I assumed it wasn’t pleasant outside, and when I finally managed the courage to look out the window, I was sad to see a gloomy, rainy morning. It reminded me when I left Ventosa, except this time I wouldn’t have the relatively flat ground of La Rioja. Ahead, there were mountains and the possibility of snow, which I dreaded walking through… I put on almost every layer that I had—gloves, tuque, fleece, wind jacket, rain jacket, rain pants, pack cover, and poncho—before emerging at eight o’clock to a harsh wind pelting my face with rain. Above, a layer of fog covered Astorga. I knew it was going to be a sh***y day… From Page 140, Camino De Santiago In 20 Days. Yes, more joys of walking in the Spanish springtime during a late bout of winter. I’ll never forget this day!
Now, I’ll continue with my journey on the Camino de Santiago in Astorga, Castilla y León. 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 wrote on page 141, “At the Iglesia San Francisco, I was more interested by the adjoining two-story building, which was dwarfed by the main one. It looked like a chapel and had an interesting, showy gable with nine bells.”
I really didn’t know very much, or expect much, from Astorga before I had arrived. To say that I was impressed was an understatement. Not only was the city rich in Spanish architecture, and had Roman ruins, there was a modern feel with attractive restaurants and hotels. As I wrote on page 140 of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, “Astorga was once a Roman stronghold and has always been an important Camino city as a resting point before the trip west into the mountains… I didn’t read much about Astorga before I arrived; I only knew that one of the options from another Camino, the Via de la Plata from Seville, joined here somewhere.” It was too bad almost everything was closed at the early hour. Astorga is definitely one of the cities I will return to one day as a tourist and have an extended visit.
As I mentioned, I was surprised that Astorga had prominent Roman ruins. Located near the Iglesia de San Francisco, these were once a plaza and a home.
With the pouring rain, it was difficult to take photos of the upper façades of the buildings, but I tried my best. Although I didn’t see it happen, these figures of a Maragato couple would strike the bell on the hour.
The Episcopal Palace was designed by Spanish architect, Antoni Gaudí, and finished in 1913. If you saw my post, OH, OH! I’M OFF THE CAMINO DE SANTIAGO IN LEON, SPAIN, you would recognize a similar architecture for the Casa de los Botine, also by Antoni Gaudí.
Approaching the Astorga Cathedral with the Iglesia de Santa Marta in the foreground.
The Iglesia de Santa Marta was closed as was the beautiful…
Cathedral of Astorga or Catedral de Santa María de Astorga.
I had never expected that Astorga would have such a beautifully designed cathedral. It was definitely among the top ones along the Camino. Sadly, I was too early and the doors were closed.
The main entrance, and especially the tympanum, were incredibly detailed.
After descending the hill from the main section of Astorga, the Camino followed this sidewalk along the highway. This section was not exciting, especially in the pouring rain. The memorials for fallen pilgrims made me think though.
I stopped briefly in front of the charming Ermita del Ecce Homo, that had a welcome sign in nine languages.
Soon after, I faced the wet senda along the highway. The sign pointed the way toward the mountains.
I’ll leave this post here on the outskirts of Astorga. Although the day had barely started, I was already chilled and tired of the rain. I would have to persevere through what was ahead. I thought about something that was very much a possibility, and dreaded it. Snow! Please join me on my next post, On The Camino de Santiago In Spain, Astorga to Rabanal del Camino.
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