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The original Camino Francés from Villafranca del Beirzo.

Niels

camino mi privio
Camino(s) past & future
Ca. del Norte and Ca. Primotivo in 2016 + Santiago to Muxia; Ca. Frances and Ruta Dragonte in 2018.
Hello there,
Trying to research the original Camino Francés. From Villafranca del Beirzo today there is a multitude of routes. But I seem to remember having read, that the original may have passed through the mountaineous area with all the monasteries way north all of the ones in use today. Has anyone more information on this matter? Especially which areas/ places the this route passed.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Originally but in which century? The Caminos have changed over time, but, in the end, any Camino where a pilgrim walks is an original Camino ;-)
BC SY
 

Niels

camino mi privio
Camino(s) past & future
Ca. del Norte and Ca. Primotivo in 2016 + Santiago to Muxia; Ca. Frances and Ruta Dragonte in 2018.
I do mean the original. That is the 9th and 10th century. But if you do have information on that route used in later times, I'll be glad to hear about it.
 

mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
Perhaps these descriptions may be of help.
and

Happy research and Buen camino!
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
I do mean the original. That is the 9th and 10th century. But if you do have information on that route used in later times, I'll be glad to hear about it.
No matter which century, the route the pilgrims followed depended also on the weather. If the Vega de Valcarlos route was flooded, because of snow melt or heavy rains, they would have taken one of the mountain routes. If the valley route was clear, they would have taken this one as it was less strenuous. There really isn't ONE ORIGINAL ROUTE, pilgrims adapted and still adapt to the circumstances.

BC SY
 

malingerer

samarkand
Camino(s) past & future
cf (2), de la plata, cp. (2003 -2018)
No matter which century, the route the pilgrims followed depended also on the weather. If the Vega de Valcarlos route was flooded, because of snow melt or heavy rains, they would have taken one of the mountain routes. If the valley route was clear, they would have taken this one as it was less strenuous. There really isn't ONE ORIGINAL ROUTE, pilgrims adapted and still adapt to the circumstances.

BC SY
Alas, my feet believe you but my heart doesn't. Often, when lost, and then found, I have come to the conclusion that I was never lost at all but simply my feet were following a more ancient route! :)

So, vaya con Dios, but always , into the West.

The Malingerer.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
There really isn't ONE ORIGINAL ROUTE, pilgrims adapted and still adapt to the circumstances.
"As evry fule no" (thank you Molesworth). There are three "modern" routes out of Villafranca none of which make entire sense for a sandal and sackcloth wearing pious peasant 'cos they all lead to O'Cebreiro which is a great lump of a mountain to scale even when the weather is "nice". The current Camino Frances was laid out by an enthusiastic Priest with later "assistance" from lots of other enthusiasts, interested parties and others of debatable intent and has wriggled like a rattler on hot gravel in search of a "cool" spot.

None of which matters at all as a pilgrim to the shrine of Santiago is free to make their way there by any route or means they wish. Unless they want to claim a Compostella from the Pilgrims Office ;)
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
@Niels, I cannot remember having read about anything that would fit your description.

I wonder whether your question refers to pilgrimage roads in the area called "El Bierzo alto". Just google Bierzo alto camino santiago. As others have said, there is no orignal Camino Frances, just pilgrimage roads to Santiago, some of which were more popular than others and popularity changed throughout the centuries. There was a road from Astorga via the pass of Manzanal and the town of Bembibre. It was popular at one time during the earlier Middle Ages but later the pilgrim traffic moved south to go through Rabanal and Foncebadon, as it does today. Could this be what you had read about?

There are efforts to recuperate this section for today's camino walkers.
 
D

Deleted member 3000

Guest
Iter brevissimum
Ab 'Bergido' ad 'Luco Augusti'
Summa LXX Milia Passuum / Leuga Gallica.
Fere V dies.
  • civitas
    Bergido (Cacabelos)
  • via
    xvi.
  • Uttaris
  • via
    xx.
  • Ponte Neviae
  • via
    xii.
  • Timalino
  • via
    xxii.
  • civitas
    Luco Augusti (Lugo)
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Iter brevissimum
Ab 'Bergido' ad 'Luco Augusti'
Summa LXX Milia Passuum / Leuga Gallica.
Fere V dies.
  • civitas
    Bergido (Cacabelos)
  • via
    xvi.
  • Uttaris
  • via
    xx.
  • Ponte Neviae
  • via
    xii.
  • Timalino
  • via
    xxii.
  • civitas
    Luco Augusti (Lugo)
And can we see that on a modern map, please? 😇

It's the contemporary Camino Frances from Cacabelos to Ruitelán, isn't it, then it turns north, away from the modern road, to As Nogais (called Los Nogales in Castellan), Baralla, and finally Lugo.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
This is what we are talking about: Roman roads that were still used by pilgrims in the Middle Ages. The roads in red are the traces of Roman roads that I downloaded from http://www.viasromanas.net/ but they only cover Castilla y Leon. The section Astorga-Manzanal pass-Bembibre-Ponferrada was popular with medieval pilgrims but also in later centuries. The section Ruitelán-Lugo is only sketched in yellow, I don't know where to find a kmz file. This section was also still popular in later centuries. @Niels, does any of this ring a bell? Unless you were thinking of the roads further to the east of Villafranca del Bierzo that are mentioned earlier in this thread?

Roman roads.jpg
 
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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
And can we see that on a modern map, please? 😇

It's the contemporary Camino Frances from Cacabelos to Ruitelán, isn't it, then it turns north, away from the modern road, to Los Nogales, Baralla, and finally Lugo.
The only official name for Los Nogales is As Nogais (that is feminine !).
In Google Maps the name is Nogales that was the official one before democracy. Also the name for O Cebreiro is El Cebrero, Portomarin/Puertomarin, etc. Names in Spanish in Franco times and previous that still remain in Google Maps.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
The only official name for Los Nogales is As Nogais (that is feminine !).
In Google Maps the name is Nogales that was the official one before democracy. Also the name for O Cebreiro is El Cebrero, Portomarin/Puertomarin, etc. Names in Spanish in Franco times and previous that still remain in Google Maps.
Oh, thank you! I corrected my earlier post a bit. Geogle Earth had already corrected me ☺: I had searched for Los Nogales, Galicia in Google Earth and when I saved the pin I didn't even notice that it correctly said As Nogais which is the official name as you pointed out.

There are efforts to have this track - Ruitelán, As Nogais, Baralla, Becerreá, O Corgo and Lugo that follows the Roman Road defined by the stations Uttaris, Ponte Neviae, Timalina and Luco Augusti - recognised as a historical pilgrims route because there is a famous route description, written by the medieval pilgrim, monk, and traveller Herman Künig van Vach. The promotors of this route are also trying to label it as a variant of the Camino Frances but it seems that the Xunta does not agree. Here's some info: La Xunta no admite la Vía Künig and, very recently! - La Xunta señaliza la Vía Künig que parte de Herrerías de Valcarce. There is already a website http://www.viakunig.es/

Everyone wants to get a piece of the name recognition of the Camino Frances for their own project, hence the claim that a route is the first, or the real one, or an older version of the Camino Frances but that is a bit disingenuous IMHO. Just because some people, coming from France and on their way to Santiago, may or may not have travelled there, doesn't make it a pilgrimage way of the calibre of the Camino Frances. All these old roads were first and foremost communication and trade roads. People travelled on them for various reasons, some of them happened to be pilgrims. These roads didn't get the same inputs and impulses for their development that the Camino Frances got due to its popularity among medieval Saint James pilgrims. The Camino Frances, btw, has to be thought of as a broad corridor and not the narrowly defined path we walk when we follow the yellow arrows.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
Just because some people, coming from France and on their way to Santiago, may or may not have travelled there, doesn't make it a pilgrimage way of the calibre of the Camino Frances. All these old roads were first and foremost communication and trade roads.
LOL, in vain ... I see on the website that they do call it Via Künig. The French Way via Lugo. They are right, however, when they say that this road that the 15th century monk from abroad followed when he travelled from France to Santiago and back home is the prototype of a historical road as it was first a Roman road, then a medieval camino and later a Camino Real that served as an entry into Galicia. Apologies for the thread drift, @Niels, reading your posts again, I guess you are really looking for the Camino Olvidado.

Map on the Via Künig website:
Via Künig.jpg
 
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Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
There are efforts to have this track - Ruitelán, As Nogais, Baralla, Becerreá, O Corgo and Lugo that follows the Roman Road defined by the stations Uttaris, Ponte Neviae, Timalina and Luco Augusti


This is the current route of the A6 motorway.
In 1779 was followed in reverse by future president of USA John Adams and his son John Q. Adams on their way to France to look for support for the independence.
 

lindam

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, VDLP, Invierno, Portuguese, Madrid, Ingles, Fisterra, Muxia, Catalan/Aragones/Loyola Norte
Hello there,
Trying to research the original Camino Francés. From Villafranca del Beirzo today there is a multitude of routes. But I seem to remember having read, that the original may have passed through the mountaineous area with all the monasteries way north all of the ones in use today. Has anyone more information on this matter? Especially which areas/ places the this route passed.
You are likely referring to a route known as the Dragonte. It is a wonderful, but challenging, route option from Villafranca del Bierzo. It is not to be missed! Certainly remains as one of my all-time favourite days while walking many Camino routes. You can find very up-to-date and detailed information about this route on the FB group page: Friends of Dragonte. I walked this route in 2018 and still have vivid memories of the spectacular views and beautiful surroundings with very few fellow pilgrims. If you decide to walk this route, I can highly recommend that you stay in Albergue Leo in Villafranca del Bierzo as they are quite knowledgeable about the route and have been involved in the route's regeneration. As a bonus, when we told them that we were referred to them by the FB group, they gave us complementary drinks on arrival!
 

Dsavid Keyte

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino de San Salavador (2015)
Camino de la Costa (2016)
Camino Lebaniego 2017
There are lots of local organisations , that are trying to get into the cash cow that is the Camino. Yes, when my wife was young and live in Torre del Bierzo, there were pilgrims travelling that way, but they were few, the reason the modern camino Frances is so well trodden is the infrastructure, which is so good, and few other deviants can match it.
 
Camino(s) past & future
First one in 1977 by train. Many since then by foot. Next one ASAP.
This is the current route of the A6 motorway.
In 1779 was followed in reverse by future president of USA John Adams and his son John Q. Adams on their way to France to look for support for the independence.
I would very much like to read an account of that trip! Can you help me find one?

I can't imagine that they thought well of 18th C Spanish Catholicism!
 

Pelegrin

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Primitivo June 2013
SJPP - Logroño June 2014
Ingles July2016
I would very much like to read an account of that trip! Can you help me find one?

I can't imagine that they thought well of 18th C Spanish Catholicism!
There is a thread called "the American Camino". If you search with John Adams you will find it.
 

tpmchugh

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2013)
Camino Frances (2015)
Camino Frances (2016)
Camino Frances (2018}
Hello there,
Trying to research the original Camino Francés. From Villafranca del Beirzo today there is a multitude of routes. But I seem to remember having read, that the original may have passed through the mountaineous area with all the monasteries way north all of the ones in use today. Has anyone more information on this matter? Especially which areas/ places the this route passed.
I sometimes wonder about 'original' routes. Medieval pilgrims would have followed many trails along the one route. Where is there water, where is there a refuge or monastery to sleep, where is the most likely place to run into bandits. Where is there a bridge. From Villafranca there is a river for water, bathing and fishing for food so a good trail. On the other hand, lots of cover for bandits. But then, more habitacions so possibly more chance of a bed. And of course, they would probably have to take long detours along rivers to find fords where we today have bridges cutting out a lot of the original trails. Good luck with your research but I doubt anyone will ever accurately pinpoint any 'original' routes. It can, in my opinion, only be a reasonably accurate guess.
 

MarkyD

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 31/08/2018 - 20/10/2018
Hello there,
Trying to research the original Camino Francés. From Villafranca del Beirzo today there is a multitude of routes. But I seem to remember having read, that the original may have passed through the mountaineous area with all the monasteries way north all of the ones in use today. Has anyone more information on this matter? Especially which areas/ places the this route passed.
Hi Niels, I have family who have lived most of their lives in Villafranca del Bierzo, they and my mother were born in a small mountain village nearby.
When I did my first Camino in 2018 I asked my cousin about the "complementario" route option just after crossing the bridge over the Rio Burbia. He advised me not to take it, mainly due to weather conditions at the time.
On the morning when I set off from Villafranca del Bierzo, interestingly, regarding your query, I came across a few pilgrims who had stopped to discuss taking the optional/complementary route. As they were contemplating their decision, a group of Italian perigrinas walked by, shouting: :No, no, originale, originale" as they marched directly past the steep slope to the right that would take you up over the hills. I must admit, I did think about it. But I adhered to my dear cousin's advice to stay low and save my energy for later, getting as far as La Faba was good enough for me that day. O Cebreiro could wait until the morning.
I had come across this type of "decision making" at several times along the Camino. It used to make me smile, I would often stop at the "junction of decision" just to see and listen to how people made their decisions, it was often surprising.
My decisions were based on listening to my gut reaction, my spirit moving me to the left or to the right. Sometimes I wondered if I was just trying to be spiritual and my ego was playing games with me, but in the end we all make our own choices and then we have different stories to tell and people and places to get to know.
It would be a shame if we all walked the exact same route at all times, it would be as if we were toy pilgrims on a conveyor belt to Santiago, all shouting "originale originale" and perhaps risk making us feel superior to those who chose not to take the same route, or even worse: forward on their rucksacks ;-)

PS. I know this doesn't answer your question, but I haven't been on the forum for awhile and I was having some withdrawal symptoms from posting a reply that didn't really have much to do with OP ;-)
Please forgive me, if you have read all the way to the PS.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to everyone. I do miss the Camino love and wonder, must get back to it again soon.
 
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mspath

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, autumn/winter; 2004, 2005-2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
I would very much like to read an account of that trip! Can you help me find one?

I can't imagine that they thought well of 18th C Spanish Catholicism!
See one account of Adams winter journey here
Happy reading and Buen camino!
 
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Niels

camino mi privio
Camino(s) past & future
Ca. del Norte and Ca. Primotivo in 2016 + Santiago to Muxia; Ca. Frances and Ruta Dragonte in 2018.
No matter which century, the route the pilgrims followed depended also on the weather. If the Vega de Valcarlos route was flooded, because of snow melt or heavy rains, they would have taken one of the mountain routes. If the valley route was clear, they would have taken this one as it was less strenuous. There really isn't ONE ORIGINAL ROUTE, pilgrims adapted and still adapt to the circumstances.

BC SY
I have to say, I don't quite agree. They would go for the least deserted and the one with at least a possibilty of a meal and a bed. We're talking about the 10th century, and the accommodations available were not plentifull. I mean, not every way would have an option. Which means, at this time there might have been a favourite.
 

Niels

camino mi privio
Camino(s) past & future
Ca. del Norte and Ca. Primotivo in 2016 + Santiago to Muxia; Ca. Frances and Ruta Dragonte in 2018.
This is what we are talking about: Roman roads that were still used by pilgrims in the Middle Ages. The roads in red are the traces of Roman roads that I downloaded from http://www.viasromanas.net/ but they only cover Castilla y Leon. The section Astorga-Manzanal pass-Bembibre-Ponferrada was popular with medieval pilgrims but also in later centuries. The section Ruitelán-Lugo is only sketched in yellow, I don't know where to find a kmz file. This section was also still popular in later centuries. @Niels, does any of this ring a bell? Unless you were thinking of the roads further to the east of Villafranca del Bierzo that are mentioned earlier in this thread?

View attachment 67750
Thank you very much. It's very helpful. But I think, the trail I was looking for must have been the one on Camino Olvidado or I'll have to check the northern one from Astorga, too. The roman roads are so inspirational. It makes me want to try them out!!
 

Niels

camino mi privio
Camino(s) past & future
Ca. del Norte and Ca. Primotivo in 2016 + Santiago to Muxia; Ca. Frances and Ruta Dragonte in 2018.
You are likely referring to a route known as the Dragonte. It is a wonderful, but challenging, route option from Villafranca del Bierzo. It is not to be missed! Certainly remains as one of my all-time favourite days while walking many Camino routes. You can find very up-to-date and detailed information about this route on the FB group page: Friends of Dragonte. I walked this route in 2018 and still have vivid memories of the spectacular views and beautiful surroundings with very few fellow pilgrims. If you decide to walk this route, I can highly recommend that you stay in Albergue Leo in Villafranca del Bierzo as they are quite knowledgeable about the route and have been involved in the route's regeneration. As a bonus, when we told them that we were referred to them by the FB group, they gave us complementary drinks on arrival!
I'm a member - and walked Ruta Dragonte last summe with my kids. One of the most beautiful camino experiences, I've had.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
To Santiago and beyond (from home; Voie de Tours; Camino Francés; Biskaya; Manche; Via Brabantica)
I think, the trail I was looking for must have been the one on Camino Olvidado
I don't know the Camino Olvidado at all. From the blurb I read about it it seems to have what you mentioned: monasteries, mountains, Roman roads and bridges, and a claim that it was the main pilgrimage route to Santiago for pilgrims coming from France during the period 9th to 11th century. It appears to me, though, from the little I've read and found, that that claim still rests on somewhat shaky grounds. Also, it joins the Camino Frances near Villafranca del Bierzo, ie doesn't bypass it further north.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
and the one with at least a possibilty of a meal and a bed.
Well, maybe. But our modern camino standards have gotten super picky. No doubt a lot of pilgrims in those days carried food to eat and slept rough - a church porch, a barn, or even under a bridge are shelter enough. And the houses wouldn't have been much better. This from John Adams in the late 1700s - in the link that @mspath posted above:
"The House where We lodge is of Stone … No floor but the ground, and no Carpet but Straw, trodden into mire, by Men, Hogs, Horses, Mules, &c …. On the same floor with the Kitchen was the Stable … There was no Chimney. The Smoke ascended and found no other Passage … The Smoke filled every Part of the Kitchen, Stable, and other [Parts] of the House, as thick as possible so that it was very difficult to see or breath … The Mules, Hogs, fowls, and human Inhabitants live however all together … The floor had never been washed nor swept for an hundred Years – Smoak, soot, Dirt, every where."
Beds, anyone? 🤣

I can't imagine that they thought well of 18th C Spanish Catholicism!
From the same source:
Nothing appears rich but the Churches, nobody fat, but the Clergy
There's the answer to your question @rappahannock_rev!
Oh, and he dissed the Bishop in Leon. 😇
It makes very entertaining reading, that link. Thank you for the nth time, @mspath !

And off topic, but this would make a really interesting thread.
I had come across this type of "decision making" at several times along the Camino. It used to make me smile, I would often stop at the "junction of decision" just to see and listen to how people made their decisions, it was often surprising.
 
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NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
@Kathar1na is correct, the Olvidado joins the Frances at Cacabelos. @peregrina2000 is our resident expert on some of these more obscure routes, and I’ll invoke her name to see if she can be lured into this thread.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Yes, I’d be interested in this via Künig variant.
 

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