Welcome to the original Camino! The first major pilgrimage route to Santiago began in Oviedo. The rugged beauty of the Camino Primitivo is unrivaled, and it continues to attract many pilgrims. You will see some of the most majestic mountain views, quaint villages, and tranquil Spanish countryside on this Camino.
The approach to Oviedo lacks the usual stunning landscape and points of interest, but any boredom will be quickly remedied in Oviedo. The original 9th century cathedral in Oviedo was built over 8 centuries therefore features a wide variety of architectural styles. The Capilla de San Miguel holds the cathedral’s most precious treasures including a silver reliquary chest said to contain a vial of the Virgin Mary’s milk and one of Judas’ 30 pieces of silver. You will also find three pre-Romanesque churches in Oviedo – some of the finest examples 9th century Christian European architecture.
Oviedo and Lugo are the largest cities you will encounter until you get to Santiago. The original 9th century cathedral in Oviedo was built over 8 centuries and therefore features a wide variety of architectural styles. The Capilla de San Miguel holds the cathedral’s most precious treasures including a silver reliquary chest said to contain a vial of the Virgin Mary’s milk and one of Judas’ 30 pieces of silver. You will also find three pre-Romanesque churches in Oviedo – some of the finest examples 9th century Christian European architecture. Lugo’s Roman walls will enchant you and transport you back centuries. Get ready for an amazing journey filled with spirituality, nature, and personal discovery on the Camino Primitivo.
Upon leaving Oviedo we start out west passing the chapel of Capilla del Carmen, then make a sharp decline toward Ponte de Gallegos. Carry on with a few more ups and downs today, then cross the Peñaflor bridge over the río Nalón and finally into Grado – a pleasant place to stop with all the services you will need.
The ascent through the Cordillera Cantábrica is taxing on your body today. A steep, steady climb starts the day with a dramatic descent following. An impressive, albeit semi-ruined monastery, in Cornellana is on your path today. The monastery has a 12th-century interior and an impressive 17th-century façade. End your day in the town of Salas which became a major stopping point on the Camino over 700 years ago. The Valdés-Salas Palace and Santa María la Mayor Collegiate church are landmarks to explore in this ancient town.
Another rough start for the legs as you climb 500 meters past the village of La Pereda to Bodenaya. Add another 200 meters of ascent between Tineo (a compulsory pilgrimage stop in 1222) and Campiello and you will be ready for a good night’s rest.
Arguably the most strenuous and rewarding day of your Camino. Take the Hospitales track for three ancient ruins of pilgrim hospitals and breathtaking 360-degree mountain vistas. Although extremely beautiful, today’s way is isolated and lacking in services on the more than 600 meter ascent.
After all the up, it is time to go down! We will descend more than 800 meters in just 6km. So, brace your knees, and be prepared to marvel at the fantastic mountain views – especially from the windmill-lined ridge above La Mesa. The shining blue reservoir of the río Navia below you is a feast for the eyes as well.
A steep climb then a more gradual descent marks your journey today. More windmill vistas with beautiful panoramas await! You will enter Galicia today, the final region on our Camino. Fuel up with some traditional Galician food like Caldo Gallega (hearty vegetable soup) at our final stop in A Fonsagrada.
Enjoy a stroll through rural Galician mountain villages today on footpaths and rural roads. There are some surprisingly steep spots, but plenty of little villages for refreshment along the way. Montouto is an aged village seemingly carved right into the side of the rocks. Shortly after that, you come across a town once owned by the Knights of St. John of Portomarín including a traditional Gallegan circular building with a thatched roof (palloza) on display.
Today’s walk is thankfully shorter and flatter than the previous few. Services and stops are few, but Lugo with its nearly 2,000-year-old Roman walls is a worthy reward at the end of the day. These walls are the world’s largest still intact at 2km long, and 8.5 meters high with 85 towers. A vast array of architectural styles will delight you as you visit the Cathedral of Santa María, making Lugo one of the more impressive stops on the Camino Primitivo.
Here begins the final 100km to Santiago. No major towns are on today’s path, so you will follow tranquil country roads on mostly wooded, flat terrain. Consider a possible detour to Santa Eulalia de Bóvede. The church contains a historic 3rd-century Roman crypt.
Join the Camino Francés today on smooth dirt paths through fragrant eucalyptus groves. Small stone villages along the way remind you of centuries of pilgrims with the same destination in mind. The halfway point of Melide is a great spot to try the famous octopus dish pulpo Gallega. You will also cross several medieval bridges and the Church of San Pedro and San Roque which is said to have the oldest stone cross in Galicia – the 14th-century Crucero do Melide – Christ in Majesty.
Our path is riddled with short, but steep ascents and descents today. Your way becomes more populated as the Camino del Norte joins the Francés today. If you are so inclined visit the “wall of wisdom” in Taberna Velha filled with traveler’s quotes and advice for The Way. As you skirt around the Alto de Santa Irene take a moment to enjoy the church with the same namesake and unique statues of Santiago.
You have nearly made it! This stage of the journey is exciting because of its end, but there is also much to see along the way. The day begins in a dense eucalyptus forest. As you skirt around the Lavacolla International Airport, you will notice the contrast between that and the history of Lavacolla as the place where medieval pilgrims used to bathe for purification before entering Santiago. Climb your way up the Monte del Gozo for a glimpse of your goal – the Cathedral of Santago! Descend to the city and get ready to soak in all that comes with a goal achieved and a spiritual destination reached.
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