Day 7 Los Arcos to Viana

Day 7 Los Arcos – Viana – 18.5km

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 start 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.

Los Arcoss to Viana MapHowever 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 washing machine.  Viana is a beautiful old Spanish town with greats 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”.

Sansol 7km, cafe, water, pharmacy, doctor

Albergue Arkadi y Nines, private, 10 Calle Taconera, €5, 14 beds, K, Bike, Tel: 618 197 520, 680 679 065, Open all year.

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 1km, cafe, bar, water, shop

Albergue Casa Mari, private, 13 Calle Casas nuevas, €7, 26 beds, K, W€3, V, @, Bike, Tel: 699 572 950, 948 648 409, Open all year.

Albergue Casa Mariela, private, 6 Plaza Padre Valeriano Ordóñez, €7, 54 beds, B€3, M€10, W€3, D€2, @, Bike, Tel: 948 648 251, 948 648 433, 640 516 620, Open all year.

Albergue Pata de Oca, private, 5 Calle Mayor, €10, 42 beds, B€3, M€7,50, W€3,50, D€4, @, Bike, Pool, Tel: 948 378 457, 608 250 121, Open all year.

santo sepulcro torres del rioThis 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 are 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 are of 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.

Viana 10.5km, all services

Albergue Parroquial de Viana, parochial, Plaza de los Fueros (next to Santa Maria church), donation, 15 beds, K, @, Bike, Tel: 948 645 037, 646 666 738, Open June to September.

Albergue Izar, private, 6 Calle El Cristo, €8-10, €30 double room, 42 beds, K, B€3, W€3, D€3, @, V, Bike, Tel: 948 090 002, 660 071 349, Web:, Open March to November (December to February booking required).

Albergue Andrés Muñoz, municipal, Calle El Portillo (Ruinas de San Pedro s/n), €8, 46 beds, K, W€3, D€1/30minutes, V, Bike, Tel: 948 645 530, 609 141 798, Open from the 15th of March till the 31st of October (from November till March 14th call 609 141 798 first).

After the ravine known as “Barranco Mataburros” – the mule killer, you reach the plain where Viana can be seen in front of you.  Viana was built on a Roman settlement and in 1219 eight villages were combined to create the town by Sancho VII ‘the Strong”.  The formidable walls are an indication of the town’s importance as a heavily fortified frontier town; despite the fortifications the town was often besieged, occupied, (once by Pedro the Cruel), and bounced between the kingdoms of Castile and Navarre.  The first pilgrim’s hospital was built here in the 13th century, by the 15th there were four pilgrim’s hospital.

In 1507 Cesare Borgia was killed nearby in the battle of Mendavia.  An extravagant mausoleum was built for him in the church of Santa Maria, however this was desecrated at the end of the 17th century and his remains were re-interred in a modest tomb outside. Cesare Borgia led a remarkable life, he was the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI, at 15 he became the Bishop of Pamplona, he was the first cardinal in history to resign, and he is cited in Machiavelli’s The Prince as one who controlled power better than most princes.  Borgia name is also synonymous with murder, rape, incest, treachery, and robbery.  However he died a solitary, perhaps brave, death alone on the battlefield when he could not raise the troops to march with him and he rode out alone to face Beaumont’s army.  Apparently his body was found in the morning with twenty five wounds.

There are two municipal palaces, one in the Plaza de los Fueros and the other in the Plaza del Coso, both are excellent examples of civic architecture. The Church of Santa Maria is located on the Plaza de los Fueros a five minute walk from the main albergue.

The Gothic construction of the Church of Santa Maria de la Asunción was started in 1250 and completed in 1329.  However the tower and facade are of 16th century origin.  The south portal combines themes from the Passion and Redemption with various secular themes like Hercules and Renaissance grotesques in the form of a retablo. This entrance to the church is a masterful work of art in stone and must be seen.  The inside of the church is worth a visit, if only to see the thirty foot main altar retablo, constructed in 1664 it is a work of Gothic and Plateresque art of twisted columns, intricate frame and detailed narrations.

Outside the entrance of the main albergue stands the ruins of the Church of San Pedro.  It is the oldest church in Viana dating from early 13th century of pure Gothic construction.

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 frowning.  Do you feel different in the room?

Key: W = Washing, D = Drying, M = Menu, @ = Internet, K = Kitchen, B = Breakfast, V = Vending, Cred  = Credential, Bike = Bike Storage

Please let me know if there are any omissions or errors in the comments below, they will be integrated within the page, or email caminoadventures @

Los Arcoss to Viana Elevation Map

Photos Los Arcos, Torres del Rio & Viana

Villamajor de MonjardinThis was a long day, 31km but really not hard going and it was the second time down the Camino Frances anyway.

I stayed in the hostel in Viana the first time I walked the Camino, couple of things about it – I try to do my best not to end up on the top bunk, three high is too much effort after walking all day, the second item is the place is spotless – it is very clean.

Most pilgrims walk from Los Arcos to Viana.  And this page covers  Estella to Los Arcos which is 20.4km.

The hostel in Viana is in the old town, opposite where the restoration continues on the old church and the views from the back of the hostel where the garden and washing is are great.

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