THE FRENCH ROUTE THROUGH SAHAGÚN
The town of Sahagún has been one of the most important lines of European cohesion since the High Middle Ages, when the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela started. The pilgrimage follows the Camino de Santiago, which goes through the town and is of renowned prestige.
Sahagún de Campos was once a great medieval city and today is an obligatory stop on the Road to Santiago in its First Stage in León, after Palencia.
On their long journey, pilgrims can rest in Sahagún and visit the emblematic places in the area.
Sahagún Town Council has its own pilgrim Hostel; the Cluny Hostel in the old Trinidad church offers pilgrims accommodation and provides them with a street map showing the different places of interest in the town.
THE FIRST STAGE OF THE ROAD THROUGH LEÓN
THE ROAD TO SANTIAGO
AN ANCIENT WAY
One of the many parts of this ancient way of culture, legends art and history that pilgrims continuously encounter on their way, passes through the south of León.
The main objective of pilgrims who decide to walk the Road to Santiago is to gain the Jubilee. The part of road that goes through south León is called the French Route. It enters the province via the Alto de Carrasco, passes the medieval hermitage of the bridge, enters the historical town of Sahagún, the capital of the region, and continues to the next important enclave in Astorga.
The presence of the Monastery on the Route is particularly relevant as Sahagún was known for giving pilgrims assistance and upkeep in Benedictine monasteries.
Sahagún became a reference for pilgrim health care, in particular the Virgen del Puente Hermitage, which had its own pilgrim hospital and the Hospital de Afuera located just after Puente Canto.
The Virgen Peregrina Church is another must stop for pilgrims. It houses one of the most popular and representative figures of Mary, the Virgen Peregrina.
The route ends in Puente Canto where the pilgrim will find a cross carved with motifs depicting the Virgen Peregrina and Saint James the Apostle.
The Road branches off at Calzada del Coto. The part going through Bercianos del Real Camino and Burgo Ranero is the most travelled by pilgrims.
The other branch of the road follows the Trajan Way, crossing Calzadilla de los Hermanillos into Mansilla de las Mulas on the banks of the Esla. The road crosses León and goes on to Astorga, a particularly beautiful natural area surrounded by heaths and riverbanks such as the Órbigo, where the road forks off once again.
The “most Jacobean” route goes through Villares del Órbigo, and the other is a path running parallel to the N-120 road. Both come together at the Crucero de Santo Toribio. Astorga, the Sierra Teleno and the Cantabrian Mountains can be seen from this point.
DESCRIPTION OF THE SAHAGÚN STAGE
This stage is 22.3 km long. Leaving Calzadilla, there are four possible routes, the most important of which go through the woods or follow the main road. The route following the main road is better signposted and runs parallel to the N-120 along a gravel path with few trees but they are in good condition. The route through the woods, though less well signposted, is easy to follow as it is a dirt track in good condition that either goes through or around oak groves.
ROUTES AND DISTANCES:
Route 1, through the woody area.14.4 km.
Route 2, following the river Cueza 11 km.
Route 3 to the dovecot. 14.4 km.
Route 4, following the main road. 14.1 Km.
The routes to the dovecot or along the river are not signposted.
After leaving Calzadilla, the pilgrims can decide which route to follow. They can continue straight ahead along the route following the main road, or left, to follow the route through the woods.
The gravel path follows the road all the way, passing Santa María de las Tiendas. This section varies little until San Nicolás del Real Camino, the trees are quite small and therefore provide little shade.
The route through the woods goes through oak groves, following a well-maintained dirt track. It crosses a road (P-973 a Villada) and returns to the dirt track leading to a well with drinking water and plenty of shade, divisa Moratinos; it then arrives at Terradillos de los Templarios and San Nicolás del Real Camino. The distance from this point to Sahagún is approximately seven kilometres, although the provinces are separated just before that.