Rabanal del Camino on the Camino Frances

Rabanal del Camino is a small village located in the province of Leon in northern Spain. It is situated on the 500 mile Camino Frances, the main pilgrimage route of the Camino de Santiago.

Where to Stay in Rabanal del Camino

Rabanal (pop 60) is an excellent resting place before going over the mountain, Monte Irago, in the morning up to Cruz de Ferro. When I first stayed here in 2004, it had two Albergues. It now has four competing for your pilgrim Euros and a few small tourist shops. Even though there are four, it can still be difficult in summer to get a room.

Albergue Gaucelmo (CSJ), Calvario, 4, association, donation, 46 beds, Bike, Tel: 987 691 901, , open Apr to Oct inc. The current Albergue, run by the Confraternity of St James, is built on the site of the 12th-century Hospital de San Gregorio, which was also known as Gaucelmo, hence the current name.

Albergue La Senda, Calle Real, private, €10, 24 beds, Bike, Tel: 650 952 721, open: unknown.

Albergue Nuestra Señora del Pilar, Plaza de Jerónimo Morán Alonso, private, €10, 72 beds, Bike, Tel: 987 631 621, open all year.

Albergue Municipal, Plaza de Jerónimo Morán Alonso, Bike, Tel: 987 631 687, open 15th May to 15th Sep

Rural house in Rabanal

Historical Background of Rabanal del Camino

In the 12th century, the Knights Templar protected the village and are thought to have protected pilgrims over Mount Irago. It is also believed that the Templars built the 12th-century Romanesque church Santa Maria de la Asuncion. However, it was extensively renovated during the 18th century.

Inside the church, there is a 12th-century image of St Blas and 18th-century retablos. You can attend Vespers in the church each night at 7 p.m. It is an excellent opportunity to hear the service all in Gregorian chant.

The church is now run by Benedictine monks affiliated with an order in Germany, Sankt Ottilien’s Erzabtel. The monastery is beside the church, and next door is Refugio Gaucelmo, a hostel run by the Confraternity of St James in the UK.

The monks offer a retreat for pilgrims wishing to stay and explore their spirituality. The minimum time is two days with no apparent maximum.

The famous Aymery Picaud stayed here. He was the first to write a guide to the Camino Frances. The Confraternity took over the building in 1991 and refurbished it to its current excellent standard. Previously, there was no hostel in Rabanal.

church in rabanal del camino

Where to Eat in Rabanal del Camino

Rabanal del Camino, being a significant stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, offers a range of eateries that cater to pilgrims and tourists alike.

  1. Mesón El Refugio
    • Known for traditional Spanish dishes, it’s a cozy place that offers hearty meals for tired pilgrims. They also have 16 bedrooms where you can book ahead to stay overnight.
  2. La Posada de Gaspar
    • This restaurant is part of a guesthouse and offers local Leonese specialties. The warm atmosphere and traditional setting make it a favorite among visitors.
  3. El Tesin
    • At the start of Rabanal, as you walk in. It is small, but it has tables outside.
  4. Albergue El Pilar
    • A busy albergue with wholesome, reasonably priced food aimed at pilgrims.
  5. Local Bakeries and Cafés
    • Don’t forget to try the pastries, bread, and other treats from local bakeries.

Remember, the beauty of being in a place like Rabanal del Camino is the authentic local experience. Sometimes, the best meals come from the least expected places. Don’t hesitate to ask locals for their favorite spots or to venture into a place that looks inviting. Enjoy the gastronomic journey as much as the physical one.

Cruz de Ferro on the Camino