Information about stage 21: Stage from Astorga to Foncebadon
- Km 0. Astorga (All Services)
Due to the large number of confectioneries in Astorga, which cajole us with their advertisements for shortbreads and puff pastries, it is very difficult, or rather impossible, to leave the ancient Roman city without having tried a single sweet. After breakfast, turning our backs to the façade of the Astorga City Hall, we cross the Plaza Mayor to slip into Pío Gullón street, located to the left of the square. After crossing García Prieto we continue straight ahead along Calle de Postas and Calle Santiago. Leaving aside the Episcopal Palace, we pass by the cathedral and take Calle Portería – where the private hostel is located.. After the Porter’s Office, we turn right and go straight on for about 400 meters along Calle San Pedro. We cross the street through a pedestrian walkway and head towards Castrillo de Polvazares and Santa Colomba de Somoza along Calle de los Mártires. Along a path parallel to the LE-142 we gently descend to the height of Valdeviejas , where the Ecce Homo hermitage is located , an 18th century construction that was completely restored in 2007. The hermit gets up early, seals and also provides credentials. About 150 meters to the right of the hermitage, on the road that leads to Valdeviejas, there is a pilgrims’ hostel inaugurated in 2010.
- km 2.6. Detour to Valdeviejas (Hostel. Bar)
We leave the hermitage behind and cross the A-6 motorway (the North-West motorway that connects Madrid with Arteixo in A Coruña) through an overpass. A path at the foot of the LE-142 awaits us to lead us to Murias de Rechivaldo , a Maragata town that we enter after crossing the bed of the Jerga river . The parish church of San Esteban, from the 18th century, is on the right and we cross Murias through a side street, where the inn and the private hostel are located.
- km 4.7. Murias de Rechivaldo (Shelters. Bars)
We leave Murias de Rechivaldo by means of a gravel track lined with scrub and brooms. A long straight line of more than two kilometers takes us to cross the LE-142 (Km 7.3) , a road that we leave for a path next to the LE-CV-192. About half an hour later we arrive, ascending in a very prone way, to the center of Santa Catalina de Somoza . Also an old town of maragato muleteers, with strong houses with double-leaf gates always painted in some primary color. Several hostels equipped with a bar also allow a short rest after two hours of walking.
- km 9.3. Santa Catalina de Somoza (Shelters. Bars)
We cross the town along Calle Real and at the exit we recover the LE-CV-192 andadero which, again in an almost imperceptible ascent, brings us closer to the town of El Ganso . In between, a wooden cross placed in the summer of 2012 replaced the old cross, which was quite deteriorated. In El Ganso, after a couple of bars we turn left to pass next to a fountain and the church of Santiago .
- km 13.4. El Ganso (Hostel. Bars. Shop)
After El Ganso, the same scenario awaits us: the monotony of the andadero, which narrows in some sections that are yet to come and forces us to walk on asphalt, although it also widens next to a pine forest. Between El Ganso and Rabanal del Camino, on the Pañote bridge over the Reguerinas stream and next to the Roman mines of La Fucarona, is the Gaudisse Association tent . They are a non-profit association that fights against childhood cancer and raises funds with the donations that pilgrims leave by taking a photo with an eagle from the Acceppiter family. They put the seal of the Association and provide information about the stage itself. Opposite they have also set up two large benches in a shaded area where you can rest. We will leave the intersection to Rabanal Viejo and Maluenga (Km 17.5) on the right and, after the Rabanal Viejo river , we leave the road to take a path that goes up through a rebollar. We advance close to a fence topped with crosses made with sticks, where some pilgrims stop to place theirs. To the left was the monumental oak of the pilgrim , known by the nickname of carballo de Fonso Pedredo . A myth of the Jacobean route that was knocked down by the wind in November 2013 (Km 19). Also on the left we leave the hermitage of Cristo de la Vera Cruz , property of the Neighborhood Council (Km 19.7) . We leave the company of the LE-CV-192, which merges here with the LE-142, to enter Rabanal del Camino . The ninth stage of the Codex Calixtinus started in León and ended in Rabanal del Camino. From Astorga it is only 20.3 kilometers and some pilgrims extend the journey an additional five and a half kilometers to Foncebadón (make sure beforehand, especially in winter, that the hostels in Foncebadón are open). Both those who spend the night (up to four hostels to choose from) and those who continue will find several inns in Rabanal that offer traditional food and good stews (Km 20.3).
- km 20.3. Rabanal del Camino (Hostels. Bars. Shop)
We cross the main street of Rabanal del Camino to arrive next to a washing place, where we take a track between the brooms – cyclists have the option of continuing on the LE-142 road . There are some sections where you have to push the bike. A kilometer later we cross the road and continue along the path to the left. We arrive next to a drinking fountain (Km 22.3) . We go up a short stretch to the LE-142 road, a good vantage point to take a look at the silhouette of Astorga and the lands of the maragatería. A path that progresses above the highway leaves us 3.5 kilometers further on in the center of Foncebadón , a ruined town located on Mount Irago. Resurrected thanks to the Camino, it has a tavern, a restaurant, the El Trasgu bar-grocery store that has a couple of rooms and several hostels.
- km 25.9. Foncebadón (Hostels. Pension. Bars. Shop)
- Imperceptible climb between Astorga and Rabanal del Camino and more demanding up to Foncebadón: 283 meters of altitude are ascended between Astorga and Rabanal, a very stretched and almost imperceptible climb. From Rabanal to Foncebadón there are about 280 meters in 5.6 kilometers, a more demanding ascent.
- Caution in winter because from this area we can easily find snow.
- Those who want to deviate from the Camino to visit the nearby town of Castrillo de los Polvazares (Historical-Artistic Complex and typical maragato town with cobbled streets and muleteers’ houses), instead of entering Murias de Rechivaldo continue along the shoulder of the LE-142 for a couple of kilometres. After visiting the town, they must take a signposted track at the end of the town, which ends at the Camino Frances just before entering Santa Catalina de Somoza. the detour adds an insignificant kilometer more to the stage, so it is highly recommended.
- El Trasgu de Foncebadón (grocery store-Bar-pension) has four rooms, one single for 40 euros, two doubles for 55 euros each and another room for five people maximum. All with bathroom and prices may vary according to season. For availability and prices consult the phone 987053877.
What to see, what to do
- MURIAS DE RECHIVALDO: It is the typical Maragata population. It was a town of muleteers, secular occupation of the maragatos. The parish church of San Esteban stands out with its characteristic belfry, from the 18th century. The most important thing about it, due to its Jacobean relationship, is a relief of the Virgen del Pilar sheltered in a niche over the lintel of the door. There is also a statue of San Roque Peregrino . There are several places where they serve sandwiches and meals. Two kilometers from Murias de Rechivaldo is Castrillo de los Polvazares , the most representative nucleus of the maragatería. The town is in an excellent state of conservation, especially its road. The maragato stew is typical and gargantuan.
- SANTA CATALINA DE SOMOZA: Hospitality is a constant in the history of Santa Catalina de Somoza. There are no remains of the old hospital of the Virgen de las Candelas . In the parish church of Santa María, a relic of San Blas, patron saint of the town, is preserved, one of the most present saints on the Camino due to its healthcare and health aspects. As in many other towns, Calle Real is the pilgrimage line. The town has several hostels and bars.
- EL GANSO: In El Ganso , which is revived every summer by the passage of pilgrims, you can still see tinted houses covered with rye straw. This type of roof, which dates back to prehistoric times, has lasted for centuries and has been considered as an indication of the Celtic substratum of this entire vast area. The parish church is dedicated to Santiago and inside you can see a beautiful carving (16th century) of the Saint dressed as a pilgrim. In the atrium of the church there is a chapel known as the Cristo de los peregrinos chapel . As collected in volume two of the Pilgrimages to Santiago de CompostelaIn El Ganso there was a hospital that was donated to the canons of Astorga in 1142 and a monastery that belonged to that of Aguilar de Campoo.
- RABANAL DEL CAMINO: This town of massive stone houses served as an outpost for the Templars of Ponferrada to protect the pilgrims until they arrived at Bierzo. Rabanal also served as an inn (Casa de las Cuatro Esquinas) for Felipe II on his pilgrimage to Santiago. From this town, according to the legend, Charlemagne and his faithful Breton knight Anseïs contemplated Astorga and Sahagún. During the Middle Ages there were several hospitals and churches. Pilgrims stopped here to recover their strength and grouped together to avoid the dangerous peaks of Mount Irago, where wild animals and bandits lurked. Before entering the town is the hermitage of Vera Cruz, built in ashlar and roofed by Arab tiles in the 17th or 18th century. On Calle Real you can see the chapel of San José and the Hospital de San Gregorio. In the upper part of the town is the parish church of the Assumption, one of the few Romanesque examples that can be found in this area. Rabanal del Camino, a town belonging to the municipality of Santa Colomba de Somoza, has four hostels, a store and several inns where you can eat.
- FONCEBADÓN: A wooden cross welcomes Foncebadón, a ruined town settled on Mount Irago. In the 10th century, Ramiro II de León convened a council here and in the 11th century, a hermit from Bierzo named Gaucelmo built an inn. The Navarrese Pascual Madoz recounts in his statistical dictionary from the mid-19th century that Foncebadón had a parish church of Santa María Magdalena served by a free-provisioning priest. In this enclave of pastures and ruined houses, a tavern, a restaurant, several hostels and the incessant passage of pilgrims are responsible for keeping alive the memory of what Foncebadón was once.