On arrival in Astorga we recommend that you take some to explore as there is so much of interest to explore. Astorga has been a place of importance for many centuries, it was once a Roman Capital where gold and silver from the nearby mountains was traded. Don't miss the Neogothic Episcopal Palace designed in 1889 by the famous Catalan architect Antonio Gaudi.
Pilgrim's Passport: If you wish to get your pilgrim's passport so that you can get it stamped along the way and so that you can present it in Santiago to get your Credential to take home with you, you can get it at the Pilgrims Hostel 'Albergue de Peregrinos' in Plaza de San Francisco just opposite Hotel La Peseta.
Today's route will take you into the Maragateria area, a wooded and mountainous region where beautiful villages with large red stone houses, dot the landscape. You will climb to the highest point of the tour. The stone cross at 1510m, where traditionally each pilgrim leaves a stone they have carried all the way from their homeland. Later you will descend into the rich valley of the Bierzo.
Today you will cycle through the flat cultivated landscapes of the Bierzo valley. This is a land of rich soils, water and a benign climate which produces excellent wines, fruit and vegetables. Around midday you will reach the mountains as you go through the historic town of Villafranca del Bierzo. You will then have to climb the famously steep O'Cebreiro mountain pass which separates the regions of Castilla and Gallicia.
This morning sees you ride in a new region, with a very different climate, vegetation and people. Galicia is green Spain, Atlantic and not Mediterranean, wooded and mountainous. Today you will descend into the small town of Samos where one of the ancient monasteries of the Middle Ages still remains inhabited by monks, you will follow the rivers from the mountains to Sarria. Sarria is the largest town along the camino, between Ponferrada and Santiago with a long history of Jacobean Pilgrimage. The Old historic city centre, high on the hill, is decorated by traditional houses and 18th Century palaces, a 19th Century Church and the Temple of Salvador dating back to the 13th Century.
This is one of the most beautiful sections of the Camino in Galicia. You will cycle along narrow paths amongst woodland, going past tiny villages where people live off the land, as they have done for generations.
Today you continue along these ancient paths and tracks connecting villages. You can breathe in the history along the way and can imagine how many thousands of people over the centuries have shaped the path as it is today.
In the morning you will cycle the last 19kms. The Camino leads you into the very heart of Santiago de Compostela, into the Plaza de Obradoiro overlooking the Cathedral built in honour of Saint James. You will arrive with enough time to be able to get your Credencial, or Pilgrims Passport, as a momento of your journey. You can then spend the afternoon exploring this fascinating city. Santiago de Compostela has been a World Heritage Site since 1985, the entire historic centre is a huge museum. We recommend you visit the Tourist Information Centre in Rua do Vilar to make the most of your day. Don't miss a visit inside the Cathedral before you say goodbye to the Camino.
End Santiago de Compostela.