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Historical information re the Via de la Plata

Chris Aston

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 2016, Portuguese Camino May 2017, VdlP April/May (2019)
In 2016 I walked the Camino Frances with the Gerard Kelly 2015 guide and the Cicerone Guide; The Way of St James. The latter provided more factual and historical information. Prior to the walk I read A Traveller's Highway to Heaven; Exploring the History and Culture of Northern Spain on El Camino de Santiago written by William J Bonville. It is primarily a car journey along the CF but packed with history of the route, the area and information on historical sites on or just off the CF. It gave me an insight into the history and culture of northern Spain and how it had developed over the last 2000 years.

So, why am I telling you this? In April 2019 I intend to start walking the Via de la Plata and despite researching on google etc I can't find a book that provides a similar in depth picture of the history of the Via de la Plata. I'd really like to know more about the sites I'll be passing and not just those in the main towns and cities. Does anyone have any suggestions please. It is something I'd like to read prior to commencing the the walk rather than take a potentially weighty tomb with me!
I have read a couple of blogs, however though interesting, they by nature tend to describe an individual's thought, emotions and experience of their journey.
Thanks for your suggestions.
 

Bradypus

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I like the route notes on the Eroski internet guides. Not available in English but Google Chrome makes a very good job of translating them. For each stage there is a route description and notes to what to see and do. A very rich resource. Though the Eroski guides only list municipal and religious albergues and so the Gronze site is my preferred option for accommodation lists. Put the two together and you have an excellent guide. The Eroski VdlP guide is also available as a downloadable and printable format.

http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/los-caminos-de-santiago/via-de-la-plata/

http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/llevatela-al-camino/completa/?camino=via-de-la-plata
 

Donna Sch

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
VdLP-Sanabres-Fisterra (Summer 2015); Levante-Invierno (Feb/Mar 2019);
England Camino routes ?2024
Tony Kevin's Walking the Camino is excellent. He starts on the Mozárabe and does the Sanabres. The chapter on Salamanca is particularly good but I really like his book. His diplomat background provides an interesting perspective.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2002, Toulouse/Aragon 2005, Cami S Jaume/Aragon 2007/9, Mont Saint Michel/Norte/Vadiniense 2011, Norte/Primitivo 2013, Norte/Primitivo 2014. Norte 2015, Cami S Jaume/Castellano-Aragonese 2016
Basically, you need to do your own guidebook, as I put together for myself for the Castellano Aragonese. I started with Spanish wikipedia, which was not bad for historical profiles of smaller towns and villages along Camino routes. They usually outline spots of interest and Google Translate will help; they sometimes link to local history pages. Wikipedia will usually link you to the local authority's website (as an example, for Benavente at http://www.benavente.es/aytobenavente; its Conosce Benavente tab leads you to a page with history and cultural monuments tabs-- again Google Translate will help. And, importantly for the pilgrim, a tab for local fiestas.

Occasionally provincial and regional tourism websites feature historical profiles, pointing out sites of architectural interest. Spain.info, the tourism site, will give you lists of interesting sites, e.g., for Benavente, you will get https://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/ciudades-pueblos/otros-destinos/benavente.html .

As I have an interest in the Spanish Civil War, I cross-reference from the index of Hugh Thomas' magisterial history (I was able to figure out that the nationalists' attack on Balaguer came through the heights where the Camino leaves the pueblo, and bullet marks can still be seen on the upper stories of houses). But the same can be done if any other area of history or heritage interests you: Red de Juderias is a good start for information on Jewish communities before the expulsion, but I have found a lot in Benzion Netanyahu (father of the PM)'s history of the Inquisition in Spain dealing with smaller centres. My copy of Jane Berber's Jews of Spain has disappeared somewhere, but I found it useful-- through it I discovered that Balaguer's Church of the Miracle was a converted synagogue.

If you live in Ottawa, with today's temperature at -23C, you'll find the prospect of researching small towns in Spain and occasional trips along the way on Google Earth, to be a much more inviting prospect than going outside.
 

Chris Aston

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 2016, Portuguese Camino May 2017, VdlP April/May (2019)
I like the route notes on the Eroski internet guides. Not available in English but Google Chrome makes a very good job of translating them. For each stage there is a route description and notes to what to see and do. A very rich resource. Though the Eroski guides only list municipal and religious albergues and so the Gronze site is my preferred option for accommodation lists. Put the two together and you have an excellent guide. The Eroski VdlP guide is also available as a downloadable and printable format.

http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/los-caminos-de-santiago/via-de-la-plata/

http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/llevatela-al-camino/completa/?camino=via-de-la-plata

Thanks Bradypus, I was completely unaware of the Eroski guides.Some interesting information which I'll print off and take with me for specific stages. It highlights some historical sights I've not seen anywhere else. Thank you. Chris
 

Chris Aston

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 2016, Portuguese Camino May 2017, VdlP April/May (2019)
Tony Kevin's Walking the Camino is excellent. He starts on the Mozárabe and does the Sanabres. The chapter on Salamanca is particularly good but I really like his book. His diplomat background provides an interesting perspective.

Hi Donna, read a review last night, downloaded it onto my Kindle and have started reading the book. Probably because I want to walk the VdlP I'm hooked straight away. Thanks for sharing. Chris
 

Chris Aston

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF May 2016, Portuguese Camino May 2017, VdlP April/May (2019)
Basically, you need to do your own guidebook, as I put together for myself for the Castellano Aragonese. I started with Spanish wikipedia, which was not bad for historical profiles of smaller towns and villages along Camino routes. They usually outline spots of interest and Google Translate will help; they sometimes link to local history pages. Wikipedia will usually link you to the local authority's website (as an example, for Benavente at http://www.benavente.es/aytobenavente; its Conosce Benavente tab leads you to a page with history and cultural monuments tabs-- again Google Translate will help. And, importantly for the pilgrim, a tab for local fiestas.

Occasionally provincial and regional tourism websites feature historical profiles, pointing out sites of architectural interest. Spain.info, the tourism site, will give you lists of interesting sites, e.g., for Benavente, you will get https://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/ciudades-pueblos/otros-destinos/benavente.html .

As I have an interest in the Spanish Civil War, I cross-reference from the index of Hugh Thomas' magisterial history (I was able to figure out that the nationalists' attack on Balaguer came through the heights where the Camino leaves the pueblo, and bullet marks can still be seen on the upper stories of houses). But the same can be done if any other area of history or heritage interests you: Red de Juderias is a good start for information on Jewish communities before the expulsion, but I have found a lot in Benzion Netanyahu (father of the PM)'s history of the Inquisition in Spain dealing with smaller centres. My copy of Jane Berber's Jews of Spain has disappeared somewhere, but I found it useful-- through it I discovered that Balaguer's Church of the Miracle was a converted synagogue.

If you live in Ottawa, with today's temperature at -23C, you'll find the prospect of researching small towns in Spain and occasional trips along the way on Google Earth, to be a much more inviting prospect than going outside.

Thanks for the info, I'll look into the websites you've highlighted. Hadn't thought of Spanish Wikipedia.
 

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