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Good Historical Sites?

2020 Camino Guides

minaleigh

Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2016
Hey all!

My friend and I are starting El Camino towards the end of May and walking through June. I was wondering if anyone could suggest museums, churches, ruins, and other historical sites to visit on Camino Frances? And it doesn't have to be museums in the traditional sense, as even simple collections of art or artifacts are good, too! I got my Bachelor's in Art History and Museum Studies, while my friend got his in Classics, Spanish, and Latin, and this would be a good chance for us to see such places! I would love to see any Gothic and Romanesque style architecture, while my friend loves all things Roman.

Gracias de antemano!
 

minaleigh

Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2016
Thank you! I'll have to check it out. I'm also just wanting to see what some previous pilgrims have to say about their personal favorite spots. All are welcome to reply!
 

jefferyonthecamino

http://www.barrerabooks.com/ - Guidebooks
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés (1994) & (2013 - 2019)
Camino Portugués (2015 - 2019)
Camino de Madrid (2019)
Hey all!

My friend and I are starting El Camino towards the end of May and walking through June. I was wondering if anyone could suggest museums, churches, ruins, and other historical sites to visit on Camino Frances? And it doesn't have to be museums in the traditional sense, as even simple collections of art or artifacts are good, too! I got my Bachelor's in Art History and Museum Studies, while my friend got his in Classics, Spanish, and Latin, and this would be a good chance for us to see such places! I would love to see any Gothic and Romanesque style architecture, while my friend loves all things Roman.

Gracias de antemano!
Make it to Eunate (near Puente la Reina) for the most intriguing Romanesque chapel 'on' the Camino. A day trip to Lugo (from Sarria) is worth it to admire its Roman walls and tapas. It's just off the Camino, but Vilar de Donas near Palas de Rei is another inspiring Romanesque church

Buen Camino
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
The Museo de la Evolución Humana, The Museum of Human Evolution, Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca in Burgos!!! First of all the building itself, don't have to go in! Stand at the top of the hill and look down between the two wings. A lesson in architectural perspective, look down and wait for a car to go by!You will understand when you get there. Inside is prehistoric anthropology very good if you like such things.
Since we are in Burgos don't miss Monastario de las Huelgas, a former monastery now a museum viewed only by guided tour. A beautiful and intriguing building well worth the time. To the left of the Camino as you leave Burgos, in the University compound and it is sign posted.
How about a mosque?
 

Marc S.

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2012-2018 Frances, Norte, Salvador, Aragones, Portuguese, Via Regia, Elisabethpfad, Jakibspaad.
The list of historical sites must be endless and there are the obvious highlights like the cathedrals of Burgos and Leon.
Personally I have really enjoyed wondering around the town of Castrojeriz. I love ruins, and there seem to be ruins everywhere. The town has had better times in the past, and the whole place just catches my imagination. (and I have not even climbed the hill and visited the castle).
For me it is the most satisfying to take my time, wonder around, and just bump into something that is not even mentioned in the guidebooks. Like the very old little church in the village of Azofra. A local lady came around with a key, so we could have a look inside. I do not know if its architecture is very special, but it is one of those place where one can feel the history.
So, happy planning, but my advice would also be to allow yourself the time to discover the unexpected..
 

peregrina2000

Moderator
Staff member
So here are a few of my favorites, focusing on Romanesque, working from east to west. I just ran my eyes over a map I have, so I have undoubtedly left things out.

The Museo de Navarra in Pamplona. Lots of romanesque capitals, some Roman mosaics.

Church at Eunate (seconding Jeffrey's recommendation). This requires a slight detour but just makes the day from Pamplona to Puente la Reina a few kms longer. Check on opening hours ahead of time. The church is now in charge of visiting hours and hours are reduced from previous years.

San Pedro de la Rua in Estella

Small, octagonal romanesque church in Torres del Río.

Santa María Real in Nájera.

Cathedral in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Some very beautiful romanesque carvings had been covered up by later modifications for a long time and are remarkably well preserved.

Monastery at San Juan de Ortega.

Church in Frómista. Perhaps over-restored and criticized by many art historians, but the interior is amazing to the untrained but appreciative eye.

Villalcázar de Sirga -- not romanesque, but the retablo there inside the church is surprisingly beautiful and ornate given the tiny little town it's in. Well worth the euro or two that you can plunk in a box to light it up.

Several mozarabic churches in Sahagún. Again, another small town with a surprising offer of old architecture.

Do not miss the pantheon of San Isidoro in León. some of the best romanesque painting along the Camino Francés. And the museum has some beautiful pieces as well, I particularly remember an enameled box that is gorgeous.

Church in O´Cebreiro

Portomarín´s church. Moved piece by piece when the dam was built and old Portomarín was flooded.

In Santiago, don´t miss the Palacio de los Guzmanes. It's adjacent to the cathedral and has some of the best civil romanesque architecture in Spain, according to what I've read. There's a beautiful room filled with carvings of people eating, drinking, and being merry.

The last thing I would add is that there are beautiful romanesque doorways hidden along the camino from start to finish. Go into the cemetery on the way out of Navarrete andyou will see one. In Galicia, the camino frequently goes through towns where there are little romanesque gems but they are not directly on the camino. Davidson/Gitlitz helps enormously there. There are also some very beautiful cruceiros on the camino, in fact the oldest one on the Camino Francés, I believe is somewhere near Eirexe or in that general part of the Camino.

For gothic, you've got the León cathedral, surpassed by no other gothic cathedral IMO. But that's just my opinion.

So all in all, the Camino is a treasure trove of Romanesque! You will love it, buen camino, Laurie
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
For the last 50 years architectural history has been my profession and passion. Here are some personal favorite spaces and places.

Of course the majestic cathedral of Burgos and its adjacent museum complex but also the new urban re development higher up the hill from the cathedral along the Calle San Esteban near the old castle and the CAB. See >> http://www.cabdeburgos.com/en/contenido/?idsec=3. As you leave the city walking west along the the riverside promenades visit the great mix of Renaissance and contemporary at the University law school and notice the clash of a nineteenth century panopticon-plan prison next to the camino path leading towards Tarjados.

West of Burgos the immense wind-swept Castillian plateau known as the Meseta especially between Hornillos del Camino and Castrojeriz is magical. Frigid in late autumn and winter it must be hot as hell in summer.

Just west of Leon the Brutalist church in Virgen del Camino was designed by Fray Francisco Coello, a Dominican monk, influenced by Le Corbusier. Basically a glass and concrete box this is a haven of peace in the midst of industrial chaos. Be sure to go inside! See > http://www.caminodesantiago.me/community/threads/train-tickets-and-weather.18777/ and >> http://virgendelcamino.dominicos.es/webvirgen/index.php

At the end of your camino in Santiago, of course, the great cathedral and the arcade streets of the historic city center are special. Nevertheless don't miss Peter Eisenman's contemporary and controversial hillside City of Culture . See >> http://www.eisenmanarchitects.com/
Also visit the offices and exhibits of the Consorico de Santiago to learn more of the city's urban planning both ancient and today. See >> http://www.consorciodesantiago.org/concursocentrocsic/index.php?page=consorcio

... What a journey you will have!

Happy looking and Buen Camino!

Margaret Meredith
 

DeadFred

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
St Jean-Los Arcos ,Sept, Oct 14'
Los Arcos - Logrono-May16'
Next Logrono to ? - Sept 2019
Besides all the above I would suggest Muse de Camino . Its a 500 mi long museum starting in France and ending in Santiago . History is my hobby plus I have an online Genealogy Photo Archive http://www.deadfred.com . Guess you could say I'm OCD in a true historic sense . From the time I arrived in St Jean up to Los Arcos when I had to stop I felt wrapped tightly in history. It's incredible.
 

ManyMiles2Go

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
St. Stephens church in Zabaldika was very nice. But coming from the USA, everything on the Camino was a historical site to me. Most of the churches over there were built before Columbus was even born :D. Just loved the architecture and stone work. Every day was something new. . . or old. . . depending on how you look at it :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances, 2015
On the camino I became a real fan of Romanesque art.

At least take a peak at any church that is open. I'll name a few favorites as I go along.

Poke around in Roncevalles.

In Pamplona we saw the cathedral for free by going to mass (we entered the city as the bells were ringing.)
We did not see the attached museum. The Museum of Navarra was nice but we saw it post-camino and had plenty of time. It is close to the camino. Bring your credential as I remember it is good for reduced admission.

Be sure to see the church in Navarette; high ceilings and a huge retablo of gold. The Monasterio de Santa María la Real in Nájera is recommended. We missed the cathedral in Santo Domingo and I regret it.

In Burgos see the Burgos Cathedral and museum. I think we spent 3 to 4 hours here. I already mentioned the Museum of Human Evolution. Of historical interest is the fort on the hill to the north of the cathedral (Napleonic War). We climbed the hill for the view but passed on the fort visit.

I loved the Romanesque church (museum) in Fromista. It is right on the camino.

There is a Romanesque church in Carrion de Conde that was destroyed but revitalised as a museum. Not terrific but well worth some time and the cheap admission. As in all the museums and churches that I remember any explanatory signage was just in Spanish. Fortunately I could usually figure out half.

There are a good number of churches to see in Sahagun. A special note about the Senora la Peregrina though. You can get a compostella here (when the museum is open) that indicates you have reached the halfway point on the Camino Frances. But pass on the museum. We liked a rural Spain to 1950 photography special exhibit most of all.

In Leon there is the gothic cathedral of course but during the camino I found a great appreciation for the romanesque period. The camino in Leon passes the Basilica of San Isidoro and attached to that is a museum that conatains books and other objects of that period but there were two things that absolutely fascinated me, the 11th century Royal Pantheon and the chalice of Dona Urraca, one of the Holy Grails that Europe is so full of. The Royal Pantheon is sometimes called the "Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art" and a recent book documented the chalice (and did such a job that it might be off display for awhile.) If you are a Gaudi fan then see the Casa de los Botines (in front there is a statue of Gaudi sketching the building.) It won't take long to see this so don't fret about putting it into an already tight schedule.

Stop to look at the modern church at La Virgen del Camino. It's a change of pace.


We had a long recovery layover in Astorga and so we got to see these:
The cathedral and attached museum
Still lots of defensive walls
An outdoor exhibit of Roman floor tile mosaics
Your friend is going to want to see the Roman Museum. The grave stones impressed me the most.
The Chocolate Museum was fun.
The Episcopal Palace, an early Gaudi work. Peg loves Gaudi. We stopped in Barcelona for him first.

Peg really liked the castle in Ponferrada. Later, from near the post office, you can catch a bus most of the way to Camponaraya to make up the time spent there and avoid a long walk on pavement (pavement pained Peg).

Physically attached to the cathedral in Santiago is the Church of Santa María a Antiga da Corticela that dates to the 9th century. It has a few minimalist modern touches that go well with it.

I wish that we had gone to Eunate and Samos.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pamplona_Cathedral
https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museo_de_Navarra
http://www.navarra.es/home_en/Temas/Turismo+ocio+y+cultura/Museos/Museos+y+colecciones+permanentes/Museo+Navarra/Default.htm
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_María_la_Real_of_Nájera
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Museum_of_Human_Evolution
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chalice_of_Doña_Urraca
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basilica_of_San_Isidoro
http://www.santogrialdeleon.org/en/basilica-of-san-isidoro/royal-pantheon
http://www.santogrialdeleon.org/en/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_de_los_Botines
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astorga,_Spain
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Astorga_Cathedral
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Episcopal_Palace_(Astorga)
http://www.ayuntamientodeastorga.com/quevisitar/museos.htm
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
And absolutely don't forget the tour of the Cathedral in Santiago! The rooftop tour is amazing, and the only way of really appreciating that the Cathedral is a fortress church - the stuff on the facade is only 18th century icing (I could say - unnecessary icing) The museum covers many floors and is a treasure trove. Get the audio guide and set aside a whole day at least.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres
A tour of the site in Atapuerca is fascinating. They are now dating some of the human artifacts to one million years ago! The tour is in Spanish. At some times of the year, it departs from Atapuerca; at others it departs from the museum in Burgos. Check the internet for English information on the Burgos museum.
 

minaleigh

Member
Camino(s) past & future
June 2016
Thanks
How about a mosque?
I would love to visit a mosque! It completely slipped my mind to be honest. One of the places I am hoping to visit someday is Cordoba.

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! Sorry I wasn't replying. For some reason, I wasn't getting alerts for this thread.
 

scruffy1

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Holy Year from Pamplona 2010, SJPP 2011, Lisbon 2012, Le Puy 2013, Vezelay (partial watch this space!) 2014; 2015 Toulouse-Puenta la Reina (Arles)
Thanks


I would love to visit a mosque! It completely slipped my mind to be honest. One of the places I am hoping to visit someday is Cordoba.

Thanks for all the suggestions everyone! Sorry I wasn't replying. For some reason, I wasn't getting alerts for this thread.
Check your mail Isent a long PM
 

GlenysP

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances from St Jean Pied de Port "April 2011" and plan to walk Camino Frances from SJPdP "September 2015"
The Museo de la Evolución Humana, The Museum of Human Evolution, Paseo Sierra de Atapuerca in Burgos!!! First of all the building itself, don't have to go in! Stand at the top of the hill and look down between the two wings. A lesson in architectural perspective, look down and wait for a car to go by!You will understand when you get there. Inside is prehistoric anthropology very good if you like such things.
Since we are in Burgos don't miss Monastario de las Huelgas, a former monastery now a museum viewed only by guided tour. A beautiful and intriguing building well worth the time. To the left of the Camino as you leave Burgos, in the University compound and it is sign posted.
How about a mosque?
I stayed in Burgos for a few days in 2011, and saw most of above. From memory either Wednesday or Thursday was cheaper entry fee. Put a whole day aside for the Museum of Evolution. Also be aware that a lot of museums are closed on a Monday so try to research beforehand.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Physical preservation/legal protection of historic sites/buildings has been the core of my professional life as an architectural historian. Of course every structure/place can not be saved. However when something important or unique is left to decay an irreplaceable part of history disappears.

Historia Nostra a Spanish preservation organization has prepared an interactive map of such endangered patrimony, ListaRojaPatrimonio.
Scan it to see what is currently threatened along your camino route; try to see such sites before they disappear forever.
 
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Icacos

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
@minaleigh, do you think you've set aside enough time? :D
Church at Eunate ....... This requires a slight detour but just makes the day from Pamplona to Puente la Reina a few kms longer. Check on opening hours ahead of time. The church is now in charge of visiting hours and hours are reduced from previous years.
You beat me to it .... regarding the reduced hours. We stayed overnight in the closest town and got there first thing the following morning. The Church and adjacent albergue were closed (in fact, I believe the albergue is no longer operating). There was not another structure in sight and not a soul to be seen. The setting is very beautiful and peaceful but, as we couldn't wait around until the Church opened - at 10:00 I think it was - we left very disappointed.
 

falcon269

no commercial interests
Camino(s) past & future
LePuy, Frances, Aragones, Ingles, Vezelay, Toulosana, Muxia, Fisterra, Portugues, Sanabres

kusitb

Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-SdC May-June 2016
What an excellent thread!! I am trying to locate on Google Earth the interesting places mentioned here and I am getting the coordinates for my GPS.

Perhaps a long term project for this forum would be to collect & publish GPS coordinates of these interesting landmarks?
 

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