Information about stage 1 through Somport: Stage from Somport to Jaca
1 for support
- Km 0. Somport (Hostel. Bar)
A wooden sign with the indication “GR 65.3 Canfranc Estación” and a Jacobean milestone carved with the distances to Santiago de Compostela (858 km) and Undúes de Lerda, the last Aragonese town (87 km), encourage you to take the first step. We go down the stairs that are next to the cairn to continue descending along the right bank of the Aragón river . After barely 800 meters we surround the excavated floor of the Santa Cristina hospital, a renowned hospital for pilgrims founded in the Late Middle Ages. After leaving the winter resort of CandanchúOn the right we cross the N-330, we overcome the small difference in level thanks to some stairs and we resume our march down the valley. The presence of some concrete bunkers and the challenging panorama on our right, with several Pyrenean masses rising over the Rioseta camp , facilitate the journey until we come across the chimney of the Anglasé foundry , a masonry tower that represents the only vestige of an old copper and iron mine . After a brief encounter with the forest, we come out onto a track and turn left to cross the course of the river coming from the Canal Roya . Immediately afterwards we open a wooden gate and resume the path. A kilometer further on, a wooden bridge allows you to cross the waters of the Izas ravine , which also plummets towards the Aragón river. We continue down a narrow path eaten by the exuberant vegetation and behind the Coll de Ladrones , two defensive forts from 1758 and 1900 camouflaged on the rock. The aroma of a bread oven whets your appetite as you reach the shoulder of the N-330, the road that we follow to enter Canfranc Estación .
- km 6.8. Canfranc Station (All Services)
A paved sidewalk allows you to leave the town next to the river, although after the last houses you return to the shoulder of the road to cross a tunnel. At the exit, turn left to take some stairs that go down to the foot of the Canfranc dam (Km 8.5) . Crossing the Aragón river we enter a path that zigzags over the cut formed by the erosive action of the river. From this viewpoint you can see the Torre de Fusileros , a 19th century military fortification located on the edge of the N-330. In some sections the path becomes shady thanks to the beech trees and descends to the Ip ravine , where a cold waterfall greets you (Km 10) .. We cross the bridge, still with the coolness of the ferns and the forest, to cover the kilometer that separates us from Canfranc .
- km 11.2. Canfranc (Hostel. Bar)
The town is crossed by Albareda street, which divides the town into two equal halves. We leave the parish church of La Asunción on the left to cross the river Aragón by the medieval bridge . Wrapped between the mountain and the river we continue for more than two kilometers until we reach an underpass that crosses the N-330 and almost forces us to bend down (Km 13.6) . Another stretch of two kilometers, with the perspective of the river under our feet, takes us past the Cueva de las Güixas, a grotto of stalactites and stalagmites. Immediately you reach the entrance to Villanúa, where the first alternative of the stage appears. The first option, the GR-65.3 , turns to the right, crosses the bridge over the Aragón and continues to Castiello de Jaca through a cabañera (gorge for the cattle) parallel to the N-330 and later by a plain over the valley. The second option, signposted as GR-65.3.1 , takes us first to the center of Villanúa. We will now describe the two options :
- km 15.8. Villanúa (Shelter. Bar. Shop. Pharmacy. ATM)
GR-65.3: Next to the Villanúa spring we turn right. After leaving the town behind, we cross the river, finding the yellow arrows on our left. We continue along the path next to the road for approximately 2 kilometers to the Villanúa Adventure Leisure Park (kiosk with soft drinks and coffee during the summer and on spring weekends). We return to the path and when we reach the archery area we cross the N-330. We leave the school building on the right and gently ascend for about 700 meters to reach a plain. Through it we continue our way seeing the valley of Aragón . Two kilometers later we come across the regional road that joins the N-330 with Aratorés. We follow the road to the left for 200 metres, resuming the path next to the right shoulder. After crossing a small stream by a wooden bridge, we climb a few meters to another plain above the valley, the old glacial moraine that takes us to Castiello de Jaca in a couple of kilometers . GR-65.3.1: Next to the Villanúa supermarket we turn left and leave Villanúa after leaving behind the church of San Esteban. . We trust the red and white markings of the GR, which guide us for more than an hour, first on a paved track and then on dirt tracks, to a bridge over the Aragón (Km 21.4) . We pass it to reach the N-330, which we cross carefully to go up to Castiello de Jaca .
- km 22.6. Castiello de Jaca (Hostel. Bars. Shop from April-May 2015)
Leaving the church of San Miguel on the right , go down the street to the national highway. We cross it to reach the town’s service area and then cross the Aragón River over another bridge. A gratifying walk along the river bank leads us to cross a footbridge built in 2010 over another channel, this time the Ijuez river (Km 23.8) . Once this point, previously controversial and which has remained in the memory thanks to the footbridge, has been resolved, we resume the march for another half hour until we cross the road. Then we continue for more than two kilometers sticking to the shoulder of the N-330 and along some parallel cabins. Thus we arrive at the hermitage of San Cristóbal (Km 28.3) . After the bridge we face the steep slope of the Cuesta de la Salud to enter Jaca . Straight ahead, on Avenida de Francia, we arrive at Plaza de la Catedral and continue along Calle Bellido and Puerta Nueva to turn right onto Calle del Hospital and right again onto Conde Aznar, where the hostel is located. . End of stage.
- km 30.5. Jaca (All Services)
For the first stage of the Camino, the mileage is high, although it is relatively well supported because the terrain is favorable. At the exit from Somport you have to pay attention where and how you step because there is a risk of sprains.Be careful in Somport because it is very likely to find snow and ice until well into spring.There are catering services in all the towns that the route of the stage crosses.
- The Aragonese way is the continuation of the way of Arles that comes through France. A good and beautiful option for the more adventurous is to start the path in the French town of Oloron Sainte Marie. This option would add three stages to Somport, Oloron-Sarrance 20 km, Sarrance-Borce 22 km and Borce-Somport 17 km, but it is a highly recommended option.
- The credential can be obtained in the church of Santiago de Jaca , located at the confluence of the streets of Coso and Ferrenal.
- To go up to Somport you have to take a bus at the Jaca station, located on Avenida la Jacetania, s/n . The Commonwealth of Alto Valle del Aragón is in charge of this service. There are 5 time frequencies with departure in Jaca: 8:25, 12:00, 14:50, 19:35 and 21:35. Hours may vary depending on the season of the year. Another option is to sleep in Jaca and go up to Somport in the first service in the morning.
- At the top of Somport there is a private hostel geared towards mountaineers and skiers. The Aysa hostel (Phone: 974 37 30 23). If we arrive in Somport in the middle of the afternoon, we recommend walking the first 6.8 kilometers to Canfranc Estación and staying in any of the 2 proposed hostels. It is also possible to divide this long stage thanks to the hostels located Canfranc (km 11.2), Villanúa (km 15.8) and Castiello de Jaca (km 22.6).
- A pity for the cyclists, but a large part of the route of the stage cannot be traveled by bicycle due to its technical difficulty. The most sensible thing to do is to go down the N-330 to Villanúa and continue along any of the signposted variants to Castiello de Jaca. From this population it is preferable to drive again on the N-330 to Jaca.
- Another IMPORTANT DATA to keep in mind is to know that, after Jaca, there are no ATMs until you reach Sangüesa (end of the fourth stage). So you have to do the math and get the necessary money for the second, third and fourth stages in Jaca.
What to see, what to do
Since the Middle Ages, the comings and goings of European pilgrims to the tomb of the Apostle Santiago formed four major itineraries or routes that entered Spain: the Turonense , the Lemovicense , the Podense and the Tolosana routes . The first three joined before reaching Saint Jean Pied de Port and made a single route to Compostela along the Camino Frances. The last one, the Tolosana route , entered Spain through the Somport pass , a port in the Huesca Pyrenees where the Aragonese branch of the French Camino de Santiago begins and which today is commonly called the Aragonese Way.
- SANTA CRISTINA HOSPITAL: Close to Candanchú, the Camino de Santiago surrounds its structure before crossing the Aragón river by the Santa Cristina bridge. Since the 11th century it has provided a comforting accommodation for pilgrims. Although in ruins since the 17th century, chapter IV of book V of the Codex Calixtinus defines it, along with the Jerusalem hospital and the Mont Joux hospital, as “one of the pillars that the Lord established in this world to support his poor “ . Between 2003 and 2005, the company Sargantana SL carried out excavation and consolidation tasks.
- CANFRANC STATION: The nucleus previously known as Los Arañones grew with the construction of the International Station in 1928. The City Council moved here after the fire that devastated Canfranc town in 1944. A good supply place for the stage, since it has a multitude of bars, restaurants, bakery, butcher and food stores.
- Canfranc International Station: Inaugurated in 1928 by the Spanish King Alfonso XIII and French President Gaston Doumergue, the Canfranc International Station was part of the ambitious railway communication project between Spain and France through the Aragon Valley. The transit of materials and travelers between the two countries lasted until 1970, the year in which one of the bridges collapsed due to the passage of a freight train. Fortunately no casualties. The enormous building, with a 241-meter façade, is now covered in scaffolding and cranes that are intended to turn it into a hotel.
- Riflemen Tower: Leaving Canfranc Estación, after passing the N-330 tunnel and before going down to the reservoir dam, you can already see this military fortification from the last quarter of the 19th century . It served as support for the new communication route with France and now it has been used as an exhibition hall. The tower, with an oval plan, has four floors and is built in ashlar masonry.
- CANFRANC: Due to the confinement of the population between the N-330 and the Aragón river and the Pyrenean rocks, Albareda street, which divides the town into two equal halves, constitutes its only route of passage. The steep terrain has not allowed it to change its appearance since its foundation in the 11th century. Until the 20th century it was the town closest to the border, so the continuous transit of people and the consequent trade and collection of tolls became their way of subsistence. A large part of the population left the town after the devastating fire of 1944 and the capital passed to the center of Canfranc Estación.
- Parish Church of the Assumption: There was a Romanesque temple dedicated to the Assumption but the current one is the result of different construction stages. Juan de Segura, an outstanding 16th-century master from Huesca, participated in one of them. Inside there are four Baroque altarpieces in the side chapels.
- Medieval bridge: Commonly known as the lower bridge, it is a medieval construction restored in the 16th century that allows you to cross the Aragón river in the direction of Villanúa.
- VILLANÚA: In the Middle Ages, like other villages in the Aragón Valley, in a convulsive setting, Villanúa was established and populated with people attracted with the purpose of exploiting the fertile fields of the Aragón riverbank. In the 20th century, with the splendor of agricultural activity and the works of the Canfranc railway, Villanúa exceeded one thousand inhabitants. Today there are only around half a thousand and its self-sufficiency is based on services derived from tourism.
- Cueva de las Güixas: Before entering Villanúa, the path passes next to the Cueva de las Güixas (witches), a set of underground galleries adapted for tourism. The cave known as the Cathedral stands out , 16 meters high and with various columns of stalactites and stalagmites. The Sargantana company is in charge of organizing the visits, and they can be contacted by phone 974 373 217 or at the address: email@example.com . Due to the humidity and low temperatures, it is advisable to bring warm clothes to visit them.
- Church of San Esteban: It retains some evidence of its Romanesque past but its current appearance is from the 18th century. The interior is made up of two naves and two chapels and houses a polychrome carving of the Virgin from the 11th or 12th centuries .
- CASTIELLO DE JACA: Settled in the lower part of the upper Aragón valley, Castiello is also the natural entrance to the Garcipollera valley , a natural and hunting environment with several deserted areas. Known as the ‘town of a hundred relics’ , thanks to the legend of a Valencian pilgrim who donated all the goods he brought with him to the residents of Castiello. These relics are kept in a chest that opens on the first Sunday in July.
- Church of San Miguel: Located in the upper part of the town, it is the first building that the pilgrim sees when entering Castiello de Jaca. Its primitive construction dates from the 12th century but its appearance has changed until the 19th century. The baroque altarpiece of the main altar stands out inside .
- JACA: Official stop and inn of the first stage of the Aragonese Camino de Santiago, Jaca is located at an altitude of 820 meters, surrounded by the Aragón and Gas rivers . The benefits of its natural location did not go unnoticed and the Celtic tribes already populated this place in one way or another. The same with the Romans, after its conquest in 195 BC by the consul Marco Poncio Cato. By the year one thousand, three nuclei had been consolidated on the ruins of a Jaca abandoned after the collapse of the Roman Empire: the Castrum Real, the nucleus of Santiago and that of San Pedro. Together they formed the city of Jaca, to which King Sancho Ramírez granted the Fuero and named it the capital of the young Kingdom of Aragon in the year 1077*. In addition to visiting the monuments, after more than 30 kilometers of walking what The most desirable is to sit on a terrace and enjoy the atmosphere of the Plaza de la Catedral or take a leisurely walk along the commercial and bustling Calle Mayor. *Information compiled from the work of Albergo Gómez García: Jaca’s invisible guide. Construction and disappearance of the ancient and medieval city.
- Cathedral of San Pedro: Construction began between 1075 and 1094 under the reign of Sancho Ramírez . It basically preserves its Romanesque structure and configuration: a basilica plan with three naves, a head with three semicircular apses and two access doors, the southern one and the western or main door. What the pilgrim can contemplate today is the result of several construction stages that have been providing new built spaces and decorations. The southern apse summarizes the typical language of the Romanesque jaqués , which is none other than the famous checkered pattern, a relief in the shape of small cylinders that decorates friezes and archivolts on windows and portals.
- Diocesan Museum: Created in 1963, it was inaugurated in 1970 to preserve valuable Romanesque paintings, stone and wood carvings, etc. of the churches of the diocese of Jaca. The museum is located in the Romanesque cloister of the cathedral and in adjoining rooms.
- Clock Tower : Civil Gothic tower built around 1445 as a private residence. Located in the Plaza del Marqués de la Cadena, it is currently the headquarters of the Work Community of the Pyrenees. Baptized by the nickname of the clock, it was also known as Torre del Merino (representative of the king in the city) and by Torre de la Cárcel , since it became the headquarters of the jails of the city of Jaca.
- Iglesia de Santiago: It is located on the corner between Ferrenal and Coso streets, in what was once the Santiago neighborhood, where the missing Puerta de Baños was also located, through which pilgrims from Jaca left to head towards Navarra. The church was built in 1088 and clearly restored in the 18th century. The mullioned windows (with a double arch linked by a column) of the bell tower stand out in it.
- Jaca Citadel: Pentagonal defensive enclosure built by order of Felipe II between the end of the 16th and 18th centuries. Until the 19th century it was known as Castillo de San Pedro . In the moat of the enclosure the deer roam freely.