Itinerary Santo Domingo de la Calzada - Belorado
Today’s stage is not long and doesn’t have any major difficulties. The Camino de Santiago gives us the opportunity to get used to a new challenge: the endless straight sections on the Castilian plateau. The biggest drawback of today’s stage is the continued presence of the road and all the times we’ll have to cross it throughout the day.
Santo Domingo de la Calzada (Km. 0). Beginning of Stage
Practical tips for this section: If you didn’t try the famous “ahorcaditos” in Santo Domingo de la Calzada, today they can be your delicious breakfast. Buen Camino!
We leave Santo Domingo de la Calzada along main street, followed by Río Palomarejos street and La Rioja avenue. We arrive at the hermitage of El Puente, which is next to the bridge over the Oja River, built on 16 arches. We walk for 150 metres over the bridge and then turn off on a trail to cross the LR-201 road.
In 600 metres, following a wide path of dirt and stones, we encounter the access road for the N-120 (km 1.7) to then continue parallel to the national road for several kilometres. Looking out for the yellow arrows of the Camino de Santiago, we will find a turnoff to the left that will lead us to Grañón (km 6.8), our last village in La Rioja, passing near the Cruz de los Valientes (“Cross of the Brave”).
In Grañón, we can visit the church of San Juan Bautista, the hermitage of the Jews, and the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Carrasquedo. We cross the main street in Grañón, which is lined with shops and bars, to then head to the exit of the town where a path awaits us that runs between fields of grain, next to which rows of poplar trees grow that are fed by the rivers and streams.
After two kilometres of walking, we find an informative sign that welcomes us to Castile and León (km 8.8). At this point, we enter the province of Burgos and from here we can already see Redecilla del Camino, our first town in this region.
We follow the Jacobean route on a long straight section, which will become increasingly common in our passage through Castile. The path once again stumbles upon the N-120 road, which we carefully cross to head into Redecilla del Camino.
Redecilla del Camino (Km. 10,7)
Practical tips for this section: You will find shops, bars and pilgrim shelters in both Redecilla del Camino and in Castildelgado, the neighbouring town. Buen Camino!
At the entrance to the town, there is a stone column called a “rollo jurisdiccional” and a tourist office that provides information on the French Way as it passes through Castile and Leon. Crossing the town along main street, we can visit the church of the Virgen de la Calle.
We walk along main street followed by Ceras street to then leave the town and cross the N-120 road once again, until encountering the walkway over the Reláchigo River. After crossing the river, we begin to head uphill on a dirt trail, which after a few kilometres will take us to Castildelgado (km 12.4).
We enter Castildelgado on main street and head to the town’s main square, where the church of San Pedro and the hermitage of Santa María del Campo are located. Here we will also found a fountain where we can freshen up before continuing on our way.
We continue on the French Way, following Camino de la Cuesta street, to then leave the town. Once again we will have to cross the road to follow a trail that runs parallel to the national road, which will lead us to Viloria de Rioja.
Viloria de Rioja (Km. 14,3)
Practical tips for this section: Between Viloria de Rioja and Belorado, you will cross through Villamayor del Río, where you’ll find bars and a rest area. Buen Camino!
After visiting the church of La Asunción, we leave the town and walk for 1.2 kilometres to then meet up with the same trail that runs along the national road. On this path, we continue to Villamayor del Río.
At the entrance to Villamayor del Río (km 17.8), we find a small park and a rest area. We leave the town, but not without having first visited the church of San Gil Abad. After Real street, we get back onto the same trail that runs along the road, to ultimately reach the final destination of today’s stage: Belorado.
Belorado (Km. 22,7). End of stage
Practical tips for this section: In Belorado, you will find all kinds of amenities and services, as well as places where you can enjoy the local cuisine. This is a quiet town, with a few places of interest (but not very many), so take this afternoon to rest and relax. See you tomorrow!
Belorado offers us all the services we could ever need and in this town you can also visit the remains of the castle, the church of Santa María, the church of San Pedro and the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Belén, in addition to the convents of San Francisco and Nuestra Señora de Bretonera.
We can’t forget to visit the town’s charismatic main square, and if we’d like to know even more about the region, we can head to the Puras de Villafranca mines, which have been declared a Spanish Good of Cultural Interest since 2011, or the Museum of Radio Communication. Visiting the caves of San Caprisio can be a bit complicated, but you may be able to do so with the help of a local.
Belorado is a nice town for the end of today’s stage, however, for anyone who would like to extend the stage, they can continue to Villafranca Montes de Oca or to one of the smaller towns located along the way.
What to do stage Santo Domingo de la Calzada - Belorado
Throughout the tenth stage of the French Way, you will cross different towns along the way as you head slowly into Castile and Leon. The churches and hermitages are today’s main attractions. Below you will find more information on both the towns and their religious buildings.
Cruz de los Valientes
The Cruz de los Valientes (Cross of the Brave), is located along the French Way between Santo Domingo de la Calzada and Grañón. It is a monument that commemorates an old conflict between both towns, which faced off against each other in the 19th century over some grasslands. The inhabitants of Grañón did not like that the oak trees, which they believed to be their property, were cut down by the residents of Santo Domingo de la Calzada.
Meanwhile, the residents of the other town claimed that the land belonged to them. The discussions and altercations between the neighbours of both towns were constant. The tension was such that the leaders feared an armed conflict would break out, and thus decided to resolve the dispute with a hand-to-hand fight.
For this fight to the death, each town chose a resident to fight, and the winner would designate the town that would become the owner of such coveted lands.
According to popular knowledge, the resident designated by Santo Domingo de la Calzada was fed with special food, while the one chosen by Grañón continued to work in the fields and eat normally. On the day of the fight, the representative of Santo Domingo de la Calzada arrived smeared in oil, meaning his opponent could not grab him.
Faced with this difficulty, the resident from Grañón, Martín García, introduced his finger into the anus of his rival, to then pick him up and throw him far away, thus becoming the winner of the battle and designating Grañón as the owner of the grasslands.
Grañón is small town of about 30 square kilometres with approximately 250 inhabitants. It is a border town, the last one in La Rioja before entering Burgos if you are walking along the French Way in the direction of Santiago de Compostela.
The town sits on the northwest side of the Mirabel hill and was built around a castle. The first written records of this town go back to the year 885.
The town still preserves its medieval layout, organised around the monastery of San Juan. It has a grid street plan, typical of the villages on this pilgrimage route, which is formed by the streets of La Parrilla, Santiago, Mayor and El Caño, which are cut transversally.
The oldest civil architecture is located on Santiago street and Mayor street. Most of the houses that are found here have two storeys and are made of masonry and ashlar on the bottom floor, and wood and brick on the upper floor.
On many of the facades, you can see ancient coat of arms that belonged to the owners of the homes. The oldest buildings date back to the 16th and 17th century, however they have been very well preserved thanks to ongoing restoration work.
The town has three squares. The oldest is the Plaza de la Iglesia, built in the 17th century. At the beginning of the 20th century, two more squares were built, Ávila square and El Hórreo square, on one side of which is the town hall and in which the stone fountain in honour of the pilgrim is found.
The town is home to several pilgrim hospitals. You can visit the church of San Juan Bautista in the town centre, as well as the hermitage of the Jews when exiting the town, along with the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Carrasquedo, which is only 1.5 kilometres away.
Church of San Juan Bautista
The church of San Juan Bautista is located in the Plaza del Hórreo square, in the town of Grañón. It was built between the 15th and 16th century and later on, during the 17th and 18th century, the temple was enlarged, and a new sacristy and tower were added.
Its structure is formed by a nave divided into three sections. It has a presbytery and an octagonal chevet with three sides. The attached tower is divided into two levels, made of ashlar masonry.
The temple has two entrances, a portal located at the foot of the chevet with a semicircular arch, and another located on the transept that is formed by six pointed achivolts. Before, there used to be a third access on the south side, but that door is now boarded up.
Inside, we can point out the valuable main altarpiece dedicated to Saint John the Baptist and Saint John the Evangelist, which was made between 1545 and 1556, and restored in 1993. The value of this work lies in its decorative richness, formed with Plateresque motifs and magnificent reliefs in which there are carved figures full of movement.
Some of the authors who took part in the creation of this masterpiece include the architect Natura Burgundon, the sculptors Bernal Forment and Juan de Beaugrant, and Francisco de Lubiano who did the polychrome work.
Inside the parish, there is the baptismal font that dates back to the 12th century, the only relic from the previous monastery.
Mass hours: Weekdays (7:00 pm), eve of holidays (8:00 pm) and holidays (1:00 pm).
Hermitage of the Jews
The hermitage of the Jews is located at the exit from the town of Grañón, at the intersection between the roads to Villarta-Quintana, Morales and Corporales. It is a Plateresque building that used to guide pilgrims.
Inside, there is a cross that rests on a Tuscan column, on which the following text can be read: “And Bicente made him an incumbent clergyman in San Juan de Grañón”. The hermitage is closed to the public throughout the year, except on Good Friday.
Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Carrasquedo
The hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Carrasquedo is located a kilometre and a half from the town of Grañón, surrounded by an oak forest. According to historical records, the hospital of Santa Cruz de Carrasquedo was formerly located in this hermitage.
The construction is in a Baroque style and dates back to the late 17th century. The building is made of ashlar masonry. Its structure is formed by a nave divided into four sections, a transept, a rectangular chevet and sacristy.
The transept is covered by a dome with a cupola, while the rest of the nave is covered by a barrel vault with lunettes, which rest on Corinthian-style pilasters and semicircular arches.
The inside of the chapel is accessed through a semicircular arch supported by pilasters. Once inside, we can point out the main altarpiece in a Baroque style, which was the work of Diego de Ichazo and was restored in 1989.
Redecilla del Camino
The small town of Redecilla del Camino is the first town in the province of Burgos on the French Way, heading in the direction of Santiago de Compostela. The town has an area of only 12 square kilometres, which is home to around 100 people.
Redecilla del Camino still preserves a big part of its medieval structure on its one main street that runs east-west. The road we find today is surrounded by houses bearing coats of arms, on which the church of Nuestra Señora de la Calle is located.
The town is deeply rooted in the history of the French Way, proof of which is the fact that the town is mentioned several times in the Calixtino Codex.
Church of Nuestra Señora de la Calle
The church of Nuestra Señora de la Calle is located on the main street in the town of Redecilla del Camino. The exact date of its construction is unknown; however it was rebuilt during the 18th century.
The temple’s most striking element is its Romanesque baptismal font, considered to be one of the most impressive of the entire French Way and dating back to the 12th century. A serpent circles the font’s base, while the solid bowl is decorated with a fortified city of tall, multi-storeyed buildings, which could possibly be the city of Santiago.
This cultural gem is usually found inside the church, but sometimes it temporarily leaves and is taken elsewhere. We can also highlight the Gothic wood carving of the Virgin Mary.
Hours: Closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday (from 11:00 am to 2:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm).
The tiny municipality of Castildelgado has an area of only 5 square kilometres with close to 50 residents. The town is also known as “Villipún” among the older residents and neighbours, a word that comes from “Villa de Pun”, the town’s old name.
On its streets, you can visit the church of San Pedro, the hermitage of Santa María del Campo and a few civilian buildings such as the ruins of the house of the Counts of Berberana, located at number 11 on main street.
Church of San Pedro
The church of San Pedro is located in the town of Castildelgado and was built in the 16th century. The building has an attached tower that houses the main altarpiece in which the Virgin and Child is represented.
Inside the temple there is a chapel dedicated to the burial remains of the Bishop of Jaén and Lugo, Don Francisco Delgado.
Hours: Closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday (from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm).
Hermitage of Santa María del Campo
The small hermitage of Santa María del Campo is located in the town of Castildelgado. It was built during the 12th century.
The temple is made of ashlar stone and covered by a slab roof. The bell tower stands out in the middle of the roof. Its structure has a nave divided into three sections, with a semicircular chevet.
The inside can be accessed through a door formed by a semicircular arch with two archivolts, on which there are sculpted corbels with representations of various animals and characters.
Hours: Closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday (from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm).
Viloria de Rioja
The town of Viloria de Rioja has an area of seven square kilometres and just 45 inhabitants. The town in the province of Burgos is very important on the French Way, since it was on these streets where Saint Dominic de la Calzada was born in May of 1019. The place where he grew up still remains.
In the town, you can visit the church of La Asunción and there is a pilgrim shelter that is sponsored by the well-known writer, Paulo Coelho.
Despite its importance on the Camino de Santiago, the path that crosses this town is in danger due to the construction work on the A-12 motorway, from Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Villafranca Montes de Oca, which is expected to begin in 2018.
According to the approved plan, the road will be extended over the current national road and other sections to the south of it, leaving Viloria de Rioja separated from the French Way. This would be a serious modification of the Jacobean route.
Church of la Asunción
The church of La Asunción is located in the native village of Saint Dominic de la Calzada, in Viloria de Rioja. It was built in the 17th century in a Gothic style.
The structure has a central nave and side chapels. The chevet is covered by an apse in which the baptismal font has been preserved, in which the Saint was baptised. Behind is the main altarpiece in honour of the Assumption of Mary.
Hours: Closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday (from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm).
Villamayor del Río
The town of Villamayor del Río has a population of 250 inhabitants and is part of the municipality of Fresneña. The town is known as “the town of three lies”, since it is neither a village, big, nor does it have a river (the name in Spanish can be separated into 3 words: villa = village, mayor = big, río = river). Here you can visit the church of San Gil Abad.
Church of San Gil Abad
The church of San Gil Abad is located in the town of Villamayor del Río and is its most important architectural building. The church dates back to the 18th century and its architectural style has neoclassical influences.
Inside, both the main altarpiece and the lateral ones are in a Baroque style. Several loose boards have been preserved that could have been part of an earlier altarpiece.
Belorado is a municipality in the province of Burgos, which has an area of 130 square kilometres and a population of almost 1,900 inhabitants.
Based on the archaeological remains, the primitive town of Belorado was founded by the Romans, during which time it was located on the nearby plateau on the left side of the Tirón River, which is known as “La Mesa”. The reasons that led the people to move to the current location are unknown.
From the high plateau, you can clearly see the Celtic settlement located in the area, known as “La Muela”. This settlement was the original nucleus of the current town of Belorado, as evidenced by the stelae and coins found at the archaeological sites.
During the Middle Ages, it was configured as a town and became an important place, which was granted a set of laws or fueros by Alfonso I of Aragon. The town still holds on to its medieval spirit, and the narrow winding streets in the old part of town are an indication of the large population that once resided within its walls.
There are still some remains on the top of the cliff of the castle, from the 10th century, and the walls that fortified the medieval city. Along its streets, you can visit the church of Santa María, San Pedro and the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Belén, located on the outskirts of town, rebuilt in the 18th century after having been destroyed by a fire.
You can also find the convent of San Francisco, founded in 1250 and now converted into residential homes, and the convent of Nuestra Señora de Bretonera, dating back to the 16th century and currently inhabited by the Clarisse nuns.
The town also has civil constructions such as the main square, with a typical Castilian appearance that is full of bars and cafes; and the bridge of “El Canto”, next to the one that can be crossed to reach San Juan de Ortega.
Other places of interest in the town are the caves of San Caprasio which, according to legend, is where the Saint retired to live out his life as a hermit. Then there is the Puras de Villafranca mine, declared a Spanish Good of Cultural Interest in 2011, and the Radio Communication Museum, the only of its type in Spain.
Remains of the Castle
The remains of the Belorado castle are located on a hill, with privileged panoramic views of the area. From here, you can see the towns of Cerezo de Riotirón and Villafranca Montes de Oca.
The only thing that is known about its structure is that it consisted of a square element in the centre, which was probably the keep.
Its origin seems to go back to the Middle Ages. The castle was in the hands of the Crown until 1429, when the monarch Juan II donated it to the Velasco family. In 1650, the fortress was already in ruins and, in 1683, the Duke of Frías ordered certain areas to be demolished in order to prevent possible landslides caused by the rains.
Church of Santa María
The church of Santa María is located in Belorado, next to the ruins of the old castle. The church was built on another older temple, called Santa María de la Capilla, of which only the image from which the chapel gets its name remains, which presides over the main altarpiece in the current church.
The building dates back to the 16th century and is built in a late Gothic style. The structure of the temple is formed by three naves on columns, over which there is a dome that is supported by pendentives. The construction is made of rounded stones and mortar, although the central part of the portal is made of ashlar masonry.
Inside, you can see a main altarpiece from the late 17th or early 18th century, where the figure is located that was recovered from the previous temple, along with the sculptures of Saint John the Baptist and Saint Lawrence. There are several chapels, one dedicated to Saint Nicholas of Myra from the second half of the 16th century, another to Our Lady of Sorrows and another to the Immaculate Conception.
The chapel of Santiago is located at the eastern end, next to the epistle, and has been outlined by the characteristic Renaissance gates from the 16th century. On the chevet there are also two stone columns with the sculptures of the Crucifixion, Our Lady of Sorrows and Saint John the Evangelist.
The church is open all throughout summer.
Church of San Pedro
The church of San Pedro is located in the main square of Belorado. It was believed in ancient times to have been a medieval factory, however it was thoroughly reformed in the 17th century. The structure is formed by a single nave of large proportions, divided into five sections supported on buttresses that give rise to interconnected chapels, with a remarkable bell tower.
Inside, we can point out the main altarpiece from 1760, which was the work of father and son, Manuel and Pedro Román Solano. The structure has a great deal of gold and presents a Baroque style.
Three elements stand out in the choir: the Rocco-style organ from 1785; the exquisitely carved walnut stand and the beautiful ashlar, which was moved here in 1809 from the convent of San Francisco; and the numerous paintings, which also came from this convent.
Convent of San Francisco
The convent of San Francisco is located in the municipality of Belorado and was founded in 1250, although it was demolished in 1295. Subsequently, its factory was recovered and continued to operate until 1428.
In 1143 and 1457, the monastery was devastated by various fires and in 1498 it was rebuilt thanks to private donations, among which were those given by Marina de Velasco, who is buried in the temple.
Currently, the building has been converted into homes. However, on its façade, Mudejar influences and plasterwork can still be seen.
Monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Bretonera
The monastery of Nuestra Señora de la Bretonera is also known as the convent of Santa Clara, as it is currently occupied by the Order of the Poor Clares. The architectural complex is located on the outskirts of Belorado.
The convent’s church, dating back to the 16th century, is on the north side and has a Latin cross plan. Its structure is formed by a nave and flattened and star vaults.
The vertical part of its structure is divided into four sections and the presbytery. The central keystones are decorated with the Velasco family’s coat of arms, a family that contributed significantly to the building’s restoration.
The portal, in a Plateresque style, is located on one side of the temple and is also crowned by said family’s coat of arms.
Inside the church, three altarpieces have been conserved. The main altarpiece is located on the eastern end of the temple, while the others are in the lateral arms. All are in a Baroque style and date back to the late 17th century.
The choir houses a small altarpiece in a Baroque style, in which the owner of the monastery appears, Our Lady of Bretonera. Attached to the wall you can see a magnificent organ from 1799.
Hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Belén
The hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Belén stands at the entrance to the town of Belorado, on the Camino de Santiago. It used to be a hospital for pilgrims. The building belongs to the medieval era, although it was rebuilt in the 18th century.
The main altarpiece dates back to this time, which houses the figure of the Lady to which the chapel is dedicated. The current sculpture was made to replace another, most likely from the 12th century, which disappeared in a fire in the 18th century. The figure is surrounded by images of Saint Joachim, Saint Anne and Saint Joseph.
The presbytery, from the middle of the 18th century, is closed off with ornate bars on its balusters. Inside the hermitage, there is a remarkable group of oil paintings, of which the highlight is that of Our Lady of Bethlehem, surrounded by Saint Vitores and Saint Isidore, both patrons of the town.
The Christ of Saint Lazarus that can be found inside was transferred here from the San Lázaro Hospital. Just like the statue of Saint John, which dates back to the 15th century and comes from the chapel of the old cemetery.
In the past, this chapel was the seat of the Brotherhood of Santiago, of which only their books are partially preserved, and only from the year 1540 onwards.
Puras de Villafranca
The Puras de Villafranca mines are located in the municipality of Belorado and were declared a Spanish Good of Cultural Interest in 2011. It is a tourist site, the only one like it in Spain.
While there are many manganese mines in Spain, this is the only mining site of this material to have been recovered for tourism use. The visit to the site allows you to go deep down into the earth and feel like a miner for a day.
Plaza Mayor in Belorado
The Plaza Mayor square in Belorado is located in the centre of town and stands out with its large size and irregular trapezoidal shape. It is surrounded by houses with coats of arms and is composed of arcades, which give the space a characteristic feel.
The central kiosk and the walkway that surrounds it are the centre of life for the people in the town. The space constituted an extension of the urban centre that was created during the Middle Ages, used for setting up markets and fairs, which explains its size.
Radio Communication Museum
The Radio Communication Museum is located in the heart of the town of Belorado. This museum is the only of its type in Spain. Inside, it is home to a complete collection of radio communications machinery from different parts of the world.
In its facilities, we can take a walk-through periods leading up to World War I, up until the second half of the 20th century. One of its greatest attractions is the recreation of a trench from World War I, considered to be the largest in Europe.
The building that houses the museum is also quite exclusive, as it is the only fully restored silo (place for storing grain) in Spain. The building has completely preserved all of its mechanisms, allowing its function to be studied in detail, something that has not occurred with other similar storage spaces in Spain.
San Caprasio Cave
To the north of Belorado, in the area of Caprás, are the remains of the caves that, according to tradition, were used by Caprasius and his companions Saint Pía and Saint Valentine to retire in order to lead a hermit’s life.
It seems that this cave, along with many other founds in the Belorado ravine, was home to many fervent people from the anchorite movement, which took hold in the Visigoth era. The main difficulty in visiting the cave is that there is no designated access path.