THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID

 llegando a Santa Maria la Real de Nieva, Segovia

 

- "In groups of friends, traveling in mountainbikes, accompanied by a local guide versed in the regions traversed, without assistance vehicle but with contacts for a possible need throughout all "The Way from Madrid"; in accommodations, restaurants, the various possible transport support, bicycle shops, etc..."

 

 

 

 641 kms. desde Colmenar a Santiago    Ternero de Avila    Camino de Madrid a Santiago por Manzanares    Cañada Real Segoviana  

 Hermita de San Isidra    Llegando a la Cuerda de Peñalara    Cañada Real Segoviana    Cañada Real Segoviana  

 

 

 

 

THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID

The History of "The Way of Saint James" is a history of "La Reconquista", the reconquest of the territories conquered by the arabs Omeya arrived in VII century from Damascus.

 
 

        In medieval times, Compostela was one of the three great pilgrimage destinations in the Christian world. Together with Jerusalem and Rome. Unlike these latter two, however, Compostela resolutely remains a place which pilgrims prefer to reach by traditional means. On foot or, in a nod to modern transportation, by bicycle. Pilgrims have been coming to Compostela from all over Europe for over a thousand years, to visit the remains of Saint James (the Minor), and the route continues to attract thousands of pilgrims every year, from countries as far away as Australia or New Zealand, Japan, Russia, Argentina..., and representing a wide variety of christian and non-christian religions and beliefs.

 

 
 

SAN TERVAS, TIERRA DE CAMPOS, IN THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID.
SAN TERVAS, TIERRA DE CAMPOS, IN THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID

 

 

 

 

 

THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID

...FROM MADRID

 
 

        Since Philipe II decided to establish his residence in El Escorial in the XVIIe century and Madrid went on to become the new capital of the kingdom, The Way of Saint James acquired a new point of start.  The change of residence was a consequence of the desire of independence of the Kingdon of Spain against the overwhelming influence of the Roman Catholic Church. It is, probably, why the great historical buildings of Madrid have a much more civil character than in others historical capitals; de Royal Palace, the palaces of Moncloa, Zarzuela or The Pardo, the building of the Bank of Spain, these of Liria or the greats buildings of the National Library, the Departement of Agriculture, the Museum of El Prado, the militaries headquarters of Vistahermosa, Buenavista or that of the Navy in Recoletos, that of La Montaña or The Conde Duque's...

        The first stage in the north of Madrid is the beautiful castle of the Lords Mendoza, in Manzanares el Real. On the way we pass through the little town of Colmenar Viejo, which is accessed up the old "cañada" ( historical way of animals propierty or the King...) of La Tejada.

        There are reached the first slopes of the mountains of Guadarrama, name given to The Central Mountains in the Madrid area. Small villages occur in the way of classical mountain pass of The Fuenfria, a way old of more than twenty centuries. To achieve its roman road must pass through Mataelpino, Becerril de la Sierra, Navacerrada and Guadarrama. The modern developments surrounding their old downtons do not drown their charms.

        The mountain pass of The Fuenfria is one of the strengths of all the long Way of Sain James, in more of 700 kms. Is breathtaking panoramic views are all a natural spectacle that encourages the pilgrim, overwhelmed by the effort to overcome the steep ramps. In fifty kilometers have to climb from 650 mts. of Madrid up to 1.900 mts. in its summit.

 

 
 

THROUGHOUT THE OLD CASTILLA.

 
 

        The first historical capital of the kingdom of Castilla reached on The Way of Saint James from Madrid is the imperial Segovia:  ¡It's impressive his roman aqueduct!, surprises such engineering work done in the Ie century, ¡the traveler can not imagine meet face to face with such boast...!. The surprise continues on the square of the cityhall and the theater Juan Bravo visiting The Cathedral. And usually reaches its peak in front of The Alcazar of the Queen Isabel The Catholic.

        Progressing through the valleys of the rivers Eresma and Adaja we reached Valladolid. It is an eminently horizontal and wavy, with slight and short ups and downs field. It was the last historic capital before that the Spanish Royal Family was established in Madrid definitely. Before reaching this, you have to visit the castle of the Archives of Simancas. And arrived in the city, the Plaza Mayor and the cathedral welcome the suffered pilgrim.

        We must climb to the plateau of Tierra de Campos from Valladolid. This is a difficult area to circulate; the weather elements are unleash against the pilgrim usually, and who is lucky enough to cross the region without being pinished for his ruthlessness can be happy and congratulate themselves for his fate. The sandroads and tracks are good, but only reaching Sahagún can breathe easy thanks to a slight slope down.

 

 
 

THROUGHOUT THE OLD KINGDOM OF LEON...

 
 

        The first stop significance is Sahagún, where there are several interesting ruins to visit, including the church of "La Peregrina" which stands alone on the outskirts of the town, overlooking the next stretch of "The Way".

        From Leon it is possible to see The Mountains of Leon looming in the distance. After Sahagun, there is a choice for pilgrims with a custom-built pilgrim path as one alternative or the old Roman road, the "Via Trajana" as the other. Either choice leads eventually to the walled town of Mansilla de Mulas, with its estraordinary modern pilgrim monument.

        Just 15 kms. lies Leon city, which has an extensive old quarter and a large number of fascinating buildings and monuments, including the cathedral with its justly-famous stained glass, and the marvellously gloomy and atmospheric Basilica of San Isidro. There is also a Gaudi building, the Casa Botines, and the splendid former pilgrim hospital of San Marcos, now a luxury hotel, "The Parador", to single out just a few of Leon's many attractions.

        Following of front Leon, at 30 kms., is the village of Hospital de Orbigo, famous for its impressive 200 metre, 20 arch bridge named "Paso Honroso", about which there is another interesting legend...!:  -"At the entrance of the village Sir Suero de Quiñones and nine other knights challenged all who tried to cross the bridge to joust during a 30 day period, in order to honour his lady-love".

        From Hospital de Orbigo it is only another 15 kms. to the capital of the Maragato region, Astorga. An attractive town, it has both a gothic cathedral an a splendid Gaudi building which was formerly the Bishop's palace but which now houses a "Museum of The Way of Saint James".

        After Astorga the landscape changes dramtically as one travels through the Mountains of Leon, crossing the Maragateria and El Bierzo regions; ¡there are some of the most wild, beautifull and isolated kilometres of the entire "The Way to Saint James from Madrid"!: The Maragateria encompasses some 45 small villages around Astorga, the inhabitants of which were once responsible for the transport of goods throughout the whole of Spain, professional muleteers with distinct customs and traditions which survive of Castrillode los Polvazares, a national monument which is a beautifully restored and picturesque example of traditional local architecture.

        After this short detour, there are various small villages before arriving firstly a Rabanal del Camino, a tiny mountain village totally dedicated to the pilgrimage, and on to Foncebadon, an atmospheric, almost-abandoned village which is the last before reaching the emblematic Cruz de Ferro, where pilgrims leave traditionally a stone brought from home.

        Just after is the unique pilgrim refuge of Manjarin which stand in another semi-abandoned village, and where a large bell is rung to welcome pilgrims descending from the Cruz de Ferro...

        We arrive to Ponferrada: Passing through the charming, balconied village of El Acebo and via Molinaseca the road takes you to this large town, where you can visit the impressive castle of the Knights Templar, reputed to contain hidden treasure.

        After Ponferrada you enter the region of El Bierzo, beautifful area centred around the small town of Cacabelos, which has an extraordinary ratio of bars to inhabitants...!.

        After Cacabelos the last town of any size in Leon is Villafranca del Bierzo, an attractive mountain town whose Church of Sain James has a "Puerta del Perdon", where pilgrims too sick to finish the pilgrimage could receive the same absolution as if they had completed to be the journey to Santiago de Compostela. Villafranca del Bierzo marks the beginning of what many believe to be the single most beautifull stage of "The Way to Sant James from Madrid", climbing up through forested mountains, via various isolated hamlets and villages to the Galician village of O Cebreiro.

 

 
 

¡ARRIVED AT THE GREEN GALICIA...!

 
 

        O Cebreiro is one of the finiest but most famous stops of "The Way", consisting as it does of a handful of houses and pallozas, thatched buildings of Celtic origin and typical of the region. Most pilgrims like to stop here to savour the isolation of the village and the beauty of the surrounding countryside. It is easy to become trapped for days as the weather is notoriously fickle, and terrible storms are typical. In fact, the "miracle of O Cebreiro is intimately connected with just such a storm:  -"O Cebreiro, the first settlement in Galicia is an atmospheric Hamlet with its own mediaeval miracle. A story tells of a particularly devout peasant who struggled through a dreadful snow-storm in order to receive communion one night. The sceptical monk, angry at having to come out in the terrible weather, derided the poor man for his faith, at which point the communion bread and wine turned into the flesh and blood of Christ before his eyes, instantly restoring the monk to his faith".

        The road through the province of Lugo takes you through several villages and detouring from one of the first, Triacastela, it is possible to make a trip to one of the oldest monasteries in Spain, Samos, a benedictine monastery originally founded in the 6th. century, althrough most of it dates from the 16th. and 17th.

        Continuing on via various towns such as Sarriá, where the majority of modern-day pilgrims start their route organizated for Travels Agencies, Portomarin and Palas de Rei, you reach the final province of "The Way", A Coruña.

        Melide is the firs settlement of any size in the province, and lies only about 50 kms. from Santiago de Compostela. The route through both Lugo and A Coruña, while lacking somewhat in the great monuments to be found in Castilla, is a wonderful experience, using donkey tracks and passing through Hamlets where time seems to have stood still in the mediaeval era. On the negative side, the weather tends to be damp, but it is a small price to pay for the lush, green countryside.

        Just before Santiago there are two historitically important stops: The first is Lavacolla, which, as the name implies, is where pilgrims traditionally stopped to wash themselves before entering Santiago de Compostela itself. And then, there is the Monte del Gozo, the "Mountain of Joy", where the pilgrims first caught sight of the cathedral towers for which they had travelled so far.

        Descending from the Monte de Gozo, nothing else remains but to enter the city of Santiago de Compostela, steeped in history, and with a multitude of places to visit. For the pilgrim, however, the first and foremost is to enter the cathedral and embrance the statue of the apostol Santiago above the hight altar, in thanks for their safe arrival.

        The city has many historical buildings of interest to visit, but there are also two out-standing trips outside Santiago de Compostela: Many pilgrims choose to emulate those of centiries ago and travel 95 kms. further west to Finisterre (in fact "El Final de la Tierra"), where mediaeval pilgrims traditionally used to burn their travelling clothes, bathe in the sea south of the city to the village of padrom, and dress in new clothes in preparation for the long journey home. Those interested in the earliest beginnings of the Compostela pilgrimage may also like to travel 20 kms. south of the city to the village of Padrón, where Santiago's body was reputed to have arrived in a stone boat, accompanied by two disciples after his martyrdom.

 

 
 

THE CATHEDRAL OF COMPOSTELA.
THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID

 

 

 

 

 

THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID

There are many roads to Compostela. The most famous and widely-trodden is "The French Way". Our "Way from Madrid" is more solitary and silent, a calm way between Madrid and Sahagun troughtout Guadarrama mountains and the Tierra de Campos plateau; they share "The French Way" after that town...

 
 

        The pilgrimage to Compostela, in north-west Spain, is a modern-day phenomenon, being in many ways quite unique among Christian pilgrimages. Anyone wishing to make this traditional wayshould equip themselves with a stout mountain bike, his light luggage and his "credencial": The Pilgrim Passport. The "credencial" can be obtained at "Iglesia de Santiago and San Juan" in the "plazuela of Santiago" of Madrid the first day of pilgrimage. Or in any of the larger towns along "The Way".   And prepare to be amazed and delighted both by the beautiful scenary along "The Way". And also by the hospitality and camaraderie of both fellow pilgrims and local people. Whether riding or walking, "The Way of Saint James from Madrid" is a unique experience, both physically and mentally challenging, which many people choose to repeat time after time.

        Along "The Way" pilgrims with a "credencial" can make use of a series of refuges which are usually but not always equipped with a kitchen, bunk beds and hot showers. Each refuge has a warden --"hospitalero"-- whose job is to help and advise the pilgrimsand look after the refuge. The wardens are sometimes local people, but often ex-pilgrims working as volunteers in order to "given something back" to "The Way".

        A warning: ¡Preferance in refuges is given to walking pilgrims; then to ciclyst!. At lastly, if there is any available space, to pilgrims with cars...  As the pilgrimage grows in fame and popularity, opportunities for motorised pilgrims to use these facilities are becoming fewer and fewer, so if you are making this journay by car, or with a support vehicle, be prepared to sleep in the numerous hostales which can be found all along "The Way". In addition, if time dictates that you must make this journey by car, many of the smaller attractons to be found on "The Way" for most walkers.

 

 
 

VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO,  IN "THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID".
THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID

 

 

 

 

   

 

THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID

  INDEX:  

 
 

    MORE INFORMATION DAY 1    day 01.-  MADRID to CERCEDILLA :
                        ( page 1 )
        morning:   We left Madrid throughout Fuencarral, Colmenar and Mataelpino.
        afternoon:   Throughout Becerril de la Sierra until Navacerrada or Cercedilla.
    MORE INFORMATIÓN DAY 2     day 02.-  to SEGOVIA :
                        ( pagina 2 )
        morning:   Go to Segovia throughout the Guadarrama mountains by La Fuenfria.
        afternoon:   We rested, reviewed bicycles and visit Segovia.
    MORE INFORMATION DAY 3   day 03.-   to COCA and VALLADOLID :
                        ( page 3 )
        morning:   Clinbed to Zamarramala. And continue throughout Alcazaren, Oña, Pinilla and Coca.
        afternoon:   Continue to Valdestilla, Puente Duero and we came to Valladolid.
    MORE INFORMATIÓN DAY 4   day 04.- to MEDINA and SAHAGUN :
                        ( page 4 )
        morning:   Through Tierra de Campos:  Going to Medina de Rioseco y Villalon.
        afternoon:  To be continued to Fontihoyuelo, Villacarralón, Villacidaler and Sahagún.
    MORE INFORMATION DAY 5    day 05.-   to LEON and ASTORGA :
                        ( page 5 )
        morning:   Arrived to "The French Way";   Bercianos, Mansilla of Mulas and Leon.
        afternoon:   To be continued throughout Trobajo and the valley of the river Orbigo until Astorga.
    MORE INFORMATIÓN DAY 6   day 06.- to VILLAFRANCA :
                        ( page 6 )
        morning:   ¡Hard day through the Leon mountains!: to Rabanal and Ponferrada.
        afternoon:  Cacabelos, Campoharaya and Villafranca del Bierzo.
    MORE INFORMATIÓN DAY 7   day 07.-   to SARRIÁ:
                        ( page 7 )
        morning:  To Trabadelo, Ambasmestas, Las Lamas and to O Cebreiro.
        afternoon:     Countinued throughtout Linares and Triacastela, and arrived to Sarriá.
    MORE INFORMATION DAY 8    day 08.-   to PALAS and ARZUÁ:
                        ( page 8 )
        morning:    Go to Vega de Valcarce, Portomarín and Palas de Rei.
        afternoon:   We go throuht Orosa, Leboreiro, Melide and Boente for sleep to Arzúa.
    MORE INFORMATION DAY 9    day 09.- to COMPOSTELA:
                        ( page 9 )
        morning:    We arrived to Santiago de Compostela at noon;
      - "God willing...".

 

   

 

 

THE WAY OF SAINT JAMES FROM MADRID
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