Camino Francés description : 07. Los Arcos - Logroño   

 

                                    Camino de Santiago / French Way : 07. Los Arcos - Logroño

                                                                                   (28.0 km)

 

                    

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  Leave Los Arcos passing the cemetery whose entrance has the following inscription:

  Yo que fui lo que tu eres, tu seras lo que yo soi I, who once was what you are, you will be what I am.

passing through an arch and across the Río Odrón, take the route through farmland and more vineyards towards the hamlet of Sansol.

 

  On a hill not too far away is the Basilica of San Gregorio Ostiense. Legend has it that in the 11th Century the Navarra region had succumbed to a plague of locusts. Pope Benedict the 9th sent along San Gregorio Ostiense to look at what could be causing the plague. He concluded that because the local people were of low moral character and had lost their devotion to the church, that the locusts were a punishment from God. He ordered this behaviour to stop and soon after the plagues ceased. The local people, so happy with what had happened, did not want him to leave and San Gregorio remained in Logroño until his death in 1044. Following his death two bishops, the bishops of Nájera and of Pamplona, wanted San Gregorio to be buried in their respective cathedrals and an unholy row erupted. It took the intervention of the King of Navarra, who ordered that a tomb be built on neutral ground, to end the row and subsequently the Basilica de San Gregorio Ostiense was built over the tomb of the saint.

 

  After 7 kilometres you reach the hamlet of Sansol which gets its name from the patron saint San Zoilo. There is a private hostel here as well as a café and restaurant that offer a Pilgrim menu. From the forecourt of the Iglesia de San Zoilo you can see your next port of call, the village of Torres del Río, down below in the Río Linares valley 1 kilometre ahead in the distance.

 

  Leave Sansol by crossing the main road and walking down hill and across a stone bridge over the Río Linares, climbing up into the village of Torres del Río.

  The village has 3 refugios, a bar/restaurant, a shop and a bank as well a beautiful 12th century Romanesque church, la Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro. The church is octagonal in shape and is believed to have been built by the Knights Templar. Its design is similar to mosques found in southern Spain with Byzantine and Hispano-Arabic influences. If you want to visit the church you will need to ask for the key and possibly make a small donation.

 

  Head out of Torres del Río up through some orchards, past the cemetery and onto a dirt track. Continue along this track past the Santuario de Nuestra Señora del Poyo. Looking out over the open countryside you should be able to see Viana and your final destination on this leg of the Camino de Santiago, Logroño. From here the route rises and falls as you walk in and out of the valleys.

 

  Following a dirt track you drop down into the Cornava valley and then back up again over the main road and into the outskirts Viana. Taking the Calle Algorrada walk through the archway through the high walls surrounding the town and onto Rua de Santa María. The heavily fortified town of Viana was founded by King Sancho III known as El Fuerte (the strong) in 1219 as a defence against the Kingdom of Castile. During peacetime the town needed to make alliances with the surrounding villages and therefore opened up the town as a trade route. Over the years the Kingdoms of Navarra and Castilla continually fought over land and in 1507 sees the town come under siege again. It is during this siege that the infamous Cesare Borgia loses his life.

 

  Cesare Borgia was the son of the equally infamous Pope Alexander VI and brother to Lucrezia. A very capable general in his day, he was exiled to Spain by Pope Julius II and was imprisoned in the Castillo de la Mota. Cesare managed to escape and went to join his brother-in-law King Juan III of Navarra who made him captain of his army. This ultimately led to his death at Viana whilst trying to overthrow the Count of Lerin.

 

  One of the best buildings in Viana is the impressive gothic Iglesia de Santa María, built between 1250 and 1312, with the Renaissance style tower being added in the 16th century. Cesare Borgia’s remains were initially buried in a marble tomb beneath the altar. His debauched and sinful past so angered the church that, following a visit by the Bishop of Calahorra in 1527, his remains were moved and buried beneath a cobbled pavement in unconsecrated ground to be “trampled on by men and beasts”. His remains were dug up accidentally by workmen in 1945 and moved to the town hall. Over the years there have been many requests by the locals to give Borgia a proper burial which the Catholic Church has constantly rejected. However, in 2007 the Archbishop of Pamplona finally relented and agreed that Borgia could finally be re-buried within the church on 11th March 2007, 1 day before the 500th anniversary of his death.

 

  There are a couple of Albergues in Viana as well as hostels and some hotels. There are a number of cafés, restaurants and bars where you can eat and drink before you start on the final leg of this stage of the Camino towards Logroño.

 

  Leave Viana through the Portal San Felices and turn left down Calle la Rueda and then take a second right down a street noting the tiny pilgrim situated in a small niche on the house numbered 1. Follow the yellow arrows past the allotments and towards the N111 and after crossing the main road follow the track through the fields eventually bringing you to the Ermita de la Virgen de Cuevas (Hermitage of the Virgin of the Caves). Unfortunately this building is no longer a chapel but a private house where you will find a fountain and a picnic area where you can rest awhile.

 

  The path takes you through fields, past woodland and finally through more woodland. You will pass a large paper factory (Papelería del Ebro) and after crossing the footbridge over a small river you have left Navarra and entered into the more famous wine region of La Rioja. There is a newly tarmacked lane here, unusually in red tarmac, which leads to a tunnel under the N111 and under the flyover for the motorway. The path takes you through another tunnel and up towards the remains of the ancient city of Cantabria which is currently being excavated. Heading downhill you will pass the Casa de Chozo where the daughter of Doña Felisa used to stamp your credencial whilst you enjoyed refreshments under her large fig tree.

 

  The path continues for approximately 1 kilometre and brings us to a cemetery on the outskirts of Logroño. Continue walking down Avenida de Medavia towards the 19th century Puente de Piedra over the Río Ebro, one of Spain’s longest rivers flowing from here all the way to the Mediterranean. The current bridge, restored in the late 19th century, replaced a medieval pilgrim bridge which had been built in the 11th century. The original bridge had 3 towers and is included in the Logroño coat of arms.

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  Logroño - Logroño city map (Rabe) - Logroño city map (Pombo)

 

  Logroño is the capital of the world famous La Rioja region with a population of over 150,000 and is the third largest town along the Camino Frances. As well as being a university city it is also the centre of the region’s wine industry. Because of its location, like its neighbour the fortified town of Viana, the city was often a battle ground between the Kingdoms of Castilla and Navarra which is the reason the city has a fortress-like

appearance.

 

  Once over the bridge take the second right down the Calle de la Rúa Vieja passing the Iglesia Maria del Palacio with its pyramid tower known as la aguja (the needle) and one of the hostels and continue down the Calle de Barriocepa into the medieval centre of Logroño.

 

  Entering the Plaza de Santiago you will see a chequer board paving depicting sites along both the Camino Frances and the Camino Aragonés. This is actually used a board game called Juego de la Oca, something similar to snakes and ladders. In the same square is the Fuente de los Peregrinos (the Pilgrim’s fountain).

  The Catedral de Santa María la Redonda can be found in the Plaza del Mercado.

  

  Another church worth visiting is the Iglesia de Santiago el Real located on the route at the end of Calle Rúa Vieja with its impressive statue above the entrance of Santiago Matamoros (Santiago, the Moor slayer). The current building replaces the 9th century church which had been built to commemorate the legendary battle of Clavijo. Legend states that in 844 the Christians were fighting the Moors. Greatly outnumbered by the Moorish troops and facing certain defeat a knight on a white horse appeared brandishing a huge sword, who promptly set about slaying the Moors. The Christians believed the knight was Santiago returned from the dead and from that day onwards he became known as Santiago Matamoros.

 

  There is a large refugio as you enter the town near the Iglesia Maria del Palacio and a smaller one close to the Iglesia de Santiago as well as plenty of cafés, restaurants and bars.

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                                                       delhommeb at wanadoo.fr - 10/01/2014