After the visit to Ponferrada, today we expect a succession of small villages that will delight many, especially wine lovers. The Camino de Santiago gives our legs a break and give us a relaxing day, as we approach Galicia.
Today, new pilgrims join us, those who do not have much time but who resign themselves to limit themselves to complete the final 100 kilometres of the Camino de Santiago. Today’s day will serve to train you before entering Galicia welcome!
Let’s go on the Camino Frances!
If you are thinking about walking the Camino de Santiago from Ponferrada tell us what your plans are for the Camino de Santiago and we will contact you to advise you on everything you need.
Itinerary stage Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
On today’s route, after the urban stretch that accompanies us to the exit of Ponferrada, we await the peal of the bells from the small towns that will we come across on the way: Compostilla, Columbrianos, Fuentes Nuevas, Camponaraya, Cacabelos, Pieros and Villafranca del Bierzo.
Ponferrada (Km. 0). Beginning of stage
Practical tips for this section: the exit of Ponferrada may seem somewhat confusing as it takes a detour, but it will be the perfect excuse to walk for the last time in the city and to find a charming place for breakfast. Buen Camino!
We start today in Loma de Ponferrada Street, from where we go to the Pregonero and Temple streets, to reach del Castillo Avenue. We border the Templar Castle on Gil and Carrasco Street and continue to la Virgen de la Encina Square.
In the square, we turn left and descend the stairs of Rañadero Street to reach de la Puebla Street and cross the River Sil (km. 1.2). Then turn right onto Río Urdiales Street, to return to the right, towards las Huertas del Sacramento Avenue where the las Pimenteras fountain is located.
When you reach the roundabout with the monument dedicated to blood donors, turn right on la Libertad Avenue, where you will find the National Museum of Energy. Following the sign of the Camino de Santiago, we arrive at Compostilla.
There we arrive at the local Red Cross and, through a passageway, we reach the Town Hall Square (km. 3.7). Next to the chapel of this district of Ponferrada, continue straight on 4th Avenue, turn left and then to the right, the third Transversal, passing by tennis courts and a football field.
We leave the neighbourhood behind by a paved road and, through a tunnel, we cross the N-VI national road (km. 4.7). By the pulled vine cultivation, we arrive in the locality of Columbrianos, where the Church of San Esteban awaits us. Past the church we follow a path that gently descends to cross the CL-631, to enter the centre of Columbrianos.
Columbrianos (Km. 5,5)
Practical tips for this section: in the more than ten kilometres of this section, you’ll pass through two small localities. In them, you will find bars where you can rest. Buen Camino!
By the Chapel of San Blas and San Roque, we leave the village following an asphalted trail that is born on the left-hand side. Passing by family homes and small plots cultivated by farmers, we reach Fuentes Nuevas (km. 8).
We enter the village by Valiña Street, where the Chapel of Divino Cristo is located, to return to the paved road, which will accompany us to the next locality: Camponaraya (km. 10.5).
This large town is a kilometre and a half long, so it will take about twenty minutes to cross it. On the route we will pass by the Church of San Ildefonso and the Chapel of the Virgen de la Soledad, we also have to cross the River Reguera de Naraya. At the exit of the village we will find a wine cooperative and a rest area.
From there, we take a gravel path to the overpass that passes the A-6 motorway (km. 11.9). We continue advancing surrounded by one of the best landscapes of La Hoya del Bierzo: fields dotted with vineyards and poplars.
Two kilometres and four hundred meters later (km. 14.3) The road returns to our path. We cross it and walk along the hard shoulder of the other road that we will find until the area of land belonging to the Regulating Council of Protected Denomination of Origin for Bierzo (km. 14.9). At this point, the road descends to arrive in Cacabelos.
Cacabelos (Km. 16,6)
Practical tips for this section: The visit to the Monastery of Santa María de Saracena is optional and involves taking an alternative route. We will provide you with information about this temple so you can decide which route to take. Buen Camino!
We enter the town of Cacbelos by Cimadevilla Street, we pass by the Church of Santa Maria, and we continue until River Cúa, a tributary of the Sil. After crossing the river by a 16th century stone bridge, we find the Sanctuary of La Quinta Angustia.
After the sanctuary, a demanding steep slope begins on the hard shoulder of the LE-731 (or N-VI, marked with both names) to the next urban nucleus: Pieros. Where we can visit the Church of San Martín.
From this locality we continue to advance to the side of the road. Arriving at the crossroads of San Clemente we find a sign to the right that indicates a variant of the Camino Francés that runs through Valtuille de Arriba.
This variation advances by paths and allows you to lose sight of the road, but it is not an official variant and extends the stage by three kilometres. It is a little-travelled route that only makes sense if you want to visit the Monastery of Santa María de Carracedo.
The official Pilgrim trail continues straight ahead. Following the traditional way, and after an undulating stretch, we leave the road following the sign of a milestone (km. 20.8), to enter the path of the Virgin, a gravel path.
Upon arriving at the sculpture studio of A. Nogueira we begin a hard ascent that gives way to various slides towards the first houses of Villafranca del Bierzo.
Villafranca del Bierzo (Km. 24,2). End of stage
Practical tips for this section: Villafranca del Bierzo is a quiet town with some places of cultural historical interest. Take advantage of the afternoon to rest and walk quietly through the village; We’ll have a hard day tomorrow. See you tomorrow!
The pilgrim trail enters the town of Villafranca del Bierzo in descent, passes by the municipal hostel and continues to the Church of Santiago and the Castle. Going down some stairs and taking the streets Salina and Rinconada, we reach Agua-Ribadeo Street.
Water Street, is one of the most emblematic passages of the town, with diverse singular buildings, both in religious and civil style. Strolling along the river promenade or enjoying the afternoon in Plaza Mayor, are also fantastic plans to enjoy a relaxed afternoon.
In the locality, you can also find religious places to visit, if you want more. Some of them are the Collegiate Church, one of the most interesting temples, the Convent of San Nicolás, the Concepción and San Francisco. Or the Chapel of Fombasallá, located on the outskirts of the village.
Comments stage Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
Now we will talk about the precautions you should take throughout this stage and we suggest some dishes from the region as well as places where you can enjoy the wines of El Bierzo.
How to get to Ponferrada
In Spain, there are several cities that have a bus connection to Ponferrada: Granda, Madrid, León, Santiago, Oviedo and A Coruña. By train, you can reach it from Madrid, Leon and Santiago. Therefore, if you do not live in any of these cities, you must travel to one of them and from there link with Ponferrada.
Precautions stage Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
The exit from Ponferrada can be a little annoying and the pilgrim can have the feeling of having lost the pilgrim path since this seems to be a great detour to leave the city, but it is the historical route.
The beginning of the stage can be complicated for people with mobility problems because the route runs through large avenues with a lot of traffic. Precautions should be taken in this section to avoid accidents, respecting traffic regulations and using zebra crossings. If the day has not yet dawned, the use of reflective vests is recommended.
The stretch between Camponaraya and Villafranca del Bierzo is almost inaccessible for people with disabilities. It is recommended to follow the route of the N-VI national road.
The climb from the slopes to Villafranca del Bierzo is the hardest part of the day. The entrance to Villafranca del Bierzo can be overwhelming, as the pilgrim will find arrows pointing in all directions.
Food stage Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
The gastronomic recommendations for today are linked to typical products of the region of Bierzo. Some of them are:
- Local cold cuts from El Bierzo
- Bierzo Wines with D.O. Throughout the day we have diverse opportunities to approach the wine culture of this region, with visits and tastings. In Camponaraya, next to the road, the Bodega Viñas del Bierzo is located. In the centre of Cacabelos, we will find Losada Vinos de Finca, and, at the exit of the village, the Cuatro Pasos Bodega. In Pieros we will pass alongside Bodegas Godelia.
Services stage Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
Consult the main health care services, cafes, ATMs, restaurants and are in this stage of the French Way.
Map stage Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
Consult the map with the route, points and towns along the stage.
Profile stage Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
Consult the profile of the stage: altitude and degree of difficulty of each section.
What to do stage Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo
Today’s route passes through a multitude of small towns. Below we give you the details about each one of them.
Compostilla is a neighbourhood in the city of Ponferrada created to respond to the need for housing of the people who work in the Endesa power plant. It is mostly composed of individual homes.
In the neighbourhood, you can visit a Romanesque church built in 1940. The construction was carried out on another medieval temple destroyed during the war of Independence. The carving Nuestra Señora del Refugio, which dates from the 12th century, is currently in the Archaeological Museum of Ourense.
The town of Columbrianos belongs to the municipality of Ponferrada. The town has a population of almost 1,400 inhabitants. The villa is from before the 10th century, as there are documents that in these dates that refer to the place.
The town name is not very clear. Some refer to the first settlers of the village, which should have been from Coimbra (Portugal). Others point out that it is an evolution of the word “Columba” (Dove), to the great abundance of pigeons and pigeon flocks. Finally, others point to that it is related to the presence of the Columbine fathers.
In the locality, you can visit the ancestral houses of Tormaleo and de Regalao, former headquarters of the Town Hall. You can also visit the Church of San Esteban and the Chapel of San Blas and San Roque.
Church of San Esteban
The Church of San Esteban is one of the main attractions of the town of Columbrianos. The temple, located at the entrance of the village, dates from 1778.
The church tower is later since it was rebuilt in 1948 after a part of it collapsed after a lightning strike.
Mass times: Public Holidays (12:30 and 18:00).
The town of Fuentes Nuevas belongs to the municipality of Ponferrada and in it live 2,750 people. The locality is of medieval origin and its terrain is completely flat.
In the village, you can see an old part and a modern part. In the old part, you can visit the mansions of Los Villarino and Los Cartujo. However, the main attraction of the locality is the Hermitage of the Divino Cristo.
Chapel of the Divino Cristo
The Chapel of the Divino Cristo is located at the entrance of the town of Fuentes Nuevas. The temple is also known as the Chapel of La Vera Cruz, as this was the name of the old chapel that occupied the place before it had to be completely rebuilt.
It is a sober temple, built with stone and brick and covered with lime mortar. Its façade features the belfry that houses a small bell.
The municipality of Camponaraya has an area of twenty-nine square kilometres and has a population of more than 4,000 inhabitants. In the past, there were two different villages separated by the Naraya Brook. Campos, situated on the side of the Cacabelos, and Naraya, the oldest of the two. In the 15th century, both localities joined together forming Camponaraya.
The town is famous in the region for fairs and exhibitions that are held in the fairgrounds. In the locality, you can visit the Parish Church of San Ildefonso and the Chapel of the Virgen Soledad.
Parish Church of San Ildefonso
The Parish Church of San Ildefonso is located in the town of Camponaraya. The building is made of brick and has a three-slope roof.
Its structure consists of two naves. The façade is topped with a square bell tower. Above the entrance door, you can see five stained glass windows, two horizontal and three vertical that give the building great luminosity.
The interior of the church is sober and does not have any altarpiece, only a crucifix in the presbytery that represents the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary; And another in honour of San Ildefonso.
Opening hours: Only open during worshipping hours
Mass times: From 1 September to 30 June, Monday to Friday and Vespers (20:00) and Public Holidays (12:45).
Chapel of the Virgen de la Soledad
The Chapel of the Virgen de la Soledad is located in the village of Camponaraya. The temple was built on an ancient shrine in homage to the Virgen de la Soledad.
Its exterior stands out for its striking colours, as a result of the last reconstruction, and the pointed towers that rise to its sides.
The municipality of Cacabelos extends on an area of 33 square kilometres and in it reside some 5,150 people. The first traces of settlements of the locality go back to the Palaeolithic times and the first documentation on the villa, goes back to the 10th century.
In the town, you can visit the Church of Santa Maria, which stands at the foot of the Camino de Santiago and the Archaeological Museum, which collects abundant samples from the remote history of the villa.
Parish Church of Santa María
The Parish Church of Santa Maria is located in Cacabelos. Its construction was carried out in 1108 by the mandate of Bishop Gelmírez, although it was rebuilt in the 16th century. In the year 1904 the tower, the chancel and the atrium were built, works that were financed by Don Jose and Don Jorge Rodríguez.
Outside the temple, the facade stands out, where you can see a relief of the Virgin Mary dating from the 13th century. The interior highlights the image of the crucified Christ and the carvings of San Isidro Labrador and the Virgen de la Asunción.
Mass times: There is no Mass on Mondays. In summer, Tuesday to Friday and eves of feast days (20:00) and the Holidays (12:00). In winter, Tuesday to Friday and eves of feast days (19:00) and Holidays (12:00).
Horario de misas: No hay misa los lunes. En verano, de martes a viernes y vísperas de festivo (20:00) y los festivos (12:00). En invierno, de martes a viernes y vísperas de festivo (19:00) y los festivos (12:00).
The Archaeological Museum of Cacabelos, known as MARCA, has its headquarters in the Casa de Cultura. It collects archaeological and ethnographic pieces found in the area, and has numerous multimedia resources that help the visitor to understand the remote origins of the locality.
Phone: 987 546 993
Opening times: Closed on Mondays. From Tuesday to Saturday (from 11:30 to 14:00 and from 16:30 to 20:30), Sundays and public holidays (from 11:30 to 14:00).
Sanctuary of la Quinta Angustia
The Sanctuary of la Quinta Angustia is located in the town of Cacabelos. The temple dates back to the 18th century and is in neoclassic style.
It is a beautiful church, which encloses its main attraction in the interior. The sanctuary has seven altarpieces, among them the image of the Virgen de la Quinta Angustia. It also houses an organ, which was moved from the Monastery of Carracedo.
Surrounding the sanctuary is the hostel, designed by José María Aparicio, and has the peculiarity of being formed by two-seater cabins.
Mass time: Public holidays at 10:30.
Pieros is a hamlet belonging to the municipality of Cacabelos. Less than 40 people live in the municipality. In its streets you can visit the Church of San Martín.
Church of San Martín
The Church of San Martín is located in the uninhabited locality of Pieros. The temple was built in two phases. The first in 1086, when the walls of the façade and the foundation headstone were erected. And the second, during the 16th and 17th centuries, in which the rest of the temple was completed.
The temple is in Romanesque style. Inside it the carving of San Martín on a horse stands out.
Villafranca del Bierzo
Villafranca del Bierzo is a municipality of 177 square kilometres that has more than 3,000 inhabitants. The first settlers of the place were communities of Francs and foreign traders who settled during the reign of Alfonso VI, around the community of Cluniac Monks, in 1070.
At the entrance of the town stands the Church of Santiago, which together with the Collegiate Church and Water Street, are the main attractions of the town. However, you can also visit the Convent of San Nicolás, the Concepción and San Francisco. Or you can approach the Chapel of Fombasallá, located on the outskirts of town.
Villafranca del Bierzo also offers spaces to walk and to enjoy a relaxed afternoon, such as the Plaza Mayor, the Alameda or the river promenade that runs parallel to the River Burbia.
Church of Santiago
The Church of Santiago in Villafranca del Bierzo dates back to the late 12th century and is in the Lombard Romanesque style.
The temple is famous for La Puerta del Perdón. Pope Calixto II granted the sick or disabled pilgrims who crossed the door, after traversing the obligatory 100 kilometres, the same indulgences as if they had arrived in Santiago de Compostela.
The church is built in Ashlar. Its structure consists of a single nave and a side chapel dating back to the 18th century. Its ornamentation highlights the capitals of the windows in which the Epiphany, the Magi and the Crucifixion are depicted.
Convent of San Nicolás
The Convent of San Nicolás is located in Villafranca del Bierzo. The temple dates back to the 17th century and was founded by Don Gabriel de Robles. Its façade consists of two bodies separated by a cornice, which end in a pediment ornamented with the shield of the Company of Jesus.
The convent’s church is located inside the enclosure. In the old days, there were long cloisters at their side, although at present only the right side is preserved. The church plant is in a Latin cross shape and the nave is divided into several sections and covered with a vault of lunettes.
Mass times: First and second Saturday of the month (19:30) and Holidays (11:00).
Convent of San Francisco
The Convent of San Francisco is located in the town of Villafranca del Bierzo. Its construction was carried out in 1285 by the Franciscans’ Order and is in a Romanesque-Gothic style.
Of the original structure, at present, only the main access gate is preserved. The rest of the elements, such as the façade and the towers dating from the 17th century, were added in later enlargements.
From the interior, the main altarpiece in a Churrigueresque style stands out. It also draws attention to the size of the Virgin de la Expectación, for her sadness.
The main square of Villafranca del Bierzo is surrounded by arcades and old buildings. Among them are the Town Hall and a theatre considered one of the most beautiful in Spain.
It has recently undergone repairs to provide it with greater space and make it more attractive at a tourist level.
The Collegiate Church is located in the middle of the Camino de Santiago in Villafranca del Bierzo. The building was erected over an old monastery in 1070.
The style of the collegiate church is not very well defined since it has different elements, both Gothic and Renaissance. The building is divided into three naves, topped with an altarpiece on the main altar, in neoclassical style and presided over by the image of the Assumption of the Virgin.
Inside, there is also the chancel that dates from the second half of the 18th century and which is in a Baroque style. Here, the abbey chair stands out with the theme of the Good Shepherd, located on a huge coat of arms, owned by the founders.
Timetable: Closes on Mondays. From 1 July to 30 September, from Tuesday to Sunday (from 10:30 and 13:30 and from 16:30 to 20:00).
La Alameda is a garden area of Villafranca del Bierzo. The garden, of romantic layout, was built in the year 1882. In it stands La Fuente de la Chata, located in the centre of the park and dating from the 16th century.
Chapel of Fombasallá
The Chapel of Fombasallá is located in the natural area of the Ancares, at the top of the Paradaseca Mountains, close to Villafranca del Bierzo. It is a very admired temple in the region, as it is one of the most representative samples of the Monsatañe Chapel.
Every year, on August 15th, a pilgrimage is held in which the devotees camp in the meadows adjacent to the Chapel for several days. The carving of the Virgin, a polychromatic work dating back to the 18th century, is guarded in the collegiate church of the town, for security reasons.
Convent of la Concepción
The Convent de la Concepción of Villafranca del Bierzo was built in 1541 by the mandate of Don Pedro Álvarez de Toledo Osorio and his wife Doña Maria Osorio, who were the second Marquees of the locality.
To inaugurate the site, it was necessary to move a nun from the Convent of Santa Clara de Benavente, in Zamora, and another two from the Monastery of la Purísima Concepción, in León.
Mass times: Weekdays (10:00) and Public Holidays (11:00).
Water Street in Villafranca del Bierzo is a veritable museum of Baroque architecture, both of religious and civil order. Since the Jacobean route was consolidated, this street concentrates the greatest artisanal, commercial and transit activity.
In this emblematic street are located buildings as unique as the Castle of Marquees of Villafranca. The castle has a palatial appearance. The building dates from the 16th century and was made with masonry materials.
Its structure is quadrangular and has four towers in its angles. The door of the main entrance is made of brick and on it, you can see one of the most striking shields, of many that appear on its façade.
Other civil constructions are the Palacio de Torquemada, dating from the 17th century, Las Casas Torres and La Casa Morisca.
Regarding religious architecture, in this crowded street, we can find the Convent of San Jose and the Anunciada, which was erected in 1606 on the old Pilgrims Hospital, San Roque. The legend says that St. Francis of Assisi lodged there.