There’s a way we’ve forgotten for 9 centuries; it starts in the very center of the Spanish capital, Madrid, to takes us to an impressive medieval fortress that around the year 1174 was transformed into the headquarters of the Santiago Order. We’re talking about the Uclés Way, ready?
Have you ever heard about this awesome monastery?
We said that it’s a forgotten way, however, we should explain something: it was forgotten by most of the people, but from 2010 a few people of the area have been working very hard to revive the Uclés Way to let us all enjoy its wonders.
About knights, fortresses and conquests
This monastery is in Uclés, Cuenca, and it’s the most important temple dedicated to Santiago apostle after the Cathedral of Compostela. Its strucure goes back to the time of the muslim domination, but the real splendour of the monastery arrived when it became a fortress for the Santiago Order. After the Reconquest, the group of buildings radically changed, but we can still observe the Arabic – Moslem style walls.
The Santiago Order appeared in the XII century and its main order was to protect the piligrims who dare to walkd the Santiago Way in this times of war and danger.
The Uclés Way and its stages
This journey is 144 km long wiht 12 stops on it; it starts in the temple of Santiago, in the heart of Madrid, and takes us to the Uclés Monastery, in the Northwest of Cuenca.
Even if it sound unbelievable, to exit from Madrid following this way is easy and we only need to croos 3 traffic lights, impressive!
We’ll walk over the bank of the river Manzanares to the Lineal Park and, once we’re behind the M-40 South bridge, we only will need to follow the red cross signs over a nice walk to Uclés.
70% of this way is accesible with a wheelchair and some of the sections have a bikeway; this makes us think about a very studied and carefully planned route.
Who are the responsibles of all this meticulousness? Well… A few people with surprising stories!
We can’t talk about the Uclés Way without talking about Manuel Rossi
Yes, indeed! It wouldn’t have any sense to writte an article about this way without telling the story of Manuel Rossi.
Manuel met Father Julián in Cuenca, during one of his pilgrimages, and this priest told him about the Monastery of Santiago de Uclés. Then, they had dinner toghether and their conversation became a fantastic seed in Manuel’s life. From that day on, he dedicates his life to recover the Uclés Way.
Manuel has driven 400.000 km over the paths of this way, he has placed around 10.000 signs and he has spent more than 6.000 euros of his own pocket to bring to life again this way that, 9 centuries ago, used the knights of the Santiago Order to travel to Compostela.
Manuel makes and paints the arrows in his house, then gets into his car and works 8h altruistic shifts to place them all over the paths that go from Madrid to Uclés. In this video from Telemadrid you can see him on action, what a great task he does!
But Manuel Rossi has not only recovered the life of this way, following with accuracy its original path, but he is also providing a great personality to the Uclés Way with initiatives like the Way mascot, based on the Santiago Cross, or the Arrows Bridge. In this bridge, all the walls and the roof will be covered with arrows of the Santiago Way. More than a thousand arrows made with his own hands!
And what happened in this Way since 2010?
Manuel Rossi drawn the official piligrim passport for this way, called the Uclessiana, and this document will open to us the doors to the huge hospitality that can be found in this journey. In every village from Arganda del Rey, Uclessiana in the hand, we could access to the reception in parish houses, hospitaleros, hostels, sports centers, etc. Most of them for free!
Rafael is other of the main characters in the recovery of the Uclés Way. He runs the Municipal Hostel of Estremera, 50 km away from the Uclés Monastery and 744 km away from the Santiago Cathedral. This hostel was given up by the city council, it has capacity for 14 people and since the day it was open, two years and a half ago, around 400 people has slept there.
Manuel, Rafael and Julián are three proper names in the history of the Uclés Way, that will stay forever in the memory of the neighbours and all the piligrims who can now enjoy this friendly, genuine and beautiful way.
If you’re one of the thousand people who had already tried this experience and want to share it with us, please contact us by Facebook, by e-mail or leaving a comment in our blog. Buen Camino de Uclés for everyone!