The Camino de Santiago on Via de la Plata
The Silver Way, also known as Via de la Plata, Camino de la Plata or Ruta de la Plata, is the route on the Camino de Santiago that crosses Spain from the south to Compostela. La Ruta de la Plata is the longest of the Caminos de Santiago and is not very popular. In recent years, only 2% of pilgrims have chosen the Via de la Plata for their pilgrimage to Santiago.
The beginning of La Via de la Plata varies depending on which guide of the Camino de Santiago you consult. Some place the beginning of this path in Merida, others point out that it is currently in Seville and others include within the Via de la Plata the route that runs through the southeast peninsular, starting from Almería, Málaga or Jaén.
If you can’t stand by making a pilgrimage on Roman roads, the Camino de Santiago route from Ourense awaits you. Give us detailed information about the trip you wish to make and we will arrange it for you.
The truth is that the Camino de la Plata refers to the network of roads that link the south with the north and that largely uses ancient Roman roads. If you want to know more about the origin of La Via de la Plata you can consult our article on the history of the Camino de Santiago.
The Caminos on La Via de la Plata
The extensive route of the Ruta de la Plata means that several sections are included on this route, which converge with each other, until reaching Santiago de Compostela. Departing from the south of the Iberian Peninsula, there are two paths: the southwestern Spanish and the Mediterranean side.
The Southern routes
The route through the southwest of Spain is the one that most guides of the Camino de Santiago point to as an itinerary on La Via de la Plata. It has its beginning, today, in Seville, although some guides place it in Merida.
However, the Via de la Plata is also possible from Cadiz. The Roman road linking the south with the north, called the Via Augusta, allows Cadiz to be linked with Seville, on a 175-kilometre journey.
The southeast path is the one that begins on the Mediterranean side. It departs from Malaga, Almería or Jaén. Pilgrims departing from Almería cross Granada to converge in Alcaudete with the route that comes from Jaén and Baena, with the route that starts in Malaga.
From Baena, the Camino de la Plata, crosses Córdoba and heads to Mérida, where it joins the road that comes from Seville. This section of La Via de la Plata is known as the Camino Mozarabe. In some guides, you will find that it is referred to equally as La Via de la Plata and the Camino Mozarabe.
The two northern routes
From Mérida, the Via de la Plata takes a northerly course, crossing the entire centre of the peninsula and emblematic cities such as Salamanca or Zamora. In Granja de Moreruela, a municipality in the province of Zamora, La Via de la Plata is divided again.
Some pilgrims go towards Astorga, where La Via de la Plata meets the Camino Frances. While others direct themselves on to Ourense, following the path known as Camino Sanabres.
How many kilometres are there on La Ruta de la Plata?
After this wide description of the route that La Via de la Plata takes it is normal that you are wondering: “How many kilometres does La Via de la Plata actually have?” Well… Lots!
Depending on which place you choose as the starting point, and which variant you take on the northern routes, La Via de la Plata may have more or less kilometres. To not get too involved in this topic, we leave you this small summary to get an idea:
- The route linking Cadiz with Seville: 175 kilometres
- The Camino Mozarabe to Merida: from Almería (594.1 km), from Malaga (428.3 km) and from Jaén (357.1 km)
- La Via de la Plata from Seville to Merida: 212 km
From Merida to Granja de Moreruela: 402 kilometres
- From Granja de Moreruela, on the Astorga variant: 354 km
- The Camino Sanabres: 369 km
What you’ll find
Once the technical detail on this route has been clarified, let’s move on to a more interesting topic: What to see on the Via de la Plata. You can already imagine that given the long journey that this Camino de Santiago takes, the wonders that you will find on La via de la Plata are almost endless.
For starters, it is such a long journey, that it allows us to discover the culture and tradition of many regions of Spain, which have important differences with each other. The customs and gastronomy of the communities in southern Spain are very different from those in the north of the peninsular.
What to see on La Via de la Plata
Given the long journey on the Camino de la Plata, it would be impossible to describe in detail the many places of interest that you will find in this Jacobean route. So considering the different sections on La Via de la Plata, we wanted to highlight what we consider of greatest interest to us.
The south of the Camino de Santiago: La Ruta de la Plata
The landscape of southern Spain is characterized by the presence of large pastures and vast fields of olive groves. In these you will often find cattle and pigs that roam freely. Their presence may be frightening, but if you don’t bother them, they’re no problem.
In the south of the Iberian Peninsula you will find a culture strongly marked by flamenco, the culture of bulls and the spontaneity and joy of its people. For good reason, the Andalusian sense of humour is famous.
The gastronomy of the south on La Ruta de la Plata is quite well-characterized by the use of olive oil, for some reason it is one of the main communities producing this liquid gold. Some dishes you should try in the southern stretch of La Via de la Plata are:
- Salmorejo or gazpacho: these are both cold soups made with tomato
- Fried foods: in the south, they are experts in the art of frying. Be sure to try dishes such as marinated dogfish, fried fish, etc.
- Migas: a dish prepared with bread.
- Drinks: Jerez and Manzanilla wines.
Places of interest in the south of La Via de la Plata
In the first section of the Camino de Santiago on La Via de la Plata, depending on which place you choose as your starting point, you will have the opportunity to visit some different places. The most noteworthy are:
- Sevilla: Who hasn’t heard about the special colour of this city? Visits that you cannot miss if you pass through it are the Cathedral, the Giralda and the Real Alcázar.
- Granada: here you will find one of the most important works in Arab culture, the Alhambra. Another experience to try is to get lost in the famous Albaicín district.
- Córdoba: This city also has an important Arab architecture. The most recognized monument is the Mosque of Cordoba.
La Via de la Plata on its journey through the Central Meseta
The presence of pastures will accompany you throughout Extremadura, towards the south of Salamanca. In this section, you will also find holm oak forests and cereal fields.
This part of the Camino de Santiago on La Via de la Plata leaves behind southern culture, much more marked by the influence of the sea and the warm temperatures. On the plateau, both gastronomy and customs are typical of inland regions.
What to eat during these kilometres on La Via de la Plata
In Extremadura you will still find dishes that you will also have had the opportunity to taste in Andalusia, such as migas. Ham is one of the most traditional dishes within this region.
Upon entering Castile and León, you enter one of the most famous wine regions in Spain. Be sure to try their Rioja and Rivera del Duero wines. We also recommend trying the famous roast suckling pig that is prepared in those lands.
What to see
Both Extremadura and Castilla y León have extensive historical heritage, so you will find countless places to visit. In this section of the Camino de Santiago on La Ruta de la Plata, the following cities stand out:
- Mérida: The Capital of Extremadura. In the city, a visit to the Roman Theatre is essential.
- Salamanca: A beautiful university city. Its university is the third oldest in Europe, and was founded in the 13th century.
- Zamora: a walled city, where you should not miss the chance to visit its impressive cathedral.
The final kilometres on the Camino de Santiago on La Ruta de la Plata
After Castile and León, the Camino de Santiago on La Ruta de la Plata enters Galicia. The landscape has a special green tinge. The clear southern holm oak forests are transformed into thick oak trees and eucalyptus forests.
Galician culture has little to do with southern culture. Forget flamenco and prepare your ears to listen to bagpipes. Also to listen to a different language, Galician. A language, which together with Spanish, is an official one in this region.
In this last Autonomous Community on La via de la Plata, you will continue to eat really well. Some traditional dishes are: Galician octopus, empanadas (pies) and lacon with grelos ( Bacon with turnip tops)
If you want to continue enjoying the tapas culture that you will have found along the entire Via de la Plata, be sure to check out our blog article of the Camino de Santiago about the tapas trail in Galicia Regarding drinks, we would highlight its white wines, homemade coffee liqueur and queimada.
What to visit on the final section of the Camino de la Plata
In the final part of the Camino de Santiago on the Ruta de la Plata you will have the opportunity to visit some places or others depending on whether you follow on to Astorga or continue along the Camino Sanabres.
If you decide to continue on your way to Astorga, you can check the sights that will come across your path on the way to Santiago de Compostela, in this article in which we talk about the Camino de Santiago routes.
If you decide to follow the Camino Sanabres, do not forget to enjoy its hot springs. Very close to Ourense you will find the Monastery of Oseira, one of the most famous within the Galician community.
The best time of the year to make your pilgrimage
La Via de la Plata, like all the routes on the Camino de Santiago has its best moments from March to May, when the temperatures are warm, but still not too hot. However, given the characteristics on the Via de la Plata and the vast territory it travels through, it becomes one of the most recommended routes on which to complete the Camino de Santiago in winter.
In summer, the southern stretch of the Camino de la Plata registers high temperatures that can even exceed 40 degrees. Therefore it is not a particularly recommended itinerary for the hottest months.
Still, there are many pilgrims who do the Camino de Santiago on La Ruta de la Plata at that time of year. If you are interested in completing this itinerary in summer, we recommend that you consult our monograph on the advice on making a pilgrimage in the south during summer.
The Camino de Santiago on La Via de la Plata by bike
If your thing is the two wheels and do not even think about making pilgrimage to Santiago in any other way, we are happy to inform you that the Via de la Plata is one of the recommended routes to do by bike. Since much of the route is made following the ancient Roman cobbled road, most of the journey can be done by bike.
In addition, it does not have very steep slopes, like some other routes. If you are looking for a bigger challenge, you can check out our article about the Camino Primitivo on bike.
Now you can get an idea of the magnitude of this Camino de Santiago. Few are encouraged to make the full tour, especially on foot, as it takes many days to complete it. The percentage of pilgrims who do it by bicycle is higher.
However, since the Camino de Santiago on La Via de la Plata has so many sections, doing some stretches of La Via de la Plata on foot is a fantastic idea. Do you dare to do the Camino Mozarabe, the Sanabres or any of their sections?
Whether you do the Camino de la Plata on foot or by bike… contact us or write on our official page in Facebook and we’ll help you organize it! Yes, it’s that simple!