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Canfranc Station News

2020 Camino Guides

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Some interesting news from El País (in English) about the old Canfranc train station, closed since 1970.

https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/02/07/inenglish/1517999169_869596.html

The article is fun in itself, dwelling as it does on Nazi gold and so on, but of interest to pilgrims of the Somport route down to the Camino Aragonès proper, it seems that there are some serious restoration and refurbishment plans, including especially :

Now, however, various projects are on the table designed to revive its faded grandeur. One entails the relaunch of international train traffic and has just received a grant of €7.5 million from the EU.

and :

What is now a rubble-filled shell will be turned into hotels, restaurants, homes and even a railway museum. And there are also plans for a refuge for pilgrims on the Way of Saint James, thereby encouraging people to undertake this stretch of the route through Aragon.

The target date for the restoration work is 2021, though I've no idea about a date for the reopening of the railway (though perhaps they might restore at least the Spanish side of it at about the same time ?) -- though one can see from the article that some work has already been done on cleaning up the tracks on the French side of the border.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Great article, JabbaPapa. This is fascinating update to what @mspath posted a while back; https://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/canfranc-may-rise-again.51029/

We talked with several people in the town, all of whom had childhood memories of playing in the deserted hulk. Lots of intrigue about the gold, too. Fingers crossed that this is a viable project -- the Camino Aragonés could sure use a shot in the arm. Buen camino, Laurie
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
Some interesting news from El País (in English) about the old Canfranc train station, closed since 1970.

https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/02/07/inenglish/1517999169_869596.html

The article is fun in itself, dwelling as it does on Nazi gold and so on, but of interest to pilgrims of the Somport route down to the Camino Aragonès proper, it seems that there are some serious restoration and refurbishment plans, including especially :

Now, however, various projects are on the table designed to revive its faded grandeur. One entails the relaunch of international train traffic and has just received a grant of €7.5 million from the EU.

and :

What is now a rubble-filled shell will be turned into hotels, restaurants, homes and even a railway museum. And there are also plans for a refuge for pilgrims on the Way of Saint James, thereby encouraging people to undertake this stretch of the route through Aragon.

The target date for the restoration work is 2021, though I've no idea about a date for the reopening of the railway (though perhaps they might restore at least the Spanish side of it at about the same time ?) -- though one can see from the article that some work has already been done on cleaning up the tracks on the French side of the border.
 

ISABEL linares

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
camino frances,camino del norte,camino frances
Yes it is a very good article,and the photos and history of the place too,another place to visit
 

fransw

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012; Le Puy - Conques 2014;Camino Aragonese Oloron Ste Marie - Puenta la Reina 2018
Interesting article! I will walk the Aragones in the second half of May this year. By the way what is the temperature in Aragon at that period?
 

Stivandrer

Perambulating & Curious. Rep stravaiging offender
Camino(s) past & future
I´ve got Camino plans until 2042,
- or till I fall flat on my face, whichever comes first !!
Apart for the obvious benefits for the region, the transport system and the pilgrims, there seems to be a plethora of cloak & dagger material for endless films , when the station again opens and trains start rolling...
 

amancio

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, Norte, Primit, Salvador, Portug, Arag, Ingles, VdlP, Leban-Vadin, Fisterra, Invierno, LePuy
Interesting article! I will walk the Aragones in the second half of May this year. By the way what is the temperature in Aragon at that period?
It should be just gorgeous! The first bit coming out of Somport might have a tiny bit of snow still, and the rest of the way will be in splendid spring. Great time of the year for this amazing underrated camino, indeed!
 

fransw

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2012; Le Puy - Conques 2014;Camino Aragonese Oloron Ste Marie - Puenta la Reina 2018
It should be just gorgeous! The first bit coming out of Somport might have a tiny bit of snow still, and the rest of the way will be in splendid spring. Great time of the year for this amazing underrated camino, indeed![
Thank you for the info.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Video info by Iliana Mier in today's BBC re Canfranc Station details what is visible above ground plus what is hidden deep below but visitable.

See
 
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peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Work is going to begin on converting the priest’s house in Canfranc Station to an albergue.


More than 628,000 € will be spent to restore the house as an albergue for 19 pilgrims. The building is a historic structure and will be protected.

Another 400,000 has been allocated for a pilgrims’ reception center.

Looks like some serious money is betting on the camino aragonés.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
It’s a lovely camino route.
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
The existing albergue in Confranc Estacion is quite nice, plus there is a group Youth Hostel that is usually accessible. While I am happy to see support for that route, I wish that money was spent in Confranc, Somport, or some other village on the route to create an albergue where none currently exists.
 

omar504

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016,2017,2018
There was a documentary on Aussie tv about this station a few weeks ago. Passed it on one of my caminos years ago..impressive
 

Don Camillo

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 04-16
Norte/Primitivo 09-16
VdlP/ Sanabres 02/3-17
Levante 09/17,
Ruta de la Lana 09/18
On my list for next year as well along with first half of Camino Ebro up to Zaragoza. I first saw the station on T V "Abandoned Engineering" Being ex Railway (among other things) immediately took note. Then found it is on the Aragones which made that route a definite for Spring 2020.
Don
 

Vacajoe

Traded in my work boots for hiking ones
Camino(s) past & future
2019 Biarritz-Pamplona-Lourdes
2018 Aragon/Frances/Finis
2018 Operation Sabre
2018 Marin Ramble
Plan accordingly, as it was not open for tours on the days when we were there last late April.
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
Looks like the tourism component at the station has really grown. It is now open all year, online sales, etc. https://www.canfranc.es/

Now you have two options — a regular visit or a “theaterized” visit, with someone dressed up as Albert Le Ley. I had to search a bit to find out who he was. Turns out this man is referred to as the “Schindler of Canfranc.” https://hubpages.com/education/Canfranc-the-abandoned-railway-station

This station has a lot of history — along with the bravery of those who helped Jews escape, there is a sinister side. Franco got a lot of gold from Hitler, all stolen from the Jews, in exchange for letting Hitler use the rail line to transport materiel from Portugal. When I walked the Aragonés, LT and I had a long chat with a local resident working in a store who told us how she and all the neighborhood kids used to run wild through the abandoned station. About 20 years ago, a French taxi driver (I think) who loved old train stations, entered surreptitiously and found detailed records of all of the transport of gold, iron, and the Nazi-Franco agreement. There were a couple of books for sale that looked like fascinating accounts of the whole story, but of course I resisted the urge to put it in my pack and carry it to Santiago.

I thought it very interesting that the article I linked above described the station as both a “Nazi stronghold” and “center of resistance.” Lots of people must have taken a lot of risk.
 

lunna

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
frances; lisboa-muxia; norte+bayonne; vdlp; le puy; voie d'arles+aragones; geneva to ales
I have very mixed feelings about this ... It would be a shame to turn this into a Disneyland, but it would also be a shame to let the station lay fallow, so to speak... There's a haunting (and I feel appropriate) feel to the station nowadays, which I fear, once stores/restaurants/hotels/an albergue, may end up turning the place into just any other tourist trap. Alas, such is progress ...

The history of the gold is a bit more insidious than it simply being gold stolen from Jews, to wit, one must ask just how such gold was stolen, and the answer(s) in many cases may be too gruesome to mention here. Also, left silent in this article is the collaborationist role of Switzerland in this story, in addition to Portugal and Spain. The French-Spanish border area in general was a hotbed of activity during the war and even before - Spanish revolutionaries fleeing Franco who crossed into France through the surrounding hills, and then, during the war, maquisards and members of the resistance, dodging Bavarian Nazi and French Collaborationist troops desperately trying to cross into Spain via the surrounding hills and border areas. In addition, while some Jews and anti-Nazis may have successfully made it past Canfranc Station and to safety, on the other hand, as the Vichy and then Nazi government's customs post within the station (on the Spanish side), countless persons, including fleeing Jews and resistants, were, to the everlasting shame of the Spanish government, turned back to France and almost certain death despite having made it "safely" across the Spanish border ...

Very intriguing, too, and worth seeing is, the old military fortification (Fort du Portalet) built into the side of a mountain during the time of Napoleon III, and later converted into a prison (which housed, among others, the French Jewish prime minister, Leon Blum, during the war, and, after the liberation of France, the war criminal, Marshal Petain -inexplicitly still honored in New York City's "Canyon of Heroes" together with the murderous Pierre Laval, just a few kilometers over the border on the French side.

I couldn't resist purchasing three or four of those books in Canfranc Station, and ended up carrying them with me on the Aragones; - fascinating histories and interviews with the locals - well worth the extra trouble...
 
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Thread starter OLDER threads on this topic Forum Replies Date
mspath Camino Aragonés 11
M Camino Aragonés 1
falcon269 Camino Aragonés 3

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