Atapuerca is one of the best known villages through which the Camino de Santiago passes. Known today mostly thanks to its archeological site, it is also relevant though for the yearly reenactment of the historical battle that took place in the town in the Middle Ages.
The battle of Atapuerca took place on September 1st of 1054, between kings Fernando I of León and Count of Castile, and García Sánchez III of Pamplona. Both of them were sons of king Sancho III of Navarre, who divided his kingdom at death between them.
A series of personal conflicts among both brothers, that had roots in part in king Bermudo III of León’s attempt to wage war against Fernando and García’s help to the latter, provoked the battle between both kings on the plain in the valley of Atapuerca.
The battle concluded with the death of García Sanchez, but Navarre’s army managed to keep calm and recover the king’s body in order to bring it back to the pantheon in Nájera. García’s son, Sancho Garcés IV, was named king on the battlefield itself.
The current reenactment began in 1996, as an initiative of a group of neighbours organised in the association “Amigos de Atapuerca”. It has now been declared an Event of Touristic Interest by the Castilla-León regional government, and it has a medieval market that takes place during the day. All the elements used in the reenactment (shields, tents, historical clothing…) are made by the village’s inhabitants.
This year (2019) the reenactment will take place on August 24 and 25. If you are interested, you can get more information at www.batalladeatapuerca.com.
We would like to highlight today a pioneering study in the field of psychology and mental health. We have often heard from pilgrims sharing their experience about the effects that walking the Camino de Santiago has had on their daily life, from the philosophical aspects to the added self-knowledge, and even from the psychological point of view. A group of researchers from the San Joan de Déu Hospital in Barcelona have decided, for the first time, to study scientifically those beneficial effects.
The study, called Proyecto Ultreya, is an online questionnaire that pilgrims can fill out in a voluntary way. In order to measure the psychological effects of walking the Camino, participants are asked to fill out said question three time: before their pilgrimage, right after finishing it and three months later.
The study, leaded by Dr. Albert Feliu, will be active for the remainder of this year and also (most likely) during 2020. Pilgrims who wish to participate can do so at their website, https://www.estudiocamino.org/
One of the most distinctive regions that the Camino Francés passes through is El Bierzo. Located right before Galicia, between mountains and valleys, El Bierzo is a region with a distinctive identity that deserves special attention from the traveler. We are going to highlight here some of its wonders, so that the pilgrim can check them out in his next Camino and stop for a few minutes (or even hours) to experience the unique features that this region can offer.
Riego de Ambrós
Riego de Ambrós was a mandatory stop for pilgrims during the trip to Compostela. Being a town dependant directly from the king (“realengo”), it had a pilgrim’s hospital called San Juan de Irago, that was destroyed by a fire in the XVIII century. It has excellent samples of popular architecture, like the parish church of Santa María Magdalena with its Baroque altarpiece, the fountains of San Sebastian, Santa María Magdalena and the town square one. Close to it we also find the bridges of Malpaso, in a detour of the Camino towards Los Barrios.
Church of Santa María de Vizbayo
Probably the most ancient romanesque temple in the region, the church of Santa María de Vizbayo is in Otero, a small town close to the Mount Pajariel. Built in late XI century, it features horseshoe arches and a singular window on the front.
The capital of El Bierzo is the biggest town we’ll find in the way until reaching Santiago, and it has plenty of attractions to visit. The most famous one is obviously the templar castle from the XII century, but we can also have a look at the “Fábrica de la Luz”, a technological museum located in an old power station.
Another important symbol of the region is the basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, where we find an image of the Virgin Mary that was brought to Spain, according to legend, by Saint Turibius from the Holy Land.
Los Barrios (Ponferrada)
The parish of Lombillo, which belongs to Ponferrada, forms the region of Los Barrios along with other parishes such as Las Salas and Villar. Declared as Good of Cultural Interest by the spanish government, Lombillo preserves beautiful examples of popular architecture and magnificent examples of emblazoned houses. We can also visit the ermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación and one of the most beautiful lookouts of the region, from which we can see Ponferrada, the Aquilane Mountains, Salas and Villar and the church of San Martín de Salas.
On the outskirts of the town of Cacabelos, the pilgrim can find the Sanctuary of Angustias, built in the XVIII century in the same place where there used to be an ermitage devoted to the Virgin Mary. In it, we can admire the image of the Virgin Mary and have a look at its seven altarpieces, among them the biggest one, made by Miguel Núñez and Juan de Solorzano, as well as a painting of the Nursing Madonna, a relief of Jesus as a child playing cards with St. Anthony of Padua and the organ, brought here from the monastery of Santa María de Carracedeo.
Church of San Miguel at Corullón
The romanesque church of San Miguel in Corullón was declared “Good of Cultural Interest” in 1931. Built in the XII century, it’s remarkable for its decoration full of real and fantastic animals and obscene motifs, as well as the southern door with its archivolt and blind arcade over columns.
Villafranca del Bierzo
One of the most important towns of the region, Villafranca is known among pilgrims mostly for the church of Santiago, where we can find the “Puerta del Perdón” (Forgiveness Gate), which opens only during Holy Years. Pope Calixtus III gave to sick or disabled pilgrims the privilege of getting the same indulgences when reaching this gate than if they had walked all the way to Santiago.
We can also visit the Santa María Collegiate Church, built on the old site of the Santa María de Cluniaco monastery, which belonged to the Order of Cluny. Other highlights are the church of San Francisco, with its mudejar decoration, and the “barrio de los Tejedores” (weavers’ neighbourhood), with its typical wooden galleries.
We can’t finish this text without talking about the food in El Bierzo. With two designations of origin -DO Bierzo and Reineta Apple-, three Guaranteed Brands -Conference Pear, Chestnuts y Cherries- and two european PGIs -Roaster Pepper of El Bierzo and Botillo-, this region offers a huge variety of products that can satisfy the most demanding consumers.
Traditionally, one of the highlights for any pilgrim that manages to finish the Camino is the visit to the Santiago cathedral: hugging the saint’s statue, assist the Pilgrim Mass and, perhaps, if one is lucky, watch the botafumeiro fly.
However, pilgrims who walk the Camino during these months should be advised that, due to the restoration works in the cathedral, some of these experiences won’t be taking place.
Since last January 28th, the masses and religious services that used to take place at the cathedral have been move to other churches in town. The Pilgrim’s Mass, for example, takes place now at the St. Francis Church, close to Plaza de Obradoiro (about 300 m. further). This also means that the botafumeiro will not be working during these months.
Please note that this doesn’t mean that the cathedral is closed. It still can be visited, and the pilgrims will still be able to enter it, visit the Saint’s crypt and the museum and admire the Pórtico de la Gloria. The only visit that remains closed is the one of the rooftops. The entrance to the cathedral should be done through the Puerta de Platerías, in the southern facade (next to the Fonte dos Cabalos).
Cathedral authorities say that this situation is expected to last about 12 months. For further information:
We are very happy to announce officially today what some of you had already noticed: our new passenger transport service along the Camino de Santiago. Now we don’t just transport your luggage, but we can also take you wherever you need to go.
Whether it’s from your airport to your starting point, or back home once you’ve finished your Camino, now you can also book your transport through our website. We operate both taxis and private hire vehicles, using a fleet of modern and comfortable cars up to 7 seats. And as usual, this is all backed by our more than 10 years of experiencia in the Camino and our thousands of satisfied customers.
2019 begins, and as always, we at Caminofacil are looking forward to meet our friends at the Camino de Santiago again to assist them in everything they need. Some of them are veteran pilgrims of past years, while others are walking the trail for the first time. In any case, we’ll be happy to help you so that your experience is as trouble-free as possible.
This year we have introduced some news at Caminofacil. One of them is the passenger transfer service, which some of you know already and will be announced officially over the next few weeks. The other big news is our new corporate logo, which we introduce here. It’s our first logo change in over ten years, and we believe that it accurately reflects the forward-looking and customer oriented values that characterize us.
We’ll be introducing this new image in our website in the coming weeks, as well as in our stationery. We look forward to see you on the Camino with our new image, and we hope that you’ll see in us the reliable partner that we’ve always been for pilgrims.
Have you decided to make the Camino de Santiago and chosen the Northern one (Camino del Norte)?
Then we’d like to help you so that your experience can be awesome, referring you to 6 places that you can’t miss.
The fact is that, although there are many more landscapes, villages, monuments… that you can’t miss in the Camino del Norte, we want to highlight these 6 places (if not, we would lengthen this too much):
1- Monastery of Samos
If you take our advice, do not just watch it from outside; it’s worth entering and visiting it.
It’s an architectural ensemble from the 16th to 18th centuries that comprises a neoclassical church, two cloisters, etc.
If you’re traveling the Camino del Norte, you can’t miss taking a walk through the charming streets of this noble and aristocratic town, seated over hills that shelter its lovely beach and its little harbor.
We recommend touring the old square, the church, and some houses in the town center featuring the popular architecture of the 18th century.
3- Enjoy the Cantabrian Sea
It will “wash your feet” in a large stretch of the route, that through the Basque Country and Cantabria lies along the shore, very close to the sea.
It’s a really spectacular stretch that leads to Castro Urdiales.
4- Walking among vineyards
Another landmark in the Camino del Norte, although it should be said that it’s true for every stage of the Camino de Santiago, is having the possibility of walking among vineyards.
In this case, you can travel through the vineyards where the delicious Txakoli wine comes from.
5- Faro de Plata (Silver Lighthouse) in Pasajes
You just can’t miss the views from the Faro de Plata in Pasajes, as they will rest engraved forever in your memory.
A panorama of the Gulf of Biscay that, although being tough to accomplish due to the steepness of the stairs, is really worth it.
6- Playa de las Catedrales (Cathedrals Beach)
The 26th stage of the Camino del Norte stretches from La Caridad to Ribadeo… We recommend a lot that you to take advantage of this stage, or the next one, to lose a little time and go to the Playa de las Catedrales.
We don’t have much to say that haven’t yet been said about this natural marvel.
And we end saying that in future articles we’ll show you other places that you can’t miss in the different Caminos: Francés, Aragonés, Primitivo, Portugués…
Baidu, the most popular Chinese search engine, has announced new alliances to offer virtual tours to the Camino de Santiago (and El Prado Museum and the route of Don Quixote) to Chinese users.
In this way, after their first digital museum success, dedicated to the architect Antonio Gaudi (with more than 3.5 million visitors), they stand up for the Camino as a tourist attraction for their users, putting at their fingertips the possibility to become a virtual pilgrim.
Thus, Baidu wants to go a step further, and has reached some agreements with the objective of creating additional virtual tours, among them the Camino de Santiago.
How will the Camino de Santiago tour be like?
We understand that, the same way that Chinese Internet users can visit today the digital museum dedicated to the architect Antonio Gaudi, it will be done through an application developed by Baidu Baike, an online encyclopedia owned by the big Chinese search engine.
This way they will be able to travel different routes with 360º panoramas and photos with 20 billion pixel resolution.
A possible addition will be a virtual tour with VR goggles (the same way the Sagrada Familia cathedral can be seen to the smallest feature today).
A different pilgrimage.
It’s true, this way of peregrinating to the Holy Door of Santiago de Compostela has nothing to do with the real thing. First, because it’s always better living it in person than seeing photos. And because, as good as the image quality could be, you will always feel there’s something missing. And second, because it lacks those real world experiences that enrich the Camino so much.
However, in case traveling the Camino and coming close to the magic places that make it up is something inaccessible to you, the best option is a virtual tour featuring the smallest details.
We impatiently look forward to its presentation, and the visitor numbers it could reach…
Are you going to walk the Camino? Are you determined to make some stages? Then, this article can help you. We want to offer you some advices that we know will help you in this adventure.
One important maxim for a nice Camino experience is wearing comfortable shoes that you know adapt to your feet and your step. Think: you’ll spend hours and hours with them on.
A spare pair won’t do harm, just in case…
give importance to breaks
Sleep at night, take small breaks on every stage, take a nap… Resting will help you recover, and recovering will let you go on the next day.
Otherwise you’ll get a tiredness buildup and you won’t be able to reach the goal.
set yourself for realistic stages
That you know you can surmount with your current physical condition and your aptitude… otherwise you will be stifled and feel frustrated. It’s not required for every pilgrim to walk the same distance every day.
beware the meals
We know. In Galicia, as well as other parts of the Camino, meals are delicious and hearty… but if you have a bellyfull at lunch, you’ll have a hard time walking afterwards.
So, if you want to proceed after lunch, have light lunches and more generous dinners. Furthermore, it’s better to rise early and get sooner to the lunch, and later spend the afternoon resting.
enjoy the Camino
Last, but surely not least, enjoy the Camino; it’s a one-off experience… imbibe other cultures, meet people, enjoy places, etc.
And now, at last: Buen Camino for everyone!
¿Necesitas que te lleven tus mochilas a lo largo del Camino? En Caminofacil tenemos más de 10 años de experiencia transportando equipajes para los peregrinos. Pruébanos en www.caminofacil.net.