Information about stage 19: Stage from Leon to San Martin del Camino
- Km 0. León (All Services)
From the Plaza de Santa María del Camino, where the hostel of the Benedictines is located, we inaugurate the day through the streets of Rúa and Ruiz de Salazar. We pass between Gaudí ‘s modernist Casa Botines and the Renaissance Palace of Los Guzmanes . Shortly after, the Royal Collegiate Church of San Isidoro stands out on the right , a precious monument of Romanesque origin that emerged as a monastery dedicated to San Pelayo. From Ramón y Cajal street we turn left onto Renueva street and always straight ahead we connect with Suero de Quiñones avenue until we reach the Hostal de San Marcos, a hospital for pilgrims in the Middle Ages and today a Parador de Turismo and Museum. It is worth stopping and enjoying the rich Plateresque ornamentation of its façade (Km 2.3) . We cross the Bernesga river , a tributary of the Esla, next to the hostel and continue straight on Quevedo avenue. This avenue, always straight ahead, leads us to take Avenida del Párroco Pablo Díez, which shows off striking red lampposts. Without any loss we reached a pedestrian walkway over the tracks, which we crossed to enter Trobajo del Camino .
- km 3.9. Trobajo del Camino (All Services)
We continue the march along the same Avenida del Párroco Pablo Díez and on the sidewalk to the right you can see the sober brick and pebble hermitage of Santiago Apóstol from the 18th century. At the height of a flower shop (Km 4.7) we turn left, pass through the Sira San Pedro square and turn slightly to the right onto the street of the same name. We come out onto an avenue, which we cross, and continue up Camino de la Cruz street next to some wineries. We immediately enter an industrial estate (Km 5.7) that ends next to a gas station and on the edge of the N-120. Carefully, along the shoulder and next to the dense traffic of this national road, we enter Virgen del Camino
- km 7.6. Virgen del Camino (All Services) * (Alternative itinerary through Villar de Mazarife)
It is a satellite town of León divided in two by the N-120. It offers almost all the services and is a good place to propose the first stop. In Virgen del Camino it is common to see army planes fly over, since there is a military air base next to it. Arriving next to the Sanctuary , from 1957 and whose façade is adorned by thirteen sculptures by the Barcelonan Joseph María Subirachs, we cross the N-120 (if we take the right sidewalk) and go down Calle de la Paz. We leave the El Cañín fountain to one side and observe a series of graffiti on the paved track, in crescendo every year, indicating to the left the fork towards Villar de Mazarife(see observations section), another alternative to the historical itinerary of the Camino Frances (Km 8.5) . We continue straight ahead, passing by the cemetery and along a service road next to the last warehouses. A path running parallel to the N-120 leads to a tunnel under the A-66, after which we turn right to go up to an antenna surrounded by scattered trees. From here we go down gently to some industrial warehouses and link up with the path parallel to the N-120, which we will not leave until the end of the stage. We are in the wasteland, bare ground and sheltered. We immediately entered Valverde de la Virgen .
- km 12.2. Valverde de la Virgen (Hostel. Bars)
We cross Valverde on the side of the N-120 and at the exit we return to the andadero to the next town, also part of the national road: San Miguel del Camino . From San Miguel to the next town there are 7.7 kilometers, so it is a good idea to plan a stop at this point in the stage.
- km 13.6. San Miguel del Camino (Bars)
After crossing San Miguel del Camino we return to the monotonous andadero, crossing the páramo between the N-120 and the nearby AP-71 that progresses to our left. An hour and three quarters later we entered Villadangos del Páramo , whose first houses are in a small valley. We enter close to the Santiago Apóstol school and pass next to the pilgrims’ hostel.
- km 21.3. Villadangos del Páramo (Shelter. Bars. Shops. Pharmacy. ATM)
We cross the N-120 to take Calle Real, where the bakery and a shop are located. The bars are stacked on the edge of the national highway. We go down the same Calle Real until we cross an irrigation canal and continue among poplars for no more than 400 meters to return to the company of the N-120 sonorous road. From this point you can continue to the right of the national road or to the left, since there is a walkway on both sides. A straight line of 3.8 kilometers takes us to the center of San Martín del Camino , which stands out in the distance for its peculiar water tank.
- km 25.9. San Martín del Camino (Hostels. Bars. Shop) “Alternative itinerary through Villar de Mazarife”
- Km 0. The Virgin of the Way .
Once at the fork, we turn left and after about 100 meters take a dirt track to the right that leads to a bridge over which we pass over the LE-30 motorway and a few meters later under the A-66 and thus entering the town of Fresno del Camino.
- km 2.5. Fresno del Camino. (bar Restaurant)
We leave the town along the LE-5522 regional road to Oncina de la Valdoncina.
- Km 4. Oncina de la Valdoncina. (hostel, bar, restaurant)
At the exit of this town we will take a pleasant dirt track that will take us to the next town through cereal fields and with the good company of silence that is missing from the official route of this stage.
- km 9.5. Huts below. (Pub)
We continue along the local road to Villar de Mazarife.
- Km 14. Villar de Mazarife. (hostels, bar, restaurant)
We follow the same direction from which we entered to leave the town by a local road that will take us to the crossroads of the road that goes from San Martin del Camino to Bustillo del Páramo, we cross said road to continue on a dirt track to Villavante.
- Km 24. Villavante. (hostel)
We leave the town crossing the railway line above and turning left parallel to it, we continue along a track oblique to the railway line that leads us to a bridge over which we cross the AP-71 motorway, just after crossing the bridge we turn left onto a track that will lead us to the N-120 which we cross at a roundabout and continue straight ahead to enter the town of Puente de Órbigo and thus link up with the official route.
- km 28.5. Orbigo Bridge.
- Exit from León: It is very uncomfortable and until Valverde de la Virgen (Km 12.2) you have to go through a small ordeal through streets, long avenues, a polygon and the shoulder of the N-120 at the entrance to Virgen del Camino. Also, the section between San Miguel del Camino and Villadangos del Páramo is very heavy since there are 7.7 kilometers of andadero without intermediate towns.
- At the exit of Virgen del Camino, after passing next to the El Cañín fountain, there are a large number of graffiti on the asphalt that indicate, to the left, the fork to Villar de Mazarife . It is a variant of the French Way that leads to this Leonese town that currently has 3 hostels. This itinerary avoids the company of the N-120 and by dirt and asphalt tracks passes through the towns of Fresno del Camino , Oncina de la Valdoncina , Chozas de Abajo and Villar de Mazarife , where you can spend the night. The distance between León and Villar is approximately 22 kilometers and this itinerary and the French one come together in the next stage in Puente Órbigo. See the description of the variant in the itinerary of the stage.
What to see, what to do
- VIRGEN DEL CAMINO: At the exit of this population is the Sanctuary of the Virgen del Camino, whose first stone was placed in 1957. Its author is the Dominican architect Don Francisco Coelho de Portugal. The main façade is adorned by thirteen sculptures by the Barcelona artist Josep María Subirachs that represent the Virgin and the twelve apostles and each figure weighs about 700 kilos. This satellite town of León has enough shops and bars to make the first stop of the day.
- VALVERDE DE LA VIRGEN AND SAN MIGUEL DEL CAMINO: Two towns crossed by the N-120, with a few bars and bakeries.
- VILLADANGOS DEL PÁRAMO: Villadangos is located in the middle of the Leonese páramo. It was a town repopulated during the initial phase of the Reconquest and the scene in the year 1111 of a bloody battle between the hosts of Queen Doña Urraca and her ex-husband, the Aragonese King Alfonso I “el Batallador” accompanied by her son. Alfonso VII. The parish church is dedicated to Santiago , who presides over the main altarpiece, sword in hand and headdress in military style. On the doors of the temple there are two graceful polychrome reliefs carved that represent the mythical victory of King Ramiro I of Leon over Abderramán II in the battle of Clavijo (La Rioja), thanks to the help of the Apostle Santiago.
- SAN MARTÍN DEL CAMINO: It belongs to the municipality of Santa Marina del Rey and is traditionally linked to the Camino de Santiago, since San Martín was a French bishop who welcomed pilgrims under his cape. Logically it has a church dedicated to the Bishop of Tours. In September 2009, Juan López, Bishop of León, blessed the new altar of this temple and the set consisting of the altarpiece, ambo, table and chair cost around 45,000 euros. Juan Uría’s investigation establishes that there was a hospital in San Martín del Camino that was “to accommodate poor pilgrims, with four beds for men, one for women and another for priests.” Since September 2011 it has an Ethnographic and Camino de Santiago Museum that is located behind the municipal hostel. It exhibits a permanent sample and temporary exhibitions. You can find photographs, paintings, crafts, documents, regional costumes, etc. From a distance, the water tank stands out, which looks like a flying saucer that hovers over the town. Seen up close, even knowing that it is used to collect the precious liquid, it still looks like a UFO or a giant mushroom.