose the reticulated designs originated from the Roman beginnings, and appearing its big cathedral among small intersected alleys.
During the Middle Age, Astorga had different government periods and methods; most of them concentrated all the power in one person from an important family asked by the king’s cession. During the XIII century it belonged to an echelon and in the XV century, when Henry IV took control over the throne, a marquis from Osorio’s family took over the power. That’s how the city became a marquis place where the Osorio promoted a lot the commercial sector and the urban growth. The former roman cathedral disappeared in pro of the big construction we see today and other important religious organizations, like the Poor Clare Sisters or the Franciscans settled themselves down in Astorga.
In the XVII century the commercial sector of the city starts to grow. Principally, because the main cause of this was the importance that has been growing since XVI century for mule drivers, a method of transportation for food using a donkey or a mule. They took many items to Galicia and that’s how some important commercial relations were established. With all the cocoa seeds brought by mule drivers from the commercial ports connected to America, appeared different companies that elaborated hand-made chocolate that we still can savor today.
The city continues growing until XIX century, when a variety of epidemic diseases and the Independence War against Napoleon forced the population to go down. Also, some emblematic buildings were demolished, like the medieval castle and a big part of the wall
Besides, at the end of XIX century the train was built in the city. This affected a lot the commercial organization of Astorga, because the mule drivers disappeared and the handicraft production of the companies increased a lot, so they had to use other industrial methods. The city really grew extending territories outside the old medieval fence’s walls.
In the actuality Astorga is a modern city that has kept its traditional facts that have left a mark on its culture. We will find there all the services that we need, and at the same time we can taste the same chocolate they used to eat in the XVII century and go for a walk through the medieval streets or some parts of its glorious past.
First it was Asturica Augusta: from the forum to the current Mayor Square
In Astorga there still are some roman ruins, for example the roman sewers and baths. It’s very interesting to know the place that was the old roman forum, better known as “la plaza” (the square) a political center where the government used to have their meetings, it’s now the same place where the Mayor Square and the City Council are located.
The Forum of Astorga was a squared space, surrounded by a columned portico. In one of the sides a big apse opens up with a marble pavement, which it’s preserved today. It’s named Aedes Augusti and this place is so special that has made people believe this was a temple dedicated to the roman emperor.
There is a street located right on the same spot where the City Council was before; today is the location of the Roman Museum. It takes up the building of the “Ergástula”, a construction which belonged to the old forum. People think that it would surely be part of a u-shaped portico, where a high temple was located on the center. Regarding to its function, we don’t really know what it was. There are some researchers who believe it served as a slave prison who were exploited on the gold mines from las Médulas and Monte Teleno.
In 1999, the City Council got to recover the property and created a superior structure in order to transform it into the Roman Museum of the city. Inside of it we can find a lot of archeological ruins that make the visitors understand how life was during the last moments of the Roman Empire. The Museum’s webpage is also very didactic. We can not only find the schedules and prices for each visit but also we can learn a little bit more about Romans.
If we’re interested of knowing more about the roman past of Astorga, we can visit the roman sewers and baths called “Domus del Mosaico del Oso y los Pájaros”, an old Patrician house where a mosaic on the ground is preserved. The best part is, having to make the “Roman Route”, a promoted initiative by the City Council since 2005. The Roman baths, the sewers and the Aedes Augusti can only be visited doing that route. All the things left can be visited for free or pay separately. On this page you can find all the information..
In the actuality, the Mayor Square still is the life’s center of Astorga’s government. The City Council building is one of the biggest examples of civil baroque from the León providence. During the “Siglo de las Luces” (The Lights Century), they promoted the construction of a lot civil buildings, because this illustration gave room to a political debate and the civil government. That’s why many civil buildings from Spain are baroques, mainly because at the end of XVII century and during the XVII that was the most popular style.
The building is completely symmetrical, it’s organized with two stages, the upper one has a forging balustrade. The two big sided-towers are connected to the central bell gable by some kind of balustrade sculpture that resembles as a flying buttress. From the upper part of its clock we can appreciate Colás and Zancuda, two sculptures from Maragatería that ring the bells with a mallet right on each hour from the XVIII.
We are heading to the big medieval monument of Astorga… The Cathedral of Santa María
We go out from the Mayor Square by a pedestrian Street called Pío Gullón, on the opposite side of the City Council. After two crossroads, we must go across a pedestrian crossing and, by taking the obliquely street to our right, we will get to Los Sitios Street, which it’s wider and will lead us to the cathedral in few meters, but before passing by the Palace of Gaudí.
CAs we said previously, before this monumental cathedral was opened back in the XV century, there was another one but smaller with a roman style. It was demolished with the purpose of building a new one that actually lasted about 3 centuries to be finished. This delay on the construction made the architecture’s evolution to be captured through the cathedral during those three centuries, as if it were a time line sculptured on stone. The building’s construction always began with the apse, considered as the most sacred part and they always finished with the western facade. That’s why the inside of the building and its apse are in a late Gothic style (C. XV), its South cover is from the Renaissance (C. XVI) and its western facade is baroque (C. XVIII)).
The inside is divided in three ships, which the main one is the highest and the widest, with big pointy arches as separators. Above them, it’s located the elevation’s second level, an arches’ clerestory also pointed. In these windows we don’t find colorful stained windows, like the ones back in León, but we see the natural light coming through the temple in abundance, a little bit broken by the thin decorative traceries of the windows.
The Cathedral’s vaults of Astroga are a delight. On them, the pillars tend to intertwine themselves creating complicated stars forms, that we can actually admire without getting interrupted: the clean light of the clerestory lights up the pillars, lacking of decoration, standing out all these beautiful symmetrical drawings.
In the outside, the most outstanding part is the western facade, profusely decorated. A high level piece of the baroque from León, it resembles some kind of altarpiece, like the one we will find at the inside of the building – with the exception that that one is gold and from the C.XVI-. In the down part there are three splayed covers, maybe being an imitation of the one in León, because the central one is much bigger. Next to them, at not above them, two huge towers are built up connected to the central body by some flying buttress in the upper part.
Regarding the decoration, there are scenes sculpted about Christ’s life and Santiago also appears dressed as a pilgrim, being proof of the mark left by the Jacobean pass on Astorga’s history.
Exiting the cathedral we only have to go back a few steps to find right in our front the Episcopal Palace of Astorga, the so-called Palacio Gaudí. As we mentioned before in the previous stage when we visit the casa Botines of León, the great modern architect only made a few projects outside Cataluña, including this one. The assignment appears when the former episcopal palace of the city gets burned up in 1886 and the bishop asks Gaudí to design and create a new residency.
As we see the construction a lot of references come up to our heads, from Disney to Gothic Cathedrals. Gaudí made this palace as a reinterpretation of several historical elements, using different elements and styles. We must keep on mind that in the original design there wasn’t the external fence that we can see today, made of granite and iron and that doesn’t allow us to come close to the palace if it’s closed.
From the main facade, quite ahead, without doubt the lower portico stands up. Four big splayed arches where big keystones leave a mark, they support a cupola over pendentive. In addition, each lateral facade of the building is put in frame with big fortified towers. Three of them are similar and just one is higher. The head of the building, at the opposite part of the façade, resembles a Gothic apse, like a big ambulatory.
Although it has the appearance of a cathedral, the building’s shape isn’t a regular one, because it’s actually a Greek cross. The roof is made of slate and gable. The palace has four floors, including the basement which it is shown on the moat that surrounds the building, exactly like the medieval castles.
There are many influences on this architecture’s original masterpiece, but that one that stands out the most and calls people’s attention is the Cathedral of León: all the stained church windows are full with stained glass ones, elaborated by some prestigious studios. The drawings’ designs shown resemble the ones from the Saint Chapelle of París.
The Gaudí Palace operates in the actuality as the Museo de los Caminos. Inside of it we can see art pieces related to pilgrimage, while we walk through the different rooms that were supposed to be a residency, but it never really functioned like that.
We choose if we want to keep on visiting Astorga and taste its popular gastronomy
In Tournride we understand that after an intense day of pilgrimage, extending the touristic visits can be tiring. That’s why we end up here our journey, but we leave you with some notes about other things you can appreciate in Astorga.
As we mentioned before, it is possible to get to know profusely the roman past of Astorga making the Roman Route: roman baths, sewers, old temples, houses, museums, etc. If we’re interested more in medieval art, at the Church of San Bartolomé (C. XI) we will see a superposition of styles that can be very interesting.
For the ones who enjoy food the most, we recommend the visit to the Chocolate Museum of the city. We will learn everything about the chocolate tradition of Astorga, due to its location with cold weather it allowed an excellent preservation of this subtle material. It only takes four rooms to go all over the museum.
Whether we visit these monuments or not, we can’t leave Astorga without tasting its emblematic dish: el cocido maragato (The Maragato stew). Thanks to the difficult weather that Maragatería had there appeared a strong and satiating popular gastronomy. Thanks to the difficult weather that Maragatería had there appeared a strong and satiating popular gastronomy. The popular legend says that we have to eat el cocido maragato backwards, first the meat, then the vegetables and last the soup, because of the saying “de sobrar, que sobre sopa” (If something has to be the leftover, let it be the soup).. Astorga is full with restaurants that offer you the typical dish, so you won’t have any trouble finding the place to taste it.
Besides the stew, la cecina is also typical, just like in León. And, for deserts, this city is a Paradise: besides chocolates, milkshakes and sweet breads are hand-made. This is a treat for your palate.
You will have to recover energy because tomorrow we have the climb of the Cruz de Ferro. We get closer to Galicia already…
¡Buen camino, pilgrims!
STAGE 8: FROM CARRIÓN DE LOS CONDES TO LEÓN – FRENCH WAY ON BIKE
Distance to Santiago: 401 km
Distance for stage: 96 km
Estimated Time: 6 – 7 hours
Minimum Height: 803 m
Maximum Height: 900 m
Route difficulty: Low – Very Low
Places of public interest: Terradillos de los Templarios, Sahagún, Mansilla de las Mulas, León
Itinerary map: Click here to see the journey on Google Maps
In this stage of Santiago Road on bike, we’ll go from Carrión de los Condes to León. It is a quite long road but with a very simple profile, in which, besides, we can travel the majority of the road by concrete ways.. Just by pedaling, we’ll leave Tierra de Campos behind and we’ll enter to León providence, going through long distances without any population.
The only hard-time of the day, we can find it at León entrance, due to the streets full with a lot of traffic and turns. Because of this, in Tournride we offer to cyclist pilgrims an alternative to enter to León which doesn’t have Jacobean signposting, but it is way easier.
If we make this stage at summer, we must improve our sun protection and always take extra water bottles with us.
PROFILE AND STAGE’S MAIN ROUTES
We cross the Puente Mayor at the end of Carrión and we go on through San Zoilo Street. We cross two roundabouts on a straight line and we take the PP-2411 during 3, 6 km, with a flat profile.
The PP-2411 turns to right, but we continue forward by a land path which coincides with the old roman via Aquitana. This is a straight line of 11 km between fields, in a flat profile with a light positive slope at the end. This creates a gradient change that blocks us from seeing Calzadilla de la Cueza until we practically arrive there.
After crossing Calzadilla de la Cueza the road passes by a parallel path to the N-120 and in about 5, 6 km it leads to Ledigos. The first half of the road needs to be done ascending softly (40 m difference of height), but before arriving to Lédigos, it goes down again.
When we get to Lédigos we go through the N-120, around 3 km on a slight slope until we get to Terradillos de los Templarios. Once we get at Terradillos de los Templarios, we need to divert to left from the N-120 to finally enter to town. We have two options:
- 1. Following the Jacobean route entering in Terradillos. There, we take a path during 1, 2 km that, after crossing the P-973, it takes 1, 5 km to get to Moratinos. After passing by town in 2, 5 km we arrive to San Nicolás del Real Camino and by leaving this, we hook up again with the N-120.
- 2. Going on by the N-120 without entering to Terradillos de los Templarios. We go directly to the end of San Nicolás del Real Camino, with no chance of visiting in between the towns.
After leaving behind San Nicolás del Camino, the N-120 goes across the Valderaduey River and, right after, there’s a small path that exits to right in a perpendicular way. If we take that one, we’ll go to visit the Chapel of La Virgen del Puente and from there we continue through a path to Sahagún.
If you don’t want to visit the chapel and you rather keep on going straighly to Sahagún through the N-120, you need to know that the road borders Sahagún by the North. Due to this, when we read the sign that indicates the detour to the center of the city, 10 km after exiting Terradillos de los Templarios, we must go through the right track in order to enter to the village and visit it.
Sahagún (Km 41 of the stage) it is traversed from East to West, crossing the Cea River to go up and take the León road during 1,5 km until it leads into the N-120. We follow the road by the N-120 during 2, 2 km till we see the junction with the A-231 and LE-6711.
On that junction of roads is where we must choose if going by the traditional road or taking the alternative one. We have the following options:
- Alternative road: on the junction of roads turn to right to take the LE-6711, which by an overpass goes across the A-231. It leads us directly to Calzada del Coto and from there, we have to alternate concrete roads and land paths during 32 Km to get to Mansilla de las Mulas, where it takes back to the traditional road. This road also passes by Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. The profile is simple, with a light ascent until passing behind Calzadilla de los Hermanillos and with a soft descent until getting to Mansilla.
- Traditional way:on the junction of roads we move forward and see the road N-120 takes a curve to the left, few meters away. At this point, it takes to a very short land path to the right that leads into Calzada del Coto, which it is a double track concrete road with a parallel dotted land path with equidistant threes. After covering 5, 5 km in flat profile we get to Bercianos del Camino. We cross by la Calle Mayor and, after, we go back again to the same light ascent during 5, 3 km until we get to an underpass to the A-231. Once we cross it, we arrive to the Burgo Ranero. This is practically a flat profile.
From the Burgo Ranero until Puente Villarente we always take the LE-6615, which leads in permanent descent with a similar appearance to the Calzada del Coto. First, we need to cover 14 km till Reliegos and then another 6km till Mansilla de las Mulas.
After we get to the intersection between both paths in Mansilla de las Mulas, we should go out of town through Northwest in order to take the N-601 during 4, 5 km until Villamoros de Mansilla and, later, travel another 1, 5 km until we get to Puente Villarente.
Once we are at Puente Villarente we will only have 13 km left and we must decide how we are going to enter to León. It is hard for cyclists following the arrows at the entrance of this city, and even dangerous because of the junctions on the road and the traffic. That’s why in Tournride, in addition to explain you which is the traditional Jacobean route, we offer you an option that is not included on the actual road’s itinerary, but it is way easier for cyclists. These are the options:
- Traditional road to enter to León (with Jacobean signposting): At the exit of Puente Villarente there is a wide land path that takes to the right. At the beginning, it goes in a flat direction, but around 3 Km it gets to Arcahueja and from there; there are a couple of slopes that take us to a path which borders the N-601 to a higher height. The path ends at the industrial estate of León and from there we need to cross the N-601 by a higher pedestrian walk (which it is on slopes, without stairs). From this point, the arrows indicate the entrance through Puente Castro, until arriving to a big roundabout where we must turn left. When we get to see la plaza de toros de León, we must turn right in order to go through Corredera Street until we get to the old part of the city, where we can find the Cathedral. It can get complicated following the traffic signs (signposting) because of the multiples turn. The majority of them are arrows painted on the ground or in lamps.
- Entrance by the N-601 (without Jacobean signposting): At the exit of Puente Villarente we must keep on going through the N-601 during almost 9 Km, crossing several roundabouts until arriving to the industrial estate of the city, where we will pass by under the blue pedestrian walkway. After a couple of curves on the N-601, we will finish in a roundabout where it is located a welcome sign with the León shield and a clock in the superior part. We must go across straightly the roundabout to go through the Europa Avenue until the next roundabout, which has a long form. At this point, we take a detour obliquely to the right (Reino de León Avenue and then Juan XXIII Street) and we continue forward leaving behind six crossroads until getting to the seventh, the one located at San Pedro Street. Turning left, in this street we will get to Cathedral in only 300 meters.
In a general point of view, it is a long stage but with characteristics of an extremely simple profile and long distances between the Jacobean villages. The big part of the pedestrian road covers parallel paths to the N-120, to the Calzada del Coto or to the N-601; so that we can choose between going through them or travelling through concrete. The paths are narrow but stable. If you go by the highway, be really careful at the entrance of León, because you can find a lot of traffic.
If you think this stage is too long for you, Tournride recommends you taking a rest in Reliegos (km 69 of stage), Mansilla de las Mulas (km 75) or Puente Villarente (km 82); where you can find all the services that you need.
- If you start your journey in Carrión de los Condes, at Tournride we help you getting there. Regardless where you come from, you have to go to Palencia, León or Burgos to take a bus that will take you straight to Carrión. Out of the three cities, León is the only one that has a regular commercial flight. The destination is Barcelona and it is operated by Air Nostrum.
The buses frequency at Carrión is not very high, so that’s why we always recommend taking a look at the schedules previously. The companies Estébanez Aja and Abagon cover the route from Palencia. To go from León or Burgos you should go with Alsa. If all these buses schedules don’t follow your needs, you can always take a taxi in Palencia, it will cost you around 45-50€. Or, instead, if you are lucky enough, maybe you will find someone at a carpooling platform who will take you for only 3 to 5€. Remember that at Tournride we leave your bikes in yourejamos las bicicletas en vuestro lodging back in Carrión de los Condes if you start from there and, we can take your left baggage in order for you to find it at the end of your road..
- In this stage, there are huge distances between the localities, especially from Carrión de los Condes to Calzadilla (18 Km) and from Burgo Ranero to Reliegos (14 Km). There are not any kind of water source in the middle and few places where you can rest. So we recommend you to sustain yourself perfectly with water and food.
- Take precaution with summer weather and the heat, there are not enough shadows and the sun can get really intense.
- If it rains we can find really the muddy path by the Aquitana Via (from Carrión a Calzadilla to la Cueza), the Trajana Via (alternative road) and the entrance to León through Arcahueja.
- The number of kilometers of this stage is high so we recommend you to ration your phisical resources. Even though. It can be perfectly taken because the whole road is flat so it allows you to travel faster through all the distances.
DETAILED SCHEDULE AND HISTORIC-ARTISTIC PATRIMONY
Today we leave behind Palencia and its Tierra de Campos to immerse ourselves in León, arriving directly to its capital and icon: The wonderful Gothic Cathedral of Santa María. Many paths that will take us there, have kept the route almost unchanging since roman times. Those are roads charged with HISTORY (yes, with capital letters) that will allow us to discover the glorious past the big medieval organizations, like the one at Cluny in Sahagún or the one from los caballeros del Temple in Terradillos de los Templarios. As we make our stops we will say goodbye to Tierra de Campos passing by, today more than ever, and big golden extensions of cereal with a very simple profile.
This is easy stage, yes it is long but with not many stops, that encourages us to let us travel physically as well as mentally. It is, indeed a road to open your eyes and let your mind free.
Are you willing to keep on Reading and discover what el Camino is holding for you?
FROM CARRIÓN TO TERRADILLOS: BY ENDLESS STRAIGHT WAYS OF ROMAN PAST, STOPPING AT CALZADILLA DE LA CUEZA AND LEDIGOS
In order to go out of Carrión de los Condes, we must go across the Puente Mayor and pass nearby San Zoilo. If you didn’t visit the monastery the day before, this could be a good time for you to do it, even from outside. After crossing two roundabouts, we will cover the PP-2411 during 3 km, a two-way road in which the travelers walk on foot by the sidewalk.
Even though you can’t see it from the highway, we will go by near the ruins of the old abbey of Santa María de Benevívere, ffounded in the XII century and abandoned after its confiscation from XIX century. Regardless of the organizations that tried to save it, the building was demolished and the documents that were guarded there were translated to Archivo Histórico Nacional (National Historical Archive).
We get to the arriving point on the road with the straight land path that leads us to Calzadilla de la Cueza, in a point where the PP-2411 turns right.
This road on good state –unless it rains and it gets muddy- It’s the old Via Aquitana . Actually, in roman times, they used to call it like that the road which joins the shores of Galia (Today, this territory is France). But, in the Middle Age, they started to call it with the same name as before, the name was </spanAb Asturica Burdigalam” which united Astorga with Burdeos. Since the beginning of Pilgrimage in Santiago, the Jacobean walkers used this old way and thousand of years later, we continue to follow their steps.
In spite of the feeling of historic communion that sets off to continue a rout that has remained unchanged for centuries. We must say that, at the end of the day, this road is really hard whether psychological or physically. We travel all this road of 12 km in a short matter of time because of the facility in the flat profile, but the travelers walk hours on feet through this road without trees springs nor anything that alters the country landscape of endless cereals.
Before, there were two hospitals for pilgrims specifically in this part of Via Aquitana. Today, we can’t find any type of service, except for a van selling drinks and food which is located at the intersection with P-2469 during few months of the year. After this intersection, we can also find a sign indicating the way to the Real Leonesa cattle route, right next to a recreational area.
A cattle route is a road that connects all the places where the livestock is abundant at winter and summer in the search of meadow where to graze. La leonesa is divided in the western and Eastern, this being the last one. It has around 700 km as a total and unites Riaño (in León) with the south of Badajoz, going through six different providences.
After this one-way road, we arrive to Calzadilla de la Cueza (km 18 of stage), hidden behind a final change of slope. There, you will find all of the services that you need. The route borders the town by South and leads into N-120, exactly where we cross the Cueza stream. The walkers goes through a parallel path to the highway until Ledigos, you can decide whether you prefer concrete or land. It implies around 6 km in a vertical light slope, with a descent of height just before arriving to Lédigos..
Just as Calzadilla, today Ledigos doens’t count with a big patrimonial herency. From Calzadilla stands up the Renaissance altarpiece that is located at the San Martín Church and, as an anecdote, saying that parish church from Legigos is one of the fewest that counts with Santiago el Mayor symbols in all its iconographies: like pilgrim, apostle, and boaster.
From Ledigos the road takes the same way of the N-120 until Terradillos de los Templarios (27th kilometer of the stage). The name of this locality is named in an architectonic and historical way: place of small flat roof linked to the old Orden Del Temple..
In the previous stage we mentioned this order of knights, founded in the XII century with the purpose of protecting the pilgrims in Jerusalem and this protection was extended to Camino de Santiago. As we said, they collected so much power and wealth in only two centuries that even the King of France owed them a big amount of money. This ended up being the ruins of los templarios, because they turned into a big threat for the Crown and the rest of the religious organizations. Because of this, the Pope ordered the dissolution of the Order by force in 1312.
These knights accumulated so much power in such a short period of time that it brought up so many types of legends, regarding the source of their wealth and also the Order rituals. They were given, for example, the possession of miracle relics of Santo Grial and, even that story of “The Goose That Laid the Golden Eggs”. In fact, this legendary animal is connected to the locality of Terradillos.
This town was in a territory under the jurisdiction of los templarios and located inside there was a hospital for pilgrims that was under their protection. The legend from the town says that los templarios kept there the goose and, due to the big inminence of his order’s dissolution, they buried the mysterious bird in a higher part of the town.
In town, there is also a shelter named after the last Grand Master who had the Orden del Temple, named Jacques de Molay.
WE CHANGE PROVIDENCE: WE LEAVE PALENCIA BEHIND AND WE ENTER TO LEÓN TO VISIT SAHAGÚN
In order to get to Sahagún from Terradillos we have two options: going through the Jacobean route or skipping it and going through the N-120. Keep on mind that if you continue through N-120 you will not pass by Moratinos or San Nicolás del Real Camino, the last localities from Palencia. After passing the territorial limit, you will cross the Valderaduey River and see to your right the perpendicular path that leads to chapel of the Virgen del Puente. If you don’t take this one and continue through the highway, you must know that for entering Sahagún you have to change course by the right track. If not, you will border the whole León locality by the North and you will go straight forward to the road fork in Calzada del Coto.
As well as we can sacrifice the visit to Moratinos or San Nicolás with the purpose of making this kilometric stage much easier, in Tournride we do encourage you to enter to Sahagún (41th Kilometer of stage). It is a great place to rest and one of the most important localities from Camino Francés in León, with a lot of patrimony and history to discover.
The Jacobean route goes out from Terradillos through the West path; it is a firm and land route with a light descent until flowing into the P-973 where, after covering a few meters, we will change course to the right so we can pass by Moratinos and San Nicolás del Camino. It will always be a land field with small pebbles and the profile will alternate soft ascents and descents until we get closer to the N-120, where we will go down softly until we get to Sahagún center.
Before arriving to Sahagún we cross the N-120 to get to a path in the river Valderaduey meadow that leads to the chapel of “la Virgen del Puente” (only 3 Km away from Sahagún). The building, with a mudejar style provided services for years as a pilgrim hospital and today it is bordered with a nice grassland with seats, where we can also find sculptures that remind you of the glorious medieval past of Sahagún.
Yes, Sahagún does have a great historical past! To get to know it, we must take that path that goes out the grassland of the chapel of la Virgen del Puente and that leads us to cross the LE-251 (must be very careful in this point). From there, we’ll enter to Sahagún but, to get to the center, we must cross the train ways through an underpass.
The story of Sahagún goes back to the roman era, when it was located at the Trajana Via pass but it was actually created from the foundation of a medieval monastery where the relics of the Santos (Saints) Facundo and Primitivo are kept. In fact, the name of the village is derived from there: “Sanctus Facundus – Sant Fagund – Safa-gun – Sahagún”. This saints were beheaded in the II A.D century, close to Cea River, where some of its disciples buried them. The place was getting recognition and in the IX century, it was decided to build a big monastery that the Cluny Order took care of it..
As we already mentioned at the beginning of this French Road way by bicycle the Cluny Order created a whole net of monasteries during the whole road where they gave shelter to pilgrims, thanks to the help given by the crown. In Sahagún, the Monastery Real de San Benito received several privileges and special privileges and, around it, it was created a big medieval fortress, dependent of him. The monastery even got to create his own University, that was similar to the one in Salamanca or Alcalá de Henares judging by its reputation. The abbot of Sahagún got to have so much power and authority that by thr XI century, there were a lot of riots from the middle-class against his power excess.
Since the XV century, the village starts to decease, validate determinedly with the confiscation from the XIX century, when some parts of the old monastery were put out to tender publically. We only have left today la Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower) and El arco de San Benito (San Benito Arch), the monastery’s old south cover. Kings sepulchers and other objects that were inside the monastery were destructed or you can find them today in other places from the village, or even in some museums in León.
For example, in the Monasterio de las Monjas Benedictinas (from the XVI) are kept some of the ruins of the old Real Monasterio, because this place offers services as a museum. On its pieces you can find the Alphonse XI sepulcher and four of the wives he had, kept in the church of the convent.
Right next to the ruins of the Cluny Old Monastery there is one of the village emblems: the San Tirso Church (C. XII). It was one of the first buildings at the peninsula where instead of using stones, they used bricks. This could look like a trifle but actually it gave room to the romantic-mudejar style, an icon of Spain united cultures and how such an influence was produced between them. Here, some Muslims that lived in Christian areas used constructive methods a lot of more ideal for their art (building with brick, and using horseshoe arcades, etc.) with ones clearly romantic in a very ideal European style. This attracts the attention mainly their four-part horseshoe arcades tower.
WE CHOOSE SCHEDULE IN CALZADA DEL COTO TO ARRIVE AT MANSILLA DE LAS MULAS
Once we exit Sahagún we must cross the Cea River through the stone bridge and cover the whole highway until flowing into the N-120. After covering it for 2 km we will arrive to a highway junction: the N-120 gets lost in a left curve after an intersection with the LE-6711 that crosses by a underpass the dual carriageway.
If we go up that high pass, we will take an alternative path, that will take us to Calzada del Coto and then by land paths until we get to Calzadilla de los Hermanillos. Once we alternate after few concrete paths, we will flow into Mansilla de las Mulas.
At Tournride, in this case we recommend skipping the alternative road and follow the original trace that leads to Burgo Ranero. In the curve of the N-120 we will see a short path with signs that will take us to a long concrete way very easy to travel, that we have to keep on taking for the next 32 km until we get to Mansilla de las Mulas. Pilgrims on feet go through a parallel path full of banana trees, but it can be considered as a bit narrow. This road is not quite circulated by and that makes the profile very simple.
After 5, 5 km we will get to Bercianos del Real Camino, a small locality with less than 200 people with all the services that we need. After others 7 km of concrete way, in a light ascent profile, we will get to Burgo Ranero.
El Burgo Ranero place-name has been a controversial subject. The majority of people think that the name comes after the frog croak that lived in the closest ponds to the locality (to the “burgo”). Even though, there’s an old document which makes reference of the place as “Ranerium”, that would be a Latin word of a German name. According to that, the “de Ranero” would indicate possession, meaning the fortress of some sir named Ranero.
In the actuality, the place represents an oasis for pilgrims that usually take many hours to walk a charming but monotonous landscape. And it’s in there where there are lodging and good services, that’s why we will not have any kind of trouble finding the things we need.
It’s important to recover all your strength to face the next 13 Km to Reliegos, by a road identical to the former one, and practically in a straight line. One thing is certain, we practically won’t have to pedal because the road in a soft but permanent descent. It won’t take us much longer!
Reliegos was, until a few years ago, the last place were a big meteorite landed in Spain. It was around 8 in the morning in 1947, when a huge rock around 17kg landed at the Calle Real of the locality, scaring all the neighbors, who took it as a bomb or a big explosion. Today, the biggest part of the rock is located at the Museo Nacional de Ciencias (National Science Museum) in Madrid, even though there are more fragments in other places..
After visiting Reliegos we must keep going through the road full with banana trees in continuous descent during another 6 km, until crossing the N-601 by a overpass and entering to Mansilla de las Mulas.
From El Burgo Ranero we enter to Mansilla by the door of el Castillo, one of the doors of the old wall of XII century. This place had one of the best fortification systems of the entire Castilla. The walls bordered the river shore and they headed to Northwest only on the bridge that crossed the Esla river. It was about 14 meters high, with battlements in the upper part. Also, there were some huge semi cylindrical cubes every 40 meters, which in the actuality they are preserved in the south part of the Wall.
After going across the old fortified door, we will pass right next to a monument dedicated to travelers and we will get to Santa María Church right after. With date from the XVII century, it has a simple architecture. Following this road we get to El Pozo Square, where we join way with the alternative waythat passes by Calzadilla de los Hermanillos.
Before leaving by the eight-arched bridge that crosses Esla River, with a medieval style but very recovered (C. XII), we leave behind the old convent of San Agustín. This cultural center was founded in the XV century, it was really important in a cultural level, making its library and archive stand out. All the documents were lost thanks to a fire during the Independence War, same thing that happened in Carrión de los Condes. What it is best preserved in the actuality is the chapel of the Villafañe, having square floors and a cracked vault. Besides, all those Jacobean symbols sculpted with stone in one of the old entrances of the convent, testify the importance it had as a hospital for pilgrims. .
Once we are at Mansilla de las Mulas we arrive at León in less than 20 km, and we will get there by highways or the road paths. Both options are united in different points.
We leave Mansilla by crossing the medieval bridge already mentioned, later on, we will see to the left a wide path that goes on in a parallel to the N-601, in a flat profile.
Whether it’s by highway or by path, we are at the 4 km we will pass nearby Villamoros de Mansilla and, later, we arrive to Puente Villarente in no more than 1, 5 km.
Once we enter to this place, we will understand right away why Villarente has this name. If we go by highway we will cross the huge bridge where that traverses the Porma River. If we go by the path we can see it from below, because they have built some pretty wood walkways that cross the entire river and let us appreciate the view of the whole bridge, it was made like this because going by the shoulder was too dangerous for the walkers.
The Villarente Bridge originates in the roman era, even though there is no physical proof of that era.. Porma’s floods destroyed everything during many historical moments and that’s why only the central arches are the only old demonstration preserved from the medieval times. This is some kind of landmark in the French Road, representing a medieval pilgrim love legend.
In Villarente we could find a pilgrim hospital in medieval era that was known for having a rule that stated they needed a female donkey who would carry the unhealthy walkers all the way to León (as it were some kind of “ambulance”). It is rumored that at the beginnings of the XIV century, a girl named Elizabeth used to work in this hospital, engaged to an Andalucian man. One day, a very sick pilgrim arrived to the hospital. She took care of him and they ended up falling in love with each other. One time they were standing up underneath the first arch of the bridge and they marked their outlines of their hands in the stone arcade, that’s when Elizabeth promised him if he returns from Santiago in about 14 days and places his hand there while calling her, she would leave her fiancé so they could run away together.
The pilgrim man went to Santiago and could return back to Puente Villarente the 13th day; however it was impossible for him to go to the arch because the river had risen due to the continuous rainy weather. He laid down the Porma’s shore, praying to Santiago so he could help him reach the stone arch the next day. When he woke up, he realized that a big line of trunks created a way between the floods that could lead him to the exact place where they had placed their hands. He ran over there and immediately called his beloved; it didn’t last much longer when she appeared throwing herself in his arms and willing to spend the rest of their lives together.
With this beautiful story in mind, we cross the Puente Villarente and we go out through a wide sidewalk next to the N-601. There, we have two options to enter to León: we must choose between going through Arcahueja or going by the N-601 until we arrive to the city center.
If we choose the second option we must be careful with the traffic, especially in the Industrial Estate part, but the advantage is that the profile will be simpler and we will skip any highway cross line or any overpass.
If we choose the path to the right making way to the exit of de Villarente Bridge, we will travel almost in a flat way until we get to Arcahueja, where we will find a short ramp that takes us to a path close to the highway, which we will take in order to get to Industrial State. The N-601 goes over the middle of the industrial estate and we must cross by a blue-painted overpass. Going down to that point, we cross again by another overpass in a road junction, the solid ground will become concrete as soon as we get to Madrid Avenue. When we see the parish church of Puente Castro we should change course to left, crossing the Torío River through a pedestrian bridge and following the avenue until a roundabout, where we will get to La Plaza de Toros just by turning left. From this point, we will go into the monumental area, turning right. We continue forward until the narrow street, that if we turn left it will take us directly to the cathedral.
It’s true that this entrance could be a little confusing for cyclists because of all the turns, crossroads and pedestrian crossings we have to pass over. If you want to make it simpler, you can go through the N-601 until we get to the first roundabout of the city, moving forwards through the Europa Avenue until the Reino de León Avenue (first highway exiting to the right obliquely) we keep on moving forwards passing by 6 perpendicular street crossroads, you will only have to turn left in the San Pedro street so you can get to the cathedral. . We mark this whole journey en in yellow on our stage map.
AN AFTERNOON PROMENADE IN LEÓN, “THE CRADDLE OF
León is one of the greatest, an historical city and a must-see during the French Road. And further than that, it represents a breath of young and fresh air, a dynamic city full of vigorous culture: bar concerts, art exhibitions, among others. This is the kind of life we get when we make our way in this city, in that existential movement in its monumental area, which encourages the travelers to join the fun.
Cities like León, being such a big-sized city, often overwhelm pilgrims who arrive late and tired. Having to get correctly informed and design a route that allows us visiting all of those places calmly, can become a really hard job to do after a long stage. It’s such a shame that it is so hard for us to decide visiting the places when we have so many options to enjoy.
That’s why, we decided in Tournride to make this whole process easier, after relaxing from all the effort you have made today, you get motivated to go on a walk: we will give you a map with the whole walk itinerary and we tell you what you will find exactly in each point. This only lasts 40 minutes, 40 minutes that are truly worth it.
For those thinking about taking a relaxing day in your road, you must know that León is the best option to do this. Also depending on how late you go on your walk, some of the visiting places could be closed. Unless you would want to visit them in the morning before pedaling your way up to the next stage, you can spend a whole day visiting those places calmly, it could be an entire day dedicated to this magnificent city.
Let’s enjoy León, a monumental city with a lot to offer us!
A little bit of History to start with…
León owes a big part of its current configuration to romans. Before the Italian conquerors arrived, this part of the territory was deserted.
The roman army was organized in legions, a type of military units with its own internal hierarchy. They would move in order to conquer territories or to perform some specific missions. In the year 29 B.C. the Legio VI Victrix (“Sixth victorious legion”) created a provisional military camp at the high plateau of the junction between the Rivers Torío and Bernesga.. This was an ideal place to make sure of the water supply, and it was located at a good communicational passage between the North and the center of Hispania that they were trying to control.
In the same years, they began to explode intensely a huge gold mine located nearby León: las Médulas.The extraction method used by the romans, called “ruina montium”, has left a spectacular landscape in this area that it’s worth all the time in the world to visit. The waterways used to be diverged and letting loose the current all at once, demolishing quickly big parts of mountain.
Thanks to this method the Romans extracted a lot of gold. A permanent settlement was needed in order to control all the resources. That’s why, whenthe Legio VI Vitrix had to leave to fight in the Rin in the year 74 B.C., the Legio VII Gémina came as a substitute..
This legion created a much better elaborated camp. In the actuality, in León, there is a lot left from what the Romans made back from I to III A.D. . The current Ancha Street that leads to the cathedral was the old roman “thistle”, the main north southern street of the camp that made junction perpendicularly with the “decumanus”. Under the cathedral, there are ruins of the old roman baths, and in the Cid garden, some ruins of the whole pipeline system.
With the defeat of the Roman Empire, the Swabians took possession of the old camp and transformed the buildings into proper living places that would remain through time, like the roman baths. Later, the Visigoths conquered the territory and the settlement was almost deserted. This situation remained standing like this during the Arabic conquest, because León remained in a middle area between both fronts.
In 856 King Ordoño I succeeded on conquering León, so it became part of the Asturias Reign. Years after, the disputes about power between his three grandsons ended up by uniting the territories of Asturias and León at the León Kingdom, so this settlement became a capital for the first time.
In 1188 León goes down in history by being the first place where a King organizes the first Assembly of all Europe back in the Middle Age. That’s why this city is known as “The cradle of parliamentarism”.
During the following centuries, León kept growing, becoming of the most important cities for the crown and for the Santiago way One time, it had like 17 hospitals for pilgrims and was the western headquarters of the Military Order of Santiago.
In the XIX century it became the providence capital and in the city gets and expansion district in an orthogonal design. León became then, the big dynamic and modern city that we all know today, even though some marks of its past prevail in its streets and monumental buildings that we can all visit today. You can visit this webpage, to see them more in detail where you can find historical virtual recreations of León.
We visit these four must-see: Cathedral, Casa Botines, San Isidoro and San Marcos
We start with the city’s most emblematic symbol: The Cathedral, also known as the “Pulchra Leonina”. This nickname already gives an idea of what the visitors will find in “bella leonesa”. The beginnings of this was in 1275, once gothic was as its peak, having a lot of similarities with temples of Reims or Amiens.
SWithout any doubt, the most impressive thing about this Cathedral are its glass vitrines, without taking credit away from the details in its stone sculpture or the amazing height of its walls and towers. Being put in a radiant gothic stylish frame, its tripartite elevation opens the walls all over its parts to insert polychromatic stained glassed window that paint the inside of the temple with multi-colored lights.
As these vitrines already followed a specific iconographic program, the inner architecture of the gothic cathedrals resembled practically aniconic. The sculpture was taken outside and the three covers of the external western facade are kept in an impressive cycle.
The main door is dedicated to la Virgen Blanca (The White Virgin) and also represents parts of the Final Judgment. In detail, we can mention that the current Virgin’s sculpture located at the mullion is an exact copy of the original that it’s kept inside the temple for its maintenance.
To the left, there is la Puerta de San Juan, with scenes from Jesus’s birth and the first moments of his life. To the right, we have la Puerta de San Francisco, dedicated entirely to tell stories about the Virgin’s life (her death below, and her coronation above).
The cathedral of León is one of the most monuments of the entire French Road that deserves an inside-visit. Because of its architectonic style, it’s precisely designed to amaze people. We highly recommend you, as long as you can, to take time out of your journey this visit. You can find more information on this page about prices and schedules.
BWe go down the cathedral through the Ancha Street, built above the old roman “thistle” At the back; to the right we can get tour view of the great Casa Botines. This Antonio Gaudí work of art is one of the fewest buildings that he made outside of Cataluña. We will see more of those in the next stage: the Casa Episcopal de Astorga.
This was a Catalan businessman, named Joan Homs i Botinàs, that handed over the design of this building to Gaudí at the end of XIX century. Below, he opened fabric warehouses and above, Joan built a normal place for. With an unmistakable modern taste, the building is framed in a neogothic style. If we finish visiting this cathedral, we can’t avoid how the lobed archs with little columns remind us of the triforium of Pulchra Leonina. In general, the towers placed in a corner and its strong appearance reminds us of a medieval palace, but its modernist air makes it way more elegant.
In the actuality, the Casa Botines is the Caja España (a savings bank) headquarters. In 1996 this organization restored the whole building trying to eliminate the remodeling made after Gaudi’s death. Today, we can only have access to de bank office area. The visit is for free and the schedule is from 8:30 to 14:00.
Surrounding the Casa Botines to the east, in the Ruiz Street of Salazar, we go ahead to the Basilica of San Isidoro. We propose turning right to Pilotos Regueral so we can take advantage of the road visiting the Cid gardens, a small hidden treasure located in the old part of the city. While we recover our energy in one of the pews, we can contemplate some ruins of the roman pipeline systems.
Going forward by the Cid Street, in less than a minute we arrive to the Basilica of San Isidoro. Within this facility, it is located the Panteón de los Reyes (The Kings Pantheon), named “Capilla Sixtina del Románico” (the Romantic Sistine Chapel). It is a squared area divided in six vault sections covered entirely by paintings of the XII century, with an outstanding state of preservation. This impressive legacy is held up by tick columns with big capitals full with decoration themes, resting inside sculpted sepulchers kings and consorts.
The Access to the Church of San Isidoro is for free. It was built right next to the old medieval wall, which by the way we can still find some ruins of. The inside of the temple contrasts with what we just saw inside the cathedral. There isn’t any light left; the romantic is covered by the darkness and soundness, with decorative and imaginary cycles –and sometimes, disturbing- on the columns capitals. Outside, the cover sculpture is also a romantic treasure
PTo visit the cloisters, the Panteón de los Reyes and the San Isidoro Museum, we have to go directly to the small entrance to the west, located at an extreme of the square. It costs around 5€ and includes a guided-tour, which we highly recommend here in Tournride.
Bodering the Basilica of San Isidoro through Sacramento Street, we turn obliquely to the left so we can head to the Suero de Quiñones Avenue that will lead us directly to San Marcos Square. We are welcomed in this place by a pilgrim monument. A man made of bronze looking over to San Marcos. He is barefoot, sitting below a cruise and dressed with the pilgrim’s staff and the Jacobean medieval clothing.
This sculpture not only makes reference to the importance of what the French Road made to the glory of León capital, but also the origin of the main building of San Marcos. In the XII century a child made a big donation to build a huge building for pilgrims outside the city’s walls. This temple-hospital grew up and became headquarters of the Santiago Order, the protective knights of the Jacobean roads.
In the actuality, there is almost nothing left of that building. Its disrepair made room for its demolition in the XXVI in order to build up this Renaissance masterpiece. The great plateresque facade is divided in two big sections, which uniformity and symmetry transmit some kind of calm even though it is covered by a lot of decoration. Under the plinth there are sculptured medallions with greco-latin characters example of the true Humanism and classic glory in the Renaissance time. Emperors like Julio César or Trajano, and artistic promoters of small pieces from the Renaissance period, formers as Charlemagne stares at us from their honored medallions.
From the beginning, the group of San Marcos has been making multiple services.. It was before a hospital for pilgrims and a convent, but also a prison –where Quevedo was Locke up-, educational center, state office, and republican prisoners’ camps during the Civil War… Today it works as a National Tourism Parador, even though the church keeps on having a religious usage, and in addition there is a part that is home to a museum with sacred pieces.
It is important to mention that this Parador has a cafeteria closet to the Bernesga River, with a pleasant terrace with view to San Marcos Bridge. This is an ideal place to relax.
We finish in El Húmedo town enjoying of the León’s patrimony while we have some tapas
After all the knowledge acquired by the cultural visits from León, we can only finish the day in one way: Tasting the delicious gastronomy from the city.
Even though the city offers a big variety in restaurants where you can find a balance between price and quality, in Tornride we recommend you going to the El Húmedo neighborhood, where you can visit bar after bar tasting the different specialties of each place. In the majority of them, they serve you those just by asking for drinks, and in some others, you usually pay for them.
To get to El Húmedo enjoying of a nice ride we recommend you following the river’s shore until you get to Ordoño II Avenue, where turning to left you will get to la Casa Botines. Certainly it isn’t the shortest way, but it allows you to get to know a little bit more this other part of the city.
The entire area between the Ancha Street, the Mayor Square and the Cathedra is full with bars and restaurants. You can’t miss the blood sausage –this one is spread and along with rice, unlike the one from Burgos- and also the cured meat.
With this delicious food, we say goodbye until the next stage. We will go to Astorga, where it’ll be our last day in a flat profile… We’ll have el Bierzo and los Ancares as the counterpoint to these plains full with cereal camps!
STAGE 7: FROM BURGOS TO CARRIÓN DE LOS CONDES – FRENCH WAY IN BICYCLE
Distance to Santiago: 487 km
Stage distance: 86 km
Estimated time: 6 – 6,5 hours
Minimal height: 773 m
Maximum height: 930 m
Route Difficulty: Media
Places of interest: Castrojeriz, Frómista, Villalcázar de Sirga, Carrión de los Condes
Route Map: To see the route in Google Maps click here
At this stage we will cross completely the Burgos countryside to enter Palencia, part of the so-called “Tierra de Campos”. Our body and mind will have to become familiar to circulating between a much more homogeneous landscape than the previous one in which the relief, deeply leveled, will be broken by hills that will rise like statues in the horizon and that sometimes we’ll have to cross.
There are those who despise this French Way part and focus on crossing it as quickly as possible, dismissing what is seen as monotony without inducements. It is true that this part is hard – especially in summer – but it is also an essential of the pilgrimage part: The image of its fields is one of the most recognizable of the Way. Our eyes will follow for miles this print, a route in a straight line, flanked by golden fields among which stoic oaks will sometimes rise. Which is very possible that we seal in our retina and there will be a source of peace and tranquility for the future, reminding us the serenity of the pilgrimage, and the great opportunity it offers us to focus on ourselves?
Let us now forget the world in which the pre-eminence is immediacy, innovation and permanent changes. On the opposite, let the harmony and environment stillness encourage our introspection. Pilgrimage gives us time to think and not simplify what is complex, so remember Machado, Unamuno or Fernán González and find in Castile a world full of nuances, rich landscapes and humanity.
PROFILE AND STAGE’S MAIN ROUTES
This stage runs mostly through tracks of good ground between fields and, at the end, by asphalted county roads. Normally, the profile is much leveled and the height differences will be exceeded over long distances, so that the descents will be smooth and pleasant. The climbs will not be extremely hard.
There are only three points where we can have more complications with the profile:
- When arriving at Hornillos and Hontanas there are two toboggans descending to the town that are remarkable but also do not have much technical difficulty. It is necessary to keep on count that, especially in Hontanas, the elevation difference is such that the town is not seen until you almost have it ahead, which makes it psychologically hard because it seems that you pedal and don’t move forward.
- El Alto de Mostelares es otro punto de complicación, justo a la salida de Castrojeriz. is another point of complication, just outside of Castrojeriz. Here we must to go through a 140 m rise in just over 1 km, with an average relative slope of 11%. The descent is also vertiginous, in firm ground with loose small stones.
Actually, the greatest difficulties that this stage supposes are the mileage, and especially if we travel in summer, the wide distances without shade between populations and services. It is true that it is longer than the previous stages but also the plain helps to gain speed and the terrain is favorable.
To leave Burgos you have to cross the university campus of San Amaro where, after crossing the bridge over the Arlanzón, we can use the bike lane until the N-120 which turns left and the signal tells us to cross the pedestrian’s passage to Benito Pérez Galdós Street. At that point we have two options: cross and go the original way or skip it and go on the N-120 until Tardajos.
If we go by the traditional we will take the street Benito Perez Galdós. Turning on a dirt road until reaching the municipal area of Villalbilla de Burgos, where we will first cross the railroad tracks, then the BU600 for an overpass and then the A-231. The road then runs parallel to the N-120 until Tardajos.
In Tardajos, we already lose the N-120 and we will not find it again until Carrión de los Condes. Therefore, to visit the localities in this stage is necessary to go along the traditional way. Most of the time the firm will be land, although in some stretches the Camino de Santiago coincides with asphalted tracks or county roads.
Tardajos and Rabé de las Calzadas are joined by a tarmac track of 1.5 km. After crossing the village, it is necessary to cross 8 km to Hornillos Del Camino by a path between fields. It begins with a gentle but permanent ascent of 4 km until reaching a high (917 m of altitude) from which we can comfortably descend to Hornillos.
When arriving, we are 11 km ahead to Hontanas by another path in which the only place with services that is there is the hostel of San Bol, in a detour to the left to the 6 km. During this section we reached the maximum level of the stage (930 m).
The trail terminates on a 200 m slide where 50 m of difference of altitude is lowered to the Hontanas town center (kilometer 31 of stage).
From Hontanas it is about 10 km to Castrojeriz.. Los primeros 5 km requieren más dificultad técnica, ya que el sendero se encuentra en la ladera de una colina y hay piedras sueltas. Después, el camino de Santiago en este tramo coincide con una carretera comarcal que pasa por las ruinas del monasterio de San Antón y termina en Castrojeriz. Debido a la dificultad del primer tramo,The first 5 km require more technical difficulty, since the trail is on the side of a hill and there are loose stones. Afterwards, the Santiago road in this section coincides with a regional road that passes through the ruins of the San Antón Monastery and ends in Castrojeriz. Due to the first section difficulty, in Tournride we recommend – especially in times of influx of pilgrims – go by the regional road from Hontanas, when crossing the exit village.
After crossing Castrojeriz we head towards Itero de la Vega, from which we are separated 11 km. In the middle, stands the aforementioned Alto de Mostoles, in which we recommend compensating the climb hardness with the enjoyment of beautiful views offered and extreme caution in the descent.
Before arriving at Itero de la Vega, we crossed the Pisuerga River by a large stone bridge that marks the border between Burgos and Palencia. The original road immediately turns right by a dirt track to go to Itero and from there to Boadilla Del Camino but, if you prefer, you can continue straight on the P432 road to Boadilla (1 km less than the trail).
If you take the traditional way out of Itero de la Vega you will travel 8 km between fields to Boadilla Del Camino (kilometer 60 of stage): the first half in slight rise and the second in soft descent.
From Boadilla Del Camino there are only 5 km to Frómista, in a flat profile and along a path that runs along the Canal de Castilla southern bank. We cross the canal just before entering the town by a manual lock of S. XVIII and we arrive at the town center.
The road between Frómista and Carrión de los Condes is permanently parallel to the P-980 in the form of a gravel path, so we can choose to use it or go along the road. They are 20 km in which every 3,5 or 6 km there is a town: Population of Campos, Revenga de Campos, Villarmentero de Campos and Villalcázar de Sirga. The profile is slightly uphill the first 17 km and soft down at the end, although it is not very noticeable.
In Población de Campos, before crossing the river Ucieza Bridge, there is a detour that marks an alternative way until Villarmentero. It goes along the river north bank. If you are not going to go on the P-980 because you prefer the trails, this may be a good option for you. It is quieter and there are fewer pilgrims on foot.
In general, stage 7 from Burgos to Carrión de los Condes is long and characterized by tracks between cereal fields, joining populations separated by distances of between 5 and 11 km. The exception is the final part, between Frómista and Carrión de los Condes, more populated and by county road. The stage profile of the Camino de Santiago on bicycle has no complications except in the ascent and descent to Alto de Mostelares, where we must exercise extreme caution.
- Burgos is the center of a good number of communication routes, so if you start here your way you will have no problem getting there. We give you options:
- Bus: The station is here and every day there are connections with the Peninsula main cities. Some of the companies that have direct routes with the city are Alsa and Autobuses Jiménez.
- 2. Train: The station is here and directly or indirectly connects with the main Spanish cities. For more information you can consult the Renfe’s website.
- 3. Car: Burgos has very good connection with all the surrounding capitals and, from there, with the rest of the peninsula. If no acquaintance is encouraged to take you, you can always use platforms like Blablacar.
Although there is an airport in Burgos, in fact the Camino de Santiago border on its entrance into the city, as we saw in the previous stage, currently has no commercial flights.
Remember that in Tournride we leave the bikes for the Camino de Santiago in your lodging in Burgos if you start there and we can take your spare luggage so that it is waiting for you in your way end.
- Always be aware of the distances between populations, especially in summer. Eleven kilometers can be very long if we do not get enough water or food.
- Avoid pedaling during the summer in the central hours of the day as there are miles where there is no shade where you can get away from the sun. Always wear glasses, cap and sun cream.
DETAILED ITINERARY AND HISTORICAL-ARTISTIC HERITAGE/b>
At this stage we will enter fully into the fields of Castilla. Its golden color will dye the way between visits to different towns that, many times, will have a heritage that will amaze us. We will discover small and friendly towns among others such as Castrojeriz, Frómista and Carrión de los Condes, who culturally have much to offer.
But in addition to these stops, we will find places on the road as impressive as the convent of San Anton ruins or the views that will offer us the peak of Alto de Mostelares.
SALIMOS DE BURGOS AND WE GO THROUGH FIELDS UNTIL “FALL” IN HONTANAS
In Tournride we know that the big cities outings can be a bit confusing for the pilgrims in bike, since sometimes the signals are a little hidden. In the itinerary map you have marked the route, but here we detail it better.
Putting as an exit point the municipal hostel, you have to follow Fernán González Street leaving the cathedral on your left. We arrived at the Arch of San Martin. This arch is shaped like a horseshoe and uses brick because it was built in the 14th century by Mudejar architects, that is, Christians who lived in Muslim territory.
AWhen crossing the Arch of San Martin, the arrows indicate that we go down the stairs to the left, but for us it is much better to go straight and turn 60 m later, avoiding the stairs. Take the Emperador street, which turns left into Villalón street and leads us to cross the Arlanzón. The stone bridge that allows us to get around the river is called “de malatos” (sick) because in the past there was a hospital for lepers.
After passing it we enter the area of the Parral Park and the University campus.. Although the arrows indicate the park central path, for us it is much more comfortable to go by the bike path that runs alongside the N-120.We can follow it for 1.5 km, drawing in three roundabouts in a straight line.
When the N120 turns to the left, we are shown the crossing of the zebra crossing to the right to continue along Benito Pérez Galdós street. Although it is not to follow the traditional route, know that the N-120 will take you direct to Tardajos,, the first stage population. The distance to travel is the same (7.5 km), but without crosses or detours.
If you prefer to go along the original route, follow Galdós street until it becomes a path that alternates with dirt and asphalt and leads you to cross the railroad tracks, the BU600 road and the dual carriageway. The final stretch coincides with the N-120 and leaves you in Tardajos.
Tardajos and Rabé de las Calzadas are joined by a paved track of only 1.5 km long. Both places have Roman past and, in fact, were located in a strategic point in which different roads converged, including the “Fifth Way” that united Clunia – in the south of Burgos – with Sahagún. The name of Rabé “de los Calzadas” comes from there.
The river Urbel runs vertically between the two towns and in the Middle Ages used to flood constantly. This was very unimportant all the way between both localities, which affected the communication and ended up establishing the following saying: “From Rabé to Tardajos, you will not lack works; From Tardajos to Rabé, free Dómine.”. Do not worry; nowadays the road is much easier!
Rabé de los Calzadas reached a greater splendor than Tardajos in the Middle Ages, although Tardajos also had a hospital for pilgrims. Of the castle and the three churches that were there, today is very little and the place most remarkable is the palace of Villariezo, which we see at the town entrance, of S. XVII.
From Rabé to Hornillos there are 8 km that we must walk along a dirt path between fields.. The first half is in permanent climb and, when arriving at the top, we will see a slope of descent until Hornillos, which is in a valley. For the pilgrims on foot the descent is hard, since loading with weight becomes long – in fact this section is called “Matamulos” -, but in bicycle this Santiago road section has no difficulty.
We arrived at our 21 kilometer stage, Hornillos del Camino, with a prototypical Jacobean urbanism. Its main street coincides with the French Way and runs exactly from east to west. Today it has all the services and, as is usual in this type of localities, its church stands out in height and size among the small houses of two floors. Formerly it had a hospital for pilgrims that was founded in the S. XII by the king. Subsequently, the monarch gave the whole town to a French Benedictine monastery.
Leaving Hornillos we have to drive for 11 km along a path between fields, on a slight vertical slope for the first 4 km and then practically flat when arriving at the valley of San Bol. At 6 km, there is a detour signposted to the left to Go to the shelter and hostel of San Bol. Given the desert of this moor, this is an important place for pilgrims on foot, who often leave from Burgos and are already exhausted at this point so they need a place where take refuge.
Hontanas is at a lower level, so from afar you cannot see on the horizon. When we arrive, a 200 meter slide will leave us in the village center. The locality top toponymy comes from the old springs (“fontanas”) that there was in the place and that became an oasis of peace for the medieval pilgrims, after crossing the previous paramo without shadow. Today it has all the services that modern walkers may need.
Before going down to the village, to our right we will see a picnic area next to a small hermitage. The place keeps an image of Santa Brígida, a Swedish woman born in a family of high birth at the beginning of S. XIV that had religious visions from small and that peregrinated to Santiago de Compostela, in addition to other destinations like Holy Lands.
Already in the village, we will be struck by the church that is in the center,, with a tower that surpasses in height to the rest of constructions. The temple is dedicated to the Immaculate Conception and has Gothic origin (S. XIV), although it was later rehabilitated in the S. XVIII, reason why it has neoclassical appearance. This can be seen, for example, in the use of classic elements to decorate the tower: semicircular arches and pediments (triangle shaped trimmings).
WE PERCEIVE THE SAN ANTÓN MAGIC CONVENT AND ARRIVE TO CASTROJERIZ, LAST BURGALES
At the exit of Hontanas the arrows indicate the road crossing to take a path that follows by the slope of a hill and that in 4 km returns us back to the road. Since the trail is narrow and does not have any type of safety wall to avoid the fall by the hill, we recommend obviating the arrows to the exit of Hontanas and instead of crossing the road continuing by her directly until Castrojeriz. Of course, caution because it is a narrow road and double meaning that, in the end, we should also share with the pilgrims on foot.
Six and a half kilometers after leaving Hontanas we will see the impressive San Anton monastery ruins. In Tournride we recommend you stop to enter the monastery, as it is one of those enigmatic and the French way spiritual places.
The first thing that strikes you is that the road itself passes under an imposing portico formed by two large arched ogival arches that frame the old church north portal. The flaring cover has 6 archivolts full of sculptures, which are surprising because of their good state of preservation. To the right, in cover front, there are two niches on the wall. These holes were actually cupboards and were used by the monks to leave bread and wine to the pilgrims, since this place was focused from its foundation to the walker’s attention.
The convent was founded in the 12th century, although the remains we see today are Gothic (S. XIV), hence the pointed arch use.. In the Peninsula was a very important center of San Antonio Order until in the S. XVIII the king Carlos III delegated its management to the private scope. Since the confiscation of Mendizábal in the 19th century, the place was abandoned and since then began its decline, although the good ashlarry with which it was made allowed it not to collapse at all. In 2002 began a rehabilitation project for the attention of pilgrims and today it is possible to sleep there, being the pilgrim’s fundamental principles the same as the Antonines followed a thousand years ago: gratuity and austerity.
If you skirt the building you can enter the church, today without a roof, on the south side. Looking at the structure we can distinguish the organization that had in three ships. The apse wall is quite well preserved, with large buttresses attached to the windows.
In this church, besides the attention to the pilgrim, one of the practices that gave reason to be to the Antonines’s order was carried out: the illness cure “Ignis Sacer”. This evil was also known as “sacred fire” and was a widespread disease in the Middle Ages: it caused the loss of extremities after suffering very strong pains. Today it is known that the disease was caused by a fungus that parasitized rye, hence it was so common, since it was one of the population’s main foods. Curiously, the Antonine monks were able to discover the origin and cure of this disease centuries before science succeeded, using wheat and plants.. They secretly kept this information and, therefore, were the only ones who were able to cure it. So much so that Ignis Sacer came to be known as the “St. Anthony fire” and, in fact, many sick of this evil pilgrims to Santiago just to pass through this monastery and heal itself.
After this visit we continue along the road to Castrojeriz, which we will see in the distance occupying the hillside lower part, on the top of which there is an old castle. This is a good place to stop: it is almost in the middle of the stage (41 km), has all the services and is one of the most beautiful places we will visit today.
This town is, after Burgos, the second largest Burgundian town on the French Way and the last one we will spend in this province.. Historically has had much importance and the hill top where it is has archaeological remains that date from the 1500 a. C as well as Romans and Visigoths – these last inhabitants already made a castle there.
Anyway, when really began to gain transcendence was after the Repoblation.. After two Arab attacks in the 8th and 9th centuries that destroyed the Christian fortresses there, this place is conquered and becomes a strategic place to control the entire territory to the Douro. Therefore, it was vital to repopulate the area.
For this reason, Castrojeriz was given one of the Castile’s most important charters, which today constitutes an interesting sociological document. In the previous stage we saw how in Burgos a privilege was given by which the person who broke the land first was left in property – which gave the category of free peasant. Here the peasants were given the opportunity to become a kind of “second nobility”. All they had to do was get a horse and go to war with him, becoming gentlemen. They were called “caballeria villana” or “infanzonía”, and this meant access to a series of legal and fiscal privileges.
In a society as hierarchical as the medieval one, the fact that these privileges were promulgated is a tension sign that must have taken place centuries of struggle between Christians and Arabs. It also makes one think of the level of violence that should have been established socially if any peasant who took a horse was considered valid to fight.
Nowadays, Castrojeriz is a town with much to offer. The first thing that we find on arriving, before the hill, is a splendid church with a large rosette on its western facade.
It is the former collegiate church of Santa María del Manzano. It began to be built in the 13th century, Romanesque, but in the XV its roofs were changed by other Gothic and in the XVII the temple was expanded. Inside, there is a Gothic carving of the Virgin and legend says it was found inside the trunk of a large apple tree in Castrojeriz.. There was a hermitage that was enlarged to become the temple we see today, where the sculpture became famous for performing miracles. He was so well known that Alfonso X “the Wise”, narrated some of them in his “cantigas” (poems) dedicated to the Virgin.
The streets in Castrojeriz are arranged parallel, in the hillside of the hill and are united perpendicularly by stairs. For this reason, we recommend that cyclists follow the large pedestrian thoroughfare that will pass through most of the relevant buildings.
You will first see the church of Santo Domingo -the temple is Gothic, although it does not look like it by its Plateresque tower of S. XVI -, later by the long and porticada Plaza Mayor and, at the end, the church of San Juan.
The church of San Juan deserves a stop to see the interior. This temple was designed by one of the most important architects of the 16th century German Gothic, named Rodrigo Gil de Hontañón. He also participated in the design, for example, the Salamanca Cathedral Segovia or Plasencia. If you can, we recommend that you enter the church to take a look at the impressive ribbed vaults that cover the space at the same height in the three naves. The columns do not have capital and of their columns they leave nerves that extend by the roof like branches of trees in perfect symmetry. All a work of art!
A BOADILLA DEL CAMINO: WE CROSSED THE TOP OF MOSTELARES AND ENTERED PALENCIA
With this precious image we leave Castrojeriz and, on the way out, we are faced with the vision of Alto de Mostelares. From the town exit until we almost reach the river Pisuerga, the firm will be of land plagued by small stones in some moments.
After crossing the Odrilla River by a wooden bridge, we began the ascent. On average the slope is 12%, to which can be added the wind action and the intense sun heat. Intense but short.
We cross the plain at the top and, almost immediately, begins the descent. We advise caution since in a little more than 1,5 km are lowered about 115 m; Although it is facilitated because part of it was recently paved.
We continue along the trail for 3 km, completely flanked by the Burgos countryside. The road ends in a regional road and in about 900 meters we see a detour to our left to take the path that takes us to Puente de Itero.
Before arriving at the bridge we will see a construction on our right: it is one of the French Way most special shelters.It is the old hermitage of San Nicolás de Puente Fitero, which was abandoned for more than two centuries until an Italian professor decided to promote his rehabilitation as a hostel. Here the dinner is communal and every night there is a ritual washing of feet to the pilgrims who stay there. This tradition was common among monks in the Middle Ages. Mystical and spiritual place that will provide an experience not to forget.
The bridge of Itero (or Puente Fitero) is one of the longest in the French Way and under its 11 arcades runs the Pisuerga, natural border between Burgos and Palencia.. It was built in the 11th century and in the 17th century it was restored respecting its original shape, with high quality ashlar masonry.
After passing the bridge the road marks to the right, towards Itero de la Vega. “Itero” comes from the Latin “petra ficta” that evolved to “milestone” or landmark (road delimiter). This expresses its border position on the Pisuerga riverside (“vega”) and is that, when leaving the town, we will fully enter Palencia and its natural region called “Tierra de Campos”..
This natural area Palencia also shares it with Valladolid, Zamora and León. Together, they produce a volume of cereals so high that they are called the “Barn of Spain”. Of this we will give good account ourselves, since up to Leon we have in front of miles of pedaled by trails of earth between hectares plagued of golden cereal.
After crossing 8 km we arrive at Boadilla (kilometer 60 of stage). In this small town we will find all the services that we need. In the town center there is a kind of stone column that is, in fact, a jurisdictional roll.
These columns were placed in the villages to indicate the administrative category that had the population and to differentiate it from the rest. They could only be placed where there was a mayor and, therefore, where he had the power to condemn to death. In fact, on the roll the convicts were tied with chains to expose them publicly before judging them. In this case, this scroll is from the 16th century and indicates the neighbor Castrojeriz people independence.
The jurisdictional roll of Boadilla Del Camino stands out for its height and decoration, being one of the most important in Spain.. Although there were many, few of them are conserved, because the Constitution of Cadiz (1812) had ordered to destroy them all. These columns were political symbols and judicial power of a lord in a territory and the new law abolished these powers.. For that reason, only rolls remain in the places that they refused to demolish them.
Behind the scroll we see the Our Lady of the Assumption church. Although the temple origin is Romanesque what we see today is S. XV and XVI – this century stands out its main altarpiece. Of its beginnings yes a large baptismal font is stored and profusely decorated.
THE CASTILLA CHANNEL TAKES US TO FRÓMISTA
After leaving Boadilla del Camino on the main street, an arrow indicates that we turn left. In a little more than 1 km, we arrive to the Channel of Castile bank, by which we will travel 3.2 km in plane until a lock by which we must cross the channel and to enter in Frómista.
This channel was one of the most important engineering projects carried out in Spain during the Enlightenment.. It was promoted by Ferdinand VI (1713-1759), a king influenced by this cultural and intellectual current and carried out along with his minister the Marquis de la Ensenada. The idea was to give way to all the surplus of cereal that was produced in Castile, since the communications of this area with the peninsula rest were harmful and one wanted to revitalize its economy.
It was intended to unite Segovia with the Cantabrian Sea in Santander, but this was an enlightened dream. Despite this, 207 km of canal were made in which barges with products circulated by horses. It became a very important engine for the Castilian economy, its first sign of industrialization; although with the railroad appearance lost this use. Today it is obtained from it hydraulic energy, is used for irrigation and also has recreational use (fishing, tourism, etc.)
The road will become a pleasant walk that, after crossing the lock that allowed saving 14 meters of unevenness of land, will leave us in Frómista. In the lock there are stairs, so you can cross the bridge of the road that is a little further on.
The “Camino” way crosses Frómista on the lower side, so if you want to visit some of its monuments we will have to turn right when you get to its great central avenue (Ingeniero Rivera Avenue)..
Frómista is one of the best-known Jacobean locales. Despite having less than 1000 inhabitants, it has a great cultural, historical and gastronomic heritage. The place is also known as “villa del miracle”, referring to a legend of a man who was excommunicated for not returning a loan to a Jew. It turned out that, even though he had returned the money, when years later he died and tried to receive extreme unction, the priest could not do so because the metal cylinder with which he was to anoint him remained stuck to the paten. Until the misunderstanding was clear, he could not receive the last sacrament.
But … what does Frómista offer to visit it today? First is the important monument, the church of San Martín.. The temple image always comes to mind when speaking of the Romanesque style, as it is one of the exponents of this style. It is dated between the end of the C.XI and the beginning of the C.XII. In the XIX century it was object of a great restoration
This church transmits a lot of beauty for the simplicity and cleanness of its forms, which play with the volumes in a very balanced way.. It is of three naves with semicircular apse and vault of cannon – the most common medieval form – but it surprises with its octagonal dome with lantern and with the two western facade circular towers. It is normal that the towers were quadrangular, so this is reminiscent of Carolingian or German art.
In addition, the San Martin temple conserves a great amount of decorative sculpture, very rich in details. In each “canecillo” – in the eaves of the roofs – there is a small sculpture and outside moldings check marks all the buildings heights. Inside, the decoration of its capitals is surprising.
In addition to the church of San Martin, in Frómista also is the temple of San Pedro, in the place of Tuy.. This is not Romanesque, but Gothic, which can be seen in its vaulted vaults. Its cover is Renaissance and part of the temple is occupied by the local parish museum.
In the same great avenue of the town, is the sculpture of the Patron Saint of Frómista: San Telmo. This saint was born here in the 12th century and toured Asturias and Galicia preaching, especially with fishermen – that is why in this sculpture in the middle of the Castilian plateau is represented in a boat.-
FROM FROMISTA TO VILLALCÁZAR DE SIRGA AND LAST KILOMETERS UP TO CARRIÓN
At the exit of Frómista we have to cross two roundabouts on the P-980 and then the indications are simple: continue straight along the road to Carrion de los Condes. The path for pilgrims on foot is permanently parallel to the asphalt, with two cairns in the middle each, hundreds of meters.
Even though the trail is quite wide, it will be more comfortable for us to go down the road. They are about 20 km in profile of very high elevation, although the feeling will be almost to go flat.
. As in Tournride we know that after all the effort made today you will already be tired, we are going to give you some slight notes of things that can be interesting in case you want to stop.
The first population is, worth the redundancy, Población de Campos. In it we can find all the services that we need. Although in the past it was closely related to the Order of St. John today the most remarkable are its two hermitages and its parish church dedicated to St. Magdalene.
Before crossing the river Ucieza by a bridge, at the exit of Población de Campos, there is a marked detour to the right. It is an alternative route that we can take if we want to go between fields to Villovieco.. There we will cross the river again to take the P-980. The distance is practically the same for the two roads.
If we go by the P-980 instead of by the alternative road we will pass by Revenga de Campos. In the tower of the church of this population they usually nest the storks, bird that in Castile finds one of its better habitats in the Peninsula.
Wherever we go, the road will pass through Villarmentero de Campos. The church of San Martín de Tours stands out. Although it does not attract much attention on the outside, it has a beautiful Mudejar coffered ceiling: the Muslims who lived in this Christian territory created a beautiful wooden deck here.
Finally, the road passes through Villalcázar de Sirga before arriving at Carrion de los Condes. Of the four towns of this last section, Villalcázar de Sirga is the one that has a more remarkable patrimony, largely because it houses the church of Santa Maria la Blanca.
As soon as it is seen from afar the temple surprises its size and robustness while, on the inside, it marvels at its delicacy. The church began to be built in the 12th century and was closely linked to the Order of the Templars and the Crown. In fact, to the Virgin White that adores there dedicated Alfonso X the Sage twelve of his “cantigas”.
When the Order of the Temple was dissolved in 1312, the temple was ceded to a family of high birth. The dissolution of this organization has passed into history full of legends, given the abruptness of its eradication. The truth is that since its birth in 1118 the Templars had accumulated so much power that even Philip IV, king of France, owed them an immense amount of money. For this reason, he imprisoned some of these knights and killed them after torturing them, also pressing the Pope to dissolve the order, which he achieved in 1312.
If you can enter the interior of the church, take a look at its main altarpiece and the polychrome sepulchers full of reliefs, you will not regret it!
After this last visit, we walked the last 7 km of stage along the P-980 and we entered Carrión de los Condes by the Pilgrims. You just have to enjoy a well-deserved rest!
A LATE RIDE BY CARRION DE LOS CONDES
Carrion de los Condes is one of those places that, although it is not of great size nor it concentrates a great number of inhabitants – it counts on near 2000 -, yes it has a long historical trajectory carved in monumental patrimony. It lost much of its monuments during the War of Independence, but still keeps a lot of treasures that are worth discovering.
In Tournride we encourage you to enjoy a walk around this locality. Its size and the concentration of places to visit allow, in just 30 minutes, you can make a general picture. To facilitate the experience, we have prepared this itinerary map and give you some small notes on what to see in Carrión de los Condes.
Encourage you to walk, you will not regret it!
Carrion de los Condes, from legends of Trojan horses to a modern cultural city
In Tournride we think that in order to appreciate what we visit today it is necessary to understand how it came to be generated. Therefore, we begin this walk giving a few brushstrokes about where Carrión de los Condes is and what has been his historical development.
Carrión de los Condes is in the center of the province of Palencia. Its privileged position on the banks of the river Carrión, in the arid plateau of Castile, has made it inhabited since prehistoric times. Even so, the first urbanized settlement is believed to have been Celtiberian.
In the S. I a. C. the Romans arrived at the place and destroyed with what there was, creating a new settlement that, when it fell the empire in the West in S. V, the visigodos took under their control. In the northwest part of the right bank of the river Carrión they constructed a castle, of which today there are no remains.
The Arabs are made in the S.VIII with that fortress, denominating Monte Algiers. From the attempt of an Asturian knight from the time of Alfonso II “El Casto” to recover the citadel of Arab hands arises one of the most famous legends of the town that, despite being very ingenious, was not precisely “innovative” historically speaking.
In the “Iliad” Homer tells how the Achaean army managed to penetrate Troy after years of siege. It is said that the Greeks simulated leaving in retreat, leaving a hollow horse at the gates of the city, which the Trojans took for an offering from Athena and into Troy. At night, the Greek warriors hiding inside the horse opened the gates of the wall and their army devastated the city.
In this case, Christians are said to have used chariots instead of a horse as in Troy to recover the castle of Mount Argel. They put arms in the coal and disguised themselves as coalmen, pretending to the Arabs who only wanted to enter the castle to sell their merchandise. When they entered, they opened fire, and when they fled the castle they fell into the ambush of the Christian army, waiting for them at the gates.
Thanks to this ingenious tactic, the castle returned to Christian hands and, around this point began to develop the population nucleus, which came to have great importance in the Middle Ages. It was established as a “county”, that is to say, a territory governed by a count dependent on the royal family. The royal visits gave great importance to the town and many families of high lineage were concentrated there.
In fact, the name of “the Counts” comes because there were different power struggles between families to control the place and, in the S. XV, three families of different counts signed a pact not to lose the power before another county family. Carrión will be a county until it changes the territorial organization and it becomes a municipality, already in the Modern Age.
The splendor of the Middle Ages was reflected in the construction of a large number of buildings of great artistic value, both civil and religious. There many religious orders were concentrated in monasteries – a large part of the lineage of the families of Carrión happened to direct them – and the upper class constructed houses of stone emblazoned. In addition, Carrión had great commercial importance and was a mandatory stop on the French Way, so there was a great flow of goods and people there. So much so that there were 15 hospitals of sick and pilgrims and by the end of S. XV had 6000 inhabitants..
In addition to all this, from the S. XI Carrión also had gained fame because a family of infants took to a monastery of the locality relics of important Roman saints. Among them, San Zoilo, who was a martyr decapitated in Cordoba for preaching in the S. IV, when Christianity was still persecuted.
In the sixteenth century the plan of the city was already similar to what we see now, but a recession caused by the plague and the excessive taxes qthat were applied in the locality, which reduced trade, began to break through. In addition, the pilgrimage no longer had the flow of previous centuries. Some 600 inhabitants were reached, but thanks to the establishment of a “free” weekly market (free of taxes) by royal order the commerce began to re-emerge and, with it, the life in Carrión. In the S. XVII was even to trade with Flanders or France and in the following century the situation remained stable.
In the S. XIX takes place one of the most tragic episodes of the town. With the Napoleonic occupation in Spain the War of Independence is unleashed and Carrión de los Condes becomes the scene of the confrontation. The leader of the Castilian resistance decides to burn all the important buildings of Carrión o avoid that the French could get to take his power and to take shelter in them. Convents and churches were burned and, very importantly, all the archives that kept historical documents of Carrión de los Condes..
This fire, added to the confiscation – which emptied all the masculine convents of the city -, much changed the urbanism. Some of the buildings burned or abandoned were used to build new ones, such as the Town Hall or the Market Square. “Carrión de los Condes” was modernized during that century and the next, finally becoming the attractive locality that it is today.
We start walking and, for a change … we do it from east to west! From the convent of Santa Clara to the interesting cover of the church of Santiago
We leave the southeast part of Carrión, near where we enter from the P-980. There is the Real Monasterio de Santa Clara (Royal monastery of Santa Clara), our first stop.
Santa Clara was Italian and was the first woman to write a monastic rule for women in the 13th century. Two direct disciples of Santa Clara founded this convent in the year 1231, which makes it one of the oldest in Spain.. In addition, it occupies a great extension of land and its operation has been almost uninterrupted.
Architecturally, little remains of the original building of S. XIII. What we see today is the overlap of reforms, the most important of the S. XVII, which was when the monastery reached its moment of splendor during the management of Sor Luisa de la Ascensión. This abbess was able to accumulate a great influence. In fact, it was the one that got the king to create a tax-free fair to re-circulate goods after the recession of the sixteenth century.
It is said that the monastery survived in good condition to the War of Independence thanks to the cunning of the nuns, who made a pact with the French for which they invited them every afternoon to a chocolate if they respected the place. Whether it is true or not, the monastery spent the war intact and, in fact, the nuns who live there today continue to prepare typical sweets.
The convent today houses a museum, highlighting among its assets the impressive collection of nativity scenes of the world: figures representing the birth of Jesus brought from all over the globe. It is also worth visiting the church, with its altarpiece presided over by a sculpture of Santa Clara.
At the north gate there is a well. As many Jacobean walkers drank of it, it is called the well “of the Pilgrims” or “of Health”. It was considered that this spring was exactly in the middle of the Way of Santiago from France, although today it is thought that this point is a little later, passed Sahagún.
Following the street of Santa Clara and crossing the road, we passed the tourist information booth and arrived at the church of Santa María del Camino.. In this 12th century temple, of great dimensions to be Romanesque, a pilgrim’s Blessing Mass is celebrated every day in the afternoon.
Following the pedestrian street, dotted with hospitality and shops – many of them specialized in the needs of pilgrims – we reach the Plaza Mayor. This will be the place where we will finish our walk, but first, we will continue the visit to the church-museum of Santiago, which is in the same pedestrian and is part of the most important heritage of Carrion de los Condes. We will stop, mainly, in its magnificent main front.
What today is the church of Santiago was previously part of a monastic complex built in the 12th century, which also had a hospital for pilgrims. Although it was one of the buildings that suffered the most from the fire of 1811, part of the church survived, and in 1931 it was declared Historic Historical Monument and, in 2000, Cultural Interest. Its reconstruction after the fire was carried out in 1849, moment in which also the Plaza Mayor and the city council in front were created -all this with material of old convents-.
In addition to the museum collection housed inside, the building’s main entrance, which is medieval, attracts attention. In it we see a door in the form of an arch half point with an upper horizontal frieze that runs through the entire facade. The arch to the right and giving access to the alley that borders the church is part of the old monastery.
The door of the church of Santiago is decorated with an impressive archivolt full of figures that, in this case, do not represent biblical characters, but the medieval trades that existed in Carrion during the Middle Ages. There are 22 human figures and each is a different trade: blacksmith (represented by the Jewish cap), alchemist, cobbler, minstrel, scribe, monk, harpist, judge, warrior, mourner, tailor … It is striking, as a curiosity, Appears to the right, which represents a ballet-contortionist, in an almost impossible posture and with insinuating clothes.
Under the arch, two columns with carved capitals frame the door. In the one on the left we see the Good,, in the form of two protectors that prevent a lion (the demon) from taking the soul of a person while they take it to heaven. In the one on the right, on the other hand, the opposite is represented: Evil as the torture of a naked man whom some dogs bite permanently without ever killing him.
On the door we see a frieze that can remind us of what we saw previously in Villalcázar de Sirga, with a Pantócrator Christ in the middle. He is surrounded by the four apostles represented as his symbols: Matthew is an angel, Mark a lion, Luke a bull and John an eagle. To the sides the apostles are represented, in groups of six.
In fact, the whole wall of the church has a global significance.. Above is Christ as judge and surrounded by his closest friends, who by their merits in life have already gained a place with Him in Paradise. The book of laws is closed because the Final Judgment has not yet come. Below we are, society – in that medieval moment -, developing our mundane life activities. If we “do it right” we will go to God’s right (Good) and, if we “do it right”, to his left.
Although to us today this seems very difficult to decipher, medieval people understood at the time. It was a symbolism to which they were accustomed and this was used to warn and guide the people level. They would be, in a contemporary analogy, our current traffic signals -which we understand but which a medieval would never understand-.
We continue to the church of San Andrés and cross the bridge to San Zoilo
We follow the pedestrian street until there is traffic again and, in the street Hortaleza, we turn to the right to visit the church of San Andrés, denominated “Cathedral of Carrion de los Condes”..Although there was a Romanesque church there, in the sixteenth century it was replaced by the one we see today, according to a project by R. Gil de Hontañón – a master of which we speak today for his design of San Juan in Castrojeriz. The interior is bright and large.
Leaving the church we follow the whole street Hortaleza to the Puente Mayor. This bridge is a reconstruction of the S. XVI. The first bridge there was that of S. XI, which was made to unite the monastery of San Zoilo with the town of Carrión – although at that time both territories worked independently-. The primitive bridge had doors to the ends and in them it was charged to pass, as much to the merchants as to the pilgrims.. Therefore, some people left in their will money to pay that toll to a certain number of poor or pilgrims, as a charity.
After crossing the bridge we will see in front of us, at only about 200 meters, the baroque façade of the Monastery of San Zoilo, which now functions as a hotel.. This monastery was known among the medieval pilgrims because, just as today in Iratxe they give us wine, here they were given all the bread and wine they wanted. In addition to pilgrims came kings and, in fact, here married Fernando III the Saint in the S. XIII.
Of the original building is little and, of its set, it emphasizes especially the cloister of S. XVI. The sculptors who participated decorated columns and capitals profusely. As well as the vault that runs the entire portico.
We end up returning to the Río Carrión east side: visit to civil buildings and well-deserved feast in the vicinity of the Plaza Mayor
After this visit we cross the bridge again and then turn right following the river bank. In Ruiz Girón street, which crosses a few meters, we can have a look at one of the few houses of great aristocratic families that is preserved today, since most were destroyed in the fire of 1811. La Casa Girón is Of the XVIII and in his facade we can see the shields of the family, as well as the beautiful bars of the windows.
We return to Adolfo Suárez street and turn left, arriving in less than 100 meters to the Plaza Mayor. There we can see the Town Hall, built in 1868 after the previous one fire. It is a building of great solidity, with a base of stone coming from abbeys and convents disappeared..
Near the square, the Carrion de los Condes heart, a large number of restaurants are located in which we can enjoy the best of the Palencia gastronomy: roasts, lamb, Pisuerga crabs, etc. If you like the sweet, know that the place counts on a great tradition of sweets by its monastic inheritance. In Carrion de los Condes are especially known the “garrapiñadas” and puff pastry.
Having put the brooch to this long stage with a visit as complete as this, only rest to face the stage tomorrow in the best mental and physical. Tomorrow we will enter León, which will be the stage with more mileage, although the profile will be favorable. Passing Sahagun, we will have already crossed half the itinerary to Santiago.
Prepared to pass the Ecuador of your road?
STAGE 6: FROM SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA TO BURGOS – FRENCH ROAD BY BIKE
Distance to Santiago 562 km
Step Distance: 75 km
Estimated time: 6 – 6,5 hours
Minimal height: 640 m
Maximum height: 1165 m
Difficulty of the route: High
Places of interest: Belorado, Villafranca de Montes de Oca, San Juan de Ortega, Atapuerca, Burgos
Map of the route: To see the route in Google Maps click here
This stage increases in difficulty due mainly to the increase in mileage compared to what we have done so far, and also because we will encounter some powerful ramps in which there will sometimes be loose stones; which will increase the technical difficulty. Anyway, in the text and in the map of stage you will be able to find the alternatives by road.
The greatest complications will be found in some pronounced jumps in the Montes de Oca and, after crossing the Sierra de Atapuerca. There we will overcome 100 meters of unevenness in a little more than a kilometer, then descend for three kilometers about 140 meters in steep slope.
In general, you can follow the original paths of the Camino during the whole stage, although in many cases, these will parallel the N120 or other local roads. At some points, we will recommend from Tournride that you go by the road, especially if the weather conditions are bad, the ground is muddy or there are a lot of pilgrims, as some trails are narrow. Here we tell you the points where you can rejoin the trails.
PROFILE AND STAGE’S MAIN ROUTES
We leave from Santo Domingo de la Calzada and, after crossing the bridge, we can continue directly by the Road of Burgos. The path runs parallel to it and, after a little more than two kilometers, we will find a stop sign that eliminates one of the lanes of the road. At that point, we see the Path to our left and we can reincorporate ourselves there.
From that point the slope becomes stronger and even Grañón we have to make an effort, especially in the last two kilometers to the center of the town, which is in a high point called “hill of Mirabel” (120 m difference of height).
After a steep descent to the exit of Grañón, we take a gravel path that leads lightly along the border between La Rioja and Castilla y León. It is marked with a large poster with a road map in this community.
From the border, throughout the Road there will be marks with permanent and short jumps. From the border, the gravel trail leaves us in “Redecilla del Camino”. By its center passes the N-120, road that will not take until Castildelgado.
When arriving at Castildelgado we can follow the yellow arrows to cross trails of land that take us to pass through Viloria of Rioja. If instead of following them we go by the N120 we will not pass through this locality and we will go directly to Villamayor of the River. The trails to Viloria de Rioja are perfectly passable; they can only be a little narrow in some points.
From Villamayor del Río to Villafranca de Montes de Oca we can go as far along the original road, it runs in the form of a gravel or dirt path more or less parallel to the road, as by the N120. If we go by road we will not pass through Villambistía. It runs on a permanent and light slope.
When arriving at Villafranca de Montes de Oca we can take the original road, we will cross these mountains and compensate for the extra effort that demands with an incredible natural environment. Transiting by dirt roads that will be swelling as we go up the slope, alternating marked descents with short but intense ramps, which can reach between 5 and 8% of unevenness. We can also choose to continue on the N120 from Villafranca and join the tracks of the mountains 4.5 km later, entering directly into Alto de la Pedraja, maximum altitude of the mountain (1150 m). You can also enter before, but it would be just before the Civil War monument.
From the Alto de la Pedraja we descend in gradual slope for about 8 km until San Juan de Ortega. From there we follow a beautiful road between pines, near Agés, places us on an upper level giving us beautiful views of the surroundings. From that point a slide leaves us Agés.
The first three kilometers from the exit of Agés will become a pleasant walk on plain by the regional road (BU-V-7012). When we see to our right the interpretation center of the deposits of Atapuerca and enter in the homonymous town, we must leave of the road to take a path of gravel to the left.
From this point it is necessary to climb for two kilometers the Atapuerca mountain range. A difference in altitude of 116 meters is exceeded and then 140 m in another 2.5 km. It is not a very steep slope but the type of firm can complicate the crossing, since there are many loose stones and steps of natural stone.
Given the technical difficulty of this section, you can make the decision to get around it. To do this you have to continue straight on the Atapuerca road until you reach Olmos de Atapuerca, where we will take the road that borders the mountains to the left and we will reach Villaba, where we will re-connect the Camino.
From Villalbal we are less than 17 km to reach Burgos. The profile is softened and, although we have some leap, it will not be comparable to what we have gone through.
After leaving behind Orbañeja Riopico and crossing the dual carriageway by an overpass we have two options to enter Burgos.
The first option is by the original path. It borders the airport by the right and enters the city by the industrial estate of the Gamonal. It is a long and tedious road of more than 10 km until arriving at the cathedral (7 km by the industrial estate, with much traffic and movement of trucks).
The second option is to enter through the river park of the Arlanzón River.. Unless it rains a lot and the grounds turn very muddy, this is surely the best option. To go here, we have to cross it the top of the motorway and, when we see urbanization to our left, we go through it to take a path that goes to the bottom. This path is also signaled vertically and horizontally, so we will have no problem following it. The distance and profile to go will be similar, but the walk becomes much more pleasant and takes us almost to the center of the city.
In general, this will be a stage that will require a lot of effort given that, in addition to being quite long, it includes the climb to two high heights in the Montes de Oca and in the Sierra de Atapuerca. The landscape that will accompany us will be worth it, since we will see how the green of the river begins to give way to the great extensions of Leon. What is certain is that, after so much effort, the entrance to Burgos can be made long, since you see the city but it takes quite a while to get to its center. Come On Pilgrim!
- Although the road runs close to the road gives us the option to go by asphalt and facilitate the pilgrimage, if we go on the trails sometimes there is some dangerous crossing. You should always be very careful on these points.
- From Villafranca de Montes de Oca to San Juan de Ortega there are about 12 km by the mountain without any locality, so if we need water or food it is always advisable to stock up before. Mention that in the high part of the hills, in the wide piste between 5 km of San Juan, there is a bar called “El oasis del camino”,(The oasis of the Road), with tables and chairs made of great painted trunks. The will is paid for what is requested. It is not permanent, so in winter you may not find it.
- If you start your way in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, we help you get there. Do you know how to get to Santo Domingo de la Calzada?
- 1. Local buses arrive from multiple points of the peninsula. Since depending on where you leave the company that operates is different, it is best to look at the page of the town hall where all the information is detailed and look for a connection that is worth directly on the page of who operates.
- 2. There are buses that connect to Logroño, Burgos, Zaragoza, Madrid and Barcelona; All of them are cities with airports. If you come from afar this way you have the possibility of linking.
- 3. There is no train station in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The nearest are Haro (21 km), Miranda de Ebro (38 km) and Logroño (46 km).
You can also try on some social platform like Blablacar or hire a taxi that will pick you up at the locality close to the one you arrive to transfer to Santo Domingo.
Remember that in Tournride we will leave you the day before the beginning of your trip the bicycles in your accommodation of Santo Domingo de la Calzada and we can take care of your surplus luggage, transferring it to your end of road.
- If you want to visit Atapuerca, you have three ways to do it.. From Tuesday to Sunday, the Atapuerca Foundation organizes visits to the sites every hour from 10:00 a.m. to 13:00 p.m.; So if the schedule coincides well you can approach from the road that passes the Road to the site itself (it is well indicated). The second possibility is if you spend the night in Agés, make use of the bus that picks up the pilgrims every day and takes them to make the visit (it is recommended to consult schedules in the hostel of the town). The last is to take the bus from the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos to the site. For more information consult the website of the Atapuerca Foundation.
- If you want to visit the cathedral of Burgos keep in mind that it only opens until 18:00 and that you have to pay entrance (€ 3.5 with the credential).. If you do not arrive, you can always do so from 10:00 am the next morning.
DETAILED ITINERARY AND HISTORICAL-ARTISTIC HERITAGE
At this stage we will leave behind La Rioja and we will enter Castilla. The change of landscape will be gradual, the vineyards will be little by little behind and we will cross great plantations of pines until the landscape of the call “Riojilla Burgalesa” will give us the views of its great extensions dotted with holm oaks.
In addition to these impressive sites, we will discover the first human footprints in the deposits of Atapuerca and the great San Juan de Ortega’s medieval constructions. All this interspersed by the visit to multiple villages of small size in which the affability of the people and the good treatment to the pilgrim is assured.
WE LEFT SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA AND WE CROSS GRAÑÓN UNTIL TO ARRIVE TO THE BORDER WITH CASTILLA Y LEÓN
Today’s route begins with a building full of history: the bridge of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We already know the history of the saint and of this locality; detailed in the final walk of the previous stage. This Bridge of exit of the locality was the one that first made famous to Domingo Garcia.
It is true that the bridge currently used by pilgrims (stone and 16 arches), is not the bridge built by the saint in the 11th century. First there was a bridge formed by a wooden board on stone pillars and then Santo Domingo, once it was already known in its time, built another next to it formed by about 25 large stone arches. This bridge, due to the constant wear and tear of the floods and the passage of time, had to be reformed in all the centuries from XVI to XIX, which changed its appearance until giving it the configuration that we see today.
Despite the fact that the stones that Domingo Garcia put today are not enough, it is true that the construction has a lot of historical importance and therefore is cited in many ancient sources. It is also the scene of one of Domingo’s many miracles, since it is said that a pilgrim who slept there was hit by a chariot and the saint gave him back his life.
We decide to follow the road of Burgos or parallel to it by the paths of the road, in about 7 km we will reach Grañón, the last town we will visit La Rioja. The Camino de Santiago coincides with its Calle Mayor, so we will cross the town through its main artery, which coincides with the highest point of the Cerro de Mirabel, where the town is located. Formerly, given the border position of the place, here was a castle that allowed dominating the area. Today there are no remains but we can see good views sitting in a balcony at the end of the street, where the road indicates a turning to the left.
After leaving Grañón on a paved road first and with good ground afterwards, we travel less than two kilometers until we reach the border with Castilla y León.. A large sign indicates the crossing point, with information on the different locations through which the road runs in this community.
We have about 450 kilometers to travel through Castile and Leon to reach Galicia, first by Burgos and then by Palencia and León. We will see how the landscape of this stage, which still reminds us of La Rioja, will give way to the extensive lines between cereal fields of the Castilian plains in the coming days and then the Bierzo will return to us vineyards and large trees to climb To the Ancares and enter the greenest of all: Galicia.
WALKING TO TOWNS- STREETS: THE URBANISTIC FOOTPRINT OF THE ROAD IN REDECILLA, CASTILDELGADO AND VILLAMAYOR DEL RÍO
In just 1, 5 km we arrive at the first locality Castilian: Redecilla del Camino.. Like many other towns we will see today, it has the town-street configuration very common on the Camino de Santiago. The road coincides with its main street.
In Redecilla Del Camino you can stand out one of the most well-known sculptural pieces of the French Road. In the main street of the town is a small Romanesque jewel inside the “Nuestra Señora de la Calle” church.
This is its baptismal font, which is almost one meter in diameter and is considered by many to be the most special of all the French Way. It is shaped like a cup, it is of stone and all its external part is carved representing an imposing fortification. Details are perfectly seen in the battlements, in the small windows of different shapes and in the eight carved towers that stretch until they become columns that are attached to its base.
This wonderful work of the 12th century does not leave anyone indifferent. It may be because of the striking of his size, which has an imposing force, is delicate and detailed within his roughness. Perhaps it is because the marked volumes recall the miniatures of the medieval codices (not forgetting their proximity to the San Millán monastery de la Cogolla, vital in this type of art) or Mozarabic art, those Christians who lived in Muslim territory and that they were therefore influenced by the art of Al-Andalus. Be that as it may, this work deserves a stop to be admired. Mention also that the chosen theme is of marked symbolism, since the castle that represents surely is the Celestial Jerusalem. In this way, it expresses the idea that the baptism that takes place in it is the first step in life to eliminate sin and to be able to enter the so-called “City of God” someday.
Either by road or by the paths of the Camino, in less than 2 km we will arrive at Castildelgado, also in the form of town-street typical of the Jacobean route. If from there we continue by road we will not pass through Viloria de Rioja and therefore we will miss the visit to the place where Santo Domingo was born in 1019. The town is named after its proximity to the homonymous community and in its Our Lady of the Assumption church the baptismal font is conserved where the saint received his first sacrament.
Picking up again asphalt or path, we arrive at Villamayor del Río. If the already visited Villamayor de Monjardín was the town of the four lies (neither villa, nor greater, nor nuns, nor garden) this is the one of the three deceptions: it is not a villa, nor is it bigger, nor has a river. We will leave on your left your parish church, next to which there was formerly a hospital for pilgrims
BELORADO, “RIOJILLA BURGALESA” MAIN ENTITY
Following both the N120 and the path of the road that runs parallel to it, in about 4 km we will reach Belorado. This town of about 2000 inhabitants is located in a place that was once strategic, being between the Ebro valley and the plateau. When the first onslaught of Arabs tried to conquer the whole north of the peninsula, King Alfonso I had a castle built there, of which only remains of what is believed to be the tower of the tribute.
The town splendor emerges from the 11th century, when Sancho III the Great changed the layout of the way and thousands of Jacobean pilgrims began to pass by. Aymeric Picaud mentions this place as “belforatus” which in Latin means “beautiful hole”, perhaps because it is at a lower level than the surrounding terrain. Such became its importance that this town bears the privilege of being the place in Spain in which the existence of the oldest fair (1116 AD) has been documented. Although today it may seem somewhat trivial, the fairs in the Middle Ages were of vital importance, since they were the place where the most important economic and social activities took place. The existence of this fair caused many Franks and Jews (both with an important role in the trade) to settle in the town. After the expulsion of the Jews of the peninsula in S. XV, the town began to lose importance.
Today the main attractions to visit Belorado are the church of Santa María (adjacent to which is the parish hostel) and, in the Plaza Mayor, the San Pedro church; of medieval origin but very reformed in S. XVII. In the town is also the International Museum of Radiocomunicación Inocencio Bocanegra, which occupies an old silo (the only building of this type totally reformed in Spain). In this open interior space is a collection of more than 450 original pieces and there is also the largest interior reproduction of Europe from a trench of World War I (619 square meters).
WE GO TO VILLAFRANCA DE MONTES DE OCA
From Belorado to Villafranca de Montes de Oca we must face 12 km of slight but permanent rise, only interspersed by a few jumps.
From Belorado we can go to Tosantos by the N120 or by the road path of land but of good firmness. The road does not get much shorter, but it can be a good option in times of saturation of pilgrims on foot.. In about 5 km we will reach Tosantos, from where we will see on our right, in the distance, the Virgen de la Peña hermitage. It is a construction of eremitic origin, with different dependencies excavated like caves in the wall of rock.
If we continue by road from Tosantos, we will not pass Villambistía, which is less than 2 km along dirt tracks. In the town center, after leaving to our right church of San Esteban (S. XVII) there is a source of four pipes. It is said that its water cancels the tiredness of the pilgrims but … Beware! It is about soaking the head, not drinking it; its water is not drinkable!
Leaving Villambistía by a path of good firm will arrive in less than 1, 5 km to Espinosa of the Way, after crossing the N120. If we have decided not to go through Villambistía we will have traveled little more than 3 km from Tosantos.
From there they remain about 3.5 km until arriving at Villafranca de Montes de Oca. If you prefer, you can also go on the N120, shortening about 500 meters.
In Villafranca de Montes de Oca (kilometer 34.6 of stage) we will be at the foot of the mountains of the same name, which we must cross for 12 km to reach the next town of stage: San Juan de Ortega. This village has all the services, so if you want to make a stop can be a good place to rest.
When you start the ascent to the mountains, we will see on our left the church of Santiago el Mayor. Carried out for the most part in the seventeenth century, it will surely draw attention to its good stonework, which gives meaning and enhances the classicism and simplicity of its lines. It is worth getting in to see its holy water pile, consisting of a huge natural shell.
Almost in the church front, to our right, there is also an old hospital of pilgrims that was commanded to construct in 1377 by the queen of Castile. With the building being refurbished, the place is nowadays an accommodation space for the pilgrim, in the form of a hostel (5-10 euros) or a three star hotel (from 30 euros).
MONTES DE OCA, A NATURAL SHOW WITH A TASTE OF HISTORY
Montes de Oca are a semimontañoso territory that divides the basins of two of the great rivers of Spain: the Duero and the Ebro. Fernán González says in its verses that also served as political border, marking the eastern limits of the primitive Castile.
With the strengthening of the pilgrimage to Santiago, these mountains rose as a necessary step for the walkers. In fact, Aymeric Picaud already names these places in the Codex Calixtino of the XIII century, referring to them as “Nemus Oque”. “Nemus” is a Latin word referring to a forest that contains trees with sacred connotations, which gives an idea of the importance of the place. It was a stretch much feared by the pilgrims,, who not only had to face the difficulties of the configuration of the land, but one of the main problems of the way during the Middle Ages: security. The high density of vegetation that surrounded the small road paths was a perfect hiding place for the bandits, who waited for the pilgrims to assault them. To all this must be added the difficulties to obtain potable water during the more than 12 km of road and extreme temperatures in winter and summer. A proof of medieval faith!
Nowadays, we will no longer have any security problems, but we will be able to enjoy the peace that is breathed in its beautiful surroundings, pedaling among oaks, ash trees, pines and juniper trees inhabited by a long series of wild animals.
When leaving Villafranca de Montes de Oca we will face one of the stretches that can be more complicated to the pilgrims by bike. It climbs a fairly narrow path with a firm set. There are many large loose stones and at certain points there may be jumps with a slope of up to 6-8%. After walking for about 1.8 km the slope will remain steep but will soften (maximum 3%) and the trail will gain amplitude.
We will arrive to a stop where there is a monument to the fallen in the Spanish Civil War. It was promoted by the relatives of the more than 300 people who were shot in that place after the Franco uprising in 1936 and later buried in a common grave that, along with that in Montes de Estépar, is one of the largest in Burgos. Many pilgrims leave messages in this place in countless languages and forms.
Just beyond the monument awaits us the other complicated section of these mountains. We will have to descend 22 meters of altitude in 600 meters and, after crossing the river Carratón, climb 37 meters of difference of height in less than 1 km, facing at the beginning a strong ramp of 100 m. Surely the best thing in this section is to get off the bike and push, since with the weight of the saddlebags it will cost us to climb, especially if it is raining, since the firm is gravel and dirt!
When overcoming these obstacles we will be in Alto de la Pedraja (1150 m), maximum level of stage. Shortly before that point is the link between that track and the N120. In case of bad weather or if we prefer to cross the route by road from Villafranca de Montes de Oca to there, we will join before the Pedraja (consult stage map in Google Maps to see the specific point).
From Alto de la Pedraja it is 7 km to reach San Juan de Ortega, which we will travel through wide and firm tracks of land, so the biggest problem we can have is mud if there has been rain. Near the Alto de la Pedraja and according to the season in which we peregrinate we can find the “Oasis del Camino”, an improvised and colorful outdoor bar where we can stop to rest if we wish.
SAN JUAN DE ORTEGA, ENIGMATIC PLACE WITH MORE THAN 800 YEARS OF SERVICE TO THE PILGRIM
We enter San Juan de Ortega and the wonderful view of its monastery welcomes us opening to our right. This town has the same name as the saint who promoted his creation, who was born in 1080 in Quintanaortuño (a town of Burgos).
He was a disciple of Santo Domingo and today he is the riggers patron. Like his teacher, he did many works for the pilgrims. The most important is the one that started in this place of the Montes de Oca, known as “urtica” because of the amount of plants of this species that were concentrated here. They say that after a shipwreck that almost cost him the death returning from Jerusalem, Juan decided to build there a chapel to San Nicholas with a hospital for the pilgrims.
Juan died in Nájera in 1163, when he was 83 years old. Its remains were taken to the chapel of Nicolás and the importance that this saint took made that many people peregrinase to the place that ended up adopting the name of San Juan de Ortega.
The monastery annexed to the church was first occupied by the Dominicans and then by the Hieronymites, who greatly expanded it in 1476. Such was its importance at that time that even Queen Elizabeth the Catholic went there to ask the saint to help him have Children, since after having given birth to Isabel had been 6 years without descendants. The following year gave birth to a man whom Juan called and, a year later, to what would be known as Juana “La Loca”. Surely the choice of names hid thankfulness from the queen to the saint for her help in her fruitfulness.
The monastery is a special place because to the singular of its beautiful surroundings are united its importance as a Christian place and, also, the enigmatic of an astronomical phenomenon denominated “Miracle of the light”. Each equinox at 5 o’clock in the afternoon sun rays penetrate the saint church and illuminate his capital, which has a representation of the nativity (the birth of Jesus). In the center of the capital, the Virgin Mary receives the rays with her two raised palms. This capital is located inside the northern apse of the church and is a jewel of the Romanesque, perfectly preserved and with a multitude of carvings full of details. He is not the only one of the temple, since in him cohabitates capitals of vegetal motives with others with figures, like this one.
San Juan de Ortega died before the church of San Nicolás was finished. The churches always began to build by the apse, the most sacred part, because that way you could begin to give mass before the whole building was finished. This church was started in the second half of the 12th century, when the triple head was made. After the death of the saint the works were interrupted and resumed at the end of the S. XV, at which time the style that predominated was the late-Gothic style. Therefore, in this church we see how the apse has more clearly Romanesque forms, with arches and flared windows, while the part of the feet and the cover are Gothic.
Gothic is also the impressive mausoleum in the form of baldachin that is in the center of the temple, where are buried the pair of important nobles who sponsored it. The reliefs on the sides of the tomb represent scenes from the life of St. John, but what strikes the most is the delicacy of the upper tracery of the tomb, so fine that it is hard to believe that they start from a block of stone.
The sepulcher of San Juan is in the chapel of San Nicolás de Bari and is Romanesque purely. It is full of reliefs on all sides and the lid is slightly larger than the box. Carved scenes of the saint’s life are also carved.
After this impressive visit we leave San Juan de Ortega for the asphalt which, after the curve of the road, becomes again a rather flat gravel path that for 3 km will lead us between a huge pine forests. When clearing the high density of trees will open before us some beautiful views of the fields of cultivation of Burgos. After crossing a metal fence we will descend for 500 meters by a slide that at some point can have up to 9% of slope and that will leave us at the entrance to Agés.
CROSSING OF THE SAW OF ATAPUERCA AND LAST LOCALITIES BEFORE BURGOS
Agés are today a town of little more than 50 inhabitants, dedicated eminently to the cultivation of the cereal. Instead, it was born in the 12th century with an important political and military function, since it served as a border with the Arabs in the context of the Reconquest. Today it has three lodges and a nice shop-restaurant called “El Alquimista” where Amapola and her husband lovingly prepare typical dishes of the area, taking great care of the pilgrims (they also give breakfast from 6:00 a.m. in the morning).
We leave Agés by the local road, in a comfortable way without major changes of slope. At 1.6 km we will see on our right a detour signposted towards a track of about 600 meters that leaves you directly in the door of the center of interpretation of Atapuerca. If instead of taking the detour we continue a little more than half a kilometer by the road, we will arrive at the homonymous village, from where the trail leaves to climb the mountain.
Why visit the Atapuerca sites? The collection of caves that compose this archaeological park collects a great number of honorary mentions and cultural prizes, among which is the one of World Heritage since 1999. Since the last quarter of S. XX has been the object of countless archaeological campaigns that have Brought to light the remains of four different hominid species, which has helped enormously to understand how our ancestors were. In addition, many different ritual objects have also been found, many of them from the Bronze Age (about 1300 BC), and even some previous sociological activities have been demonstrated; including ritual cannibalism (the only example of this in Europe).
In the village of Atapuerca we will find all the services that we need. From Plaza Antecesor, this is close to the road and almost to the exit of the village, the road that goes up to the mountains. From that point we must face a ramp of 2.5 km in which rises a difference of height of 117 m with moments in which the slope can reach 9%. . Anyway, the main problem is the firm, since it is of large loose stones and in some moments is of enough technical difficulty.
We will know that we have reached the highest level (1072 m) when we see a large cross with stones at its base that hundreds of pilgrims have been leaving with the passage of time. We will have a beautiful view of the surroundings and we will see a sign that reinforces with its inscription the beautiful place: “Since the pilgrim ruled Burguete the mounts of Navarre and saw the dilated fields of Spain, has not enjoyed a more beautiful view like this” . The text is a quote from Luciano Huidobro and Serna, a historian who promoted one of the greatest works of the XXth Century on the Camino de Santiago (“The Jacobean Pilgrimages”) and specialized in the section of the French Way in the province Of Burgos.
There are also works of land art, a type of contemporary art that uses nature as a framework and material to build his works. Thus, a series of drawings in the form of concentric circles formed by stones, of different sizes, will surprise the pilgrim.
During the descent of the sierra the terrain will remain complicated. There are another 2.5 km with a difference in height of 138 m and negative slopes of between 8.5 and 3%. After a final toboggan we turn left and Villabal, from where the slope will be very soft and the road will become a pleasant walk on asphalt. In this way, in the following 3.5 km the road will take us to cross Cardeñuela Riopico first and Orbaneja Riopico later.
THE ENTRY IN BURGOS BY THE GAMONAL OR THE FLUVIAL RIDE OF THE ARLANZÓN RIVER
When you leave Orbaneja Riopico and cross the motorway for an overpass, we will be at the gates of Burgos. Between us and the city, you will find the city airport that we must get round, either on one side or another.
And is that because of the heavy of the original road to Burgos, which borders the airport on the right, have been born a detour or alternative road. The original road enters via Villafría and then crosses the entire industrial area of the Gamonal to link with a part at the end of the bike path, which will allow us to enter the city to reach the cathedral. The part of the industrial estate, when it is very hot or the traffic is dense (there is a lot of heavy traffic), can become eternal for cyclists.
If we want to ignore this entrance, we can choose to go along the River Arlanzón promenade, bordering the airport on the left, instead of on the right. To take this road we must turn left about 250 m after crossing the top of the motorway, at the entrance to urbanization (the detour is signposted with arrows on the asphalt). The asphalt will become a gravel path that will border the airport, attached to its fence and will take us to Castañares. After crossing the town (caution because here we must cross the road) the road goes into the river park of the river Arlanzón. We will cross the motorway by a lower passage and we will go for about 4.5 km by the south side of the river, until after crossing the N120 by a lower passage we will see a pedestrian bridge to our right. Crossing it we will enter in the heart of Burgos and in less than 2 km we will arrive at the cathedral.
A PASS OF AN AFTERNOON BY BURGOS
Burgos is a monumental city that has many places whose artistic, historical or cultural importance deserves high recognition. It is impossible, therefore, to know the main monuments of the city in just one afternoon. For this reason, in Tournride we have designed a map in which we have marked the city main places of interest, which we will comment here to know you. But, given the impossibility of visiting them all (especially since many of them require hours of guided visit), we have planned a 27 minute walk so you can know the main thing. We will leave much to see and do in the ink, but at least it will give you an idea of the city.
Anyway, if you are interested in getting to know more about some of the places in Burgos, from Tournride we recommend you to enjoy a day of rest here. Burgos or León can be the best stops on our way, by the conjunction of monuments and services. Just in case, we leave at the end some other things to see if you want to spend more time in Burgos.
As always, we start with a bit of History …
In Tournride we believe that in order to understand a city as we see it today it is necessary to know where it came from and how it has become what it is. That’s why we start by presenting you a little time line that will surprise you with the changes that have taken place in a settlement that began as a small “borough” and which today is a great cultural and industrial city.
The foundation of Burgos as we understand it today happens during the S. IX, in the context of the Reconquest. King Alfonso III asks a count, named Diego Rodríguez, to found a “village” near the Arlanzón river. As we have seen more often, during the war with the Arabs it was very important for the Christian kings to secure the territory they recovered, and for that, it was vital to populate it. In this case the order was “populare no expugnare”, that is, the king told the count to focus on “populate” rather than “conquer” the territory. To do this, the Count erected a castle on the top of the hill near the river (today there are remains of the construction) and encouraged settlement by a method very common at this time and that were already done by the Romans, called “presura”.
It was basically a question of giving the property of the land to the first one who arrived and broken it, asking that in return they should be kept under the command of the count. Although today the deal seems a bargain, it must be borne in mind that at that time this territory was dangerous and unstable, the Arabs had just lost the territory and were very close!
Despite the danger, the temptation to have land owned as free men filled many people, who cultivated land around the castle. Burgos was very different from what it is today, since it had an eminently military function and a configuration of peasant houses around the castle, reason why its economy was mainly agrarian.
Thus the small “borough” was maintained until the 11th century, when for the first time a king attends directly to the place and its history takes a radical turn although, everything has to say, this attention basically consisted of a betrayal. And it is that the king Sancho II used the castle of Burgos like prison to lock up his brothers, after taking away the territories that his father had left them in inheritance. Fernando I had divided his lands in three kingdoms (Galicia, Asturias and Leon), giving one to each of his children, but Sancho II wanted everything!
Since Sancho II stepped on Burgos in the 11th century many other kings did and thanks to this impulse, Burgos will live until the S. XVI a moment of splendor that will change its configuration forever, endowing it with many of the great monuments we see nowadays. They are the centuries of the Cid, the establishment of the royal court in Burgos and the celebration of royal weddings. The city must have a suitable decoration for it, reason why the cathedral beautify and appear monasteries like Las Huelgas.
But this splendor should not be understood as the mere appearance of monumental buildings. Burgos went from being an agricultural settlement around a military castle to being an important commercial city around the cathedral, reason why the center of the city “changed” of site. The cathedral was the nerve center around which life was developed and it was also a key point of passage on the Camino de Santiago where artisans from all over Europe gathered and worked.
Burgos became so important a place for commerce (it was vital even in the transactions with the north of Europe) that got to obtain that in the S. XV Kings Católicos gave to him the monopoly of the commerce of the wool.
In the sixteenth century, this entire splendor that had only been in crescendo during the last five centuries, is hampered by the conjunction of four main factors: the plague epidemics, the discovery of America, the wars in Europe and the weakening of the Way from Santiago. Imports of America and the elimination of exports to Flanders by the war weakened trade, the pilgrims stopped arriving and the population was reduced by the plague. A crisis that would not begin to go back until practically the 19th century, when the provincial capital was Cortes of Cadiz gave in Burgos.
Thanks to this institutional impulse, the area near the cathedral comes to life again, with political and military offices. The old part of the castle, destroyed by the scourge of the War of Independence against Napoleon, is definitely abandoned.
To the institutional impulse adds in the S. XX the industrial one with the creation of factories of silk or cereal products and, in addition, they are made to coin there two great iron lines. The organic growth that all this promoted has been in the present century regulated by strategic plans that have organized the city through the creation of large transport infrastructures, parks for the environmental enjoyment and great cultural spaces like the Museum of Human Evolution.
Today Burgos is a city of about 170 000 inhabitants that welcomes the pilgrim with the same warmth with which it has been doing since the 12th century. Now that you know the why of its way of being, do you encourage to walk it?
We match our steps with those of History. First stop: El Castillo
Having only one afternoon and being tired after a hard stage, the goal of our walk has to be to get an idea of what this city is and to see some of its key places, being the cathedral the most important and the one that is going to take most of our time.
We follow the steps of the history of the city and, leaving our accommodation (on the map we marked the municipal hostel to put a reference point), we headed towards what was the neuralgic center of the first “borough”: the castle. The entrance to the interior of the castle is of payment and can include only the visit to the outside enclosure or also to the interior galleries. The outer part of the castle is rather dilapidated but underground this building holds many secrets worth discovering: there are more than 300 meters of interior underground galleries that were vital in the military function. The visits are only in the morning, so unless we decide to dedicate a morning or a day to Burgos it will be difficult for us to agree well.
We want to enter or not, on the map we indicate as a key point the viewpoint of the castle. In the foothills of the military complex opens this circular esplanade that gives us the best views of the cathedral and the Burgos city. We can see the large squares open around the cathedral and the small surrounding streets that preserve its medieval configuration, as well as the great walks that since the twentieth have modified the way to tour Burgos. You can also see the large green areas near the Arlanzón. And in the background, the vast lands of Burgos.
To the Burgos cathedral: let’s talk about the Gothic
Going down Valentín Palencia Street we will see on our left the CAB, the Center of Contemporary Art of Burgos and to our right we will pass in front of the church of San Esteban. Of military appearance, it is worth to stop to admire its Gothic cover and, mainly, it’s interior, since it houses the Museum of the Altarpiece..
We continue to the right, by the street Fernán González, where in Tournride we recommend a stop in the church of San Nicolás. Although the entrance fee (€ 1.5) we cannot miss the visit to the interior, as it keeps an impressive treasure: its stone altarpiece. It is a work of the 16th century that a couple of important merchants commissioned Francisco de Colonia, a sculptor born in Burgos but descended from a long list of great German sculptors who participated in the decoration of many of the Spanish cathedrals.
We cross the cathedral crossing the square of Santa Maria and then the one of San Fernando, where is the point of sale of tickets of the cathedral. The visit to this building is one of the most recommendable of all the French Way. Imposing and delicate at the same time, it is one of the top works of the Gothic style, which freed the walls of the buildings of weight and allowed light to enter the cathedrals.
Gothic was a style that was born in France and that prevailed during almost four centuries by all Europe. During that time society and fashion changed a lot and Gothic art was adapted to new tastes and, therefore, changing in its forms. In fact, they differ four different Gothic styles (besides the own variations that can be found in each country).
The cathedral began to be built in 1221, at which time the classical Gothic style prevailed, as are the cathedrals of Paris, Chartres or Reims. This style precedes the primitive Gothic, which although it had already changed the arch of a half point by the pointed, maintained forms of Romanesque architecture, such as the use of the podium inside the churches. The tribune was a gallery-like aisle that was placed on the side aisles and we will see it, for example, in the cathedral of Santiago (one of the Romanesque summits). The classic Gothic evolves this concept and changes the tribune for the triforium, which narrows the corridor a lot and allows that in the outer wall can open some window to allow light.
The façade of the Burgos’s cathedral also followed in its beginnings the forms of the classic Gothic style:: the central body wider than the lateral ones (because it coincides with the central nave in the interior) and all framed by two symmetrical towers, with a large rosette in the middle.
The successive reforms that were made of the cathedral were adding rooms and modifying what had previously been done. Following the example of the facade, for example, we see how the two upper towers of the towers are much more ornamented in decoration than the lower part, and that they were added in the S. XV. That is why they correspond to the flamboyant Gothic style, when in the final stage of the Gothic style it had become much more profuse in decoration adding traceries, drafts, pinnacles and needles everywhere. As a matter of fact, the spiers of the towers were designed by Juan de Colonia, father of the sculptor who made the stony altarpiece of San Nicolás, of which we spoke previously. This artist also designed the dome, the dome that covers the center of the cathedral where all the naves are.The area of the ground below the dome is the cruise and in it we can see here the tomb of the Cid and Doña Jimena.
The combination of styles of the cathedral creates a majestic building, in which respect for the initial basic lines has given logic to the whole that marvels the visitor. We cannot speak here of all the details and stays that make this cathedral special, which since 1984 is a World Heritage Site. We will simply mention some of the most famous parts of the cathedral, such as the Chapel of the Contestable (made by Simon of Cologne, another of the artist family already mentioned and with a beautiful star-shaped dome), the cloister, and the impressive sculptural decoration of the street. In this case to understand, you must see!
From the arch of Santa Maria to the statue of the Cid
We return to the square of San Fernando and cross the arch of Santa Maria, to be able to admire it from its south side. It is one of the old 12 doors that had the city wall and that was remodeled between the S. XIV and XVI, being most of what we see of this last century.Even so, there should already be an arc before these centuries because in the “Poema del Mío Cid” is mentioned.
The wonderful construction that we see today is much more than a simple arch, rather it is a great triumphal arch in the form of a stone altarpiece to the exterior with an interesting exhibition space inside, that formerly housed the town hall. You can enter for free, although there are schedules.
We continue the Paseo del Espolón towards the north, heading for the Plaza Mayor. It accumulates five different names since it was created and at the moment we can find in her the City council, of neoclassic style, on what was formerly the Door of Carretas.
We leave the square to return to Paseo Espolón again and in a few meters we are before the statue of one of the most famous personages of the history of Burgos: El Cid.
Called Rodrigo Diaz Vivar, he was a knight who during the Reconquest fought in multiple battles and came to conquer Valencia, creating a lordship independent of any king, who maintained until his death in 1048. Then his wife, Jimena, took the reins of the señorío But when it died in 1102 the place returned to hands of the Arabs..
Around this real historical personage has been created a figure exalted historically, to which the chronicles of his military feats helped a lot. The best known is one of the most important medieval poems: “El Cantar del Mío Cid”. Rodrigo is considered a historical hero in Castile, although there are also documents that define his figure more closely to a mercenary (it is said that he fought for both Arabs and Christians). What is clear is that he was a person who, in a turbulent moment, used his sense of strategy and his courage to position himself so clearly that the nicknames that have gone down in history to refer to him are “señor” (“cid”) y el de “campeador” (“expert in pitched battles ”).
The equestrian statue that shines in Burgos is made of bronze and measures almost 4 meters. It was made in 1947 by artist Juan Cristóbal González Quesada. In it we see the Cid riding his horse and lining up with the sword. It is striking the movement that transmits his coat to the air.
We finished the tour enjoying the gastronomy burgalense
After this short but intense walk, in Tournride we propose some streets where you can find multiple bars and restaurants where you can have a drink and snack.
Near the main square we will find several pedestrian streets with a very pleasant atmosphere and multiple bars and restaurants where we can take both elaborate tapas as a menu. An example of this is the San Lorenzo street (which runs directly from the square) or the Sombrería street, which is a parallel street.
Even so, practically all the streets of the old city are full of restaurants that try to offer the best of Burgos gastronomy: blood sausage with rice, Burgos fresh cheese or suckling pig; among many other things
In case you decide to stay … we tell you that Burgos has much to offer!
If you want and you can stay for a day to rest in Burgos you will realize that you will not have much time for boredom … There are an endless number of monuments and museums that will make your visit memorable.
The entrance of the French Way to Burgos is made by the Arch of San Juan, another of the 12 ancient gates of the city and near the one that is a monastery with the same name. Surely when you arrive you have not had much time to take a look, but now you can return to see them.
Still, in Tournride we recommend three key visits: the monastery of Las Huelgas, the Cartuja de Miraflores and the Museum of Human Evolution (with or without a visit to the Atapuerca sites).
Our first two recommendations are far from the center and quite distant from one another, but your visit is well worth it. The Monastery of the Huelgas is to the west, in the southern area of the Arlanzón River.
Like the cathedral, it is dedicated to Santa Maria and is the most important Cistercian monastery of all that has been in Spain. We have already spoken in stage 4 of how the Order of Cîteaux arose in opposition to that of Cluny in defense of the values of ecclesiastical austerity, which are reflected in the sobriety of its architecture.
This monastery follows this architectural cleansing but is also special because its history is closely linked to that of the Crown. It was founded directly by the kings and, besides hosting a great royal pantheon, was the scene of many royal coronations. It was also a space where the founding queen, Leonor, wanted women to reach the same importance as men and therefore the nuns, being the majority descendants of the upper class, only responded to the Pope and were in charge of many other lands and monastery.
On the other hand, the Cartuja de Miraflores takes its name from the monks who ran it, the Carthusians. Although it was founded in S. XV in S. XVI suffered a great fire and was reconstructed, being also dedicated to Santa Maria. The church was built entirely at that time and therefore is all of late-Gothic style. In addition to the building itself, the Carthusian has stained glass and carvings in the tombs that are exceptional.
The Museum of Human Evolution is a great museum space whose main merits are three: the value it makes of the findings of the deposits of Atapuerca, the awareness that promotes the complexity of the different scientific disciplines that intervene in them and, above all, the achievement of becoming an informative space in which all this is transmitted to the visitor in a fun and simple way. It really gets us to reflect on our capabilities and limits from the understanding of our past. If you are interested in this topic and want to learn a little more, do not hesitate to visit it!
We thus ended a hard stage that has led us enter to Castilla. From now on the plains and the large grain crops will be a sight that will end up craving family and, meanwhile, we will be able to discover many interesting villages with much to offer the pilgrim.
STAGE 5: FROM LOGROÑO TO SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA – FRENCH WAY BY BICYCLE
Distance to Santiago: 612 km
Stage distance: 50 km
Estimated time: 4 – 4,5 hours
Minimal height: 740 m
Max height: 380 m
Difficulty of the route: Medium – low
Places of interest: Navarrete, Nájera, Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Optional diversion to San Millán de la Cogolla to see the Monasteries de Yuso y Suso.
Itinerary in Google Maps: To see the tour in Google Maps click here
PROFILE AND STAGE’S MAIN ROUTES
When leaving Logroño by the industrial zone we arrive at a bike lane that in very light ramp (of about 1.5%) makes us appear at the edge of the reservoir of La Grajera in less than 2,5 km.
We skirted the reservoir on the right, on a sloping path that ends in a narrow ramp. We must raise it for 1 km until we reach the edge of the A-12 motorway.
We continue along that asphalted track with the motorway to our right for little more than 1 km, when we join the N120 for only 200 m, since we must take a exit signposted to the right and that leads us to cross the AP 68 for a overpass. All this stretch from the reservoir to the AP 68 we do it in slight slope for asphalted tracks or gravel quite comfortable. Caution only when crossing the N120.
Since we cross the AP 68 through that upper pass the profile will be a slight ramp until we reach Alto de San Antón (kilometer 20 of stage). That is to say, in the following 9 km we overcome a difference in altitude of 230 m, alternating gravel tracks with other asphalted between fields and vineyards.
Navarrete is on top of a sort of hill. After crossing it, we leave for the N 120, which continues for 1.5 km until a gravel track to the left, marked with a milestone with the yellow arrow.
For 1.5 km we must follow that dirt track on a slight ramp until turning right to approach again to the N120 and continue parallel to it until you see a fork to the left. A sign indicates that if we take that path to the left we will pass by Ventosa and we must choose if we want to cross this locality or to obviate it.
If we pass through that locality we will travel 1,3 km until arriving at it by a foot of gravel, in a slight ramp of less than 2% that alternates with flat sections. After visiting it we will return to the trail, walking a little over another kilometer until turning left and reaching Alto de San Antón.
If you do not want to go through Ventosa we will travel a little less than 3 km in a straight line, with the A-12 to the right, until reaching the Alto de San Antón.
Following the same dirt path between agricultural fields we will cross the A12 by an underground passage, then continue with the road to our left. In slight slope we will arrive until Nájera in less of 6 km, entering by its zone of industrial estate.
We leave Nájera on the east by Costanilla Street, asphalted and in slope. After 800 meters the sign becomes gravel and so it will remain until we reach a signposted crossroads, where we will return to take paved road. The profile will be generally very soft.
Nice walk between fields where we cross Azofra (kilometer 34 of route) and we return to the edge of the A12. After going parallel to it for 1 km we arrived at a roundabout that we crossed.
After crossing the LR 207 at that roundabout to reach a dirt path, we see that the road forks, marked with a yellow sign and arrow.
If we go to the left we will follow a dirt path in ramp between fields until we reach Cirueña, where we can visit the hermitage of the Virgen de los Remedios. It is a difference of height of about 150 m in about 5 km. We will leave after Cirueña by another path of earth, but in slight slope and with smooth profile. In about 5 km we will arrive at Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
If, after passing the LR 207, we continue straight ahead instead of going to Cirueña, we will have to travel a little more than 9 km near the edge of the A12 by a gravel track. During the first 4 km we will have more jumps but then the profile will become very smooth until entering Santo Domingo de la Calzada, where is the end of the stage.
In summary, at this stage, a difference in elevation of about 350 m is overcome, but it is done gradually. There are two points where the profile becomes a little more steep, in the arrival to the Alto de San Antón after passing Ventosa and passing by Cirueña, before entering Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
In addition, there are three route variations that we can do:
- Choose whether or not to pass by Ventosa near the kilometer 17 of route.
- To choose to pass or not by Cirueña in kilometer 38 of route. If we choose to go by this locality the difference of stage mileage does not very much, but it does require us to reach a slightly higher level.
- Go to visit the Monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla from Azofra to return by Cirueña to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. We will do 33 km instead of 14 km from Azofra to the end of stage, but the visit is well worth it.
In general, this stage is simple. Good firm, height differences but we will overcome on continued light ramps. Many of the tracks we will take today are perfect for cyclists. A stage to enjoy!
- If you start in Logroño, in Tournride we help you get there. Logroño is a very well communicated city, with airport and train station and buses.
Go by bus: Here you can see the bus connections with the rest of Spain and the companies that make each way (some of them are, Alsa, Bilman Bus y PLM).
Go by train: The train station is here and the best thing to know about its connections is to visit theRenfepage, since with transshipments you can reach almost from anywhere.
Go by plane: The airport is here, 9 km from Logroño and you have to go by taxi or by car. It only has regular connections with Madrid. The other option is to fly to Pamplona and take a bus from there
Remember that in Tournride and we can take your spare luggage so that it is waiting for you in your way end..
- From Navarrete to Nájera there are more than 13 km with no place to stock up, unless we pass through Ventosa midway. If you do not want to stop at Ventosa, take supplies in Navarrete
DETAILED ITINERARY AND HISTORICAL-ARTISTIC HERITAGE
This stage, which we travel throughout La Rioja, will allow us to visit natural environments as impressive as the Najerilla River and visit some of the most emblematic of the Jacobean.
We will start the day by a pleasant green road that, crossing the Riojan landscape, will take us to Navarrete, where we can see the impressive late-Roman remains of San Juan de Acre. Going through places full of legends such as the Roldán Poyo we will reach Nájera, where we will enjoy its impressive natural heritage and natural environment and we will learn about other legends and miraculous apparitions. The road will take us to Santo Domingo de la Calzada, one of the most mythical localities of the region, founded by today Santo Domingo García in the 11th century, who dedicated his life to building infrastructures to facilitate the pilgrimage to Santiago.
We can also deviate to visit the monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla, considered the birthplace of the Spanish language.
Can you ask for more?
WE LEAVE LOGROÑO BY THE RESERVOIR AND VISITED NAVARRETE GRAJERA
We leave Logroño by the industrial estate and from the Avenida de Burgos we arrive at a roundabout where we see the park of San Miguel behind. From there we take an underground passage that crosses the LO-20 and makes us leave Logroño.
We leave in a pleasant green way that takes us by the park of the Grajera until arriving at the reservoir. We then skirted the reservoir along the same path.
The Grajera reservoir was created in 1883 to irrigate the orchards near the city and gradually became conditioned as a park. If you travel this route on a hot day and when you see the water you think about taking a bath, do not even think of it! It is a protected environmental area and the water ecosystem is studied, so no human interaction with it is allowed.
We ascend the ramp from the reservoir until reaching the fence that marks the edge of the A12, where the pilgrims have hung many wooden crosses. Along the way we will see that there are more places in which this tradition is repeated.
We follow the road until crossing the AP 68 by an overpass and see to our left the remains of the church of the Hospital of San Juan de Acre. After their excavation, the most interesting remains were taken to the cemetery of Navarrete, which we will see on our way out of town
WE ARRIVE TO NAVARRETE, IN THE TEDEÓN HILL
Navarrete is at the top of Tedeón hill. This strategic position made until the S. XVI had a very defensive character, with a castle at the top and surrounded by walls. Little by little all these elements were thrown to take the form that it has today, with two parallel major streets in the hillside of the hill and with the Way of Santiago crossing it from east to west.
In the center is the main monument of the town, the church of the Assumption of the Virgin. On the outside, its Renaissance lines are simple but, if we have an opportunity, it is worth going inside to take a look at the wonderful altar and altarpiece in Baroque style, completely covered with gold carvings.
The number of references and sale of pottery in the town will surely call attention to us and is that Navarrete is one of the most important traditional potter’s centers of the peninsula. Its pottery tradition goes back to Roman times, when with the mud of the Najerilla river pieces of the so-called “terra sigillata” were made, a type of red Roman pottery
We leave by the town by the N120 and we find to our left the cemetery of the town, where as we have already said we will see the remains of the church of San Juan de Acre.
Stone by stone moved the remains from its original location to this point, where it continues to impress the thickness and quality of the walls and their ashlar masonry. The cemetery gate is the old north door of the church and is flanked by two large windows that were once at the head of the temple.
In Tournride we recommend that you get closer to see the decorative details of the whole, in a late-Romanesque style. There are numerous representations of legends (such as that of Roldan and the giant Ferragut, which we will explain later), biblical passages such as St George and the dragon fight and tender ones like angels hugging each other.
There we can also see a plaque in memory of Alice Craemer, who died in 1986 when she was hit by a truck while doing the Camino.
FROM NAVARRETE TO NÁJERA: WE DECIDED TO VISIT VENTOSILLA AND WE KNOW LEGENDS OF STRUGGLES AGAINST GIANTS
We continue our way and, after about 4 km, passing under an upper pass of the A12 and always with the motorway to our right, we will see a sign that indicates the detour to Ventosa. If we pass through this locality we add about 1 km to the route.
Keep in mind that if we do not go through Ventosa, we have 9.5 km to get to Nájera, so if we want to eat or we are short of water, it is not a bad idea to spend to stock up. In Ventosa there is also a hostel with a closed place to store the bikes.
We go by Ventosa or not, we pass by Alto de San Antón (675 m of altitude) from where we will see Nájera for the first time in the distance (485 m of altitude). We will not lose sight of it for the next 7.5 km that we will carry out in a slight slope until arriving there.
But before reaching Nájera, after crossing the N120 by an underground passage, we will see on the way to our left the Poyo de Roldán..
First we will leave to the left the hill to which they are referred as the poyo and, a little later, we see an explanatory poster that recalls the legend of Roldán against the giant Ferragut happened in that hill and that in Tournride we reflected to us in summary way in Some lines. We recall that Roland was the nephew of Charlemagne, the emperor of the Franks. It is a historical personage, although his military feats have happened to shape the history a sort of mythical legend on his life.
Here we remember how one day came to the ears of Charlemagne that in these lands there was a Syrian giant called Ferragut who proclaimed the supremacy of Islam against Christianity. Knowing this, Charlemagne sent a group of soldiers to kill him, who fought with him for days without success. There came a time when Roldán asked his uncle to fight and they did, for two days and two nights. Exhausted, the two opponents made a stop and began to talk about their religions. He created a relaxed atmosphere between them and the giant confessed to Roldan something that would eventually cost him death: he told him that his only weak point was his navel. Roldán attacked at that point when they returned to the fight and defeated the enemy.
This legend fits historically in the struggle to expel the Muslims from the peninsula during the Reconquest, when the figure of Roldán was often used as a great defender of Christianity whose military supremacy was related to the superiority of Christianity.
WE COME TO NÁJERA: “PILGRIM: IN NÁJERA, NAJERINO”
This town of great Jacobean tradition welcomes us with this message painted in a farmhouse at the entrance of the village, a nice way to enter feel at home in our 27.5 kilometer stage.
We enter through the east and cross the river Najerilla by the stone bridge attributed to San Juan de Ortega,, impeller of infrastructures of the Way between the XI and XII (although the bridge has been reformed).
Already on the west bank, we cannot miss the Monastery of Santa Maria la Real, pantheon of ancient kings of Navarre. He was commanded to found King Don Garcia Sanchez II in 1052, after conquering that territory from the Muslims. He dedicated it to the Virgin because in that place a while ago this had appeared to the king in a cave, when he was hunting. The monastery was managed by Cluny until the S. XIX, today is Franciscan.
At the foot of the church is the cave where the legend of the Virgin occurred. At its entrance is the royal pantheon of kings of Navarre, with twelve burials with majestic carved tombs of between the X and XII.
The church is between Gothic and Renaissance styles. The cloister, a real jewel, is buzzing very much, where many nobles are also buried. It is worth your visit (we advise that it has a cost of € 4).
In Nájera it is also worth to enjoy the natural environment of the Najerilla, nestled between impressive red earth walls.. In this locality harmoniously coexist an impressive place with great monuments in stone like the monastery that we have seen.
SIf we see ourselves with strength and want to see some amazing views of the place, we can climb the Nájera castle before leaving. It is between the castle of La Mota and the village. Its origin, like the one of the castle, is Muslim. In the S. XVI was rehabilitated to be palace, but at the end of that century stopped being occupied and began to deteriorate until in the S. XVII and almost there were only ruins.
Thanks to the various archaeological campaigns that have been carried out, many remains have been discovered, now safeguarded in museums. Although “in situ” there is not much of the glorious past, the views and natural surroundings that surround us is worth.
IN AZOFRA WE DECIDED (OR NOT) DRIVING TO SAN MILLÁN DE LA COGOLLA
We leave Nájera up a paved slope on Costanilla Street. Soon we are already on a good track of land that in 5.5 km will take us to Azofra, in profile smooth.
In Azofra we enter by its main street, that as in many jacobeos towns crosses the whole locality and it coincides with the Way of Santiago. In Azofra we will find all the services that we need and we must make the decision to deviate to visit San Millán de la Cogolla. If we decide to go see it, we will make 33 km to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. If we continue straight, 12 km.
What is it that awaits us if we decide to make the effort to add 21 km on our way to visit San Millán de la Cogolla? As one of the most impressive monastic complexes in all of Spain, formed in fact by two monasteries that were initially differentiated: Suso and Yuso. The whole is a World Heritage Site since 1997.
The origin of the group is found in S. V, when in Rioja lands Emiliano was born, a hermit who dedicated his whole life to the service of Christianity, so he was canonized and today we know him as San Millán.
When Emiliano dies, his remains are taken to a cave in that place, which then becomes a church and then in the center of a monastic community. We must take into account that this community was not like the monastic communities that we know today, but followed the Mozarabic rule and was mixed, lived in it men and women. This was very normal in the Iberian Peninsula until the S. IX.
In the 11th century Don García Sánchez II, the same king who ordered the construction of Santa María la Real, orders to carry the remains of the saint to Najera. But, by a miracle, those who carry it remain “nailed” without being able to move, which is interpreted as that the saint did not want to leave the place.
Therefore, the king orders to build next to the Monastery of Suso another monastery to leave there the remains and the monastery of Yuso is constructed. This monastery already follows the Benedictine rule and is only masculine. The two coexist side by side until the year 1100 when they come together and begins their time of splendor.
This golden age materialized, above all, in an incredible production of codices, most of which are stored today in an immense library in the monastery that can be visited. In fact, it is considered that here the coded Castilian language arose as we understand it today, because a monk in this “scriptorium” was the first one who wrote in Castilian in one of these codices. It is very significant because, at that time, Latin was the language “cultured” and therefore the only one that was written. Castilian, on the other hand, was the popular language and not writing was neither regulated nor codified. When beginning to write begins to form the Castilian as we speak today.
In addition to the historical importance of this complex, the place is impressive from the artistic and architectural point of view, so the visit together becomes a delight. From Tournride we advise you to inform yourself before undertaking the visit to the monasteries, to avoid the displeasure to arrive and that, for example, is Monday and are closed.
FROM AZOFRA TO SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA
We leave Azofra by the northwest following a paved track that in a few meters happens to be of land, but of good firmness. We continue until reaching the A12 and, after crossing 1 km by the side of the highway, we arrive at a roundabout from which leaves the L207. We cross the other side of this road to follow a dirt track.
About 50 meters after crossing the road we see a bifurcation. This is where we should choose if we want to continue straight to pass through Cirueña or turn right to go straight to Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
If we decide to go for Cirueña, we must go down a dirt track on a gentle ramp for about 5 km until we reach a large urbanization with a golf course, recently built. To the north of this urbanization is Ciriñuela, the old town. Between the two isthe hermitage of the Virgin of the Remedies,, temple of recent construction in masonry and brick, with pastel colors and simple interior.
Actually, the distance that is crossed passing or not by Ciriñuela does not vary much, they only add about 2 km, but the walk is much more pleasant taking the detour. If we continue straight we will all the time almost glued to the highway, instead of by roads of good firm between great fields of vineyards.
A WALK OF AN AFTERNOON BY SANTO DOMINGO DE LA CALZADA, “WHERE SHE SENT THE HEN AFTER ROAST”
We enter Santo Domingo de la Calzada on Calle San Roque, to the east. As always, in Tournride we tell you a bit about the history of the place of the stage and we propose a short walk in which you can know the place a little.
In this case, the walk takes 15 minutes and in it you can see the main monuments of the place traveling less than 1 km Click here to see the tour map.
Are you urge one?
First thing: let us know the life of Santo Domingo, patron of the engineers
The emergence of the locality of Santo Domingo de la Calzada is related to the life and work of Domingo García, a man who in the 11th century dedicated his time to build infrastructures to facilitate the way for pilgrims.
It is said that what today is Santo Domingo de la Calzada was in the 11th century a forest of oaks next to the river Oja. A hermit named Domingo lived in that forest, retired to his spirituality because he had not been admitted to the Benedictine monastery of San Millán de la Cogolla. He saw every day the difficulties that the pilgrims had to overcome the geographical accidents in those lands, at a time when the Way was in all its splendor. Together with a bishop, who also set out to help them, Domingo built a wooden bridge over the river Oja.
When the bishop died, Domingo continued creating infrastructures, the most well-known stone walkway that ended up giving name to the present locality in his honor. He changed the wooden bridge over a stone and built a shelter and church.
TAll this gave an economic and population boost to the town that was being created, at that time, enhancing the settlement of merchants. King Alfonso VI, seeing how helpful this was, decided to give Domingo the direction of other works of the Way and he and his disciple Juan de Ortega continued to carry out different infrastructures. For this reason, Santo Domingo is today the patron of the engineers of roads, canals and ports.
MIRACLES OF SANTO DOMINGO
Domingo’s dedication and solidarity and kindness, which made him well known to the poor and rich during his 90 years of life, have caused that over the course of time have been attributed multiple miracles to this saint.. Many of them in life and others of healings of pilgrims when they visited his tomb.
His most famous miracle is that of the rooster and the hen. This story tells how a family with a young son who was pilgrimage to Santiago stopped at the hospital of pilgrims that Domingo had built. The hospitalera fell in love with the boy, but this did not correspond to him and, disrespectful, she hid a valué of the shelter in the backpack to the young person, accusing to him of robbing it when it went with his family of the place.
The boy was condemned to the gallows, sentence that was fulfilled. But after he was hanged, his parents approached and listened as he spoke and told them that he was alive thanks to Domingo. The parents went to tell the corregidor, knowing that before such a miracle he would exculpate his son. When he heard his story, he told them jokingly that the young man was as alive as the hen (already roasted) who was preparing to eat. Suddenly, the hen revived and the corregidor, astonished, excused the boy.
Hence the motto of the town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada, “where the hen sang after roasting”. In honor of this story, a live hen and rooster are kept in the cathedral of the town, which is changed every 15 days and during the local festivities of the town they eat “ahorcaditos”, typical sweets.
WE START OUR WALK ALONG CALLE MAYOR …
We start walking on the east side of the village, entering Calle Mayor, at the center of which is the complex that once started Santo Domingo and which we will also visit.
A few meters from the beginning of the walk, we find on our left with a large stone building: it is the monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion, S. XVII. This Cistercian abbey has a hostel for pilgrims (free) and a lodge that nuns use as a way of life.
We continue walking and in a few meters we will pass by the tourist information office, where if we want we can make a stop to get a map or more information.
In about 60 meters to our left opens the square of the Alameda, a small green corner where we relax if we need it. Across the street is a very special building: the house of the Brotherhood of the Holy. It is formed by several buildings, from the S. XVI to a modern hostel and has a great material on exhibition on the life of the saint. In this place is where they raise the birds that are then taken to the cathedral to remember the miracle of Santo Domingo..
We will arrive at the Plaza del Santo: tower, cathedral and parador
In the center of the town is the cathedral of Santo Domingo. Its southern door opens to a square in the main street, where there is a large tower.
The Exenta Tower is the highest in La Rioja and is nothing other than the bell tower of the cathedral. It is rare that the bell tower separates from the main building, but it is believed that in this case it was done because the ground was unstable (being near the river) and this was the best place to hold so much weight. In fact, it is said that to help cement the tower were added to the ground remains of animal bones. Before this baroque tower there was another Romanesque and Gothic, destroyed by a fire and by its bad state, respectively.
The entrance ticket for visiting the cathedral can also include the entrance to the exempt tower, which from its top floor offers spectacular views of the surroundings. From Tournride we recommend that you opt to climb as it is well worth it.
Next to the tower we see the entrance to a small hermitage, the hermitage of Our Lady of the Plaza. It is said that it was built on an ancient oratory that the saint had made with his own hands. The aspect that it has today is the result of the superposition of different works until 1710.
In front of the tower is one of the two “paradores” in the town. The Parador occupies what was formerly a hospital of pilgrims, carried out by Santo Domingo. It is striking in its lobby, with many Gothic arches and a paneled wooden ceiling.
We enter the cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada
In the square of the saint we will see the south portal of the cathedral. In this arm of the temple is where the sepulcher of Santo Domingo and the chicken coop where a rooster and a hen are conserved not to forget its miracles.
This same cathedral that we visit today has its origin in that primitive temple that Domingo García built in the S. XI near the river Oja, next to a hospital. The growing importance of this nucleus in the Way of Santiago was that successive reforms were added to that initial construction until arriving to form what we see today.
The relevance that the place was charging can be seen not only in how it was carved in stone, but also in the rank that the early church was welcoming. Already in 1106 its rank was increased to colegiata and in S. XIII the episcopal seat moved from Calahorra to Santo Domingo, reason why the temple became cathedral.
The result of all this is a large temple with a pilgrim plant in Latin cross, formed by a mixture of styles that concern from the Romanesque to the Baroque that we find, for example, in the Exenta tower.
The pilgrimage plant is a type of temple form that includes a kind of corridor that skirts the ships and the spinning, so that you can go all the way inside the walls without intervening at any time in what happens on the ship Central and on the cruise. Thus, you can visit the church tomb without disturbing if there is a mass at that time. The cathedral of Santiago also has this type of plant.
In the Cathedral of Santo Domingo we encourage you to open your eyes to look at the decoration on the capitals of the columns, especially those of the apse. Both inside and outside there is an impressive late-Romanesque iconographic program, with scenes of fantastic animals and representations of passages from the Bible. Experts consider it one of the best and most complete of this era.
In the northern part of the cathedral is the cloister, which today houses the Cathedral Museum.. If you are interested in the history of the place and sacred art, do not hesitate to visit it. Schedules and prices of the visit to the cathedral and the museum here. In addition, in the south arm of the cathedral we will also see the chicken coop where the rooster and the hen are kept remembering the miracle of the saint.
Between rest of walls and old convents, we finished our walk with the best of the gastronomy riojana
We cross the apse of the cathedral and we arrive at the Plaza de España, where the town hall is. The most characteristic of the building are the arcades open to the square by lowered arches, where merchants used to bet to sell their products under cover with the shelter of the wall behind them. When the town hall moved to the upper floor, this began to expand successively until during the Baroque was given the shape it has today.
From the square we leave to Burgos Avenue, which surrounds what used to be the wall that protected the old town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. In fact, a few meters later we will see some remains of her quite well preserved.
The walls of this population totaled more than 1.5 km of perimeter in total, with an average of 12 meters of height, 38 turrets and seven doors.. What we see today in the Avenida de Burgos are the remains of one of those towers and part of the thick walls that protected Santo Domingo.
We continue bordering the old nucleus until arriving to the Parador of Santo Domingo Bernardo de Fresneda.. It was built in the 16th century to welcome a Franciscan community, but in the 19th century with the disentailment the place was abandoned. Nowadays it has been renovated and it houses a Parador with restaurant. Also part of the place is used as a workshop to restore works of art.
The church of San Francisco welcomes the tomb of Fray Bernardo de Fresneda, who was archbishop and confessor of kings like Felipe II or Carlos V.. He himself put many means to reform the church that would welcome his tomb and his effort makes today his visit worth it. Special attention to the church cruise, a good example of Renaissance.
We are on Juan Carlos I Avenue, the perfect place to finish our walk in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, because in this street and in the parallel the majority of restaurants are concentrated.. You will find offers for all kinds of pockets and you can try typical dishes like cod or potatoes to La Rioja, To drink, of course, a good glass of Rioja.
Tomorrow you change community again, we enter Castilla y León and we will pedal until reaching Burgos, another of the great Jacobean cities. ¡Buen camino!
STAGE 4: FROM ESTELLA TO LOGROÑO-FRENCH WAY BY BICYCLE
Distance to Santiago: 661 km
Stage distance: 49 km
Estimated time: 4 hours
Minimal height: 420 m
Max height: 590 m
Difficulty of the route: middle – low
Places of interest: Los Arcos, Torres del Río, Viana, Logroño
Itinerary in Google Maps: To see the tour in Google Maps click here
At this stage we will leave Navarra to enter La Rioja, the smallest community in Spain but internationally known for its wines. To get to Logroño and be able to taste them, we will have to cross 49 km that will combine quiet stretches of agricultural track with simple profile with two more complicated ones, especially the one of the about 11 km that separate Towers of the River of Viana.
From Tournride we tell you everything about the profile, services and heritage; to help you enjoy your Camino to the fullest and to make the best itinerary decision. Even so, if you have any doubts, you can always contact us.
PROFILE AND STAGE’S MAIN ROUTES
We leave from Estella and we cross the about 2.5 km that separate us from Ayegui by a stony route in permanent rise, although with some jumps of abrupt slopes. A kick-start a bit break-legs, but nothing that cannot be carried.
After leaving Ayegui and making the obligatory stop at the Fuente de Bodegas Iratxe, there are two possible routes: follow Azqueta and Monjardín or go south and save the Montejurra to pass later for Luquín. Both options take us to Los Arcos, but from Tournride we choose (and recommend you) the traditional route through Azqueta and Villamayor de Monjardín.
When leaving Azqueta the land path begins to take slope and becomes narrower as it advances. At some point the route can become quite uncomfortable, so if you need to get off the bike, do not hesitate. This ramp lasts only 1.5 km and will reward us with the visit to another of the most emblematic sources of the Camino, the Fountain of the Moors.
We will leave Los Arcos we will have to leave by the cemetery, in the east side of the town, to take another agricultural track of good firm that in 7 km will cause us to end in Sansol (kilometer 26 of route).
In Sansol we leave by the NA 1110 and from there we will be able to see Towers of the River to our left, in a lower quota. The road turns and takes us straight to the village. We enter Torres del Rio in the north and we go through the streets of the Race and the Sepulcher to find the yellow arrow on our right, which leads us to face the most complicated stretch of this stage.
The 10.5 km that separates Towers of the Viana River compose a true section “rompe-piernas” (break-legs), with permanent rises and falls and continuous changes of terrain. The most complicated part is the crossing of the ravine of Cornava, on horseback between both localities. Most of this part of the itinerary passes almost to the NA 1110 and does not cross any notable town or monument, except for the hermitage of the Poyo, at the edge of the road NA 1110. In addition, the road crosses several times the road of double meaning, which also makes this stretch dangerous.
For all this, despite trying to follow the traditional itinerary when making the Camino, in this case from Tournride we recommend that from Torres del Rio to Viana you go on the road NA 1110. When you reach Viana there are still 11 Km of road and it does not make sense to exhaust unnecessarily.
Once in Viana, the rest of the stage to Logroño is a steep slope, except for a small ramp that we will use to return to the road crossing the border between Navarra and La Rioja.
We leave from Viana on the N 111 (also we can follow the pedestrian path exiting the polygon and crossing the road by an underground passage) and after traveling less than 1 km we see a path of land with a military with the symbol of the shell and the Arrow on our left. We must take that asphalted track, which will take us direct to the hermitage of the Virgin of the Caves (kilometer 41 of stage).
From the hermitage we follow the asphalt sloped track and head west to return to the N 1111 by a slight ramp. When you get to the road and join it, we will see the green sign indicating that we enter the Rioja and, almost afterwards, the blue and yellow road sign that points us to the asphalt road that we must follow.
After crossing three underground steps, with the N 1111 to our right, in a little more than 2 km we will arrive at the Stone Bridge, entrance to our end of stage: Logroño.
In short, although this stage is the longest we have done since Saint Jean Pied de Port, the simple profile and the large number of paved tracks will make a large part of the kilometers to be traveled become a pleasant farewell Of the Navarrese fields.
We only remember here the two sections in which we have to be cautious and the possible variants of them:
- Azqueta – Monjardín. Rise of 1.5 km along a ramp sometimes quite uncomfortable. Variant: go through Montejurra and Luquín, although it is not a path of roses either (climb the mountain to a height of 970 m and lower it again).
- Torres del Río – Viana. 10.5 km stretch with variation of land type and permanent ups and downs, a full “rompepiernas” (break-legs). Variant: Do this part for the NA 1110, which we recommend from Tournride.
- If you start your way in Estella, the best way to get there is by bus, since there is no train station. Estellesa is a bus company with connections to Estella from Irún, Logroño, Pamplona, Puente la Reina and San Sebastian (in addition to many other smaller towns).
Another option is to take a taxi from Pamplona to Estella, if you contact Fermín on +34 609 44 70 58, you will get 55 euros on weekdays and 68 on holidays. Your taxi can accommodate up to 8 people, so you can organize groups of pilgrims to reduce the cost.
Remember that in Tournride we take the bikes to the place where you start and we can transport your surplus luggage at your end of the road.
- At this stage there are two stretches of kilometers where there is no place to buy water or food: 9.3 km from Urbiola to Los Arcos and 10.6 km from Torres del Rio to Viana. Therefore, we recommend provisioning in Villamayor de Monjardín or Urbiola and in Sansol or Torres Del Río.
- Much of the stage runs through tracks between open, shadowed fields. If you are going to travel this itinerary in summer, keep in mind the need to be well protected from the sun and with water to spare.
- Less in Azqueta and Urbiola, in the rest of towns that are passed in this stage there are shelters with closed places to store the bicycles: one in Ayegui, two in Villamayor de Monjardín, two in Los Arcos, one in Sansol, two In Torres del Rio, three in Viana and six in Logroño. The Logroño parish hostel does not have a closed place for bicycles.
DETAILED ITINERARY AND HISTORICAL-ARTISTIC HERITAGE
Today we have a lot to see: from medieval civil engineering in the form of fountains and bridges to large temples in Logroño and other smaller ones in Torres del Rio. We will visit the great Viana, historical and monumental nucleus and we will cross fields between vineyards. Start the geological experience in La Rioja!
Ayegui is practically an extension of Estella, reason why in this principle of stage we must face the route by these municipal terms populated and with heavy traffic.
We must leave Estella in the southwest. Both the street of San Nicolás (already visited in our walk of end of previous stage) and Fray Diego Street in Estella, which leaves of the bridge that crosses the Ega and connects with the center of the locality, they end in a roundabout that takes us to the street Carlos VII. On this street we leave for Ayegui, taking the second exit Calle de Estella towards at the next roundabout.
In less than 1 km we are in Ayegui, through which center passes the NA 1110 that we must pick up again after passing the Plaza de los Fueros. In about 200 meters we will see the sign of the pilgrim with the arrow that indicates that we take the street of the left that in less than half a kilometer will take us to our first obligatory stop of the day: the monastery of Santa Maria de Iratxe and the famous source of The wineries of the same name that, instead of water came.
First we will see to our right the source of Bodegas Irache, the call “source of the wine”. Of stone, it has a metal plaque with the Santiago Cross embossed with two pipes at its sides; one emanates water and the other leaves wine. This fantastic invention was built in 1991, with the idea that all the pilgrims could approach the source and corroborate what Aymeric said in his codex of the 12th century, that Estella was “a land of good bread and great wine.”
In fact, bread and wine used to be a substantial and important part of the diet of pilgrims, since products such as meat or eggs were not available to the majority of society.
In addition, the source combines that reference to the antiquity of the wine and the Camino in the area with the clearest modernity: there is a webcam installed in the fountain, which allows live viewing of pilgrims. Do not hesitate to advise your family and friends to keep an eye on you when you are there, it is always good to give healthy envy!
If we want, in the office near the source and in the Wine Museum of the winery can seal the credentials of pilgrims.
We continue along the road and a few meters further on we reach the square where the Monastery of Santa Maria de Iratxe is. This monumental construction that combines different styles began to be built in the S. XI on an earlier one of S. VIII. Since then it has been adding extensions and improvements and has been inhabited continuously since its birth until 1985. Today it occupies almost 7000 m2, of which more than 1000 correspond with its church.
It was the first hospital of pilgrims of Navarre, since the one of Roncesvalles did not begin until near 100 years later. In addition to hospital pilgrims has also functioned as a university and training place for clergymen.
From its initial construction, it is striking how the church, from the 12th century, has been preserved. The Romanesque temple is clearly influenced by Cistercian architecture. The Cister came as an opposition to the Order of Cluny, with the idea of restoring monasteries to asceticism and poverty. That’s why its architecture is not plagued by decoration, but is clean and elegant, like this temple.
In relation to this approach towards poverty, the legend says that the abbot of this monastery used to hide food from the monastery under his habit to give it to the poor and that, when the rest of monks reprimanded him for hiding it, when the habit Roses and flowers came out.
Besides the church, it is very worth the visit to the two cloisters of the whole, being one late gothic and the other Herrerian style.
We continue along the asphalt road until we reach a half-kilometer crossing. If we follow the yellow arrows painted on a stone that point us to the right, we will go towards Azqueta and Monjardín. On the other hand, if we continue along the dirt path that we have in front, we will see in a few meters a military road that will indicate that we continue straight, to make the route through Montejurra and Luquín. Both routes are well signposted.
FROM SOURCE TO SOURCE, PLEASE BE CAREFUL BY THE CURRENT: ROUTE BY AZQUETA AND MONJARDÍN
After this festive and cultural stop, we must follow our path, which will lead us to visit another of the emblematic sources of the Camino: the source of the Moors. For that we must reach Villamayor de Monjardín.
We follow the dirt road until we reach the road NA 1110 and then we cross it to take the Prado de Irache Avenue that goes a little to our right. This street will make us pass by the Camping Iratxe and then it will become a dirt path that crosses a road by a lower step. Following this narrow path of land between the populated vegetation, we will cross the road again and taking the NA 1110 to our left all the time, we will arrive at Azqueta.
From Tournride, we recommend that this small stretch between Ayegui and Azqueta be made by the NA 1110. The path is narrow and full of jumps. It is not technically complicated, but it is cumbersome and nothing is gained by going there, even if it is the traditional route.
Mention that Azqueta is natural one of the best known characters of the French Way, called Pablito. For pilgrims on a bicycle, it is a myth because he was one of the first people (if not the first) to ride the bike in the 60’s. He always waits for the pilgrims at the entrance of the village to give advice on how to walk correctly or tell stories in relation to the pilgrimage.
On Carrera Street we leave Azqueta, turning left after passing an industrial warehouse. On the front we have a ramp in the form of a path not too wide ground of about 1.5 km that ends directly in Monjardín. After climbing it, we’ll be able to refresh ourselves in a clear water source and we’ll have a quiet walk ahead to Los Arcos!
When arriving at Monjardín the land path becomes an asphalted track and to our left the medieval source of the Moors is pointed out. Although its roof was recently rebuilt, giving it the same shape it had when it was built in S. XIII; the rest of the fountain is a very special example of well-preserved medieval civil engineering and no additions.
The source of the Moors is actually a cistern, a word from Arabic meaning “well” or “deposit”. By the influences of Al-Ándalus in the Iberian Peninsula we can find this type of construction in different places. The Arabs always put them in the courtyard of their houses, in the form of a central pool to which they channeled rainwater. Therefore, more than a traditional Western source with pipes, this cistern looks like a shed with two large arches leading to stairs leading down to the water tank. If it is hot, this place will be perfect to cool off a little after the ramp you have touched up from Azqueta.
Says the municipality of Villamayor de Monjardin own this people is that of the four lies, because “it is neither Villa nor greater, nor has nuns nor garden. In fact, in ancient times the name of the town was simply Villamayor but as in Spain there are many localities with that name they added the one of the mountain in which it is. Before that mountain was called Deyo that is why to the castle that is in its summit is denominated San Esteban de Deyo.
The castle is said to have been “built by the Romans, made strong by the Moors and conquered by the Navarrese. The archaeological evidences date the castle in S. VIII so that the Romans could not build it and at the end of S. IX the town was conquered by the Arabs, although at the beginning of S. X the king Sancho Garcés recovers it. They say that this monarch was buried in the castle of the town, which was very important because his position at a high point on the adjoining land made it a strategic fort.
NICE WALK BY THE NAVARRO FIELD UNTIL ARCOS
From Monjardín to Los Arcos, we have just over 13 km of dirt track in the form of agricultural land. When leaving Villamayor by the Romaje Road we will see the militaries that tell us to continue towards the south, crossing later the A-12 by a lower passage and climbing a very light ramp to Urbiola.
In Urbiola (or even before in Monjardín) it is not enough to provide food and water, since there is no other town to Los Arcos.
We leave Urbiola on Calle Mayor, we cross the NA 7400 and we see how the asphalt turns into an agricultural track that in about 600 m makes us cross the A 12 again through another underground passage. From that moment, we have more than 10 km of road well signposted in slight slope. Although it is not paved for most of the way the trail is quite wide, so we will have no problem.
We entered the Arches in the north. This town owes its historical development to its position of “knot of roads”, among them the Camino de Santiago or the Roman trade routes. Due to the importance it has as a pilgrimage, it follows the village-street structure, with its main street coinciding with the itinerary of the French Way.
Today it is the end of the stage for many pilgrims, especially those who go on foot, and therefore has many services. In the old days it was like that and it had three hospitals of different pilgrims. One of them, that of St. Lazarus, catered to many sick pilgrims in longer stays (a great epidemic of leprosy is remembered).
After passing the poorly preserved hermitage of San Vicente, only vestige of a splendid past in which there was a large palace and a church, we headed down the main street to the center of town.
This main road is flanked by large stone houses with shields on the facades; I also remember the historical importance of the town, where important Navarrese families lived.
In the square of the fruit we must turn to the right to reach the square of Santa Maria, where we will automatically see the solemn construction of the same name, due to its magnificent stonework and wingspan. It is one of the most important churches in Navarre.
Again, the Camino de Santiago is again the cause that in medieval times it was decided to promote the construction of a temple. It began at the end of the 12th century, when the itinerary was a mass phenomenon of the time and was reformed until the S. XVIII.
From the outside, the 16th-century northern doorway is noteworthy, a great Renaissance example full of carvings of angels and cherubs. In the exterior there is also a large portico of later construction (S. XVIII), neoclassical and lacking of iconic decoration.
From the tower of this church used to ring the bell to guide the pilgrims who, since the road from Monjardín was not as well signposted as it is today (the signs that guide us today are the result of a collective effort initiated In the 80s), they lost and despaired to not see Los Arcos.
In Tournride we recommend you without hesitation to get off the bike to visit what may be the best of the church of Santa Maria: it’s interior. Filled with smaller altarpieces in rococo style, it also has a large main altarpiece in the Baroque style apse of the 17th century. The amount of colors and sizes everywhere marvel the visitor, full of small details that attract attention. It is also worth noting the Mannerist carving (between the Renaissance and the Baroque) of the choir chairs and, above all, in its organ of the S. XVIII, the most ostentatious of Navarre.
Outside the church is also worth visiting the cloister, from the 16th century and late-Gothic style.
FROM ARCOS TO TORRES DEL RÍO, MORE KILOMETERS FROM AGRICULTURAL TRACKS WITH SIMPLE PROFILE
We leave Los Arcos by the Plaza de Santa María, crossing the zebra crossing that is in the square itself and which ends at the Jacobean route. A paved road once again becomes a dirt road when leaving the town and, following a little more than 3 km in slight slope, we will arrive at a point where a military tells us that we take the track to the right.
Continuing straight on a slight ramp, we come to the road NA 7205 where another sign makes us turn left and continue on asphalt until reaching Sansol..
Sansol and Torres del Rio are practically glued, separated by a ravine. Therefore, when following the road we arrive at the NA 1110 and continue through it, we will see to our left Torres Del Río at a lower level.
The NA 1110 will take us directly to the north of Torres del Rio, down a very steep slope. We enter Carrer de la Carrera and head to the town center to visit the Holy Sepulcher church, a strange jewel of the Romanesque.
To the pilgrims who before getting to Puente la Reina were curious and approached to visit the church of Santa Maria de Eunate, this temple sure reminds them of that previous visit. Like the other church, it is from the 12th century and is also related to the Order of the Temple (although there is no historical evidence of it) and in its form closely resembles the Holy Sepulcher of Jerusalem. The two also coincide in their octagonal form, although in this case their geometric shape is perfect.
Inside, the imposing vault attracts attention, with interspersed nerves reminiscent of the influence of Arabic architecture in this area. In fact, it is thought that it could be built by Christian artisans who lived for years under Muslim rule in the Iberian Peninsula and who then saw their work influenced by it.
Outside, it is curious how in spite of being Romanesque and therefore part of a style that tends to tend to robustness and horizontality; this temple has three floors with open spans illuminating the upper dome and a large cylindrical tower that provides much Verticality. Like other towers already seen, this was used as a beacon for the pilgrims at night, guiding their way.
COMPLICATED LINE BETWEEN TORRES DEL RÍO AND VIANA
The stretch of Torres del Rio to Viana is uncomfortable, with continuous ascents and descents, with a firm change according to the necessities, surrounded by vegetation and crossing several times the NA 1110 near curves. As we mentioned at the beginning, we recommend doing this part of the stage directly on the road NA 1110, in this case it does not make sense for cyclists to follow the original path.
In any case, if you decide to take the traditional path of the road, you will see that it is well signposted. Leaving Torres del Rio along the asphalted road Camino de Santiago, it ends at a path that crosses the national road by a lower pass. In just over 2.5 km from Torres del Rio, we will arrive at the hermitage of Poyo.
The hermitage of the Virgen Del Poyo is on the north bank of NA 1110, so if you make the route by road you will pass here as well. Formerly in this place there was a hospital of pilgrims and a church dedicated to the Virgin, but all that is left is this hermitage, which is in a bad state of conservation. The initial work probably began in the sixteenth century but in the nineteenth century it was highly recommended and in that same century the temple suffered a great fire that burned its image of the virgin of the XVI. The sculpture that can be seen today is a copy of the original.
After following for a few meters along the road, we cross them and take a road from the land that leads to another road, NA 7206. After less than 80 meters along that road we cross the sign on a path on the right and continue a strong hanging down the ravine of Valdecornava. With the road to our left, we crossed a small bridge over the Cornava River and we followed the path of the earth, crossing by a lower passage of the highway and continuing until arriving at the NA 1110 again. The last 2 km we make the road to enter Viana by its area of polygon (kilometer 38 of route).
When you reach Cristo Street, at the entrance of Viana on the NA 1110, you will see the sign of the pilgrim on the right that tells us to follow that street. Following practically straight all the time they arrived at the center of the locality, to the Place of the Forces.
Viana is the last Navarre town we will visit on the French Way and the great number of monuments, remnants of ramparts and emblazoned houses testify to the importance of this town historically. Part of this importance is due to its strategic location, on a high near the border with Castile. It came to have six hospitals of pilgrims and nowadays it has all the services that a pilgrim may need. If you do not see the strength to get to Logroño (there are 11 km) is the other option you have to spend the night.
At our stop in Viana we cannot miss the visit to the Gothic church of Santa María, in the Plaza de los Fueros itself. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries in one of the most splendid moments of the town, it is a wonderful example of Gothic, with later additions. One of them is next to the south, Renaissance cover, where a tombstone reminds visitors that there is buried César Borgia, prince, warrior and cardinal.
Son of Pope Alexander VI, of the Borgia family (known for his intrigues in the Vatican and for the succession of popes and powerful characters that were part of the Italian renaissance panorama), this character went down in history for his reputation of doing everything Necessary to achieve its objectives. This is summed up in his motto of “o Caesar or nothing”. In fact, it is said that it was he who inspired the work of Machiavelli’s “The Prince”, with his philosophy so influential in the politics of the Modern Age of “the end justifies the means.”
The name of the Borgia family is actually an Italianization of the house of Borja, of Navarrese origin. César Borgia was bishop of Pamplona with only 16 years and cardinal a year later. Like others of his lineage, it was wanted that it arrived at Pope, but the appointment of Julio II, staunch enemy of his family, led to his imprisonment. In the end he manages to return to Spain as a military man and ends up dying in a battle in Viana at the beginning of the 16th century.
The front page of his tomb is one of the best examples of the Spanish Renaissance, with many Biblical and mythological passages carved in stone.
The interior of the church almost makes us feel like in a great cathedral, with three large naves and different chapels very decorated, with frescoes in the vaults. You can go around the temple by the triforium, that is, the aisle above the side aisles on an upper level and facing the central nave. From there we will have a good view of the impressive baroque altarpiece that is in the apse of the church.
If you want to spend more time in Viana it is also interesting to go to see the town hall, the House of Culture (former pilgrim’s hospital), the convent of San Francisco and the church of San Pedro.
FROM VIANA TO LOGROÑO, LAST 11 KM FOR THE HERMIT OF THE VIRGIN OF THE CAVES
We leave Viana on the NA 1111 and after a kilometer we will see on the left a paved track marked with a military that in a little over another thousand meters will take us to the hermitage of the Virgin of the Caves, which will appear on our right.
The hermitage of the Virgen de las Cuevas does not impress artistically, since in the XVIII it was completely restored in a very simple way, with masonry and without much decoration. What attracts the most attention is the lowered arch that gives entrance to its portico.
But we still recommend the visit for several reasons. First, because that, is part of the traditional French road. Second, because it is located in a place where there was a village already since before the arrival of the Romans (town of Covas) that later in the S. XIII joined Viana. And finally, because the already mentioned Aymeric Picaud, this place is in his guide of the 12th century. Next to the chapel is a small picnic area with tables and stone benches. A good place to relax.
After the visit, we face the last 8 km of stage, continue along that track and in about 200 meters a military will point us a path of dirt and gravel to the right. Continuing on a slight slope (as from leaving Logroño) we find a tarmac track that leads to a roundabout of the NA 1111.
Continuing to the left, we see the sign that tells us that we enter La Rioja. We pass and we take the exit to the right, well signposted, that takes us to an underground passage and a paved track through which we entered Logroño. On the banks of the Ebro we reach a roundabout that connects with the Stone Bridge. Welcome to Logroño!
A RIDE BY LOGROÑO
As always, in Tournride we propose you a tour in the afternoon through the city end of stage, so that you can enjoy everything that Logroño can offer. In this case, in just 24 minutes walking in total you will be able to see much of the city’s impressive sacred and civil heritage, while diving in the atmosphere of a city where to go from pinchos and wines is a delight.
To start, a little bit of history…
Logroño is since 1982 the capital of the Autonomous Community of Rioja, the autonomy with less territory of Spain. Its territory has been occupied since before the arrival of the Romans in I a. C. and its historical development have been marked, above all, by three factors:
- Its localization next to the Ebro. In fact, the name of the city is believed to be derived from the root word celtíbera “gronio”, que significa “vado” o “paso”. which means “ford” or “step.” The celtiberians occupying area would refer to the continuous wading of the Ebro.
- To be point of passage of the Way of Santiago. Since in the 11th century the king decided that the Jacobean route passed through the city, the city did not stop taking on importance.
- Its border position with the kingdoms of Castile, Navarre and Aragon. Its strategic location surrounded by the river and near borders facilitated the construction of military infrastructures and also increased commerce. It was a crossroads place.
In the S. I a. C. was founded “Vareia”, the old Roman city, which gained much importance because like Ebro is a navigable river allowed connecting the commercial routes from Italy with the interior of the peninsula. It continued to gain importance in the following centuries but but in 1092 is destroyed by the Cid Campeador, but since its position was strategic, for the king of Castile it was important that it was populated and for that reason three years later it gives a jurisdiction to him to be restored. It grants citizenship to the Franks (foreigners) and allows them to appropriate land, among other things. Soon afterwards, it was decided that the Way pass by and the city grows, walks and infrastructures are created.
Today half the population of La Rioja lives in Logroño and is a city accustomed to receive pilgrims and visitors, with much history and heritage to know.
As it could not be otherwise, we start in the Ebro and go to the old town
We start the visit on the stone bridge, which we have already passed on entering the city. Just cross it is the park of Pozo Cubillas to the right, and from there there is a viewpoint that allows us to see the Stone Bridge and the river.
The bridge is called this because there is also another one of iron and there was formerly one of wood. This one was inaugurated in 1884 and has seven arches and measures 198 meters. It was built by the poor state in which was the old stone bridge that had there, that had 17 arcs and two fortified towers and was the great symbol of the city (in fact appears in the shield of Logroño). It ended deteriorating by the continuous floods of the Ebro, today with the flow much more stabilized by the construction of dams and subsidiary channels.
We go to the roundabout and we go in the old town by the street Ruavieja, one of the oldest of the city. Turning in the first street on the left we reach the Santa Maria de Palacio church.
This church was built between the 12th and 13th centuries, with new contributions up to the 18th century. The most characteristic of it is its lantern tower, known as “la aguja”, (the needle), another of the symbols of the city. Its construction is related to the Order of the Holy Sepulcher, one of the religious and military organizations that protected the pilgrim’s also striking the Renaissance altarpiece of the temple.
Plaza de Santiago, from Templar mysteries to miracles of the apostle
We return to Calle Ruavieja and Sagasta Street who cross it to get to Santiago Square, where there are three things that we cannot miss since they are all related to the Camino: The pilgrim’s fountain, the curious game of the “Oca” of human size and the Santiago’s church.
In the square we can see to our right some drawings in the ground, with enormous dice included, that represent a board of the Oca game. There is a theory that says that this game was invented by the Templars in the S. XI, as a representation of the Camino de Santiago with its bridges (“from bridge to bridge and shot because it takes me the current”) and with the goose as representation Of the protective role that the order exercised, since these animals make a lot of noise before strangers (“from goose to goose and shot because it touches me”). That is why in the ground each stop is represented as a city of the road, starting in Logroño, with important monuments marked.
Opposite is the pilgrim’s fountain, built believed to be in 1675 but completely restored in 1986. This fountain is also called the fountain of Santiago, as it is next to the church of the same name.
The church of Santiago el Real is the oldest in the city, it is said that it was founded by a disciple of Santiago himself. When the apostle came to preach to the peninsula, a group of people followed him to Jerusalem, among them his disciple Arcadius, who is said to have founded this church (for more information see Santiago’s history).Obviously, the building we see today is not that, but a later one.
In 884, this primitive temple was rebuilt after the Battle of Clavijo, but later that church was burned and what we see today, in the 16th century. The Battle of Clavijo is one of the most mythical of the war of the Christians to expel to the Arabs of the peninsula. On the facade of the church we can see a sculpture at the top, which represents Santiago as Matamoros.
We had already seen Santiago dressed as a pilgrim in other representations, which rationally makes no sense because he would pilgrimage to his own tomb, but it is a very powerful symbology.
The apostle’s as a warrior on horseback is another of his most representative iconographies. During the middle Ages the stories of miracles of saints were current, and the apostle’s appearances in battles were one of the most widespread. During the recon quest was said that the apostle appeared and helped to “kill Moors” and in the Battle of Clavijo made one of his most stellar appearances. In fact what is known today of that battle is a historiographical revision of the XVIII that surely is quite “adorned”.
The appearance of Santiago in battles continued being a frequent miracle with the passage of the centuries. When it was conquered America was created the iconography of Santiago Mataindios that helped to the Spanish conquerors against the natives. And, centuries later, the sons of these conquerors fought for independence, Santiago Mataespañoles was born. As we see, ¡The different military iconographies of Santiago tell much of history!
Visit to parliament and replenish forces in the market of supplies
We continue along Calle Barriocepo to reach one of the most representative buildings of the city, this time civil: the parliament of La Rioja.
The building that occupies was an old convent, the one of the Merced, constructed between S. XIV and S. XVI. Since 1998, parliament has used what was once the church and the cloister which, covered with a glass dome, is where the hemicycle is. The east part of the building is the Library of La Rioja.
In addition to these two uses, the enclosure was also used as a military barracks and, from 1889 to 1978, it was a tobacco factory. In fact, in the street Portales remains today the most characteristic feature of this ancient use: a large red brick fireplace, which was left as a souvenir.
We continue walking along Calle de la Merced until Museo de la Rioja, and there we turn left to go to the market of Abastos, dating from the beginning of S. XX. Among its red brick walls, irons and large windows we can enjoy the best gastronomy of La Rioja, since in addition to selling the products there are also places where they cook them. If you want to lower your budget for food, it is a great place to buy something rich and eat it in a park later. Schedules can be viewed on your web site.
We finish at the Santa María Cathedral and learn about wine
We leave the market by Sagasta Street and turning on the street Portales to the right and we arrive at the concatedral of Santa María la Redonda. Although today the name draws attention because we see nothing circular in the temple, it is given because before there was another church that was octagonal, similar to the view in Torres del Rio. When in the XV century it is declared to Logroño “city” it is decided to create a great temple, throwing the small Romanesque and beginning in 1516 what we see today.
The interior is in Elizabethan Gothic style, so named because during the end of the reign of Catholic kings were many works that are between the end of Gothic and the beginning of the Renaissance, so they have characteristics of both styles. And also it takes decorative elements Muslim and of Flanders, by the political situation of the moment. An example of eclecticism.
That is why, although the columns and arches are of Gothic style, we see how in rib vaults ribs are marked forming a kind of palm grove, with filigree, of Arab influence. In the main façade, on the other hand, we see how it is already a fully baroque style, since the whole exterior of the church was reformed in the XVIII. The two huge twin towers of the temple are another of the great symbols of the city and the door looks almost like a stone altarpiece.
A curiosity of this church is that, being so close to the river, the land on which it sits is marshy. For this reason, it was used to cement parts of branches of vine that do not rot with the humidity and help to distribute the weight.
But the vine not only plays a crucial role in this temple, but as it is known in this community everything related to the world of wine is very important. La Rioja is one of the best known nationally and internationally. Since the Romans introduced their cultivation, wine has not been stopped in this area.
Proof of this are the different wineries that we can find near the core of Logroño. If you are interested in this topic, the ones that are closer to the city are the Bodegas Franco-Spanish, Ontañón and Ijalba although in this page and in this other you can find all kinds of activities related to wine in Logroño.
We rebuild forces by dining something in one of the parks or we go of pinchos
To end the day, from Tournride we give you a couple of options to have something to eat, relax and be able to face the next day. If you prefer to relax in a park snacking on something to eat, you can go to a park on the banks of the Ebro, such as the Ebro Park that we have already marked on our map.
If you prefer to taste the gastronomy of Rioja, goes de “pinchos” will be a very good option. In the southern part of the food market, on Laurel Street, you will find more than 50 shops in a lively, quiet and relaxed atmosphere. The other area that is also typical of pinchos is the area near San Juan Street, parallel to Portales Street to the south. Even so, in this page you will find all the necessary information about places of pinchos and gastronomic and oenological activities in Logroño.
In the next stage we will travel a similar distance but will demand more effort for your profile and itinerary, so enjoy before everything that Logroño can offer us!