Stage 11: Belorado – San Juan de Ortega Distance: 23km
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Leave Belorado through the Plaza Mayor taking a left onto te Calle Hipolito Lopez Bernal.
Head through the suburbs of Belorado passing the Convento de Santa Clara.
Cross the main road and then cross the Río Tirón via a wooden foot bridge.
Take the path that runs parallel to the main road passing a picnic / rest area into the hamlet of Tosantos.
You’ll find the Bar El Castaño on the main road.
Head out of Tosantos along a dirt track. On the way you’ll pass the 12th century Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Pena which is built into the cliff. Continue on this track until you reach the hamlet of Villambistia.
It is an old tradition in the village that passing pilgrims refresh themselves by completely immersing their heads in the village fountain. This is optional of course.
Local monuments include the 17th century Iglesia de San Esteban Protomártir and the Ermita de San Roque.
In August the 14th to the 16th the village holds the Fiesta de Nuestra Señora and San Roque.
Cross over a stream on the way out of the village and on into Espinosa del Camino.
Espinosa del Camino
Pass through Espinosa del Camino onto a dirt track to the top of a hill. You will be able to see Villafranca Montes de Oca from here. Continuing down the other side passing the 9th century ruins of the Monasterio San Felices de Oca. The remains of Diego Porcelos, who founded Burgos, are buried underneath the ruins.
Continue on the track which goes on to meet with the main road leading over the Río Oca into Villafranca de Montes de Oca
Villafranca de Montes de Oca
Villafranca de Montes de Oca is located in a valley at the foot of the Montes de Oca which were once notorious for bandits and robbers.
The towns name is believed to come form an early Roman settlement, Auca, which was once situated here.
Whlst here you should try to visit the 18th century Iglesia de Santiago Apóstol. Inside you’ll find a Baroque statue of Saint James and a font made from a giant scallop shell which originated in the Philippines.
There’s also the 14th century Hospital de Peregrinos de San Antón Abad (also known as Hospital de la Reina) which was built at the command of Doña Juana, wife of King Enrique II. It has now been converted into an albergue.
Other monuments include the 8th century Ermita de Nuestra Señora de Oca
On the outskirts of Villafranca is a natural reserve where you’ll find a large fountain which according to legend began to flow at the site on which San Indalecio, a disciple of San Jacques, was martyred.
In Villafranca take a right off the main road passing the Iglesia de Santiago Apóstol.
Climb up through a oak and pine wooded area to the Fuente de Mojapán.
Continue on the tree lined path climbing until you reach the Monumentos de los Caidos, a memorial to the victims of the Spanish Civil war.
From this point descend to a foot bridge over a stream along the track and head on until you come to the Ermita de la Valdefuentes.
From here climb up a little more before descending into the small hamlet of San Juan de Ortega.
San Juan de Ortega
San Juan was a disciple of San Domingo, and just lke San Domingo he built bridges, hospices, hotels & churches to help pilgrims throughout this region.
He also founded an order here and built the . The church was later restored in the 15th century after falling into a state of disrepair.
The tomb of San Juan with it’s Gothic canopy over the Romanesque sarcophagus can be found in the crypt underneath the monastery church.
A pilgrimage to the church was supposedly the last hope for childless women. Queen Isabel la Católica visited the church in 1477 and had three children afterwards. As a sign of her gratitude she ordered the rebuilding of the chapel including a gift of the canopy above the Saint’s tomb.
An architectural masterpiece is the Milagro de la Luz, Miracle of Light. In the late afternoon n the Spring and Autumn equinox a ray of sun light illuminates the Virgin of the Annunciation. (21st March 6:00pm & 21st Sept 19:00)
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