St. James's Way.
Take a walk into the past

The northern routes of St. James's Way, that end in the Principality and with Oviedo in the centre, have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The region actually has five different routes, all with their own beauty and uniqueness. These pilgrimage routes to Santiago have a modernised network of hostels along the way, suitable for the 21st century pilgrim and offer the perfect place to rest your legs after having walked many kilometres, offering the opportunity for you to enjoy the warm welcome of the Asturians, picturesque architecture and delicious cuisine.
Pilgrim on St. James's Way
Don't miss...
  • El Salvador statue in the Cathedral of Oviedo.
  • Monastery of San Salvador de Cornellana (Salas).
  • Salas Collegiate Church.
  • Monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona (Tineo).
  • Peñalba Cienfuegos Mansion (Allande).
  • Chao Samartín Castro (Grandas de Salime).
The two main routes are the Coastal Route, which leaves from Irún (Basque Country) and runs in parallel with the Cantabrian Sea, and the Primitive Route which, according to legend, is the route taken by Alfonso II in the first pilgrimage, starts in Oviedo and continues through southwestern Asturias into Galicia.

History, spirituality and friendliness and community spirit is guaranteed whichever route you decide to take.

St. James's Way Coastal Road
The Coastal Route is 284.1 kilometres long, divided into 11 sections which barely depart from the coast. It crosses over medieval bridges, through beaches, cities and old pilgrim hospitals. Along this route you can discover the Santa María del Conceyu Church (Llanes), San Salvador Church and the Santa María la Real de Valdedios Monastery or the Temples of San Salvador de Priesca and San Juan de Amandi, all in Villaviciosa; Campa Torres Archaeological Nature Park and the Monte Areo Necropolis between Gijón and Carreño, Avilés's Old Quarter, Guazón Castle, in Castrillón; Santa María de Soto de Luiña Church and Quinta Selgas in Cudillero.
Campa Torres Archaeological-Nature Park
Cathedral of San Salvador

The first pilgrim

King Alfonso II of Asturias, known as the Chaste, is considered to be the first pilgrim to Santiago. Legend or history? Tradition has it that during his reign the tomb of the Apostle was discovered and the King set off on a journey to check whether this was true or not. The journey he took is that known as the Primitive Way. There is a popular saying that tried to reaffirm this version. It goes like this " he who goes to Santiago and not to San Salvador (the Cathedral of Oviedo) visits the servant, but not the Lord".

The Primitive Route is 148.6 kilometres long and is divided into 9 sections of rural and mountain landscape. You can take variations or take the original Hospital route, between Tineo and Allande which, as its name indicates, has five old pilgrim hospitals along the way and is considered to be the original route.

There is nothing better than starting off your journey in the San Salvador Cathedral of Oviedo and taking this opportunity to get to know the Asturian Pre-Romanesque buildings of Santa María del Naranco and San Miguel de Lillo.

Peñaflor Bridge in Grado
Take in the sights of the bridges of Gallegos, in Las Regueras or Peñaflir, in Grado. Located in this municipality is also the Los Dolores Chapel. Discover the Collegiate Church of Santa María la Mayor de Salas and the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona, in Tineo.

In Allande you will find the Peñalba Cienfuegos Mansion and the Parish Church of Santa María de Burducedo. Cross the challenging port of El Palo or learn about the legend of the devil that baptised the towns of Salime or Subalime, now buried under the waters of the giant dam containing the hydraulic waterfall of Grandas de Salime water, these are just another two of the Route's charms.

The Route continues through Galician territory until reaching Santiago de Compostela.
The Original Way

More than just a journey

St. James's Way is more than a route. It is a pilgrimage which you share with others each step of the way or where your neighbour offers you a refreshing glass of water when you need it the most. But there are real architectural treasures hidden in villages that you probably would never discover if you didn't decide to put on some boots and backpack and go. The Monastery of Vadediós or that of Santa María de Obona are only two examples. Crossing the Eo Estuary in boat, from Figuera or Castropol, as was done centuries ago when there were only a few bridges, is an added bonus.

San Salvador de Valdediós
St. James's Way (Villaviciosa)
The other three routes are actually connections between the Primitive and Cantabrian Route and the between the Primitive and the French Route. The route that connects to France starts in León, goes into Asturias through Pajares, traversing impressive mountainous landscapes, with a mandatory visit to the Pre-Romanesque church of Santa Cristina de Lena. It is divided into three sections (63.7 kilometres in total) before reaching Oviedo.

The Coastal and the Primitive Route join together coming from two different ways but they both have Oviedo as a reference point. From Villaviciosa you can turn towards the interior through Sariego and visit the Santiago Church; Siero and Noreña, in two sections measuring 39 kilometres in total. If you prefer to pass through Gijón and Avilés first, there is another 28.8-kilometre-long section leading to the interior.
Pre-Romanesque Church of Santa Cristina de Lena

The Principality can make up part of a larger journey or be a starting point.

If you choose Asturias as a starting point, you must fill in the document so you can receive the Pilgrim's Passport that you can get stamped as you go and will mean you can get the Compostela at the end of the journey, when you arrive in Compostela. It is important to plan beforehand. As well as organising stages, there are many other useful services worth taking into consideration.
The Cider Region offers the Pilgrim's Pass, which includes accommodation at a modest price, with a welcome package and transfer if you are more than 500 m form the route. Hotel hopping in Asturias is another option with special services for pilgrims, such as massages, an express laundry service and bike storage, and you can collect points and earn free nights.
Pilgrims' Hostel
Other interesting services include the guided cultural and staged visit through the origins of the first St. James's Way or the free mobile app, which guides you using GPS and contains information of the different stages, the location of the hostels, restaurants and even physiotherapists and architectural and cultural landmarks.

Correos (national postal service) also has a special service offering the transport of equipment between stages, posting of clothes and purchases and a special bicycle service.

Niembro Church in Llanes
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