Itinerary Foncebadon - Ponferrada
This stage is much more demanding than the previous ones. It runs across moderate climbs and faces the pronounced descent to Ponferrada. All of this will test our knees.
Foncebadon (Km. 0). Beginning of stage
Practical tips for this section: Shortly after leaving Foncebadón, you will find one of the great milestones of the Camino Frances, la Cruz de Hierro. Be sure to check out what you should do when visiting this place. Buen Camino!
We leave Foncebadón behind us, up the street, between fallen walls and the church. We take the road to the left, which with a slight slope approaches the road LE-142, which will also accompany us in today's stage (km. 1.5).
By a track that runs parallel to the road, next to a small repopulated forest, we arrive at the Cruz de Hierro (km. 2.2), which indicates the 1,500 metres point above sea level, the highest point on the Camino Frances,
Next to the cross is the chapel consecrated Santiago the Apostle, erected in 1982. At this point we the track again and advance surrounded by Rowan trees (Sorbus aucuparia), a tree easily identifiable by its huge bunches of red berries that flood our path.
2.3 kilometres after leaving la Cruz de Hierro, we arrive at the peculiar refuge in Manjarín, managed by Tomás Martínez, a Templar host. The sound of a bell and the smoke signals will attract us inside. There we will understand more this peculiar refuge.
Manjarín (Km. 4,5)
Practical tips for this section: El Acebo is a good place to make a stop, after the long stretch that separates Manjarín from the locality. Although if you prefer, after this place there are several more that can also be a good option. Buen Camino!
The trail continues parallel to the road for seven kilometres, to the next urban centre: El Acebo. Except for some curve that allows us to take a shortcut.
During the first 3.5 kilometres, after leaving behind Manjarín, the route runs through flat terrain or almost imperceptible climbs. In this section, we will pass by a transmission military base, located under Peña Llabaya and abandoned in 1990.
A kilometre after crossing the base, the descent begins. In the distance, we see Ponferrada, and we can distinguish a black spot that corresponds to La Torre de la Rosaleta, more than 100 metres high. Following the path, we arrive at El Acebo, the first locality in El Bierzo.
In this locality, it is said that its residents were exempted from paying taxes in exchange for placing eight hundred stakes, to indicate the pilgrim's route. Before leaving the town, we can visit the Church of San Miguel.
At the exit of the locality, we find a sculpture, completed by Elogio Pisabarros in memory of the German pilgrim who died on the Camino Frances, Heinrich Krausse. We take the path and after the crossing to Compludo, where we are close to its blacksmith, we take a track that runs along the asphalt until you reach Riego de Ambrós.
Riego de Ambrós (Km. 15)
Practical tips for this section: Before arriving in Molinaseca you will pass by the Sanctuary of the Virgen de las Angustias, do not miss your visit. Buen Camino!
We cross the locality from side to side, we pass by the Plaza de San Sebastián, where a fountain is located. In the locality, we can visit the Parish Church and the Chapel of San Sebastián. We leave the village by a path that descends with the freshness of the Arroyo de Prado and the shade of chestnut trees.
Again we arrive at the road (km. 16.4), which we left immediately to undertake an uncomfortable descent. With the shelter of some poplars that grow along the Arroyo Pretadura, we again encounter the LE-142 (km. 19.2).
Next to the road is located the Sanctuary of the Virgen de las Angustias and next to it, a medieval bridge that crosses the River Meruelo. We cross the bridge to reach the locality of Molinaseca, where we can visit the Church of San Nicolás de Bari.
Molinaseca (Km. 19,7)
Practical tips for this section: Do not forget to discover the history of the Virgen de la Encina. Buen Camino!
We cross Molinaseca via Real Street, which leads us to the Avenue Fraga Iribarne, next to the road LE-142. After a tennis court, turn right and take a path that goes along the River Meruelo and away from the road.
At this point, it is important not to follow the walk that goes parallel to the road and that goes to the Patricia Urbanization. A hidden landmark tells us the right direction, but it's easy not to see it. The right track leads us to Campo.
In the locality, we encounter a Roman fountain, the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, the Chapel of Santo Cristo and the Manor houses of the moons. Those who do not wish to spend the night in the city of Ponferrada can finish the stage in Molinaseca. The village is nice and cosy. Also, it is quite touristic so it offers all kinds of services.
We continue to Ponferrada. After the pertinent visits in Molinaseca, we leave the village at the edge of the River Boeza, which flows on the right. Several neighborhoods accompany us to cross the river. Four hundred metres later, we cross the tracks and quickly enter Ponferrada.
Ponferrada (Km. 26,8). End of stage
Practical tips for this section: Ponferrada is a pleasant city that presents many places of interest. Being a city, a day will be enough to visit the capital of El Bierzo. See you tomorrow!
Ponferrada is an industrial city. It has many places to visit, but certainly, its two main attractions are the Templar Castle and the Clock Tower.
The town has many museums of interest such as the Museum of Energy, the railway, the Bierzo, the Holy Week brotherhoods or the Radio museums.
It also has various religious constructions that will be of interest to the pilgrim, such as the Basilica de la Encina, the Church of Santo Tomás de las Ollas, Santa Maria de Vizbayo or the Nuestra Señora del Carmen Chapel.
As a sign of its civil architecture, you can visit the La Casa de las Macias, Los Escudos or the Town Hall.
What to do Foncebadon - Ponferrada
Today's stage gives us many places to visit, from chapels and churches that will cross our path in the small villages that we will pass through, to the various places of historical and cultural interest that await us in Ponferrada.
As always, we remind you not to be in a hurry to complete the stages and take advantage to visit the localities you travel. A pilgrimage is not a race! Here we give you information about each one of them.
Cruz de Hierro
La Cruz de Hierro, or also known as La Cruz de Ferro, stands at the highest point of the Camino Frances, at 1,500 metres above sea level. Its structure is formed by a wooden mast, topped with an iron cross.
Its base is surrounded by a mountain of stones because, according to the legend, each pilgrim must place a stone at the base of the cross. This fact symbolizes, for some, that it has left the starting point behind. For others, that with the action you get divine protection.
Another tradition is to throw the stone back. This gesture is a copy of what the Galician harvesters did when they travelled to Castile to work in the cereal fields. The carriers and shepherds also used this gesture.
Whatever tradition you want to embrace, making the gesture does not cost anything. For some pilgrims, this moment is so important that in their tightly-packed backpacks carry a stone from their place of origin, to deposit it at the base of the cross.
Manjarín is a village that was abandoned decades ago. In it, Tomás Martínez erected a Templar refuge in 1993. Located at 1,458 metres above sea level, the place is very special for pilgrims and is always open, even in the harshest winter.
A bell is in charge of guiding the pilgrims to the shelter. It is not necessary to spend the night in the place to visit, you can simply go to greet Tomás or to rest and have a coffee or soft drink. At the entrance, some decorated boards provide us with information about distances.
Inside, you can seal the credential or browse the handicrafts that are for sale. All in an atmosphere laden with the smoke of the bonfire. A blackboard informs us of the work carried out in the place (prayer, firewood collection, cleaning, etc.) since it opens until it closes when silence falls in the place.
El Acebo is a town in the municipality of Molinaseca that has 50 inhabitants. It is a beautiful and well-cared village with an architecture characterised by slate roofs. It has one of the most picturesque Real Streets in all of León.
The small village is situated on top of a hilltop and surrounded by beautiful natural surroundings. The town looks out onto the great Hoya Berciana which opens at your feet. The village was probably born in the heyday of the Camino de Santiago in the Middle Ages, although, given the number of chapels in the area between the 5th and 8th centuries, its origin may be earlier.
In the locality, you can visit the famous Fuente de la Trucha, the Chapel of San Roque and the Parish Church of San Miguel. At the exit of the village, a monument remembers the German, Heinrich Krausse, who died when he was on a pilgrimage to Santiago by bicycle.
Of this locality, it is also said, that its inhabitants were exempt from paying taxes to the King, in exchange for placing 800 stakes that indicate the way for the pilgrims.
Church of San Miguel
The Church of San Miguel is located in El Acebo. The temple is Romanesque in style and dates from the 12th century. On the outside stands out its two-bell belfry. One is known as Santa Barbara and it is told that when the people were threatened by a storm, a devout person turned it over and this made the storm move away.
The church stands out for the polychrome sculpture that it houses inside. It is an enigmatic sculpture of a barefoot man, with a beard, dressed in a tunic adorned with lilies on a turquoise background and holding a book.
Many believe that it represents Santiago, but given the absence of the classic Jacobian details with which the apostle is often depicted, others think it might be the sculpture of El Salvador or San Juan Evangelista.
Herraría de Compludo
Compludo's blacksmith is located just outside the village of Compludo, on the banks of the Miera River. Pilgrims who wish to visit it should deviate from the Jacobean path.
The place was declared a national monument, in 1968. This is the only blacksmith in the region that continues to run and shows visitors how the metalworking was carried out during the Middle Ages.
Riego de Ambrós
Riego de Ambrós is a locality of the council area of Molinaseca. It has 40 inhabitants and is 600 metres long. The town is 930 metres above sea level and represents a typical town in El Bierzo.
Its architecture is characterized by slate roofs and wooden balconies. The villa is surrounded by green meadows and in its streets, you can visit the Parish Church and the Chapel of San Sebastián.
Parish church of Riego de Ambrós
The Parish Church of Riego de Ambrós was erected in the 16th century. The temple is built with masonry, its roof is gabled slate. The temple is accessed by a side door framed with two columns of ashlar on which stands a half-point arch.
Its structure consists of a single nave topped with a headboard. Its facade ends in a double-body belfry in which the bells and a viewpoint are located to the rear.
Of its interior, the altarpiece made of gilded wood with gold leaf stands out, it is attributed to Pierre Santín. The work dates back to the 18th century and is Baroque in style. The altarpiece houses the image of St. Mary Magdalene with a skull in her left hand.
Mass time: Sundays at 11:00
Chapel of San Sebastián
The Chapel of San Sebastián is located in the town of Riego de Ambrós. The exact date of construction is not known, but it can be observed that it was recently restored and the original walls were covered with grey-toned plinth.
The construction is made of slate masonry and roofed with a gable cover, also with slate.
Its structure consists of a single nave, which is accessed by a huge wooden door in which you can see a small cross of Santiago and various scallops. The access façade topped in a single-body belfry finished with a vane.
Santuario de la Virgen de las Angustias
The Sanctuary of La Virgen de las Angustia is located on the Camino Frances, before entering the town of Molinaseca. The construction of the sanctuary dates back to the 11th century and was erected on an old chapel that occupied the place, although much of the temple that is currently observed belongs to the 17th century. The building is Baroque-style.
Its structure consists of a single nave and an attached tower. The head of the temple is covered by a transparent dome, which stands on a succession of semicircular arches. At present, its doors are iron-lined by the custom of the pilgrims to take a splinter as a souvenir.
Inside the temple, there is a large altarpiece, Churrigueresque style. The iconography depicts scenes of the life of the Virgin. We should also draw attention to the gate dividing the enclosure into two.
Mass times: Tuesdays and Eves (19:00).
Molinaseca is a municipality of 79 square kilometres and has 900 inhabitants. The people were declared an asset of Cultural Interest.
The locality is located on the banks of the River Meruelo, wherein a lively river pool is formed. Its Real street is the life and soul of the villa. In it and in the alleys of the surroundings the wine route can be made.
In Real Street, you can see several emblazoned houses made of stone that still retain much of their medieval aspect. In many of them, you can still see shields of the nobility.
In Molinaseca, its seven-arched bridge stands out, which has a width that varies between 2.6 and 4 metres. You can also visit the Church of San Nicolás de Bari.
Church of San Nicolás de Bari
The Church of San Nicolás de Bari is located in the village of Molinaseca, on a small mound at the top of the village. Its construction dates back to the 17th century and is of neoclassic style.
Within its structure, the temple has a huge terraced tower, in which is located a clock and a carving of St. Nicholas of Bari. The church is made up of three naves, covered by a blind dome.
Inside, it houses several altarpieces of Baroque style. On them you can see spiral columns. It also features a Renaissance tabernacle, a Gothic-style crucified carving of Christ, and a 17th-century chest of drawers.
Timetable: Closes on Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday (from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00).
Mass time: Public holidays at 12:00.
Campo is a town in the municipality of Ponferrada that has 800 inhabitants. The locality is of medieval origin, although some vestiges relate its origin to previous times.
In its urban centre, on the route of the Camino Frances, a Roman fountain is located, built in a vaulted shape. In its urban area, several houses stand out. The manor houses of the moons, with a coat of arms, and the two houses of Los Villaboa.
In the town square, the Chapel of Santo Cristo is located, dating from the 18th century. You can also visit the Parish Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encina de Campo.
Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encina del Campo
The Church of Nuestra Señora de la Encina del Campo is located in the village of Campo. Its construction dates back to the 17th century and was built on the foundations of an ancient medieval church.
The temple is made up of three naves, separated by four columns of granite on which are raised arches of half a point. The two bells of the 16th and 17th centuries stand out. On the outside, there is a Centuries-old Holm Oak tree that continues to grow next to the temple.
Inside, you can visit the main altar, in Baroque and Churrigueresque style, which shelters the valuable 16th-century carving of la Virgen de la Encina.
Ponferrada is a municipality that has an area of 283 square kilometres and a population of almost 68,000 inhabitants. It is the capital of the region of El Bierzo and is located in an old fort.
Throughout history the city has undergone various invasions and destructions. During the Roman occupation, their gold mines were very famous. Nowadays it is a mainly industrial locality.
The origin of its name goes back to the year 1082, when the bridge that crosses the River Sil, until then made of wood, was rebuilt and reinforced with iron, a very abundant material in the region. From then the city was known as Pons Ferrata (Iron Bridge).
The Castillo de los Templarios is the main attraction of the city, along with the Torre del Reloj. However, Ponferrada also has various religious temples of various architectural styles such as the Basilica de la Encina, the Church of Santo Tomas de las Ollas, Santa Maria de Vizbayo or the Chapel Nuestra Señora del Carmen.
As an expression of its civic architecture, we should highlight la Casa de Los Macías, Los Escudos or the Town Hall. The city also has an ample network of museums, among them the most striking are the museum of the Energy, Railway, Bierzo, and the Brotherhoods of Holy Week or Radio museums.
The Energy Museum (ENE) is located in Ponferrada, in the former thermal power plant of the city's steel mine. The plant operated between 1920 and 1971; the place is considered a jewel of industrial heritage.
During the visit, you can discover how electricity was produced at the beginning of the last century, what life was like in the plant, narrated by the workers themselves, or how coal transformed the territory and its inhabitants. In addition to the fixed exhibitions, two temporary examples related to sustainability are exhibited throughout the year.
The restoration that was carried out in the building was awarded the Europa Nostra 2012 prize, for the thoroughness with which it was carried out. This fact has allowed to retain original elements of the plant and to be nominated as one of the best European museums in the year 2015.
E-mail: [email protected]
Timetable: from 1 July to 30 September, closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Open Monday (from 11:30 to 16:30) and from Thursday to Sunday (from 11:30 to 19:00). From October 1st to June 30th, only open from Friday to Sunday (from 12:00 to 18:00). The rest of the days it only opens by pre-booking, 24 hours in advance and for groups of 5 people or more.
Admission: General (€3), reduced for over 65 years, student card, university, large families, children between 7 and 18 years, tour guides and companions of disabled persons (€1.50). For children under 7 and disabled people, admission is free.
Ponferrada's Clock Tower is located on one of the doors of the medieval wall and is one of the most characteristic icons of the city. The tower dates from the year 1567.
In its origins, the tower was divided into two parts. One housed the shield of Felipe II and the other the huge clock. Later, in 1963, a small belfry was added, which houses the bell, topped with a spire. The work is made of slate masonry and boulders.
The Railway Museum is located in the old building of Ponferrada railway station. The railway has always been an important transport means in the city and, until the year 1980, it was the last part of Spain who used steam locomotives to transport travellers.
In the museum, there are several collections of locomotives of various models and construction stages. In addition, the exhibition houses graphic material, drawings, bibliographies, etc. that allow the visitor to know the evolution that the railway has experienced throughout history, as well as its role in the mining activity of the city.
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 987 405 738
Opening hours: From April to October, it is closed on Mondays and opens from Tuesday to Saturday (from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:30 to 20:00) and Sundays (from 10:00 to 14:00). The rest of the year it only opens on Saturdays (from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00) and Sundays (from 11:00 to 14:00). However, with pre-booking, groups can visit the museum outside opening hours.
Admission prices: General (€2.70), Reduced (€1.30) and children (free).
Museum of El Bierzo
The Museum of El Bierzo is located in Ponferrada, in Reloj Street. Its purpose is to make the history of the city and the Bierzo known, from the Paleolithic period to the present day. The museum has been in operation since the year 1996.
Phone: 987 414 141
Opening hours: From April to October it is closed Monday and Tuesday, open from Wednesday to Saturday (from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:30 to 20:00) and Sundays (from 10:00 to 14:00). The rest of the year also closed on Monday and Tuesday, open from Wednesday to Saturday (from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00) and Sundays (from 11:00 to 14:00).
Museum of the Holy Week Brotherhoods
The Museum of the Holy Week Brotherhoods in Ponferrada is designed to collect the artistic and cultural heritage linked to the city's Holy Week brotherhoods. In its exhibition, it houses material since the first Brotherhood and procession of Ponferrada, in the 16th century.
Timetable: Closes on Mondays. From Tuesday to Saturday (from 11:30 to 13:30 and from 17:00 to 19:00) and Sundays (from 12:00 to 14:00).
Basílica de la Encina
The Basilica de la Encina in Ponferrada was erected in 1573 by the mandate of Juan Alvear. The Renaissance-style construction features a Latin cross plan and a tower, built later in the 17th century.
Inside there is a polychrome wood altarpiece that houses the image of the Virgen de la Encina, patron saint of El Bierzo. Legend has it that the Saint Toribio, Bishop of Astorga, brought the carving from the Holy Land.
The Virgin had to be hidden during the Muslim invasions. Many years later, it was found, by the order of the Templars, in the interior of a holm oak tree. This caused the Virgin to adopt the name of the tree where she was discovered. Later, a basilica was built in her honour.
Phone: 987 411 978
Opening hours: open every day. From Monday to Sunday (from 9:00 to 14:00 and from 16:30 to 20:30). Guided tours are held every day after the cult.
Mass times: Weekdays (11:00 and 20:00), Eves (20:30) and public Holidays (11:00, 12:30 and 18:30).
Church of Santo Tomás de las Ollas
The Church of Santo Tomas de las Ollas is located in Ponferrada. The temple dates from the 10th century and was declared as an asset of Cultural Interest in 1931.
Its structure consists of a rectangular plant, with chapels on the sides of the chancel. The side chapels have square floors and present diagonal buttresses at their outer corners.
Timetable: Closes on Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday (from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 17:00 to 20:00).
Casa de los Macías
La Casa de Los Macías is located in the city of Ponferrada. The Berciano Baroque-style construction was carried out during the 18th century. Quarrying materials were used in its construction.
From its exterior, we should highlight the façade characterized by the sobriety of its decoration, which highlights the coat of arms. Today the house is privately owned.
Church of Santa María de Vizbayo
The Church of Santa María de Vizbayo is found in the town of Ponferrada. The temple is in Romanesque style with Mozarabic influences. Its construction dates back to the 11th century, so it is considered one of the oldest churches in El Bierzo. In 1982, it was declared an asset of Cultural Interest.
The temple is formed by a single nave that finishes in the chancel and has a triumphal arch resting on stepped pilasters. It is protected by a barrel vault. The most important Mozarabic elements that the temple presents are the reduced horseshoe arches.
Inside, we can appreciate some interesting iconography, among which stand out El Crucificado, from the 16th century, and San Cosme and San Damián.
Phone: 987 424 236
Timetable: It is necessary to call to consult availability or to arrange guided tours.
Casa de los Escudos y el Museo de la Radio
La Casa de Los Escudos de Ponferrada dates from the 18th century. The baroque-style construction was carried out by the order of Don Manuel Francisco García de las Llanas. Later it became the property of the Quiñones family and after the family of Adelino Pérez Gómez. Today it belongs to the City Council.
Its structure draws attention to the balconies resting on the main front and on corbels. In the back, you can see another balcony with an ornate shelf with concave and convex motifs. In the central part of this balcony, you can also see the coat of arms of the first family that inhabited the house.
Its interior was completely restored in 1989 to be transformed into the headquarters of the Radio Museum. The objective of the museum is to show different radio receivers to the visitors.
Its collection is considered one of the most complete in Spain since it has two hundred exhibits. They show the chronology and evolution by which the receivers were passing, from the Galena to the most modern digital radio. The museum has both national radios and foreign models such as Marconi, Kent, Philips, etc.
E-mail: [email protected]
Phone: 987 456 262
Timetable: Closed on Mondays. From May to September, from Tuesday to Saturday (from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 17:00 to 20:30), Sundays and public holidays (from 11:00 to 14:00). From October to April, from Tuesday to Saturday (from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00), Sundays and public holidays (from 11:00 to 14:00).
Admission prices: General (€2.70), reduced for under 18 years (€1.00), students, young card, unemployed, retired and cultural groups of 15 people or more (€1.35)
Chapel of Nuestra Señora del Carmen
The Chapel of Nuestra Señora del Carmen is located in the city of Ponferrada. The temple dates from 1681 and was built at the request of Pascual Pérez de Quindós and his wife Isabel Crespo de Rueda.
After the death of the owners, the chapel became obsolete and the City Council gave it to the Carmelitas Descalzados, to make it a shelter for pilgrims and poor people.
The temple has a Latin cross shape and consists of a single nave covered by a barrel vault. Inside, it covers the carvings of San Jose, Santa Teresa and Nuestra Señora del Carmen
Mass time: Weekdays at 20:00.
Castillo de los Templarios
El Castillo de los Templarios in Ponferrada was declared a National Historic artistic monument in 1924. The castle was erected on a small fortress found by the Templars in the year 1178. The order of the Temple decided to expand it into a castle, in order to protect the Camino de Santiago and the pilgrims who travelled on it.
Since the year 1282, it has undergone various modifications and restorations, which has caused the construction to show different architectural styles. Of what is conserved at present, the shields of the façade and crests of the many inhabitants of the castle stand out.
Timetable: Closed on Mondays. From 1 March to 31 March, from Tuesday to Saturday (from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 19:00), Sundays and public holidays (from 10:00 to 14:00). From April 1st to October 14th, from Tuesday to Saturday (from 10:00 to 14:00 and from 16:30 to 20:30), Sundays and public holidays (from 10:00 to 14:00). From October 15th to February 28th, from Tuesday to Saturday (from 11:00 to 14:00 and from 16:00 to 18:00), Sundays and public holidays (from 10:00 to 14:00).
Admission prices: General (€6.00), Reduced (€4.00) and children (free).
The Town Hall of Ponferrada was built between 1692 and 1705. Its construction was carried out under the direction of the architect Pedro de Arén. Currently, the building is the seat of the Ponferrada Town Hall of and other administrative units.
The construction is flanked by two towers topped with a spire. Its structure is divided into three floors. On the ground floor, there are a few spans and doors resting on columns. From the first floor, the balcony with iron railing stands out. Finally, on the third floor, we can see a gable on which the imperial shields are engraved.