CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
Since the discovery of the St. James’s tomb in the 9th century, the Way to St. James became the most important route of pilgrimage of medieval Europe. The Camino caused an artistic, social and economic development along the route.
Between 14th and 19th centuries, a variety of wars and unpleasant events cause the oblivion of the route, which surfaces again in the 20th century through the interest of the associations, administration and the declaration of the Camino as World Heritage by UNESCO in 1993.
There are many ways to arriving to Santiago but the most popular is the Camino Francés. This route covers approximately 760 km, from Roncesvalles to Santiago.
The history and origin of Ponferrada is closely linked to the Camino. In the 11th century, the Bishop Osmundo ordered to build a bridge over the river Sil for making easy to pilgrims’s way. The name of the city comes from this bridge “Pons Ferrata” (iron bridge in Latin). Later, King Alfonso IX donated Ponferrada to the Templars with the mission to protect pilgrims because in the area many abuses were committed against them. Those early Templars did all kinds of exploits, including the discovery of the image of the Virgen de la Encina, patron saint of the region of El Bierzo, in 1200 in the hollow of an oak.
Nowadays, his legacy can be admired in Ponferrada through the Templars’s Castle, the main tourist and cultural attraction in the city. For this reason, for its museums, churches, old town and for a privileged surroundings, Ponferrada deserve a stop in the Camino to Know it.