Stage 21: Villar de Mazarife / Villadangos del Paramo – Astorga Distance: 32.5km
Villadangos del Paramo
From Villadangos del Paramo head up through the old part of town onto a path that leads to the main road. The path follows the road into San Martin del Camino
San Martin del Camino
Continue through San Martin del Camino past the Canal del Párama turn right onto a tree lined path that runs alongside the main road.
When you arrive at the Canal Presa de Cerrajera the Puente de Órbigo comes into view.
Follow the track until it meets up with the recommended route which takes you across the Puente de Órbigo into Hospital de Órbigo
Head through Villar de Mazarife across the road and onto a track which takes you out on to the meseta once again. Continue on to a cross roads and cross over and proceed straight onto a track which takes you across the Canal del Páramo and into Villavante
Villavante is a small village with it’s 17th century Iglesia de las Candelas. There’s also a bar and shop in the village.
Head out of the village across the bridge over the railway lines. Take a left and continue unto you cross a stream, Arroyo Huergas. Take a right at the road and cross over the N120.
The two routes met up at this point and head straight into Puente de Orbigo
Puente de Órbigo / Hospital de Órbigo
Puente de Órbigo’s name comes from one of the best known stone bridges of the pilgrimage to Santiago. The 13th century 20 arch bridge is Roman in origin and undergone many restorations. There is a monolith in the middle of the bridge that reminds us of the love battle won in 1434 by the Leonese Knight and author Suero de Quiñones.
Suero gained fame by staging the Passo Honroso, at the Río Órbigo and describing it in his Libro del Passo Honroso.
From the 10th July to the 9th August in the Holy Year of 1434 at the Órbigo, Suero and ten of his companions encamped in a field beside the bridge and challenged each knight who wished to cross it to a joust.
They swore to break 300 lances before moving on. Knights from all over Europe took up the challenge
He remained undefeated against sixty-eight knights in over seven hundred battles before he was forced to abandon his place after a month by the royal minister Álvaro de Luna.
Suero fasted in honour of the Virgin Mary every Tuesday, wore an iron necklet every Thursday as a sign of devotion to his lady, and heard Mass daily.
The jousting tournament is created beside the bridge every year at the beginning of June.
On the other side of the bridge head into the village of Hospital de Órbigo with it’s Iglesia de San Juan Bautista which was built around the pilgrim hospital in the 12th century by the Knights of the Order of Saint John.
Tourist information, Casa Consistorial. Tel: (0034) 987 56 86 19
Continue through Hospital de Órbigo on Calle Álvarez past the Iglesia de San Juan Bautista and the albergues. At the end of the village the route splits again.
Keep straight on to the last buildings in Hospital de Órbigo and continue straight along the main road (N120). You’ll reach the Crucero de Santo Toribio, on the outskirts of San Justo de la Vega where the track rejoins the recommended route.
Take a right at the last building in Hospital de Órbigo and continue on the track into Villares de Órbigo with it’s Iglesia de Santiago and image of Santiago Matamoros.
Proceed through the village onto a wide dirt track across a stream into Santibañez de Valdeiglesias
Santibañez de Valdeiglesias
The Iglesia de la Trinidad has images of Santiago Matamoros and San Roque Peregrino
At the church the path heads to the right and passes the albergue and some farms. The route now heads through some of the nicest countryside along the camino.
The track goes through oak woodland, orchards past a small lake then climbs slightly through open cornfields.
After passing some farms you will arrive at the Cruceiro de Santo Toribio, which was erected in commemoration of the 5th century Bishop Toribio of Astorga who, as legend has it, was banished from the town after being falsely accused. He stopped here to clean his shoes, proclaiming “I will not take even the dust of Astorga with me!”.
It is here that the two routes meet. From this point you get a view of Astorga in the distance.
From the cross the path now drops downhill into San Justo de la Vega
San Justo de la Vega
San Justo de la Vega is a growing town and has many shops, restaurants and bars.
Leave San Justo de la Vega along the Calle de los Vientos and across the bridge over the Río Tuerto. Take a right and follow the track that winds it’s way along the river valley. Cross the Roman Puente de la Moldería then over the railway tracks taking a left about 200m later under the walls of the town and up through the Puerta del Sol into Astorga.
Continue through the streets Padres Redentoristas, Plaza de San Bartolomé, Pío Gullón, Postas, Santiago and Santa Marta into the Plaza de la Catedral.
Astorga was originally a Celtic settlement and later become one of the Roman strongholds in the region.
The Roman city was founded in the year 14 BC and was then known as Asturica Augusta. It formed a strategic point for the transportation of precious metals on the Vía de la Plata. There are ruins of Roman baths that are still visible today.
Today Astorga is the capital of Maragatos, a small ethnic and cultural community with distinctive customs and architecture.
The cities main monuments include it’s cathedral, which was started in the 15th century and not finished until the 18th century, and displays a variety of architectural styles including it’s Gothic apse and it’s Baroque style towers which depict a number of biblical scenes.
There is also the 19th century Palacio Espiscopal which was designed by Antoni Gaudí.
San Justo de la Vega
Tourist Office, Plaza Eduardo de Castro 5. Tel. (0034) 987 61 82 22
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