Made by car in just 8 days
For us, the route of the “El Camino de Santiago” (Way of St. James), more than 800-km long, was a…walkover because we covered it by car in only 8 days.
Those who cover that distance on foot, considering the travel timetable, keep very little time to visit the cities and the monuments spread along the way.
Pamplona, Eunate, Puente de la Reina, Estella, Logroño, Najera, San Millan de la Cogolla, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Castrojeriz, Puente Fitero, Carrion de los Condos, Leon, Orbigo, Astorga, Molinaseca, Ponferrada, Villafranca del Bierzo, O Cebreiro, Samos, Santiago de Compostela, Noia, Muros, Leon, Orbigo, Astorga, Molinaseca, Ponferrada, Villafranca del Bierzo, O Cebreiro, Samos, Santiago de Compostela, Noia, Muros.
Roncisvalle with Royal Collegiate Church, tomb of Sancho el Fuerte and historical monument in memory of Count Roland
In Roncesvalles there is the magnificent Royal Collegiate Church where, on a canopy, there is a statue of Saint Mary of Roncesvalles.
It is important the tomb of Sancho called the Strong (Sancho el Fuerte), founder of the Collegiate.
We saw also the important historical monument in memory of Count Roland who died in that place for an ambush by the Saracens.
Pamplona with Cathedral S.Maria la Real, Festival of San Fermin and monument al Encierro
Pamplona, capital of Navarre, is surrounded by large and strong walls. With a series of photos I present some of the most significant buildings of the city. The Cathedral of Royal Saint Mary (Santa María la Real) has a spacious interior with three naves and, on its altar, we could admire the ”Virgen del Sagrario”. There are the two splendid alabaster tombs of Charles III and his wife. In the old refectory there is the Diocesan Museum in front of the beautiful cloister.
Pamplona is famous for the festival of San Fermin during which men and bulls take part in a race. The race is commemorated with a large and spectacular monument named monument “al Encierro” (or Running of the Bulls).
Sierra de Alaiz, Ermita de la Virgen de Eunate, Puente de la Reina with Church of the Crucifix, Estella and Monastero de Nostra Senora de Irache
We left Pamplona and crossed the Sierra de Alaiz to arrive at the Ermita de la Virgen de Eunate. That Romanesque hermitage has mysterious origins: a church related to the Templars or an octagonal funerary monument .
Then, we reached Puente de la Reina, a town that took its name from the bridge built in the eleventh century to facilitate the pilgrims crossing the river Arga.
The city monument is the Church of the Crucifix.
We arrived in Estella (Lizarra in Basque), a characteristic town on the shore of the Ega river. In the old part of the city we could admire the following monuments: the Old Town Hall, the Royal Palace, the Roman bridge and Santo Domingo Convent. The Church of San Miguel Arcangel dominates the medieval quarter whereas the Church of the Holy Sepulchre is a bit farther and more isolated. The bas-reliefs that decorate its main portal are very interesting.
A few kilometres out of town, we visited the great Monastery of Our Lady de Irache.
It is one of the oldest Benedictine complex in the region of Navarre.
Logrono, capital of La Roja, a city with a nice Cathedral and other nice churches
Najera with the Monastery of Santa Maria la Real, Cloister of the Knights, Royal Pantheon and landscapes
A suggestive statue of the Virgin Mary is kept in the cave of Santa Maria.
Village of San Millan de la Cogolla (birthplace of the Castilian language) with the Monasteries of Yuso and Suso
The village of San Millan de la Cogolla is famous both for its two monastic centres, a UNESCO World Heritage Sites (UNESCO) since 1977, and because it is the birthplace of the Castilian language.
The Monastery of Yuso has a beautiful portal in which is depicted San Millan on horseback.
In the church it is notable the great altar-piece while, in the sacristy, there are the remains of the saint in reliquaries embellished by bas-reliefs in marble.
We reached the Monastery of Suso with a shuttle service.
Unfortunately it was not permitted to take pictures and so my documentation is incomplete.
Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada with the “gothic hen house”, Capilla de la Magdalena, Mausoleo Pedro de Carranza and Capilla de Santa Teresa
The Cathedral of Santo Domingo de la Calzada is one of the most important monuments of La Rioja, as documented. It is particular curious the ”gothic hen house” in which a rooster and a hen are kept in memory of a very special miracle. Behind a rich gate there is the Capilla de la Magdalena which contains the Mausoleum of Pedro de Carranza. In the Capilla de Santa Teresa there are the tombs of the main figures of the time.
In another chapel there are wooden statues and a Native Scene.
Santuario de San Juan de Ortega with tomb of St.Nicola from Bari, village of Castrojeriz, Convent of S.Anton and Collegiate Church of S.Maria del Manzano
Doing an itinerary different from that one of the pilgrims, we visited the Santuario de San Juan de Ortega. Inside, in particular, there is the tomb with the remains of the saint and the Capilla de San Nicolas de Bari.
We passed, without stopping , the beautiful and important city of Burgos because I visited it in April 2002 and is already presented in the journey called “Spain, Catalonia and the Basque Country”.
We arrived in the small village of Castrojeriz, located at the foot of a hill on whose top we could see the ruins of the homonymous castle.
Then, first we visited the imposing complex of the Convento de San Anton and, later, we went to visit the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria del Manzano. Unfortunately it was closed.
Puente Fitero, village of Fromista with Church of San Pedro with altar-piece of the Deposition and San Martin
Carrion de Los Condes with Monastery of San Zoilo, Sahagun with Romanesque church of San Lorenzo
We arrived at Carrion de los Condes, a major agricultural centre of Tierra de Campos.
There are numerous churches and monasteries which are pilgrims’ destinations.
We visited the most famous: the Monastery of San Zoilo. Important building on the outside, but it is the cloister, which stands out for its beauty with important sculptural decorations to which I have devoted special attention. Inside Roman tombstones of the accounts of Carrion.
We arrive at Sahagun, a town in which we visit the Romanesque church of San Lorenzo, worked with gorgeous brick.
Of particular beauty is the tower that dominates.
In the immediate vicinity of the Benedictine abbey of which few remaining ruins that prevent you from realizing the original size.
Let Sahagun along the beautiful stone bridge over the river Cea.
Leon with Basilica of San Isidoro (with Panteon de los Reyes) and Cathedral
We reached León, which was the first city of the homonymous Kingdom, on the 5th October which is the day of the celebration of San Froilan celebrated, among other things, with an important food festival.
There are two main artistic beauties in the city: the Basilica of San Isidoro and the Cathedral.
We began with the visit to St. Isidore Church, a Romanesque gem that has two main portals: the “portada del Cordero” (portal of the Lamb) and the “portada del Perdon” (portal of the Forgiveness) decorated with beautiful bas-reliefs. The interior and the cloister are very nice.
In the “Panteon de los Reyes” (Royal pantheon) we admired very beautiful frescoes . I could take only one photo before the security guards stopped me.
La Cathedral, which is considered a masterpiece of High Gothic, is adorned with three beautiful portals enriched with bas-reliefs of exquisite beauty.
With regard to the interior, which is spacious and bright, I wish to emphasize the beauty of the stained glass windows.
Leon with Plaza del Mercado, Church of S.Maria del Camin, Plaza Major, Casa Botines (di A.Gaudì) and festival of San Florian
We visited the most important monuments of the city: the characteristic Plaza del Mercado and its “Iglesia de Santa Maria del Camin” and the “Plaza Mayor” , where I was touched by the sight of a very old couple walking hand in hand. Then we saw the “Casa de los Botines”, designed by Gaudi, with a statue of the architect who is concentrating on designing the project and, finally, the Feast of Saint Froilan that we celebrated enjoying excellent local food.
Leon, Hostal de San Marcos; towards Orbigo with Puente de Paso Honroso (19 arches) of the thirtheenth century
The last monument visited in Leon was the Hostal de San Marcos, which was formerly a monastery and nowadays is a hotel belonging to the Paradores chain (chain of Spanish luxury hotels). I present the façade, the cloister and some of the rooms next to the lobby. I wish to point out the shells which enrich the exterior and the statue dedicated to the “weary pilgrim”.
Continuing on our journey we stopped in Orbigo to admire the 19 arches of the Puente de Paso Honroso, dating back to the thirteenth century.
Astorga, capital of Maragateria, with Cathedral, Palacio Episcopal (work of A.Gaudì) and Museo de los Caminos
Astorga, the capital of La Maragateria, is surrounded by thick walls. The Baroque town hall is surmounted by two figures in traditional costumes.
It is superb the Cathedral, visited only outwardly, in which the bas- reliefs are of particular beauty. Nearby there is the Palacio Episcopal, neo-Gothic work by Antoni Gaudí. Inside we visited the Museo de los Caminos in which are collected works related to the pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago.
Molinaseca with Pilgrims’ bridge and Shrine of Quinta Angustia, Ponferrada with Templar Castle, Villafranca del Bierzo with Church of Santiago
We reached the beautiful village of Molinaseca with lovely and typical houses. It is really beautiful the Romanesque Puente de los Pelegrinos (Pilgrims’ bridge) beyond which there is the scenic Shrine of the “Quinta Angustia”.
Not far, there is the town of Ponferrada with a beautiful historical centre and nearby the Templar Castle whose walls are well preserved but not the interior.
Going on, we arrived in Villafranca del Bierzo in whose surrounding there is the imposing Castillo – Palacio of the fifteenth century. In the Iglesia de Santiago (Church of Santiago), it isparticularly important the wonderful Puerta del Perdon (Door of Forgiveness), finely decorated.
O Cebreiro Pass with the Church of Santa Maria, Samos with the Monastery and the church of the cypress, our 1st “Horreo”
We enjoyed wonderful views during the climb to Passo O Cebreiro ( mt.1.300 ) until we reached the homonymous village in which the traditional houses of the mountain villages (with an elliptical shape and called “pallozas” had been restored.
The Iglesia de Santa Maria, in Galician pre-Romanesque style, hosts, besides the statue of Santa Maria la Real, the cup of a miracle which took place in 1300: the transformation of the bread and wine into the flesh and blood of Christ .
At the foot of the mountain, we met the massive construction of the Monastery of Samos. In the centuries it was damaged by several fires, the last one took place in 1951. Nearby, in a grove of cypress trees, there is a small pre-Romanesque church, dating back to the tenth century, called “church of the Cypress”.
We met the first of the characteristic “Horreo” (a term of Latin origin).
The horreos are curious buildings that were used (and still are) as granary, store-house and warehouse.
Santiago di Compostela, visit at the Cathedral
At the end of the sixth day of our trip we arrived in Santiago de Compostela.
First of all, we visited the Cathedral. We could admire the main façade, called Obradoiro (means: work of gold). The entrance is preceded by a seventeenth-century staircase that culminates with the Pórtico da Gloria (portico of the glory).
Inside, among a multitude of faithful and pilgrims, at first, we saw the famous ”Botafumeiro” a silver thurible (incense censer) which weights 80 Kilos. The main altar is very rich, the Chapel of Pilar is mystical and the Holy Door is stunning. We continued our visit and admired, in order: the rich tomb of Santiago El Major, the apostle Santiago and the statue of Santiago Matamoros.
At last, we visited two chapels: the Capilla Mondragon and the Capilla Corticela.
Santiago de Compostela, visit of the Museum of the Cathedral (“Catedralicio”), night shots, Monastery of San Pelayo de Antealtares, Monastery of S.Martin Pinario
We went to the museum of the Cathedral, called ”Catedralicio“, which includes the Capilla de las Reliquias (Chapel of the Reliquary) and the Panteon Real.
With some night shots I present some views of the city.
Close to the Cathedral, we could admire the Monasterio de San Pelayo de Antealtares characterized by 61 gratings decorated with flowers, one for each cell.
The great façade of the Monasterio de San Martin Pinario is really scenic.
Santiago de Compostela, visit of Rajoy Palace, Colegio de San Jeronimo, Hospital de los Reyes Catolicos (now a Parador)
In the Obradoiro square, in addition to the Cathedral, there are three other important monuments.
The Rajoy Palace, seat of the regional government, is decorated with a bas-relief depicting the battle of Clavaijo and is surmounted by the equestrian statue of Santiago Matamoro.
The Colegio de San Jeronimo has a finely crafted portal of the fourth century.
Finally, there is the Hospital de los Reyes Catolicos (or Hospital Real ), now transformed into a luxurious hotel of the chain Parador. It has a very nice façade in which stands out the plateresque-style portal. Inside there are two courtyards with nice portals and graceful fountains. The interior is interesting with two statues of the Saint Santiago.
Santiago di Compostela, visit of the Church San Martin Pinario, Chucrh of San Fruttuoso, Fonseca Palace, Church of San Francis and Church of S.Maria Salomè, curious shots
Walking around in the town we admired the Church of San Fruttuoso, Fonseca Palace, the Church of St. Francis and the Church of Santa Maria Salome.
Noia with Church of San Martin, Muros with Colegiata de San Pedros, Ezaro and sight of “Ras da Costa da Morte”
We left Santiago de Compostela to reach the Cape of Fisterra on the Atlantic coast, where, in ancient times, the Way of Santiago ended.
We reached the Atlantic ocean in Noia, a beautiful fishing village with the Gothic Church of St. Martin.
The coastal road offered romantic views until Muros another medieval village with narrow streets that climb up to the Collegiate Church of San Pedros. We made another stop at the vantage point above Ezaro before arriving at the coast named “Ras da Costa da Morte” (Coast of Death) because it is the wildest part of the Galician coast which has been site, over the centuries, of countless shipwrecks.
Church of S.Maria de Areas, Cape Finisterra (or Fisterre), statue of the Pilgrim, stone of the kilometre zero and more
The lighthouse seemed willing to defend, with its mass, all those symbols.
Moreover we saw: the cross of the Coast of Death, a cross dedicated to a pilgrim by his family, commemorative plaques and a monument to the dolphins.
Curious aspects of the trip
I would like to close the description of this challenging journey with a thought dedicated to all those who, over the centuries, have enriched the Way with many works of art.