Villafranca del Bierzo is located above the confluence of the Río Valcarce and the Río Burbia. It is important, not only for the Camino, but economically because of its strategic location in between mountain passes. My first stop was at a wide stone castle with towering walls. It was currently occupied by a family and not open to the public. I wondered how big that family could be. I’m sure there was enough room for a hundred people inside. Maybe their last name was St. Germain, and they were my distant, Spanish cousins… From Page 159, Camino De Santiago In 20 Days.
Now, I’ll continue with my journey on the Camino de Santiago, as I focus on Villafranca Del Bierzo, 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). On my last post, On The Camino De Santiago in Spain, Cacabelos to Villafranca Del Bierzo, I had a beautiful evening walk through vineyards and villages in the Bierzo Valley. If you plan to walk here, I hope you have warm, sunny weather like I had.
The Iglesia de San Francisco in Villafranca del Bierzo was an impressive sight, perched on the hill, overlooking the town.
Villafranca del Bierzo can be traced back in namesake to the year 791, but its origins go back much further. Early forms of European man were found in this area and it was also occupied by the Romans. The village didn’t flourished though, until the Camino de Santiago became more popular during the Middle Ages. Similar to Astorga, Villafranca del Bierzo was an important resting spot before pilgrims continued west into the mountains and Galicia.
One of the early landmarks along the Camino is the 12th century Iglesia de Santiago.
The archivolt and portal, Puerta del Perdón. In ancient times, if a pilgrim was very ill, they were allowed to enter through this portal, and were given a special blessing and pardon.
Looking back at the Iglesia de Santiago in the evening sky.
The weather had changed dramatically overnight, and I left the albergue under overcast skies and rain. Near the Iglesia de Santiago was the aforementioned 16th century castle, Castillo-Palacio de los Marqueses. Currently, it’s a part-time home of the Marquis of Villafranca.
The old downtown of Villafranca del Bierzo has been declared Property of Cultural Interest.
This is the amazing façade of the 17th century Iglesia San Nicolás. Not only was there a gable, along with a clock and bell tower, there was…
a double staircase leading to the main entrance.
Looking toward the hills as I exited the downtown area.
This knight ( or possibly a pilgrim ) watched over the Camino as I faced toward the old town.
Let’s take a closer look.
The Camino crossed over the Río Burbia on a one arch stone bridge. Close by was the confluence of the Río Valcarce and the Río Burbia.
A look back to Villafranca del Bierzo before heading toward…
the mountains. We’ll get a closer look on my next post.
I hope you enjoyed this post as the relatively easy walk from Molinaseca ended at Villafranca Del Bierzo. On my next post, On The Camino De Santiago in Spain, Villafranca Del Bierzo to Vega de Valcarce, the landscape begin to change drastically, as I climbed the mountains toward Galicia. Please join me.
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