After two quiet days, the Camino de Santiago offers us a moderate challenge at the entrance to Palencia, the climb to the top of Mostelares. After everything we’ve travelled so far, it won’t be a difficult obstacle to overcome.
Let’s continue on the French Way!
Today’s stage is a little longer than the previous two and includes the climb to the top of Mostelares, however it is not complicated. We will leave Castrojeriz and, after ten kilometres, we also leave the province of Burgos and enter Palencia. The Pisuerga, a well-known Spanish river, is there to welcome us.
After passing through several small towns, today’s stage ends in Frómista. A beautiful village located on the top of a mountain with close ties to the Jacobean culture and extensive historical heritage.
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Itinerary stage Castrojeriz – Fromista
In today’s stage, we will once again be travelling through solitary places, however this time we will have to face the climb to the top of Mostelares. The reward will be spectacular views of the plateau’s plain.
Castrojeriz (Km. 0). Beginning of stage
Practical tips for this section: The day begins with the main challenge of the stage, the climb to the top of Mostelares. If you make sure to have a good breakfast before leaving then you shouldn’t find it difficult to complete. Buen Camino!
We leave Castrojeriz on Real de Poniente street, we cross the Odrilla River on a wooden bridge, and then get ready to tackle the 145 metres of elevation gain during the next kilometre and a half. At the top, we are received by the Teso de Mostelares (km 3.6), a geographic landmark on the French Way.
We cross the Mostelares plateau while an incredible landscape opens up before our eyes, the Tierra de Campos, called the “Land of Fields”, also known as the “granary of Spain”. You can probably imagine the type of land we’re talking about.
After walking for 4 kilometres, we reach a picnic area next to the “fountain of the louse” (km 7.7). We then take the road that goes to Itero del Castillo for 900 metres. Although the town does have services for pilgrims, the Jacobean path does not pass directly through the town but instead off to the right.
In the town, we can visit the church of San Nicolás, and from there continue to the Fitero bridge over the Pisuerga River. This is where Burgos ends and Palencia begins.
Following the rural path on the banks of the Pisuerga, we reach the first town in Palencia, Itero de la Vega. We will come across the hermitage of Nuestra Señora de la Piedad. Once in the centre of town, we can visit the church of San Pedro and a rollo de justicia, which is a stone column topped by a cross, symbolising Spanish authority.
Itero de la Vega (Km. 11,1)
Practical tips for this section: Take advantage of this section to reconnect with yourself, it is the perfect place for doing so. Buen Camino!
We cross Itero de la Vega on Santa Ana street, we cross the road and continue for a couple of kilometres along a trail until reaching the irrigation channel of the Pisuerga River (km 13.3). After passing a hill, almost two kilometres later, Boadilla del Camino comes into sight (km 15).
A huge plain with green and ochre tones will accompany us for the next four kilometres. Once in Boadilla del Camino, we can rest and visit the church of La Asunción and a large rollo de justicia.
Boadilla del Camino (Km. 19,3)
Practical tips for this section: There is not much to go before you reach the end of the stage, so make sure to enjoy Boadilla del Camino and don’t feel rushed. Buen Camino!
After our visit, we leave the town on main street to take a path that will lead us to some warehouses at the end of town. At this point, we turn left and continue to the Canal of Castile (km 21.1).
The Jacobean path continues for three kilometres parallel to the canal until reaching a set of locks that once raised and lowered boats in the canal. At this point, we cross over to the other side of the canal and enter Frómista.
Frómista (Km. 24,7). End of stage
Practical tips for this section: The few streets in Frómista and its beautiful views makes this cold place feel very special. Enjoy your time here but try to leave it if you can, as many pilgrims end up staying in this welcoming town for days. See you tomorrow!
In the centre of the town we will find a tourist information point. There is also the church of San Martín, which is well worth a visit.
In addition to the church of San Martín, you can also visit the church of Santa María del Castillo, the church of San Pedro, the hermitage of Otero, as well as the Venta de Boffard exhibition hall. Don’t forget to learn about the legend that led this town to be referred to as the “Village of the Miracle”.
Comments stage Castrojeriz – Fromista
The steep climb to Mostelares is the main difficulty of today’s stage, which heads into the lands of Palencia. A new type of cuisine awaits us! Below we’ve provided a few recommendations for your journey, as well as the regional food.
Precautions stage Castrojeriz – Fromista
Just like in previous days, the weather is the still one of the elements that is most likely to cause problems during the day. Protect yourself from the sun and make sure to stay hydrated.
The climb to the top of Mostelares involves an elevation gain of 145 metres in just 1.7 kilometres. Take your time and enjoy the scenery on the way up. The rest of the day is practically flat, so you won’t have any issues recovering. The secret lies in having a good breakfast.
Food stage Castrojeriz – Fromista
Palencia welcomes us with its food. Here are a few recommendations for the typical dishes from the region:
- Vegetable stew, the uniqueness of the dish comes from the fact that it is made with a beef and pork base sauce.
- Blood sausage and other cured meats from Palencia
- “Sequillos”, a round type of cookie
- “Campurriana” cookies
Services stage Castrojeriz – Fromista
Consult the main health care services, cafes, ATMs, restaurants and are in this stage of the French Way.
Map stage Castrojeriz – Fromista
Consult the map with the route, points and towns along the stage.
Profile stage Castrojeriz – Fromista
Consult the profile of the stage: altitude and degree of difficulty of each section.
What to do stage Castrojeriz – Fromista
Throughout the day, we will cross several towns to finally end up in Frómista, which awaits us with its rich historical heritage. Below we’ve given you more details on each of these places of interest.
Itero del Castillo
Itero del Castillo is a municipality in the province of Burgos and is actually the last town in Burgos before entering Palencia, for those of us travelling on the French Way in the direction of Santiago de Compostela. It has an area of 17 square kilometres and a population of 80 people.
The town is mentioned for the first time in documents that date back to the year 934. They refer to the fueros or set of laws granted by Count Fenán Armantález to Merga de Suso.
The town has one of the most important bridges from the Middle Ages, given its role as a territorial landmark in defining the borders of the county of Castile. Here you can also visit the church of San Nicolás and the remains of the old fortification and castle from the 14th century.
Church of San Nicolás
The church of San Nicolás is located in Itero del Castillo, 200 metres from the famous Fitero bridge. The temple used to be completely in ruins, however it was restored thanks to the work of the Italian Confraternity of St. James of Perugia.
For 10 years, the confraternity has been opening the doors of the church to welcome pilgrims from September to May. One of the most interesting parts of this church is the place for washing your feet located under its medieval apse. During the Middle Ages, washing your feet was a hygienic practice that was loaded with Christian symbolism.
The original building was made in a Romano-Gothic architectural style during the 12th century. From that era, a beautiful chapel has been preserved, which is covered by a ribbed vault with pointed arches, with columns on the arch that give way to the apse, and a few capitals that are decorated with plant ornamentation.
The rest of the building consists of a nave made with different materials, which hint to the various eras of construction, along with a few vaults that suggest it was once a much taller and larger building.
The Fitero bridge, also known as the Mula bridge, is located in Itero del Castillo. The bridge crosses the Pisuerga River and is the point that divides the provinces of Burgos and Palencia. In medieval times, it was one of the boundaries of the county of Castile.
It was built by order of Alfonso VI the Brave (1072-1109) to help pilgrims cross the river. It was carried out in the 12th century in a Romanesque style, although later modifications were made following a Gothic style.
The bridge is formed by eleven arcades, some pointed and other round, with triangular starlings and quadrants. The bridge became famous during the Middle Ages, both due to its function as a territorial marker and because of its structure, which is the longest and most beautiful on the Camino de Santiago, and is thus mentioned several times in the Codex Calixtinus.
The Pisuerga River is a tributary of the Douro River. It is born in the north of the province of Palencia and flows into the Douro River in the province of Valladolid. In its trajectory from north to south, which is 283 kilometres long, acts as a border between Palencia and Burgos. Its name comes from an ancient Roman settlement, the precursor of what is now known as Herrera de Pisuerga.
Its main tributaries are: the Resoba River, Rivera, Camesa, Ritobas, Monegro, Sauguillo, Burejo, Fresno, Valdavia, Carrión, Arlanza, Esqueva and Odra. One of the facts that has made this river famous are the major floods that have affected nearby towns on numerous occasions. The largest occurred in 1962 and 2001.
Canal of Castile
The Canal of Castile is the largest hydraulic work of engineering in Spain, carried out between the last half of the 18th century and beginning of the 19th century. The work was planned by the Marquess of Ensenada (1702-1781), who was a statesman and politician.
The purpose of the canal was to serve as a means of communication and transportation on the isolated Castilian plateau. To this end, barges pulled by draft animals were used as they brought Castilian grain to the Cantabrian Sea.
The canal continued to operate until the frequent passage of the railway caused it to fall into disuse in 1959. Since then, parts of it have remained in use, being used to irrigate 48 municipalities.
There is still a valuable network of locks, warehouses and flour mills of great historical interest that have been preserved.
Itero de la Vega
Itero de la Vega is the first town in the province of Palencia, as you head along the French variant of the Camino de Santiago. The municipality has an area of 21 square kilometres and is home to approximately 165 people.
Its origin came as the result of the repopulations carried out in Palencia during the 9th and 10th century, after the intervention of Alfonso III of Asturias. The place-name of Itero de la Vega has been documented since the Middle Ages, when it was known as Fitero.
Just before entering the town is the hermitage of La Piedad. In the town centre, you can visit the parish church of San Pedro and the pigeon lofts built of stone and adobe.
Hermitage of La Piedad
The hermitage of La Piedad is located at the entrance to the town of Itero de la Vega, right on the French Way. It was built in the 13th century in a Gothic style, however it was subjected to various restorations throughout history.
The small building was built with large blocks of limestone. Its structure is formed by a nave that is covered by a wooden structure.
The apse is square and is open to the rest of the church by pillared arches that rest on capitals that have been decorated with leaves. The temple is covered by a ribbed vault that has one window. On the outside of the structure, four prismatic buttresses appear.
The temple has two entrances. One on the south side, which is blocked off, and one on the western side. Both have a pointed arch. Inside the church, next to the chevet, there is a modern sacristy.
Church of San Pedro
The church of San Pedro is located in Itero de la Vega. It was built in the 13th century, although it underwent a significant restoration in both the 16th and 17th century.
The temple is formed by three naves, separated by pilasters over which there are semicircular arches. Both the main nave and the main chapel are covered by arched vaults, while the other two naves have barrel vaults with lunettes.
The portal that provides access to the Epistle is formed by pointed arches, and both elements are the only things that belong to the old church that was once located on this site. In front of the portal is a 16th century portico.
The altarpiece inside is in a Baroque style and is filled up with paintings and sculptures of Mary Magdalene, Saint Peter and Saint Anthony. On the altarpiece in the Gospel nave, which dates back to the 17th century, you can find the figures of St. James the Apostle and St. Dominic, presided over by the Our Lady of the Rosary.
Hours: Closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday (11:00 am to 2:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm).
Rollo de Justicia
The rollo de justicia in Itero de la Vega was declared a Spanish Good of Cultural Interest in 1966. In the past, this structure in a Renaissance style was used to mark a jurisdiction. The stone column was built in 1529, when Itero de la Vega bought its sovereign rights to Melgar and Castrojeriz.
Boadilla del Camino
The municipality of Boadilla del Camino covers an area of close to 29 square kilometres, with a population of around 120 people. The town is characterised by the presence of adobe houses that have been whitewashed with lime, and sloping Arab roofs.
The first mention of this town appears in the Melgar de Suso set of laws in the year 950, after having been repopulated by Count Fernán Armentález. In the town you can visit the church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción, along with a rollo de justicia, in a Gothic style.
Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción
The church of Nuestra Señora de la Asunción is located in the town of Boadilla del Camino. The temple dates back to the 15th and 16th century, although some elements were incorporated later on, such as the roofs of the vaults that were added in 1770.
The chevet was made in the second half of the 16th century, while the main body of the building dates back to the 17th century, undergoing a restoration in the 18th century. The temple also has Romanesque elements, vestiges of the old Romanesque church that once occupied this site.
The temple is divided into three small naves that are separated by pillars. At the foot of the nave is the baptistery and the choir. The tower rises over the chevet, formed by three sections made of stone.
The main altarpiece is in a Renaissance style and is dedicated to the Virgin Mary, depicting different moments in her life. The same nave also houses a 14th-century Gothic Calvary and a baptismal font in a Romanesque style from the 13th century.
Hours: Closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Sunday (11:00 am to 2:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm).
The rollo judicial (a stone column) located in Boadilla del Camino is in a Gothic style. The column represents the jurisdictional independence that the town had acquired from the lords of Melgar and Castrojeriz. In ancient times, prisoners were tied to the structure to be put on display before being tried.
The column is considered to be the tallest in all of Palencia. It is decorated with scallop shells that symbolise the Camino de Santiago, along with some animals and wildlife native to the country. The structure has an ogive shape, with small adjoining columns.
The municipality and town of Frómista covers an area of 47 square kilometres and has a population of close to 800 inhabitants. This town went through a period of great splendour during the Middle Ages, at which time the monastery of San Martín was built and the legend took place that first made this place famous: the miracle of Pedro, which is commemorated by the Miracle Stone.
In the 16th and 17th century, the village fell into decline, following the expulsion of the Jews, the plague and other disasters. The construction of the Canal of Castile at the end of the 18th century managed to turn this situation around, since the engineering work involved the construction of five locks in the town, which once again revived its economy.
The rural crisis in the 20th century and the canal’s fall into disuse affected the town once again, which currently bases its economy on the Camino de Santiago.
In addition to the church of San Martín, you can also visit the church of Santa María del Castillo, the church of San Pedro, which houses the parish museum, the hermitage of Otero, as well as the Venta de Boffard exhibition hall.
Church of San Pedro
The church of San Pedro, located in the town of Frómista, was designed by Juan de Escalante. The temple is in a Gothic style, with the exception of the portico that is in a neoclassical style, with rounded Roman arches.
The inside of the church is divided into three naves that are covered with ribbed vaults. With a quick look we can appreciate how the central nave is crooked, the cause of which is a stream that passes next to one of the sides of the church and caused a deviation in its structure.
We must also point out the main altarpiece, designed by Francisco de Trejo in the 17th century, and the paintings on the side aisles that depict Saint Joseph with the Child and a Crucified Christ, the work of Gregorio Ferro.
Inside the church is the parish museum, in which there are 29 Flemish panels from the altarpiece of the Nuestra Señora del Castillo church, along with a few objects from the church of San Pedro, including the paten that is the protagonist of the town’s miracle.
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).
Mass hours: There is no mass on Mondays. From September 1st to June 30th, weekdays (7:00 pm), eves of holidays (7:00 pm), and holidays (1:00 pm). From July 1st to August 31st. Weekdays (8:00 pm), eves of holidays (8:00 pm) and holidays (1:00 pm).
Church admission: General (1€), groups (€0.70).
Admission to church and museum: General (€1.50), groups (€1).
Church of San Martín
The church of San Martín in Frómista was built by order of Doña Mayor de Castilla. Its construction dates back to the 11th century.
Elements were added to the church throughout history, such as the chapels, the bell towers, the sacristies, etc., which damaged the original structure considerably. In 1896 and 1904, the temple was restored, all subsequent additions were removed and it regained its original structure.
The temple is formed by three naves and 46 capitals. On the outside, the most outstanding element is the dome of the chevet, which is vertical and octagonal in shape. The chevet is also formed by a large central apse and two smaller ones on the side. We can also point out the cylindrical towers that look to the West, which are relatively uncommon in Romanesque constructions.
The church’s portals are impressive in their austere simplicity with close to no decoration. The door on the north façade is the most ornate.
Hours: In winter (from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, and from 3:00 pm to 6:30 pm). In summer (10:00 to 2:00 pm and from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm).
Mass hours: Weekdays (10:00 pm).
Admission: 1 euro.
Ethnographic Historical Museum
The Ethnographic Historical Museum is located next to the church of San Pedro in Frómista. This private initiative offers visitors a tour of the ancient trades and professions of the town’s people and the inhabitants of Castile. The museum exhibits tools and instruments used in the past, which reflect just how hard some of these tasks really were.
Hours: In summer, from Tuesday to Sunday (11:00 am to 2:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm). In winter it only opens on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays (11:00 am to 2:00 pm, and from 5:00 pm to 8:00 pm). However, it can be visited during the rest of the week with an appointment.
Church of Nuestra Señora del Castillo
The church of Nuestra Señora del Castillo in Frómista is in a Gothic style. The temple is empty inside, so you can only visit its beautiful exterior. According to legend, it was built by some of the men in the town in order to clean their conscience before their death, due to them having mistreated their serfs.
The church was built in the same place as the castle, using the same stone. The structure is formed by three naves divided by pillars and covered by a ribbed vault, in addition to a tower.
Hermitage of Otero
The hermitage of Otero is located in the town of Frómista. The temple was located far from the town centre, causing it be of less importance than the rest of the temples in the town.
This remoteness caused the hermitage to deteriorate to such an extent that in the 18th century, the Bishop of Palencia gave the order to have it destroyed, except for the transept, which he protected by ordering walls to be built around it.
Today you can still see the stones from the foundation of the old hermitage, as well as the sculptural remains of the niches on the side walls. There is also a 13th-century sculpture of Our Lady of Otero that has been preserved, with the Christ Child sitting on her knees.
The Miracle of Fromista
According to legend, in 1453 a miracle took place in the town of Frómista, which led it to be known as the “Village of the Miracle”. According to the story, Pedro Fernández de Teresa asked for money from a Jew named Matudiel Solomon.
After the deadline had passed to pay the debt, he did not return the money and the Jew reported him to the ecclesiastical authority, which decided to excommunicate him. When Pedro realised he was to be excommunicated, he paid the money to the Jew, but he did not go to the ecclesiastical authorities to tell them that he had settled his debt.
Later, Pedro Fernández fell seriously ill and asked for a confession with the priest of the church of San Martín, the priest responsible for reading Christians their last rites. But when the parish priest attempted to give him the Eucharistic bread, he couldn’t do so because it seemed to be glued to other pieces with such force that he could not separate it.
The Christian then remembered what had happened with the Jew and told the priest, who absolved his sins and gave the communion by using a different piece of Eucharistic bread.
The priest’s stole, now frayed, has been kept in the home where this event occurred, and in the doorway you can still see the so-called “Miracle Stone”. The paten is kept in the parish museum in the church of San Pedro.
Venta de Boffard
Venta de Boffard is an exhibition hall located in Frómista, next to the church of San Martín. The exhibitions, usually permanent, display different types of works of art, from paintings and sculptures to metalwork and carpentry, photography and wrought iron.