Like many small rural towns, the population has nearly halved since 1960; from 2,057 to 1,182 in 2013. However, the town has all the facilities you will need as a pilgrim along with enough sights to visit.
In Los Arcos, I ran with the bulls. It was not planned, there was a local fiesta and I went to watch it. On the spur of the moment, I decided to tighten my sandals and jump into the square.
It was an incredible event in my life that I will never forget. However there were other pilgrims that were hit by the small bulls, so care is certainly required.
The Church of Santa Maria is the most notable building in Los Arcos. The church has a mixture of architecture from the 12th to the 18th century including Romanesques, Gothic, plateresque, and baroque.
Items of note are the Gothic cloisters, highly ornate plateresque north facade, and the richly carved plateresque choir stalls, all overlooked by the polychrome Gothic statue of Santa Maria.
The bell tower is Renaissance and was completed in 1590; it is interesting to note the impression of height by each of the 4 stories being slightly smaller than the previous.
Las Arcos has been inhabited since Roman times, the five Roman tombs discovered at the entrance to the town attest to this. The town was retaken from the Moors in 914 by Sancho Garcia.
However, this was far from its last battle. Due to its frontier location near Castile and Aragon, it was a frequent military target and by the mid 12th century the town was protected by a castle, (now a ruin).
On the way out of Los Arcos just over the River Odron, which was believed to be a deadly river by Aymeric Picaud, is the Ermita de San Blas. This hermitage, now part of a private dwelling, was a hospice for lepers.
This brings me to my thought for today. Luke tells us that Jesus healed ten lepers. Nine ran away and one stayed to thank him. Human nature. Am I thanking people, am I expressing gratitude?
Today’s Route: 18.5 km
My abiding memories of this day are of the rain in summer, the deep ravines, and the bar owner in Torres del Rio. The first time I walked the Camino it rained heavily this day – in July!
There are very deep steep ravines between Sansol and Torres del Rio, and it is hilly afterwards for a while. I was welcomed into the bar in Torres del Rio by the bar owner saying, ” Welcome to the place with no bulls and no river ” There is a very small stream…
Although the day starts at about 450 meters and finishes at 400 meters the high point of the day is nearly 600 meters and it is a very hilly day with many ups and downs; therefore it is harder than it will appear on the map. Many also do not stop walking in Viana but choose to continue to Logrono.
However, I highly recommend staying in Viana. The municipal hostel is very clean, the beds are three high so watch out, and they have a good kitchen with a washing machine.
Viana is a beautiful old Spanish town with a great view over the surrounding countryside. There are not many stops for water and food along the route today, so it is worth filling up when you can.
The path passes a cemetery as you leave Los Arcos. The inscription on the gate reads. “Yo que fui lo que tu eres, tu seras lo que yo soy.” Translated, “I was once what you are, and you will be what I am.”
7 km, cafe, water, pharmacy, doctor
The waymarked way does not enter Sansol but keeps to the road. If you need any services here turn right into the village at a large ceramic sign on the side of one of the buildings.
Sansol was named for the martyr San Zoilo and once belonged to the monastery of that name in Carrion 210 km to the west.
There is little of interest to keep a pilgrim in Sansol except for the 18th century Baroque church of San Zoilo. The dome is painted with the Ascension of Christ to heaven.
Torres del Rio
1 km, cafe, bar, water, shop
This small sleepy village contains one of the architectural jewels on the Camino Frances the Romanesque Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The origins of the church are not well documented and therefore it is unclear when it was built.
It is thought the foundation is from the 12th century and, due to the octagonal shape, it is believed the church was built by the Knights Templar. It is thought that the church was either a funeral chapel or beacon on the route to Santiago.
Inside the church, the most interesting feature is the great cupola with cross ribbed vaults which form an eight-sided star typical of Moorish Spain.
The church was built with symmetry in mind; the width of the dome is the height of the walls, the height of the dome is equal to the height of the first story.
The theme of the capitals is Christ’s death, descent from the cross, and resurrection. The apse chapel houses a 13th-century Gothic crucifix.
Remember to have water before leaving the village.
Leaving Torres del Rio the route is steeply uphill till El Poyo- Poyo is the Spanish equivalent of puy derived from podium; therefore a high place.
Legend has it that this 16th-century hermitage was built here after the statue of the Virgin appeared and could not be moved, hence the hermitage was built around it.
Today I have been thinking about how I appear to others. How easy do you smile? Do you frown more? Smiling aids me in my relationships.
An interesting experiment is walking into a room and smiling. Try it again with frowning. Do you feel different in the room?
It’s a 10.5-km walk from there to Viana, where you’ll find all the services you need.
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.