Information about stage 23: Stage from Ponferrada to Villafranca del Bierzo
- Km 0. Ponferrada (All Services)
We leave the hostel along Calle La Loma and continue along Calle Pregoneros and El Temple, which ends at Avenida del Castillo. The church of San Andrés gives way to the castle of the Templars , which we border on Gil y Carrasco street. At one point, pilgrims on bikes continue to the left and walkers to the right to the immediate Plaza de la Virgen de la Encina . Once in the square we turn left and go down the stairs of El Rañadero street. We arrive at Avenida de la Puebla, where we cross the Sil River (Km 1.2) . Later we turn right onto Río Urdiales street and after it we turn right again onto the inexhaustible Huertas del Sacramento avenue, where the Fuente de las Pimenteras is located. Further on, when you reach the roundabout where the monument to Blood Donors stands, turn right onto Avenida de la Libertad. At number 46 is the National Energy Museum , a space for scientific dissemination (more information on what to see and what to do from the previous stage). The exit from Ponferrada is a long detour since instead of advancing to the west we do it to the north, where Compostilla is located . We are welcomed by the Red Cross premises and later a passage through which we arrive at the Plaza del Ayuntamiento.
- km 3.7. Compostilla
Next to the neo-Romanesque chapel, we continue straight ahead along IV Avenida, then turn left and immediately right onto Tercera Transversal, where we pass some tennis courts and the soccer field. We definitively leave Compostilla along a paved track and cross the N-VI through a tunnel (Km 4.7) . Vine crops mark the church of San Esteban and the first houses of Columbrianos . The region of El Bierzo has excellent conditions for growing grapes, since it is located on a plain surrounded by mountains that prevent the passage of the Atlantic climate. The reds are made with the Mencía variety . Past the church of San EstebanWe descend gently to cross the CL-631 and thus enter the population center.
- km 5.5. Columbrianos (Bar. Shops. Pharmacy)
Next to the chapel of San Blas and San Roque we leave Columbrianos along the paved track that emerges on the left. The Camino continues between single-family homes and small plots where the neighbors work. At the entrance to Fuentes Nuevas , a transept with the figures of Santiago Pilgrim and the Crucified Christ welcomes the walkers.
- Km 8. Fuentes Nuevas (All Services except hostel)
We enter through Valiña street, where the Divino Cristo hermitage is located and next to it a bar very frequented by pilgrims. We leave Fuentes Nuevas and, once again, along a paved track we progress to the town of Camponaraya . Crossing Camponaraya (about 1.5 kilometers long) takes us about twenty minutes, crossing the Reguera del Naraya river in the middle .
- km 10.5. Camponaraya (All Services)
We put an end to this service population of 4,200 inhabitants together with a wine cooperative and a rest area. Through a gravel track we reach the A-6 motorway, which we cross over a flyover (Km 11.9) . The section that begins is the most relaxing of the day. La Hoya del Bierzo shows off its best landscape, always dotted with vineyards and poplars. Two kilometers and four hundred meters further on (Km 14.3) you carefully cross a road and proceed along the shoulder of another to the site of the Regulatory Council of the Bierzo Denomination of Origin (Km 14.9) . The Way descends and enters Cacabelos through Cimadevilla street. Past the church of Santa Maria-preserves the Romanesque apse- we progress to the river Cúa , a tributary of the Sil.
- km 16.6. Cacabelos (All Services)
After crossing the Cúa river we find the Sanctuary of Quinta Angustia , in whose perimeter is the pilgrims’ hostel. Until Pieros you have to sweat a demanding slope along the shoulder of the LE-713 or old N-VI road (it has both names).
- km 18.5. Pieros (Hostel. Bar at the exit of the town, at the foot of the road)
We continue on the side of the road. Further on, at the junction to San Clemente, there is a sign that encourages us to take the variant on the right that approaches Valtuille de Arriba. It runs along paths although it is not the official one and is somewhat longer. The official route continues along the shoulder of the road, which after an undulating section is abandoned to the right, paying attention to a Jacobean cairn (Km 20.8) . Along a gravel path, nicknamed La Virgen, we pass by the A. Nogueira sculpture studio and face a steep ascent that gives way to several slides to the first houses of Villafranca del Bierzo . Going down, we pass the municipal hostel (on the right), then the Romanesque church of Santiago , which exhibits the Puerta del Perdón before us , and immediately the Ave Fénix refuge. We arrive next to the castle and, on the right, we go down some stairs and continue along Calle Salinas and Rinconada Salinas to Calle del Agua-Ribadeo.
- km 24.1. Villafranca del Bierzo (All Services)
- Detour to leave Ponferrada: heading north to Compostilla, take a long detour and it seems like an innocent but it is the most historic. The last 7.5 kilometers of the stage, from the Cúa river in Cacabelos to Villafranca del Bierzo, are the hardest.
- From Camponaraya you can take a detour to go to Carracedo and from there to Cacabelos, three more kilometers are added to the stage and its only direction is to visit the monastery of Santa María de Carracedo.
- From Pieros to Villafranca del Bierzo there are two alternatives. continue straight along the shoulder of the road until you come to a detour marked with a milestone and continue along the road to Villafranca, or at the exit of Pieros turn right towards the town of Valtuille de Arriba and when you reach the aforementioned town turn twice to Turn left to continue along the track to Villafranca. This second option is one kilometer longer, but it goes by track, removing the shoulder of the busy road and also currently in the town of Valtuille de Arriba there is a traditional shelter, La Biznaga shelter, telephone 628187093, where Rocío and Susan have The moment of four places for donation and they plan to enable more.
- At the entrance to Villafranca del Bierzo, you pass by the church of Santiago, known for its Puerta del Perdón . There, pilgrims who, due to health problems, could not continue their pilgrimage to Compostela can win the Jubilee thanks to a privilege granted by Pope Calixto III in the 15th century.
What to see, what to do
- COMPOSTILLA: Compostilla is a neighborhood of Ponferrada created to provide homes, many of them single-family, to the workers of the Endesa Thermal Power Plant. The neo-Romanesque church has occupied the place of a medieval hermitage destroyed in the War of Independence since 1940. The ancient polychrome wood carving of Nuestra Señora del Refugio, from the 12th century, is in the Archaeological Museum of Ourense.
- COLUMBRIANOS: Dependent on Ponferrada since 1837, the place of Conimbrianos or Columbrianos already appears in documents from the 10th century. The church of San Esteban, located at the entrance and somewhat separated from the center of the population, dates from 1778.
- NEW FOUNTAINS: At the entrance is the hermitage of the Divine Christ . The old hermitage, nicknamed Vera Cruz, was from 1662 and cost 300 reales. The current one, which preserves the original bell, is from the 2000s and a row of backpacks usually rest on it, since there is a bar very frequented by pilgrims next to it.
- CAMPONARAYA: The municipality includes Camponaraya itself and the towns of Narayola, Magaz de Abajo, Hervededo and La Malgoma. Today Camponaraya has more than 4,000 inhabitants and in ancient times had two hostelries: de la Soledad and San Juan de Jaberos. In the nucleus we can find the parish church of San Ildefonso and the chapel of the Virgen de la Soledad . The population is renowned for organizing large fairs and exhibitions that usually take place in the fairgrounds. It offers all the services.
- CACABELOS: Villa on the banks of the Cúa river with more than 5,500 inhabitants. The church of Santa María , next to the Camino, preserves the Romanesque apse and was rebuilt again in the 16th century. In 1904 the construction of the tower, choir and atrium was completed at the expense of Don José and Don Jorge Rodríguez. In the portico there is a Romanesque Virgin from the 13th century. In the Sanctuary of the Fifth Anguish there is an image of the Child Jesus playing cards with Saint Anthony of Padua. It is from the 18th century, has seven altarpieces and houses the organ of the Carracedo monastery. Surrounding the interior perimeter is the hostel, a design by the architect Don José María Aparicio that is made up of two-seater cabins. It is worth visiting the Archaeological Museum , located in the Casa de la Cultura, where abundant samples of the rich pre-Roman and Roman past of the region are collected (2 kilometers away is the Castrum Bergidum , capital of the Astures who ended up giving its name to the region). The Cúa river is 62 kilometers long, it is born near the port of Cienfuegos and flows into the Sil. The stone bridge that crosses it is from the 16th and 18th centuries. In Cacabelos you can find all the services, including bicycle shops where you can go to buy spare parts or repair breakdowns.
- PIEROS: The Romanesque church of San Martín , according to the inscription, was consecrated on November 19, 1086 by the Astorgan bishop Osmundo, the same man who had the church and the reinforced iron bridge ( Pons Ferrata ) built in Ponferrada in 1082 .
- VILLAFRANCA DEL BIERZO: The origin of Villafranca del Bierzo goes back to the communities of Franks, foreign merchants who settled with Alfonso VI and, above all, to the foundation of a community of Cluniac monks in the year 1070. In the 12th century the Half the population was foreign. As soon as you enter Villafranca, you will find the church of Santiago , a Lombard Romanesque temple with a single nave and the magnificent cover of El Perdón. The Spanish Pope Calixto III granted sick or handicapped pilgrims who passed through this door the same indulgences as if they had arrived in Santiago. Calle del Agua crosses the city from one side to the other and several Italian-style palaces and the convent of San José are located on it.Castle of the Marqueses of Villafranca (16th century) is private and had a lot to do with the town’s history. The convent of the Annunciation of 1606 was erected on the old Hospital of San Roque and tradition says that San Francisco de Asís stayed there. Villafranca also has a beautiful Plaza Mayor, a French-style Alameda and a river promenade on the banks of the Burbia River, which receives the waters of the Valcarce. The historic capital of El Bierzo offers all services.