Carrion was first settled by the Romans and was known as Lacobriga. Later the Visogoths held the city, their existence is evidenced by the tombs in the cliffs north and south of the town.
The Moors conquered the area circa 713 and built the first castle which has been replaced by the Church of Bethlehem, (Iglesia de Belen).
At it height Carrion de los Condes had 10,000 inhabitants and 14 pilgrim hostels, it was an important way point on the route to Santiago de Compostela. Now there are 2,000 inhabitants and three pilgrim hostels; however all services are available.
Albergue Parroquial de Santa Maria, 31 Calle del Clérigo Pastor, parochial, €5, 58 beds, K, W, D, @, bike, Tel: 979 880 768, open Mar to Oct inc.
Albergue Espíritu Santo, 4 Plaza de San Juan, private, €5, 50 beds, W, D, @, K, Tel: 979 880 052, open all year.
Monasterio Santa Clara, 1 Calle de Santa Clara, parochial, €5, 30 beds, W, D, tel: 979 880 134, open Mar to Nov inc.
Please note that there is likely no access to banks for two days after leaving Carrion.
The Church of Santiago, built in the 12th century, was destroyed during the war of independence against the French in 1809. An 1845 reconstruction saved the facade.
The archivolt, curve of the arch, shows 24 figures of different trades among them a tailor, cobbler, violist, and of course soldiers fighting. Inside there is a small museum with a statue of Santiago the Moor slayer.
The Monastery of San Zoilo was founded in the 10th century and dedicated to St. John the Baptist and was renamed in 1047 when the relics of the Cordoban martyr San Zoilo were brought here. At one time they controlled 7 pilgrim hospices.
The monks’ quarters have been turned into a hotel similar to a Parador. One of the most interesting features is the cloister with over 200 carved arch keystones, it is a high-quality collection of Renaissance busts that include Santiago and the best examples that you can see on the road to Santiago de Compostela.
The Church of Santa Maria del Camino constructed in the 12th-century church was built to celebrate the defeat of the Moors at this site. It has an interesting facade that depicts the Adoration, the Epiphany, Herod, the 3 wise men, Samson and the loin, and a knight who is said to be Santiago.
The legend of 100 virgins is associated with the Church of Santa Maria. It is said that the Christian King Mauregato was required to surrender 100 virgins to the Moor rulers.
The Christians prayed to be free of this burden and a herd of bulls attacked the Moors and chased them off. A capital on the south porch, a painting, and inside a plaque commemorating this event.
Today’s Walk: 37.3 km (33 mi)
This is another long day, however it is easy going and almost all flat. The few ups and downs of the Camino today are not steep or hard going.
The first part of the route is somewhat incongruous as it feels very remote but a motorway runs close by on the right hand side, though it is generally far enough away to remove the traffic noise.
Before leaving Carrion de los Condes make sure you have plenty of water, some food, and money as you might not find a bank machine until Sahagun. There is a small village, Villotilla, after about 4 km (2.5 mi) but the Camino does not go into the village, it is 16 km (10 mi) before you are guaranteed water and food at Calzadilla de la Cueza.
There was a water fountain built halfway along the route during 2005, it is easy to miss though, and is said to be sometimes dry.
The 12/13km (8 mi) stretch between Villotilla and Calzadilla is along an old Roman Road, the Via Traiana, which linked Astorga back to Bordeaux. I was stunned the first time I was walking this as I had just finished my first year at University and part of my study was Greek and Roman history.
I was walking where Julius Caesar had once walked, amazing. There are no sign posts informing you of the path, but it is obvious by its level straight nature.
It is interesting that all the stones and the rocks needed for the road and foundation had to be transported here as this was marshland with no available building materials. Not surprisingly remains of a luxury Roman villa have been discovered nearby at Quintanilla de la Cueza.
About 4 km (2,5 mi) out of Carrion lie the ruins of the Abbey of Benevivere, which was founded in 1065 and run by the Augustins. It contained a pilgrim hostel of which no remain survive. After Calzadilla the Camino follows the N129 again. Every 4 – 5 km (3 mi) there is a small village. We finish this day in the province of Leon.
Calzadilla de la Cueza
16 km (10 mi), water, bar
Albergue Municipal, 1 Calle Mayor, €5, 34 beds, W, D, bike, Tel: 670 558 954, open all year.
Albergue Camino Real, End of Calle Mayor, private, €7, 80 beds, W, D, M, @, Bike, Tel: 979 883 187, open all year.
During the summer months, pilgrims more than double the fifty residents of this tiny village. One of the first buildings in Calzadilla is the Albergue, they have some drinks for sale and a small swimming pool.
The unremarkable Parish Church of San Martin houses a 16th-century retable which was relocated here from the now ruined Monastery of Santa Maria; the monastery was once a pilgrim’s hospital run by the Knights of the Order of St James.
6.2 km (3.8 mi), water, bar, shop
Albergue El Palomar, Calle Ronda de Abajo, private, €6, 52 beds, W, K, M, @, bike, Tel: 979 883 614, Feb to Nov inc.
The local church dedicated to St James contains a statue of Santiago in pilgrim dress.
Terradillos de Templarios
2.5 km (1,5 mi), water, bar, shop
Albergue Jacques de Molay, Calle Iglesia, private, €10, 50 beds, W, D, M, B, @, Bike, Tel: 979 883 679, open Feb to Dec inc.
Albergue Los Templarios, end of village, private, €10, 52 beds, W, D, M, B, Bike, @, Tel: 667 252 279, www.alberguelostemplarios.com, open Apr to Oct inc.
It is argued that the town at point belonged to the Knights Templar, however, no records remain to prove this. The parish church of San Pedro has a Gothic crucifix.
3.1k m (1.9 mi), water
Albergue San Bruno, 9 Calle Ontanon, private, €9.5, 18 beds, M, B, W, @, Bike, Tel: 979 061 465, www.hospitalsanbruno.com, open Apr to Jan inc.
It is believed that at some point the town had a Muslim population. Even after the wars between the Moors and Christians in many places Christians, Jews, and Muslims lived for long periods together without many problems.
However in the 1560’s, after all Jews had been killed or expelled from Spain, Muslims were forced to convert to Catholicism. This obviously caused problems and many Muslims were expelled from various regions in Spain, eventually in 1609 the Church and monarchy considered them so much of a threat all were expelled from the Iberian Peninsula.
The small Church of Santo Tomas holds little of artistic interest.
San Nicolas del Real Camino
2.5 km (1.5 mi), water, bar
Albergue Laganares, Plaza de la Iglesia, private, €8, 22 beds, M, B, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 979 188 142, www.alberguelaganares.com, open mid Mar to Nov inc.
There are records that show the Knights Templar owned this village until 1183 when they sold it in exchange for land elsewhere. The parish church of San Nicolas was rebuilt in the 18th century, however, it contains a 13th-century Baroque retablo of the Virgin and Child.
Halfway on The Camino Frances
Between San Nicolas and Sahagun is the Ermita de la Virgin del Puente an example of Sahagun Mudejar architecture. It is directly after the medieval bridge over the Rio Valderaduey. During the middle ages, there was a pilgrim’s hospice and cemetery here. If you find the building open there is an image of the Virgin del Puente inside.
The hermitage is considered by the Spanish as the halfway point on the Camino Frances, it is though halfway between Roncesvalles and Santiago de Compostela – not from St Jean Pied de Port.
By the time you reach Sahagun, a 7-km walk from San Nicolas, you have entered the area of Leon.
Key: W = Washing, D = Drying, M = Menu, @ = Internet, K = Kitchen, B = Breakfast, V = Vending, Cred = Credential, Bike = Bike Storage
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I love hiking, backpacking, and camping. From the Camino de Santiago to the West Highland Way in Scotland or simply a great day hike on the weekend. Hiking refreshes me, my mind, and keeps my body reasonably fit. So far I have walked three Camino routes and many other long distance hikes in the UK, Canada, and around the rest of Europe. One of the best was my hike up Ben Nevis.