Saturday, July 4, 2015

Camino de Santiago - Part 9 - Villar de Mazarife > Ponferrada

Camino de Santiago - Part 9
Villar de Mazarife> Astorga> Foncebadon> Ponferrada

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Day 21 / Saturday, June 6, 2015
Villar de Mazarife> Astorga

Day 22 / Sunday, June 7, 2015

Astorga> Foncebadon

Day 23 / Monday, June 8, 2015

Foncebadon> Ponferrada

Day 21 / Saturday, June 6, 2015
Villar de Mazarife> Astorga

Hospital Órbigo
The bridge, just under 300m long, With 20 arches built in the 10 / 11th century ove the Órbigo, is the longest bridge on the Way of St. James. Puente de Orbigo Became famous for the honorable Passo . This was a courageous, if somewhat out-dated, tournament on the knight Suero de Quinones. In the Holy Year of 1434, 15 days before and after the 25th of July, the day of Santiago, the nobleman With nine companions vowed to fight every knight That came across the bridge. With His noblest deed, I wanted to free himself from the fetters around His neck That I wore every Thursday as a symbol of His unhappy love for a nobleman-woman. Countless knights rushed into the village since Opportunities for showing courage and strength Were rare in Spain, Which HAD by now almost Become a peaceful country. Don Suero and his friends defeated brave knights and 166 in This Way freed him from His shackles of love.
We happened to be crossing Through This village on the one weekend per year That They Celebrated With the honorable Passo medieval games, knights' tournaments and a medieval market stalls on the streets THROUGHOUT With the massive village.






Day 22 / Sunday, June 7, 2015
Astorga> Foncebadon

Rabanal del Camino was, with its numerous churches and hostels, the last stopping point before the wearisome crossing of the Montes de Lion, which was also dangerous on account of the wolves and bandits. At the entrance of the village next to the cemetery can be found the Ermita del Bandito Cristo de la Vera Cruz (18th century).  Up until the 13th century, Rabanal was also a kind of an outpost of the Templar Knights of Ponferrada. At the end of the 12th century, they built the parish church, the Iglesia de la Asuncion.


In the 12th century, the hermit Gaucelmo founded the hostel of San Salvador del Monte Irago in Foncebadon. Other monks followed his example and founded a monastery. Up until the 19th century, Foncebadon enjoyed a special royal protection with the condition that the people there looked after pilgrims and maintained the path. During the Franco regime, when the pilgrimage almost ceased to exist and the village died out and only recently has it come back to life again. 

You must stay the night in Foncebadon, do not just pass through. You MUST eat at La Taberna de Gaia. This was absolutely one of the highlights of the entire camino.


After seeing the above "Tienda Shop" sign in Foncebadon, for the rest of the trip I referred to all stores as "Tienda-Shops." The mild frustration this caused the people around me was a source of great happiness for me.
Day 23 / Monday, June 8, 2015
Foncebadon> Ponferrada

Cross Ferro
(Iron Cross)
The Cruz de Ferro sits on a plateau of Monte Irago and is one of the simplest, but Most impressive places along the Way of St. James. A long, slender oak Post with the small iron cross attached to the top rises up from a large pile of stones. (The Original iron cross has-been in the Los Caminos Museum in Astorga since 1976.) The exact origins REMAIN still a bit of a mystery. It Could Have Been a sign or an originally Roman shrine dedicated to the Roman god Merkur, the patron of travelers, and later ADOPTED by the Christians. Or Perhaps it was a boundary post in the area That King Alfonso VI left to the hermit Gaucelmo in 1103. One thing is Certain; pilgrims Have Been laying a stone at the cross for centuries. The prayer of the Crus de Ferro is as Follows: 'Lord, May This stone, a symbol of my Efforts on the pilgrimage That I lay at the foot of the cross of the Savior, one day weigh the balance in my Behalf of my good When the deeds are deeds of my life Judged. Let it be so. '
For many pilgrims, the rutual Also Denotes the symbolic laying down of a burden. In any case, the stone Should be Carried with you all the way from your home and not picked up on site.
The chapel dedicated to Santiago behind the cross dates back to 1983.





Before you come to Molinaseca, the path passes the neoclassical parish church of Parroquia de San Nicolas de Bari (17th century). An originally Romanesque bridge over the Rio Meruelo, newly built in the 16th century, brings pilgrims into Calle Real, which is lined with well preserved houses that once belonged to nobility. Pilgrims used to carve a sliver fro the wooden door of the shrine, the Santuario de la Virgen de las Angustias, as a good luck charm, until they protected the door with solid iron plates.
The Naroque building today dates from the 18th century. The name of the village is derived from molinos secos, drying or corn mills, and recalls a formerly important village industry.

The seat of government of the county of El Bierzo and the last town of notable size along the Camino de Santiago that you will be passing through. Although it was inhabited over 2,000 years ago and taken over later by the Romans, Ponferrada did not begin to grow until the start of the pilgrim movement in the 11th century. Around 1082 Bishop Osmundo of Astorga ordered the building of a bridge across the Rio Sil. The construction, which was reinforced with iron, lent the settlement its name: pons ferrata = bridge of iron. In actual fact, it was almost situated in the present day district of Compostella. From 1178 onwards, the Templar Knights, by order of the kings of Leon, began the expansion of the hitherto primitive fortress. After the dissolution of the Order at the beginning of the 14th century, the town passed into the ownership of the Dukes of Lemos. At the end of the 15th century, a battle broke out over Ponferrada to the crown and named it the capitol of the Bierzo region. Deposits of coal and iron ore brought jobs and affluence at the beginning of the 20th century.
The building activity of the Templars at the Castillo del Temple was terminated in 1282. The roughly 8,000 square meter site has been extended and rebuilt again and again right into the 20th century.


Starting from very humble beginnings, by the time the Knight of the Templar began numbering in the thousands, they then established new chapters throughout Western Europe. The Templars developed a reputation as fierce warriors during key battles of the Crusades, driven by religious fervor and forbidden from retreating unless vastly outnumbered. They also set up a network of banks that enabled religious pilgrims to deposit assets in their home countries and withdraw funds in the Holy Land and at Templar bank locations along the Camino de Santiago. Along with their donated fortune and various business ventures, this system gave the Knights Templar enormous financial sway. At the height of their influence, they boasted a sizable fleet of ships, owned the island of Cyprus and served as a primary lender to European monarchs and nobles.

However... In the late 12th century, Muslim soldiers retook Jerusalem and turned the tide of the Crusades, forcing the Knights Templar to relocate several times. In the decades that followed, Europeans’ support of military campaigns in the Holy Land began to dwindle; the Templars’ popularity met the same fate as they clashed with other Christian military orders and participated in a series of unsuccessful battles. By 1303, the knights had lost their foothold in the Muslim world and established a base of operations in Paris. Meanwhile, the French king Philip IV resolved to bring down the order, perhaps because the Templars had denied the indebted ruler additional loans and expressed interest in forming their own state in southeastern France.


On Friday, October 13, 1307, scores of French Templars were arrested along with the order’s grand master, Jacques de Molay. Charged with a host of offenses ranging from heresy, devil worship and spitting on the cross to homosexuality, fraud and financial corruption, the men were brutally tortured; many, including de Molay, confessed under duress. King Philip then convinced Pope Clement V, who had raised concerns about the knights’ secret initiation rites and practices in the past, to launch his own inquiry. In 1310, dozens of Templars were burned at the stake in Paris for recanting their earlier confessions during their trials; de Molay would suffer the same punishment in 1314. Under pressure from Philip, Pope Clement reluctantly dissolved the Knights Templar in 1312.


Alburgue in Ponferrada:
Refugio San Nicolas de Flue
987 413 381
This is a municipal alburgue and they do not take any phone reservations. However, you will probably not need them as there are almost 300 beds. This is a very rare occasion when this is practically the ONLY alburgue in town. The location is outside of, but short walking distance to, town center.. and since it is the only alburgue in town you can ask any local where the pilgrim hostel is, and they will be able to tell you.

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