We are now at our 5th big city of the Camino Frances. In case you have missed the other four cities, you can find the posts here:
- Pamplona – one of the cleanest cities we saw on the Camino Frances and also the city where we started to walk from on our Camino Frances in March 2017. You can read about our first big city on the Camino here.
- Logroño – thinking back to this city, we always remember the many tapas bars in one street! You can read about Logroño here.
- Burgos – this is where we saw the first big cathedral, which was really beautiful. You can read about Burgos here.
- León – a city we really enjoyed exploring. We also had the opportunity of watching the Easter processions. You can read about León here.
In this post, we are covering a short distance to the next big city, Astorga. It took us only about 50km and two days to walk from León to Astorga. Here are a couple of photos on the way to Astorga:
Day 17: San Martin del Camino (26.0km):
The road to San Martin del Camino was featureless, but the food at our albergue that evening turned out as one of the best meals on the Camino Frances
(You can read about the hiking of Day 17 here)
Day 18: Astorga (23.9km)
One of the longest and best preserved medieval bridges in Spain, dating from the 13th century. This bridge leads into Hospital de Orbigo and on our way to Astorga
(You can read about the hiking of Day 18 here)
Before we get to show Astorga to you, there is one more photo we would like to share. Even long before we walked our first Camino, I had a picture in my mind of what the Camino would look like. On this day, while walking between Hospital de Orbigo and Astorga, the road, as I imagined it for many years, turned out as the exact picture I had in my head.
When I think back at the Camino Frances, this picture always comes up in my mind.
One of the most beautiful days on the Camino Frances
Is Astorga a city:
I’m not quite sure if Astorga can be classified as a city … it only has a population of about 12,000 people. I would say this sounds more like a biggish town, but Astorga’s people are adamant that they are indeed a city. We don’t want to offend the people of Astorga and will therefore add them to our list of cities on the Camino Frances.
Astorga from afar:
On a hill is a stone cross, Cruceiro Santo Toribio, from where we could see Astorga down in the valley. This cross commemorate the 5th century Bishop Toribio of Astorga who supposedly fell to his knees here in a final farewell, having been banished from the city. They don’t tell us why he was banished …
Cruceiro Santo Toribio, with Astorga in the distance
We arrived in Astorga on Good Friday (Easter weekend), where … yes, you’ve guessed it, we saw more processions. The city was filled with people (and pilgrims) and towards the evening the town square was packed with people that came to watch the processions.
The Town Hall of Astorga is situated in the Plaza Mayor and while we were sitting at one of the outside restaurant tables, we noticed something very unique. It was nearly 15:00 and we saw many people looking and showing towards the clock on top of the Town Hall. As we also turned around to watch, two figures on top of the town clock moved together and strike the bell with their mallets.
Town Hall with its unique clock
We strolled through Astorga’s plaza and side streets to see what interesting buildings there are. It was in one of these side streets that we saw the biggest backpack ever! Raul’s two kids just had to pose with it in order to show how big it really is … definitely not a pilgrim’s backpack!
That is one BIG backpack
Two of the most prominent buildings in Astorga, sitting next to each other, are definitely the Episcopal Palace (which is designed by that man … yes, Antoni Gaudi) and the Astorga Cathedral.
Holy week monument
We were also informed by several sources that Astorga is well-known for their chocolate. Back in 1914 Astorga was one of Spain’s main chocolate producers, along with Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. Apparently their chocolate is highly regarded and Astorga chocolate are seen all over the region.
Chocolate Museum (Photo credit: Astorga Tourism)
We never got to the Chocolate Museum – I know, it’s almost unthinkable! But we had better things to do … like drinking a cold beer on a very hot day with our pilgrim friends!
A cold beer on a hot day is definitely better than any chocolate!
It was also time to say goodbye to some of our pilgrim friends that shared our Camino with us. The group of Spaniards ended their Camino here in Astorga and Monica (Sweden) decided to rest for a couple of days in Astorga. It was therefor only Carl (USA) and us that continued the next day. We had a last few drinks together to celebrate our new friendship.
Friends made on the Camino Frances
And as it was the case in León, we had a last opportunity to witness the Easter processions.
People gathers in Plaza Mayor to watch the processions
Here are our final photos of the processions:
Town Hall of Astorga with sunset
We left Astorga early the next morning. The Camino now became more challenging as we started walking towards the mountains.
Early morning in a backstreet of Astorga with their cathedral in front of us
To reach our next city, we had to walk six more days on quiet roads – blissful!