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Most favourite/beautiful churches listed for you in walking order.

markmcilroy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances August/Sept 2016
Camino Frances Sept/October 2017
Le Puy to Conques May 2018
Thanks for all your replies and comments to my question about what you consider to be your "favourite / most beautiful church on the Camino Frances". Your replies will certainly help many a pilgrim.

I have taken the liberty of putting these in day order based on John Brierley's guide book of 33 days of walking and have left some comments in as these may well come in helpful. I am pretty sure I have listed them in walking order....any changes /comments are most welcome.

Buen Camino
Mark

Day 1 or 2...how about the church at Roncesvalles (day 1 or 2)? For hundreds of years it has been very special to many weary pilgrims who have made their way over the mountains from France.

For example, this wonderfully evocative post by @mspath:

"I had walked 5 hours through strong wind, heavy rain, sleet and eventually dense snow up the Valcarlos route to the almost mythic monastery of Roncesvalles! Saw few people and no other pilgrims on the route; needed to ring the the monastery bell to ask for shelter and would be the only one staying in the frigid old winter albergue tucked opposite the cloister entrance.

When opening the monastery door the surprised monk greeted me saying "Senora in weather like this!" After stamping my Credential and offering hot tea, he invited me to the evening benediction. As always it was lovely. The service was held in the ancient Romanesque church (wonderfully heated!!) in front of the magnificent silver sculpture of the Virgin. Three monks assisted and asked me to stand with them at the altar. ...In retrospect how special it was that snowy night to be the single pilgrim where crowds have stood and will continue to stand throughout time. ..."

Day 3....I would say a little chapel tucked in at the back of Pamplona Cathedral. Plain, white, ancient, pre-dating the cathedral, thats what did it for me
Day 3..The small 13th century church at Zabaldika, St Stephens, is beautiful in its simplicity and well worth the short detour to get to it. The sisters of the Sacred Heart look after it and it is open in the mornings from 8 to 1 pm and then in the evenings at 6.00 pm. Many visitors notice that is has an unique energy. For those staying in the attached albergue (the best on the Camino in my opinion ), there is a Benediction in the choir of the church in the evening. Pilgrims are encouraged to go up to the bell tower to ring the bell, which is the oldest in Navarre, and to send their prayers out into the valley. The grounds are very peaceful and inviting with tables and chairs so that you can stop and have your lunch or snacks in the shade. From the church you do not need to retrace your steps and go down the hill, as you connect with the Camino path again and dont need to climb up the hill again. I worked at the albergue in June, and loved being in the Church every day and seeing the pilgrims relaxing in the garden.

Day 4 Eunate hands down. A small detour before Puente La Reina.
Day 4..and what about my favourite , the Iglesia del Crucifjo next to the Los Paradoros Albergue in Puenta La Reina.

Day 5...Hermitage of San Miguel Arcángel near Villatuerta.

Day 6 ..Los Arcos - Iglesia de Santa Maria de los Arcos. I never ceased to be amazed at the backdrop to the altar. I doubt we would have the artisans who today could recreate it. In each, spend the money and turn on the lights - you will be amazed.

Day 7...Torres del Rio
Day 7 ..Iglesia de Santiago el Real in Logrono

Day 8, Church of the Assumption in Navarette, hands down.

Day 9, The tiny church on the bridge at Santa Domingo

Day 10, The church in Grañón,
Day 10...San Andres in Villamayor de Monjardin

Day 11...Tosantos - just after Belorado - church honed out of a cliff face - very special. Maybe on the righthandside of the path up high

Day 12..the Burgos cathedral was just too impressive not to love.
Day 12..Forgot one of my favorites...La Divina Pastora chapel in Burgos. Waited there to enter the albergue above it for over an hour and found it one of the most spiritual experiences on the Camino. Strong divine feminine energy in the chapel and kind hospitalera upstairs.

Day 14..One church definitely stands out. In Hontanas on the Thursday before Easter, I popped into the Iglesia de la Concepcion Inmaculada (just before Castrojeriz on the CF), just to have a look. The church building was nice enough but fairly unremarkable, in fact the altar was undergoing renovation and had painted plywood facades of its former/future glory. But the vibe inside that church was ethereal. I was immediately drawn to a corner in the back where a big sand tray with candles was set up, surrounded by cushions on the floor and bibles in 7 or 8 different languages. Never seen anything like that in a Catholic church -- so much more inviting than the hard regimented wooden pews. I immediately dug into my pocket for coins, lit some candles and then sank onto the cushions ... sat there the longest time soaking up the lovely vibe ...
Day 14. Santa Maria del Manzano, Castrojeriz

Day 15..San Martín in Frómista (century XI). It is the best example of "Románico"

Day 16... ..Santa Maria la Blanca at Villalcázar de Sirga, The retablo is beautiful, but so too are many other elements. Plus there is a good cafe across the street if you want to dip in and out!
Day 16..Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Río, near Villalcázar de Sirga on the longer approach trail into Carrión de los Condes.

Day 20 ,...Basílica de San Isidoro in León, specifically the Royal Pantheon there accessed through the museum. The Royal Pantheon has been called the "Sistine Chapel of Romanesque art." We got to the museum just prior to its closing but I talked Peg into visiting it anyway. The possibility exists that if we got there at the museum's opening Peg would have had to come pick me at the closing. I was standing there mesmerised.
Day 20 the cathedral in León,

Day 21 ,One of my favorites 7 km west of Leon in
La Virgen del Camino is an extraordinary mid-20th century church. The town is named for a famous 15th century figure of the Virgin holding the dead body of Christ. Today the figure is in a splendid church designed in the 1960s by a Dominican monk, Francisco Coello, a follower of the Brutalist style of Le Corbusier. Located directly on the Camino Frances at Av Astorga, 87, in the midst of chaotic suburb the church is a superbly maintained architectural gem as well as a haven of peace. Be sure to enter it; the calm interior is splendidly lit with deep chrome yellow glass.

Day 22 Iglesia de Santiago - Villadangos
Day 22 San Martin....

Day 23...Rabanal...of course.
Day 25 . Capilla on albergue grounds in Ponferrada.

Day 26..The other one was the small stone church in Cebreiro - after walking uphill, a stop for reflection in that place, built in year 900, brought tears to my eyes.

Day 30..One church not mentioned is at Vilar de Donas - a ways off the Camino Frances between Ligonde and Palais de Reis. What amazed me was being up close to artifacts and frescoes

Day 31 The the small church on the way out of Melide calle Santa Maria. Ask for a guide tour.

Day 32 ..little church up the hill in O Pedrouzo.
Day 32 /33 ?? coming into Santiago on the Sanabres from the south, I discovered the Church of Santa María a Real do Sar, a beautiful 12th century church, with an incredible history.

Day 33..chapel at the pilgrim office in Santiago. I love the pilgrim madonna and child.
Day 33 . Attached to the cathedral in Santiago is a Romanesque chapel that used to be its own church, La Capilla la Corticella. It is in the north-east corner.

Day 37 Little bitty parish church just before lighthouse in Fisterra.
 
Last edited:
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SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Year of past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
A wonderful list, although you did not copy everything from the original thread.
But that is no problem because except from the wonderful churches/ chapels in this list I can imagine that every pilgrim has their own " preference " and definition of beauty and contemplation.

The parish church at Vilar de Mazarife for instance does not have a great cultural history but to me at that particular moment and day it gave me everything I " needed" ...if that makes sense ?;)
Sometimes you can find answers and peace in a rather nondescript church and feel nothing in a cathedral or basilica.

Thanks for the list.
 

markmcilroy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances August/Sept 2016
Camino Frances Sept/October 2017
Le Puy to Conques May 2018

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Year of past OR future Camino
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@markmcilroy how about the church at Roncesvalles (day 1 or 2)? For hundreds of years it has been very special to many weary pilgrims who have made their way over the mountains from France.

For example, this wonderfully evocative post by @mspath:

"I had walked 5 hours through strong wind, heavy rain, sleet and eventually dense snow up the Valcarlos route to the almost mythic monastery of Roncesvalles! Saw few people and no other pilgrims on the route; needed to ring the the monastery bell to ask for shelter and would be the only one staying in the frigid old winter albergue tucked opposite the cloister entrance.

When opening the monastery door the surprised monk greeted me saying "Senora in weather like this!" After stamping my Credential and offering hot tea, he invited me to the evening benediction. As always it was lovely. The service was held in the ancient Romanesque church (wonderfully heated!!) in front of the magnificent silver sculpture of the Virgin. Three monks assisted and asked me to stand with them at the altar. ...In retrospect how special it was that snowy night to be the single pilgrim where crowds have stood and will continue to stand throughout time. ..."
 
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Deleted member 12253

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My favourite the church in SJPdP. The camino blessing. I was the only pilgrim at the mass. 2 nd favourite cathederal in Santiago but only at quiet times
 

Field Marshall

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Frances - Sept. 15 (2017)
as gaillimh
Can you please name the church or location, you took the pilgrims mass in SJPDP...
Thank you
 
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markmcilroy

Active Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Camino Frances August/Sept 2016
Camino Frances Sept/October 2017
Le Puy to Conques May 2018
@markmcilroy how about the church at Roncesvalles (day 1 or 2)? For hundreds of years it has been very special to many weary pilgrims who have made their way over the mountains from France.

For example, this wonderfully evocative post by @mspath:

"I had walked 5 hours through strong wind, heavy rain, sleet and eventually dense snow up the Valcarlos route to the almost mythic monastery of Roncesvalles! Saw few people and no other pilgrims on the route; needed to ring the the monastery bell to ask for shelter and would be the only one staying in the frigid old winter albergue tucked opposite the cloister entrance.

When opening the monastery door the surprised monk greeted me saying "Senora in weather like this!" After stamping my Credential and offering hot tea, he invited me to the evening benediction. As always it was lovely. The service was held in the ancient Romanesque church (wonderfully heated!!) in front of the magnificent silver sculpture of the Virgin. Three monks assisted and asked me to stand with them at the altar. ...In retrospect how special it was that snowy night to be the single pilgrim where crowds have stood and will continue to stand throughout time. ..."

Thanks Kanga...as I have now learnt how to edit a post, I have added in.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
Can you please name the church or location, you took the pilgrims mass in SJPDP...

There is a river running from west to east through the middle of the (old) town.

The pilgrim routes from the north and east of France enter the town from the north, passes the pilgrims office on the right, continues down to the river, over a bridge and then ascends the opposite side of the river valley to leave the town towards the south and Ronvcesvalles

The parish church, Eglise Notre-Dame, is at the bottom of the hill on the left immediately before the bridge.
 

AlwynWellington

Veteran Member
Year of past OR future Camino
please see signature
@markmcilroy , thanks for the list

I notice most (all ?) posts reflect almost exclusively on the interior.

Sometimes the exterior tells a story or at least poses a question.
Or it might be a ceiling.

A feature in Spain is the retablo, a towering screen against the liturgical east wall with the altar (usually free standing). Depending on the width and height of the church the screen is partioned into a number of niches. And in each niche is a depiction of characters from the Bible or saints, universal or local.

A feature found in many larger stone churches is bas relief figures arrayed in semi-circular rows surrounding the principal entrance door. Sometimes they tell a story or work in a manner similar to the retablo.

Per Mark's classification, the stages below are from Brierly - 33 days.

Day 3 Pamplona - Cathedral - ceiling - bosses and decoration

Day 4 Obanos - parish church - tower - square (for bells?) - castellations (crenellations) on the parapets - minarets in each corner - for a moment I thought I had been transported to (specifically) to one of many villages in England or (again specifically) Feilding, Manawatu, Aoteroa-New Zealand

Day 7 Viana - parish church - several highly decorated entrances

I'll stop there as I'm sure you've all got the idea. Just to mention two highly different, but in one sense highly co-related, things that I noticed.

The first was above the entrance to the parish church at Voloria de la Rioja (stage 10). There were about a dozen or so names and in a semi-circle surrounding them was an explanation in Spanish. I didn't record the text but the sense I took away was along these lines: patriots from this parish who died defending their country.

The second was on the hill about 4km after Villafranca montes de Oca (stage 11), the Monumento de los Caidos and records where approximately 200 (in my summation) patriots from the surrouning region who died defending their country.

The difference, as far as I can tell, is those remembered ar Viloria called the second lot "socialists", while those remembered in the Oca hills called the first lot "fascists".

I was moved to say a prayer in both places for those remembered.
 

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