After yesterday’s busy afternoon, today a stage that brings us back to the mountain stretches is awaiting us. As we advised you yesterday, the infinite and desolate straight roads are now left behind. The Camino de Santiago re-tests the resistance of our legs to allow our passage to the lands of El Bierzo.
We said goodbye to the capital of the Maragatería and we have to face a day divided into two stages. A first part is characterized by small villages typical of the Castile province and smooth undulations on the terrain. In the second stage, the climbs become harder as we enter the region of Bierzo, crossing the León mountains.
On today’s route, we propose to reach Foncebadón. However, Rabanal del Camino is the end of the traditional stage, as is recollected in the Codex Calixtinus.
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Itinerary stage Astorga – Foncebadón
Again the asphalt of the road crosses and accompanies us during an important part of today’s route. However, the change of terrain presented by today’s stage will make the day less monotonous.
Astorga (Km. 0). Beginning of stage
Practical tips for this section: If you did not do it yesterday, take advantage of the sweet city to reward you for the effort made so far, with a deliciously sweet breakfast. Puff pastry, pastries or chocolates from Astorga can be a great start to the day. Buen Camino!
We say goodbye to the emblematic Astorga turning our back to the façade of its Town Hall and crossing the Plaza Mayor. We go onto Pío Gullón Street which starts on the left of the square.
We cross García Prieta Street and continue straight ahead through Postas and Santiago streets. We leave the Episcopal Palace aside, we say goodbye to the Cathedral and enter Porteria Street. At the end of this street, we turn on the right-hand side and we move straight about 400 metres down San Pedro Street.
We cross the street by the pedestrian crossing and, along Los Mártires Street, we take the direction to Castrillo de Polvazares and Santa Colomba de Somoza.
For a walk that runs parallel to the LE-142, we go down to Valdeviejas, where we find the Hermitage of Ecce Homo, built in the 18th century and completely refurbished in the year 2007. The hermit dawn-breaker who lives in it, seals and facilitates credentials.
We leave the hermitage behind and, by a flyover, we cross the Northwest motorway, which links Madrid with La Coruña and Arteixo (A-6). Following a pathway at the foot of the LE-142 awaits us Murias de Rechivaldo, a locality in which we enter after crossing the River Jerga.
At the entrance of Murias de Rechivaldo, we have the option to deviate to the village of the Polvazares, a beautiful “Maragata” locality, declared historical-artistic. The detour is a little less than an extra kilometre and the path from there is signposted so that you can find the
Murias de Rechivaldo (Km. 4,7)
Practical tips for this section: In this section, we will find several typical localities of Castilla, enjoy the start of the day by having a coffee in one of the bars that you will find. It will be a perfect opportunity to chat with its inhabitants. Buen Camino!
In Murias de Rechivaldo the Parish Church of San Esteban is waiting for us. After the pertinent visit, we leave the town by a gravel track surrounded by thickets and brush. A long straight of more than two kilometres leads us to the LE-142, again (km. 7.2). We left the road for a pathway that runs past the LE-CV-192.
After half an hour of climbing, we arrive at the centre of Santa Catalina de Somoza, where we can visit the Parish Church of Santa Maria. We cross the town on Real Street and return to the walkway of the LE-CV-192, which climbs very lightly to the locality of El Ganso.
During the ascent we will walk up to a wooden cross that was placed in the year 2012, to replace an older cross, which was very deteriorated.
El Ganso (Km. 13,4)
Practical tips for this section: the pathway that runs through this section, sometimes disappears and forces us to pass along the hard shoulder, take good care. Buen Camino!
In El Ganso a fountain and the Church of Santiago await us. After refreshing and visiting the temple we return to the monotony of the pathway. In this section the path is narrowed occasionally, forcing us to walk along the roadside.
The pathway and the asphalt will accompany us until almost the next urban centre: Rabanal del Camino. In the middle, we will find a pine forest, the Pañote Bridge, which crosses the stream of Las Reguerina, and next to the Roman mines of Fucarona, the canopy of the Gaudisse Association, where you can take a picture with an eagle, seal your credential or obtain information about the stage.
On the way, we will leave on the right hand the detour that goes to Rabanal Viejo and Maluenga (km. 17.5). After the River of Rabanal Viejo, we finally leave the road to take a path that runs along a fence full of crosses made with sticks. On the left is the Chapel of the Blessed Christ of Vera Cruz.
Back to the company of the LE-CV-192, which merges with the LE-142, we enter Rabanal del Camino.
Rabanal del Camino (Km. 20,3)
Practical tips for this section: in Rabanal del Camino you will find good places to taste traditional food and eat good stews. Five and a half kilometres to Foncebadón, where we conclude today’s stage. Buen Camino!
We walk along the main street of Rabanal del Camino, where we will find the Chapel of San José. In the upper part of town, we can visit the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption.
To retake the Camino Frances, you return to the main street until you reach a laundry, where a track begins among the cytisus plants. After a kilometre, we cross the road and take the road on the left, to arrive at a trough (km. 22.3).
We begin a brief ascent to the road LE-142, from where we can see Astorga for the last time. Along a path that runs over the road, we travel the 3.5 kilometres that separate us from Foncebadón.
Foncebadon (Km. 25,8). End of stage
Practical tips for this section: Enjoy the bucolic nature that surrounds this tranquil mountain village. See you tomorrow!
As we mentioned to you before, an option to end this stage is Rabanal del Camino. In fact, the classical stage that is narrated in the Codex Calixtinus, ended in that locality. We have preferred to continue to Foncebadón to be able to reach Ponferrada in the morning session.
In Foncebadón we do not expect a multitude of places to visit, as was the case yesterday in Astorga. The afternoon is designed to rest and recover strength to arrive tomorrow in Ponferrada, where again we expect diverse places of historical and cultural interest.
In this locality, you will find one of the most interesting restaurants on the Camino Frances, the Taberna Gaia. It serves medieval food and has a great atmosphere, so it can be a perfect plan to end the day.
Comments stage Astorga – Foncebadón
On today’s route, we must be cautious at some points and we will have the opportunity to say goodbye to “Maragata” gastronomy. We will talk about it below.
Precautions stage Astorga – Foncebadón
In relation to the stages of the previous days, on today’s route, we will find many climbs. However, for most pilgrims, they will go unnoticed, especially for those who have had more than 15 days on the Camino Frances. The hardest stretch is the ascent to Foncebadón, with a slope of 280 metres over 5.6 kilometres.
Both bikers and disabled people can complete the stage without problems, except for some stretches where loose stones abound. If you wish, you can complete the last kilometres following the LE-142 instead of taking the pathway, which can be somewhat uncomfortable for cyclists or people in wheelchairs.
The path runs very close to the road and sometimes disappears. As on other days, we recommend that you take precautions when you walk along the road.
If you complete the Camino Frances in winter, during this stage you must have suitable equipment. The cold, fog, snow and blizzards are habitual.
Food stage Astorga – Foncebadón
On the gastronomic level, we can devote the day to try those dishes that we have not yet tasted. Tomorrow the culinary landscape will radically change, so we should take advantage of today, before leaving the lands of Maragatería Gastronomy.
- Maragato Stew. If you didn’t try it in Astorga, you are still on time as it is typical of the entire region of La Maragatería.
- Vegetable stews.
- Vegetable-based dishes
Services stage Astorga – Foncebadón
Consult the main health care services, cafes, ATMs, restaurants and are in this stage of the French Way.
Map stage Astorga – Foncebadón
Consult the map with the route, points and towns along the stage.
Profile stage Astorga – Foncebadón
Consult the profile of the stage: altitude and degree of difficulty of each section.
What to do stage Astorga – Foncebadón
After the strenuous day of yesterday, today we expect a quiet day in terms of visits. Only a few small villages with their respective churches will cross our path today.
Murias de Rechivaldo
Murias de Rechivaldo is a town in the municipality of Astorga, which has little more than 100 inhabitants. It was a town of muleteers, the secular profession of the Maragatos. In it, you can visit the Parish Church of San Esteban.
Church of San Esteban
The Church of San Esteban is located in the village of Muria de Rechivaldo. On the outside, the most characteristic element of the temple is its belfry, from the 18th century.
However, and given its relation with the Jacobean route, the relief of the Virgen del Pilar is worth a visit, it is located in a niche on the lintel at the entrance. There is also a statue of San Roque Peregrino.
Santa Catalina de Somoza
The town of Santa Catalina de Somoza belongs to the municipality of Astorga. Less than 50 people reside there. One of the facts that have made this town famous on the pilgrim’s path is its hospitality. In the past, it had a hospital, the Virgen de las Candelas, but today, there are only remains.
Like the neighbouring village of Murias de Rechivaldo, Santa Catalina de Somoza was the village of Maragatos muleteers. Its architecture is characterized by robust houses with double-leafed doors, always painted in primary colours. On its streets, you can visit the Parish Church of Santa Maria.
Church of Santa María
The Church of Santa Maria is a small and sober temple in the town of Santa Catalina de Somoza. Its construction was carried out in the year 1708, although it was refurbished in 1982.
The church stands out for a relic of San Blas in its interior, patron of the locality and a well-known Saint on the Camino de Santiago for its hospitality and nature of care.
The hamlet of El Ganso belongs to the municipality of Brazuelo. Only 20 people live there. Every summer, the village livens up with pilgrims passing by. In antiquity, in the village, a Pilgrims’ hospital was located, which was donated by the clerics of Astorga in 1442, and a monastery, which belonged to Aguilar de Campo.
On its streets, you can still see houses covered with straw. This type of cover goes back to prehistoric times, and in this locality, it has lasted until today. You can also visit the Parish Church of Santiago.
Church of Santiago
The Parish Church of Santiago is located in the village of El Ganso, at the foot of the Camino Frances. Inside the temple stands a carving of the Apostle dressed as a pilgrim, from the 16th century.
You can also visit inside, a chapel located in the atrium and dedicated to pilgrims passing through it, known as the Christ of the Pilgrims.
Ermita del Bendito Cristo de la Vera Cruz
The Chapel of Bendito Cristo de la Vera Cruz is situated in the middle of the mountain, before entering the town of Rabanal del Camino, if you advance on the Camino Frances towards Santiago de Compostela.
The temple was built in the 18th century. The building was made with ashlar and covered with Arabic tiles. From its exterior, the belfry stands out. In its interior, a spectacular image of the crucified Christ.
Rabanal del Camino
The hamlet of Rabanal del Camino belongs to the municipality of Santa Colomba de Somoza and has about 75 inhabitants. The villa is characterized by its massive houses, erected in stone and has a long tradition linked to the Camino Frances.
During the Middle Ages, there were several hostels and churches in the village. The pilgrims stayed here to regain strength and to form groups, in which it would be safer to cross Mount Irago, full of dangerous wild animals and bandits. In fact, the town served as an outpost to the order of the Templars of Ponferrada to protect the pilgrims.
Rabanal del Camino also welcomed Felipe II, in one of its inns, known as La Casa de Cuatro Esquinas, in his pilgrimage to the tomb of the Apostle. It also tells the legend that Charlemagne and his faithful Knight Anseïs contemplated Astorga and Sahagún, from this place.
On Real Street, you can visit the Chapel of San José. In the upper part of the hamlet is located its parish church, Our Lady of the Assumption.
Hermitage of San Jose
The Chapel of San José is located on the main street of Rabanal del Camino. The temple dates back to the 18th century and was built under the mandate of the wealthy drover José Calvo. Inside it houses a beautiful altarpiece in a Baroque style.
Church of Our Lady of the Assumption
The Church of Our Lady of the Assumption is located in the upper part of Rabanal del Camino. It is a Romanesque-style temple, one of the few that can be found in the area.
Its construction dates from the 12th century. In its origins, it belonged to the Templars. In the year 1982, it was declared an asset of Cultural Interest.
From its structure, it is worth highlighting its slender belfry, typical of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the peculiar clock from the 19th century, which is located in its tower. This was a donation from an illustrious townsperson, Mr Antonio Canseco.
Foncebadón is a village in the municipality of Santa Colomba de Somoza, seated on Mount Irago, at 1,410 metres above sea level. The town is almost uninhabited and in its streets there are usually about 15 people. The abandonment began at the end of the ’60s and the beginning of the ’70s, due to the strong economic problems that the locality suffered at that time.
Today, the transit of the pilgrims and a tavern are in charge of keeping alive the memory of what one day was Foncebadón. A document from the mid-19th century narrated that the locality had the Church of Santa Maria Magdalena, looked after by a priest.