I tired from my first climb of the day but didn’t care because in front of me was the Ponferrada Castle. I had never seen anything like it. In Canada, I had visited two castles but they were just over one hundred years old and resembled large houses. The Ponferrada Castle was built in the thirteenth century and had great walls, towers… From Page 153, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days. I’ll stop right there because it sounds like I had never seen a real castle before. Well… I hadn’t. Not only was I was amazed when I first saw the castle, I was even more excited to walk inside.
Now, I’ll continue with my journey on the Camino de Santiago, in the chapter, Day 15: Wild Spanish Lavender. Even if you don’t have my book, you can still enjoy this post, and learn more about walking the French Way or Camino Francés (map from Wikipedia Commons). I left my last post, On The Camino De Santiago in Spain, Molinaseca To Ponferrada, just after I crossed the bridge over the Río Boeza, and entered the town of Ponferrada. For the majority of pilgrims, the short climb from the Boeza would be the first hill of the day to contend with.
Facing me, were the towering walls or ramparts of the Ponferrada Castle or Castillo de Ponferrada. The blue sky was a pleasant change from what I had during the morning and previous day.
The footprint of the castle is huge and covers an area of 16,000 square meters.
The castle was built in the early 13th century over what was once a pre-Roman fort. For many, it’s best known for hosting the Knights Templar’s Grand Master of Castille. For about 100 years, the Knights Templar were entrusted to protect the Camino de Santiago.
The watchtowers at the main entrance. Since the castle was first built, most of the structures have been rebuilt, and the entire complex, at least recently, has been constantly maintained.
The main entrance was built with three lines of defence: the moat and two large gates.
The Iglesia de Santa María de la Encina or Basílica de La Encina from the upper walkway.
Back down to a more rustic area of the courtyard. Medieval castle courtyards served many purposes: children played, animals grazed, and fruit and vegetables were grown. Adjacent buildings held animals, people, the main kitchen, and all kinds of materials for storage.
Obviously, this building had been recently rebuilt. This is part of the Templars’ Library and the Ponferrada Investigation and Study Centre, which holds approximately 1,400 books, with many important to the history of not only the region, but all of Spain.
Poppies and mustard provided a nice show amongst the grasses and walls.
Looking toward the modern area of Ponferrada.
This tower had a steep staircase, that I barely fit through with my backpack on.
If you’re in the area either as a tourist or a pilgrim, I really recommend that you visit the Ponferrada Castle. Admission is 4€ and I believe Wednesdays are still free. Backpacks can be left unattended near the entrance, but I chose to carry mine.
I hope you enjoyed this post as I visited one of my highlights on the Camino Francés. On my next post, On The Camino De Santiago in Ponferrada Spain, I’ll continue my walk through Ponferrada and the Bierzo Valley. Please join me.
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