The Way

A brief history about the Way of St. James.


We have to go back in time, till Jesus Christ age, to understand the mass pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. One of his disciples, James the Great, continued his evangelizing work by Hispania. After the death of James, his followers decided to carry his corpse by boat to Iria Flavia, in order the James’s body was buried and rest forever in Hispanic lands. James’s body was transported inland by carriage, and it is thought that he was buried in Libredón forest. After a long period with many political, religious and social changes due to the Arab invasion, in the 9th century, the tomb of Apostle St. James was discovered by the bishop of Iria Flavia, Teodomiro, who observed light flashes at night. From this occurrence, the pilgrimage to Santiago was started and then, it was increased during the Romanesque period (from the 11th century). As a result, the St. James Cathedral was built and the French Way was established, which was powered during the 12th and 13th centuries due to of forgiveness to pilgrimage to Santiago (Compostellan Holy Year when the July 25 match on Sunday). But in the 14th century, the Way lost pilgrims because of the Black Death which was strongly devastating for European citizens. In addition, the relics of the Apostle were hidden due to constant destruction threats. In the 19th century, the relics were discovered again, consolidating the Way permanently. Nowadays, the Way of St. James has many devotees, either spiritual or tourist reasons, being an international prominent route. In 1993, UNESCO declared World Heritage the Way.

The French Way (Camino Francés).

Considering the departure place, there are many routes which lead pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. Some examples are the French Way, North Way, Sanabrés Way, Portuguese Way, Vía de la Plata, Way of La-Mancha, Catalonian Way, etc. Among all these ways, the main and most popular one, is that giving name to our Hostel: The French Way (Camino Francés).

The French Way begins in the centre of Europe and comes into Spain through the Pyrenees, namely through the Roncesvalles port (Navarra). There exists an alternating entrance to pilgrims who come from southern Europe, which is through Somport port (Huesca), part of the Aragonese Way. The French Way is a long route over 700 km, starting in Europe and runs along the north of Spain, crossing the provinces of Navarra/Huesca, La Rioja, Burgos, Palencia, León, Lugo and ending in the town of Santiago de Compostela (La Coruña).
In the following links you can see more details about this route on foot or by bike.
Some pilgrims, following medieval beliefs, decide to continue the way to the end of the Earth, represented at Cape Finisterre (Fisterra Way).

When pilgrims have walked more than 450 km, probably they will have already sighted the town of León and its Gothic Cathedral with its impressive stained glass windows, among other monuments (San Isidoro, San Marcos, etc.). In one or two days (Stage 20), depending on the strength in the legs, pilgrims arrive in the village of Santibañez de Valdeiglesias, where our Hostel is located. From this point, only 270 Km remain to reach Santiago de Compostela, where you can observe its magnificent Cathedral and the tomb of St. James.

Arrival to our Hostel by the French Way.

After crossing the river Órbigo by the “Honourable Pass” bridge and leaving the locations of Hospital de Órbigo and later Villares de Órbigo behind, pilgrims can make use of a small rest area, before a slight ascent to the Portilla hill (871 m). From this point, you have a nice view of the village Santibañez de Valdeiglesias. After a quick descent, pilgrims reach the park, sports area and the first houses of the village. Following the way, already along Real Street, pilgrims will find a drinking fountain and immediately after, in the left side of the street, the Camino Francés Hostel.

Note that, the stretch from the previous village (Villares de Órbigo) to our Hostel is 2 km long, approximately.

Those pilgrims who depart from the village of Hospital de Órbigo, continuing the way in parallel to the N-120 road and they want to visit our Hostel, they should turn off at kilometer number 338, direction to Santibañez de Valdeiglesias. If they prefer to continue next to the N-120 road, we would like to wish them nice way and just tell them that the following village on the way is San Justo de la Vega, 9 km long. Santibañez de Valdeiglesias is located just 600 m from the N-120 road. If the pilgrim looks at the highest visible building in the village, the Church tower, which is recommended to visit (Santísima Trinidad and Asunción carvings from the 18th century), finds the Camino Francés Hostel few meters further ahead on the right side of the Real Street.

Departure from the Hostel by the French Way

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Departure from our Hostel by the French Way.

After resting in our Hostel, or just recharging energy, the pilgrim should continue the way. Going to the Carromonte Bajo street, in front of the Camino Francés Hostel, pilgrims begin to leave the village. Little by little, pilgrims are going to loose sight of the village and they will be able to gaze at stunning landscape which is dominated by trees such as holm oak, oak and chestnut, among others, as well as cereal crops, vineyards, etc. At the point of Cruz del Valle, a memory of all pilgrims who walk to Santiago de Compostela can be observed. Going on the French Way, the pilgrim can contemplate the Laguna Grande, a fully alive pond as long as the Winter and Spring have been rainy. Taking the opportunity to walk in the shade of oakwood and holm oak wood, gradually pilgrims arrive at the Santo Toribio Cross, where you can sight San Justo de la Vega in the proximity and the town of Astorga in the distance.

Note that, the stretch to the next village (San Justo de la Vega) on the Way is 8 km long, approximately.