The Vía De La Plata

(The Silver Route)


Introduction

Welcome to a website for the Vía De la Plata or Camino Mozarabe route of the Camino Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage. This is the longest of the many alternative camino routes in Spain. It goes from Sevilla in the south to Astorga in the north and from there to Santiago De Compostela. An alternative path branches off south of Astorga at Granja De Moruela and goes Vía Ourense. The Vía De La Plata is 1000KM long (Sevilla to Santiago) and takes about 7 weeks to walk.

I have only described the route as far as Granja de Moruela because I have yet to walk the remainder of the two routes after this point, although I have driven them in a hire car.

I have attempted to walk this route many times and have failed each time. I usually fail through injury because I was not properly prepared. I am also a diabetic and that has restricted me on occassions when I have been unable to get food. That does not stop me trying again however. The key factors, if you suffer from any medical condition and attempt this walk, is sufficient quality food, water and rest. You need all three. There were many occasions when I could only get one of the three and had to call for help. Any normally fit person will be able to walk this route without any major problems.

I have a large set of photographs taken on my various attempts at walking this route. They can be found here. The list is currently in mostly chronological order.

The comments in the place descriptions below are my own personal and subjective impressions of the places I visited. They reflect my own likes and dislikes and they should be treated accordingly when read.

Also note that these descriptions contain NO santiago pilgrim references. The best source for these references is Alison Raju's Cicerone guide. I am not a catholic or even a christian and I never walk any of my caminos for religious reasons. I do walk all my caminos for spiritual reasons and for the excellent exercise they offer.

WARNING, Many of the hospitaleros along this route will refuse you a place in their refuge if you do not present a fully stamped official credential. Your motivation however is none of their concern.



The Route

The figure before the place name is the distance from the previous place. I make no attempt to divide the route into days, as this is a very personal thing and may be dictated by your state of health or degree of fitness or possibly through accident. However, the distances between places with accomodation tends to be much longer than it is for the camino frances route.

Stage One

Distance Name Comment
0 Sevilla

A great place to visit, but you have to compete with a lot of tourists. There is no refuge here, but there are hundreds of hotels and hostals to suit any pocket. The Rio Guadal Quivir runs through the city. The Vía de la Plata officially starts here but there are only a few yellow arrows from the Cathedral taking you straight to the river. Look down from time to time and you will see these marker stones. We found it interesting to find "seville" oranges growing in the open air. We tried some later but they were very bitter, hence their main use for making marmalade. We stayed in Hostal Jentoft in the Calle Benidorm near the river and the main bus station. The telephone number there is 954 220981.

The route from the cathedral takes you over the river and then right, through a built up area. It then crosses over a major road and, if it is a Sunday, you may have to walk through the middle of a market. The route goes over an access bridge over a canal and then right, through fields, under a motorway and reaches Santiponce from the south west.

10 Santiponce

The path to Guillena takes you through fields with many types of crops. The flowers by the side of the path are really beautiful. About half way, there is a dip and a poolof very murky muddy water which you must wade through. It's only about a foot and a half deep.

13 Guillena

This is probably the best place to stop on your first day. There is no refuge here but the Hostal Bar Frances is nice enough and the owner, Santiago, is a really nice guy who has walked the camino himself. There are cheaper "pilgrim" rooms but beware that they have no windows to the outside and the sound echoes very loudly through the corridors.

There is also some very basic Roof and Floor accommodation in a local recreation center but it looked like it could only hold about 6 to 8 people sleeping on the floor.

On the way out of town, you pass over the river.

3 Venta la Casa de Pradera

An industrial estate, which has no pilgrim facilities, but does have a bar behind a very long fence and one on the other side of the road. The path after this climbs up in between olive tree plantations. There is a little spot at one peak (alto) where you can get a little shelter from the sun. You occasionally pass very stylish, polished granite camino signs from here onwards. These have been made by the Spanish Amigos Del Camino organisation.

17 Castilblanco de los Arroyos

A nice little town typical of towns in this part of Spain, because you must climb over a hill first, to get to it! There is a good refuge on the right as you enter the town, just after the garage, where you get the key.

As well as seeing a lot of orange trees growing outdoors in the streets, you will find a lot of cacti growing in the wild.

16 El Berrocal

You must walk 16KM of quiet road to get this far. Again, not a place you can stop at, as it seems to be a private house, although there is a nice long water trough. At the entrance to the estate containing El Berrocal, there as a little guard post which is nice and cool in the heat. After walking a few KM into the estate, there is a tall lookout tower. This estate contains huge numbers of holm oak (encina) trees whose bark, around the base of the tree, is harvested for cork.

10 Miradores del Cerro del Calvario

The route up to here is extremely steep and slippery for the last 2 KM. These are two viewpoints, one looking south and the other north. From the north one, you can look down into the town of Almaden.

2 Almaden de la Plata

Take care on the way down to the town, if it has been raining, as the path is rocky and slippery. The Hostal Casa Concha has really good rooms and there is an excellent refuge as well.

The route from Almaden to El Real takes you through several private estates. It's all farm land and in the middle section there is a deep valley, often full of sheep. You climb very high up, but the views are well worth it. Plus you get occasional glimpses of El Real in the distance, if you know what to look for.

The route starts off from the south west side of the town and takes you past the Bullring. It then follows a winding farm track along the right hand side of the valley with the occasional allotment entrance on the right. On the left is the valley bottom where there are usually sheep grazing. The route eventually turns off to the right and there you have to go through several sets of gates. After a short while you see this newly built house. You are now in a stud farm and there are a few guard dogs which may give you a little fright. Eventually the farm ends and you reach a stream and may hear cars passing on the road ahead.

The road forks and the furthest away fork goes off to El Real. Take the nearest fork, which quickly becomes another farm track. You are now walking through another farm. The track eventually takes you to this gate which is the entrance to a private estate. The gate is usually open, but if not, there is a telephone number on a small notice to the side of the gate. The road after here winds slowly down the side of a hill and you should be able to see some farm buildings ahead. When we walked in 2003, there was no sign of anyone around. Go round the back of the first house and take the path to the left. It's now well marked and should take you to the top of a very steep and rocky hill. Walk done this hill carefully and over the stream at the bottom.

The path goes up and down hills a lot on this section but you are generally heading for the electricity pylons which you see ahead. When you reach the pylons, you should be able to see very far ahead.

The path now takes a big loop to the north. You have no choice but to follow it round to the left and eventually you reach a sheep, goat and pig farm. You should be walking through the middle of the farm yard before you reach the roadway ahead of you with the farm house off to the left. The path then goes down hill again and eventually becomes a widened new road into El Real. The path here has a number of new bridges and monuments, one to the father of the camino in this region, Salvador Salvador, who died a few years ago.

Update: In 2006, the estate was closed and we had to walk the main road from Almaden to El Real. The yellow arrows have been redirected accordingly. I found this quite hard on the legs.

20 El Real de la Jara

We spent two days here as it was such a nice place to be. It is overlooked by an abandoned castle which you can climb up to and over. There is no refuge or even a hostal here but if you find the house number 70 on the Calle Real then the very friendly lady, Conche, will help you out.

This is the first place I have stayed at, in years, where the beds have had "Flannelette" sheets. If you don't know what that means, Flannelette is one of the softest materials you can usefully make things from. It was used originally for baby bedding. Too good for us smelly dirty pilgrims I think!

Conche has updated all the rooms now and they have brand new sturdy metal beds. The room we stayed in originally had only three single beds but now has three bunk beds. The other rooms have a mixture of single beds and bunk beds so she has about 14 beds altogether.

The local government are in the process of building a real refuge in the town, somewhere, but in May 2004, construction had not yet started.

I can recommend the restaurant in the town nearby Conches house. Follow the road past her house going west and when you come to the junction from the left you should see this church ahead on the left. Opposite the church, on the right, is a very good restaurant.

Update: There is now a small refuge on the left as you come into the town on the old path but because you now come in Vía the road, you have to walk out of town on the old route to find it. It's not well marked yet, but the locals can direct you.

13 Ermita de San Isidoro

This is just a monument on the way. It is next to the main road to Monasterio. There is quite a long walk through forest here before you start the steep climb over the pass.

8 Cruz del Puerto

A picnic area with lots of tables but little else. A good place to stop to get your breath back after climbing that hill!

2 Monasterio

A funny little town with a huge football ground. The refuge is on the left as you walk into town and is part of the red cross hospital. There is also a reasonable hotel nearby, which has pleasantly large baths (grande banjeras) in the bathrooms.

22 Fuente de Cantos

The walk takes you through a very long section between two fences. Eventually the fences stop and there is an interesting pilgrim monument. There is a little videocassette box containing a small notebook where quite a few people had left messages. One of the highlights for us was coming across a huge pig farm. The pigs were really friendly and seemed to be passionate about the blue flowers just out of their reach. Antje spent a while treating them to those flowers. There is a refuge being built here but it was not yet ready in May 2003. The guide book recommends the Hostal Vicente which is right on the other end of town but the people were very unfriendly and we went to the very attractive new Hotel further up the road. One of the unusual features of the rooms here was that they use copper for all the bathroom fittings.

Update: There is now a nice refuge connected to the monastery in town.

6 Calzadilla de los Barros

A nice little town, but not much to see there. On the way in was a huge map of the town. They seem to like those things as the town square had a fountain with more pictures. This is a working town and it may be difficult to find any open shops or bars during the daytime. They are only open early in the morning or in the evening when the workers return. There is only a youth hostal here but pilgrims are allowed to stay at it. The youth hostal is actually about 3KM out of town to the north and there are no cooking facilities or shops, so you must eat in the village or take cold food with you.

The church is also well worth a visit, if it is open.

15 Puebla de Sancho Perez

A little pueblo with another of those colourful pictures, this time on the ground.

4 Zafra

The first big town. There are lots of internet facilities here and many hotels and hostals. There is no refuge. You may have difficulty getting out of the old train station which you must pass on your way into town. The secret is to keep to the left hand side of the first railway line you meet. Eventually you reach a large set of sturdy gates next to the road but they can usually be easily unlocked or climbed over if necessary. We stayed at the Hostal Carmen on the Avenida de Estacion, which we can recommend. The telephone number there is 924-551439 which takes you through to the restaurant.

Update: A new network albergue was opened in 2005 here. It's just past the Parador as the main road bends round.

5 Los Santos de Mamona

You have to climb over a hill to get to this but the view from the hill is stunning and well worth it as you get a panoramic view of the next 100KM or so on a clear day. That picture I took doesn't even begin to do it justice. In the town itself there is a bar on the road after the church where the guy makes the largest grande cafe con leche we ever saw. It contained at least 3 normal coffees in a half pint glass.

15 Villafranca de los Barros

We had some difficulty finding the way into town here after we had crossed over the railway line and under the new motorway. The yellow arrows take you to a point which has been blocked with barbed wire and you are expected to crawl under this wire to keep on the path. Just walk further up the road and turn hard right and walk down to the bottom to a tee junction, where the old path comes from the right. We found that it was difficult to eat in the restaurants after 10:00 PM which we found strange given the usual Spanish habit of eating after then. It turns out that the popular restaurants are next to the main road which is some distance away. There was no refuge. This place has a huge music school on the right as you leave the town. We stayed in a very comfortable little pension called Casa Perin - Hostal Rustico. It's on the Carillo Arenas. The telephone number there is 924-52356 (mobile: 646 179914). We can recommend it.

19 Almendralejo (but after a 4KM detour)

The walk to here is through seemingly endless vine fields. We found Almendralejo to be an unpleasant town. We intended to stay the night here in a hostal but we both felt so unsafe, due to the traffic, and unwelcome here, that we got a bus to Merida to get out of it as quickly as possible. I believe it's best to walk on to Torremegia even though its another 16KM, but of course it's up to you.

16 Torremegia

We didn't go here. See above.

Update: I stayed here in 2006 in a brand new network albergue which is next to the church. There is very little else in Torremegia itself.

16 Merida

A beautiful town. I felt at home here for some reason and I could imagine myself as a roman living here when it was still called Augustus Emeritus. We spent two days here as well, as there was so much to see. Again no refuge but there were lots of good hotels and restaurants. The highlight for me was the Roman Amphitheater and of course the long Roman Bridge. We stayed in a nice little hostal near the river called Hostal Senero which is in the Calle Holguin near the Parador. The telephone number there is 924-317207. You will have no problem finding internet facilities here.

6 Embalse de Proserpina

A large reservoir and recreational facility for Merida. The path here winds round the north of the reservoir and then into open countryside.

7 El Carrascalejo

A small village with no facilities other than a fountain outside the church.

3 Aljucen

There is a refugio here run by two women. They also run the local Casa Rural which has one or two private rooms. I beleive that if you stay in the Casa, they can provide an evening meal. The only other place to eat in the village is the bar near to the refuge. They will arrange an evening meal on request, but typically do not advertise one.

15 Cruz de San Juan

There is nothing here other than the cross itself.

6 Alcuescar

Has very good internet facilities in at least 4 different bars. The refugio is attached to the monastery up two flights of stairs and offers monk cells as rooms. It was rather basic and dirty when I was there. A free meal is provided in the evening.

9 Casas de Don Antonio

This is just Roof and Floor accommodation, there are no beds.

7 Aldea del Cano

This is just Roof and Floor accommodation, there are no beds. There is also a large hotel on the main road.

15 Valdesalor

The refuge is in the Ayuntamiento in the Plaza Major. This is just Roof and Floor accommodation, there are no beds.

12 Caceres

Another nice town. We stayed here two days as well. It was a weekend and there was a music festival going on. I suspect the place is quite quiet normally. It's not a very large place. We met our friends there. We found these two curious figures while walking around. Apparently they represent a sinner, in the pointed hat and a priest warning the town's people of the approach of the sinner, with the bell. I thought they meant something else entirely. I saw a similar pair in Zamora.

There are several internet cafes here. Ciberjust is in the calle Diego MP Crehuet and Cafe Habanta is in the calle Pizarro. There are other internet places here but they are only open Monday to Friday.

On the way to Cacar De Caceres, the road works have obliterated the old signs and it not clear where you have to go. But look for two very tall blue and silver towers and head for them. Walk between them and the old road and you will be all right. Unfortunately you have to walk through the middle of the road works and sometimes the workers complain and get aggressive.

11 Casar de Caceres

There is a really beautiful park on the way into town. A really nice little town with an excellent refuge. There is now only one internet cafe here. It does not open until after 8 O'Clock and is next to a large night club on the way into town.

Although the first part of the walk from here is really nice, you can see literally for miles as you are walking high up, but eventually the path hits the road N630 and it's extremely busy, so you have to share the road with a lot of heavy lorries. It's like the walk after Villafranca Del Bierzo used to be but without any shade. There are two long road bridges to cross, which is frightening, as the whole bridge shakes when the lorries go past and you have to grip the barrier.

22 Hostal Miraltajo

This stage is very long and there is no shelter. The hostal exists, but has been closed for some time now. They are building a new network albergue nearby but in July 2004 it was not yet open. I would recommend resting here before attempting the long climb up to Canaveral. There are no facilities here and no access to fresh water.

15 Canaveral

An odd little town with only one place to stay, Hostal/Restaurant Malaga, on the way out of town. Do not agree to take the rooms at the very front of the building as there the road is really loud due to the lorries and there is only a long glass window for (no) sound proofing. There is a basic refuge here as well but despite several attempts, I could not find it.

2 Ermita de San Cristobal

You must walk on the very busy and dangerous road to get to here. The road building is now complete and so there are a lot of heavy lorries passing you. Thankfully the path after here is really nice.

4 Puerto de los Castanos

This is just a little church and fountain before you climb over the pass. The route here can be very confusing after you reach the turning for the main road.

24 Galisteo

A nice walled town. Inside it seemed to be full of old people with the younger folks living outside the walls in newer houses. There are two refuges here, a very basic one in the middle of town and another private refuge belonging to the owner of the "Meson Rusticana" restaurant. Neither refuges have cooking facilities.

There is also a very nice hotel, the Hotel Medina Ghaliayah on the main road. Every room there has an Arabic name as well as a number. A nice touch. The telephone number there is 927-452287.

6 Aldeahuela del Jerte

5 Carcaboso

13 Venta Quemada Nothing here except one house.
7 Caparra

This is an ancient Roman arch. Most of the pictures I have seen of it show the arch itself surrounded by open countryside but now the arch is blocked on both sides by a tall barrier which separates the path from the new archeological work going on either side. I was here at 5:30 in the morning and spent a long time watching the sun come up over the mountains of Bejar ahead.

19 Aldeanueva del Camino

10 Baños de Montemayor

A roman Spa town. It's possible to get a number of water based treatments here as the town's major attraction is the Balnearis Hotel and associated health Spa. There are a large number of hotels and hostals here as well as a very modern refuge.

4 Puerto de Bejar

4 Puente de la Magdalena (Malena)

6 Calzada de Bejar

8 Valverde de Valdelacasa

4 Valdelacasa

8 Fuenterroble de Salvatierra

Although this place looks large when you approach it, there are not actually so many people here as many of the buildings seem to be deserted. The refuge here is in the Casa Paroqial which is now being used by the local kids as a place to be noisy, away from their parents. The accommodation is typical. The road from here goes over the Salvatierra plain for quite some time. Here are two before and after pictures taken about half way across the plain.

15 Pico de la Duena

The guide book says it's only 5KM from Fuenterroble, It's actually more like 15KM as it took me a good 3 hours to get there. There is a huge private estate and you have to walk around the border of the estate which just happens go over the top of the hill. The view from the top is pretty good though. The guide book also says there is only one cross there. I counted at least 4 and I am still not sure which one was the one the book mentions. Here are the first, second, third and fourth ones.

7 Calzadilla de Mendigos

This is just a large pig farm, There are no facilities here for pilgrims. This bit got very tedious indeed and I could not wait to get to the next pueblo.

I very foolishly did not bring any water with me on the day I walked from Fuenterroble. By the time I got to here, I was starting to feel very funny and I waved down a car which was going in the right direction. The driver very kindly gave me a lift to San Pedro de Rozados and also a bottle of water which I finished in one or two goes while he was driving.

8 San Pedro de Rozados

5 Morille

21 Salamanca

What can I say except that I love the place? I was there for 9 weeks studying Spanish at the Don Quijote language school. I find it to be a very interesting and boring city at the same time. It's a microcosm of all Spanish towns in that it has all of the usual features. A big cathedral, an old roman bridge, a city wall etc. It also has the modern stuff, a huge football stadium, public swimming pool and 3000! (believe it or not) bars and cafes. It's a university town and currently there are 50,000 students here so the town is buzzing at night.

5 Castellanos de Villiquera

5 Calzada de Valdunciel

20 El Cubo de Tierra del Vino

14 Villanueva de Campean

20 Zamora

7 Roales Del Pan

13 Montemarta

11 Castrotarafe (Ruins)

These are the ruins of an ancient Roman town. The castle controlled the flow of traffic on the nearby river.

2 Fontanilla de Castro

6 Riego del Camino

7 Granja de Moreruela



If you want to send me comments about this website or would just like a chat or you want more information, then send me an email pilgrim@theviadelaplata.com

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This page was last edited on Tuesday 10th February 2009 at 15.01 PM.

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