de Santiago / French Way : 11. Belorado - San Juan de Ortega
Belorado by walking down the Calle Mayor,
taking a left onto Calle Raimondo de Miguel and
then onto Calle Hipoloto Lopez. As you head out
of Belorado you pass by the Convento Santa Clara,
built on the site of a hermitage which was destroyed
by the Moors. Continue following the markers and
you eventually come to the N120 where the town’s
exit signs are. Cross the main road and the Río
Tírón using the pedestrian bridge which runs parallel
to the road bridge. Carefully
following the waymarkers you soon reach the hamlet
There is a café bar here, just
off the Camino route, as well as an albergue, San
Francisco de Asís. Heading out of Tosantos along
the dirt track and climbing a little you come across
the 12th century Ermita de Nuestra Señora de
Peña which has literally been dug out of the
on this track for approximately 2 kilometres until
you reach the hamlet of Villambistia.
is a small village with a legend surrounding its
fountain. called the Tradicion de Villambistia,
the story tells of a pilgrim, exhausted from his
travels under the burning sun, being spotted by
an elderly villager. The villager spoke to him about
the Tradicion de Villambistia which consisted of
completely immersing the head in the fountain in
the village. This complete immersion would result
in him being completely cured of all tiredness.
The pilgrim did as the villager said and true to
his word all semblance of exhaustion was wiped away.
The pilgrim continued on his way to Santiago and
regaled his fellow pilgrims with the story of the
fountain. Over the centuries the story has been
passed on by word of mouth and to this day pilgrims
soak their head in the waters of the fountain. In
the town you can see the 17th century Iglesia de
San Esteban Protomártir and on your way out of the
village you will pass by the Ermita de San Roque.
There is also a private albergue with cooking and
over a stream on the way out of the village and
on into Espinosa del Camino where you will
find an albergue that offers dining facilities.
Leave Espinosa del Camino taking a dirt track to
the top of the hill from where you will see your
next destination, Villafranca Montes de Oca.
the markers you will pass by the Abside de San Felices
and the ruins of the medieval Monasterio San
Felices. Unfortunately, not much remains of
the original 9th century building, in fact, only
a single arch remains of this once important monastery.
It is believed that Don Diego Rodriguez de Porcelos,
the founder of the city of Burgos, is buried within
here the footpath takes you through some fields
and then back towards the main road, crossing the
bridge over the Rio Oca to enter into Villafranca
Montes de Oca.
Located in the valley at the
foot of the Montes de Oca, Villafranca is a beautiful
village with a population of approximately 200.
The town’s name comes partly from that of the early
Roman settlement of Auca, as well as from the Frankish
(or French) settlers who came to the region in the
middle ages when the Camino was at its most popular.
Worth visiting is the 18th century Iglesia de Santiago
Apóstol where you will find inside a baroque statue
of Saint James, along with a 65 kg baptismal font
in the shape of a giant scallop shell which is believed
to have originated in the Phillipines.
the next stage of the journey to San Juan de Ortega
will take at least 3 hours to cover the 12 kilometre
route through mountains and woods, it is recommended
that you don’t set out in the afternoon, but stay
the night at the 14th century albergue Hospital
de Peregrinos de San Antón Abad (also known
as Hospital de la Reina). This building was built
by Reina Juana Manuel, wife of King Enrique II.
Villafranca is also the last place on the journey
towards Burgos that has a good selection of places
to eat and to stock up on provisions.
you leave Villafranca you will pass another monument
worth visiting, the 8th century Ermita de Nuestra
Señora de Oca, where you can fill your water bottles
from the fountain. The route from here towards Burgos
takes you through the Montes de Oca, part of the
Sistema Iberico mountain range which stretches from
La Rioja down towards Valencia. On your journey
you will pass the fountain dedicated to San Indalecio.
According to local legend the waters here began
to flow on the site where San Indalecio, one of
St James’ disciples, was believed to have been martyred.
mountain range between Villafranca and San Juan
de Ortega is a nature reserve full of oak, juniper,
ash and pine trees. On your journey you may be lucky
enough to catch a glimpse some of the abundant wildlife
such as foxes, otters and deer. 2 kilometres out
of Villafranca you come across the Fuente de
Mojapán, literally translated as the fountain
of moist bread. Continuing along the tree lined
path and at around 1163 metres above sea level you
come across the Monumento de los Caidos,
a memorial to the victims of the Spanish Civil war,
one of many such monuments throughout Spain. The
next stop on your journey, San Juan de Ortega, is
approximately 7 kilometres from this point.
here the path starts to descend towards the Rio
Peroja, once across the river the track begins to
climb once again. From here on in the path is pretty
straight passing through pine woods known as the
Alto de la Pedraja, and through fields of
heather. The track finally starts to descend and
the countryside laid out before you is a complete
change from what you have just experienced and feels
as if it is straight out of a beautiful landscape
painting. The path continues to descend crossing
a footbridge across a stream and passing the 12th
century Ermita de Valdefuentes, the only
remaining part of a gothic pilgrim hospital. After
a small climb the path once again descends as you
enter the small hamlet of San Juan de Ortega.
Juan de Ortega was, like his mentor San Domingo,
an architect and prolific builder. He was involved
in building a number of bridges, hospices and churches,
all dedicated to helping the Peregrino, or pilgrim,
on their journey through the region. The recently
restored was built by San Juan following a near
fatal shipwrecchurch and monastery dedicated
to San Nicolás de Bari. San Juan was returning
from a pilgrimage to Jerusalem when his boat was
shipwrecked in a storm. The saint prayed to San
Nicolás de Bari for salvation. He was spared and
returned to the Montes de Oca, then a wilderness
and prone to bandit attacks, where he built a hospice
in honour of the saint that had saved his life.
San Juan also founded a monastic order and built
the 12th century Iglesia de San Juan de Ortega
where you can find San Juan’s Romanesque
sarcophagus. The sarcophagus had originally
been in the crypt but following a flood in 2005
this was moved to the church.
Juan has built a reputation of being the patron
saint of fertility. The legend refers to an incident
when the tomb of the saint was opened and a swarm
of white bees escaped from the tomb surrounded by
a wonderful smell. The bees were believed to be
the souls of unborn children being kept safe by
San Juan until a suitable Christian woman could
be found to bear that child. Queen Isabela la Católica
visited the church in 1477 after having being childless
for a number of years. She went on to have 3 children,
the first, a boy she named Juan and the second,
a girl she named Juana. The Queen ordered the rebuilding
of the chapel as it had fallen into disrepair and
commissioned the canopy placed over the saint’s
church also contains an architectural masterpiece
called the Milagro de la Luz, or the miracle
of the light. When San Juan built the church he
included a capital of the annunciation. From around
5pm to 7pm on the day of the spring and autumn equinox,
subject to there being sun, a ray of light enters
through the window and illuminates the Virgin of
you wish to stay here, there is an albergue
called Albergue del Monasterio and a café where
you can get something to eat.
à CF description
at wanadoo.fr - 07/01/2014