There are a lot of towns, villages, and cities along the 800 km of Camino de Santiago. Some of them are small and quiet, perfect for resting and good night sleep, other are noisy, big and full of life. Some of them are famous for its architecture, culture and historical sights, other – for its festivals and food.
Although, it was very hard to chose, here are my top 10 most beautiful places on Camino:
This village is located in the heart of Galicia. And, although there are many sights to see – old Romanesque churches and historic buildings – it is its location that makes it special. Portomarin is located on the top of a hill from where you got to see a very nice view to the river surrounding the city.
9. Hospital de Orbigo
In general, Hospital de Orbigo is a small village in the middle of nowhere. However, it is one of the most famous city on the Camino because of its 13 century Roman bridge. The 200-meters long bridge is a source of many legends.
Ponferrada is noted for its Castillo de los Templarios, quite big and impressive Templar castle located in the middle of the city. The main sight Las Médulas – ancient Roman gold mines also included in the World Heritage Site List, are only a few kilometers away from the city.
Astorga is a city in the province of Leon. It is famous for its houses with unique architecture, its historic collection and several major monuments. One of them is the The Episcopal Palace of Astorga, building by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. It is also a very sweet city, literally. You can visit the famous Chocolate museum, or better, buy first class chocolate… and eat it all by yourself!
Well, no need to even say it but I will – San Fermin! Pamlona is famous worldwide for the San Fermin festival. It happens in July, when you can run with bull on the streets of the city. During the days of the festival insane amount of tourists arrive in the city, to watch or join “the show”. Not to even mention the bars, the drinks and the tapas…
Burgos is rich in ancient churches and convents. Our Lady of Burgos, one of them, is considered to be one of the most beautiful cathedrals in Spain. Apart form the tourists landmarks, the city has much more to offer – beautiful narrow streets, gardens and parks, bars and restaurants, dynamic nightlife and cool resting places.
Leon is one of the biggest cities on the Camino. Some of the city’s most prominent historical buildings are the León Cathedral called House of Lights – the finest example of classic Gothic architecture in Spain, the Basilica of San Isidoro – one of the most important Romanesque churches in Spain and resting place of Leon’s medieval monarchs, and the Casa Botines – a Modernist creation of the architect Antoni Gaudí.
3. Santiago de Compostela
Well, I wont be wrong if a say that Santiago is the dream city for many people, or, at least for all of those who walk the Camino de Santiago. It is one of the tree “holy cities” in the Chatolic world along with Rome and Jerusalem. It is said that on a typical day about 600 piligrim arrive in Santiago to visit the tomb of the Apostle St. James, buried at the great Cathedral of Composela. The old city of Santiago is among the most beautiful medieval artifacts in all of Europe, and the city itself is charged with holiness and power.
2. O’ Cebreiro
O Cebreiro is a small village in Galicia and the highest point of the French Camino. The mythical O Cebreiro is birthplace of legends, mysteries and miracles. It is also famous for its “pallozas” – Celtic round stone houses with a straw roofs, here it is also supposedly the oldest church on the entire French Road of the Camino. Due to its privileged location on the top of the mountains between Castilla y León and Galicia, O Cebreiro offers spectacular views of the surroundings. Not to even mention the foggy “Lord of the rings” atmosphere…
It is often said the Camino de Santiago does not end at Santiago de Compostela, but at Cape Finisterre on the Atlantic coast. This route is known as Camino de Finisterre – 90 km walk that starts from St. James tomb in St James Cathedral in Santiago, through the mountains of Galicia and finishes in the small coast town of Finisterre, and more exactly at the lighthouse on Cape Finisterre. There is a custom among some pilgrims of burning a small personal item or piece of clothing, on reaching Finisterre – as symbol of new beginning.