The Via de la Plata - Camino de Santiago | Explained

The Via de la Plata - Camino de Santiago | Explained image

Via de la Plata, also known as Camino Mozarabe. This is the longest of all the ways in to Galicia. It travels through the provinces of Ourense, Pontevedra, and A Corunia, crossing natural reserves with a wealth of cultural and ecological heritage. Due to its length, this itinerary offers alternatives and a number of ways into Galicia from Northeast Portugal arc through the basin of the Sil River. This has been the traditional entry to Galicia since ancient times. The Southeast Way is actually an extension of the Roman road known as the Via de la Plata. It connected Emerita Augusta(Merida) with Asturica Augusta (Astorga). The route crosses the western part of the Iberian Peninsula from south to north. It travels over the basins of the Tajo and Duero Rivers. The Way was laid out in early Christian times, taking advantage of older roads, in keeping with the practical nature of the Romans. During the early Middle Ages, the route was still in use, first with the Visigoths and later under Islamic rule.

Via de la Plata The term "Via de la Plata" (the Silver Way) has its roots in the original etymological meaning from the Arabic Bal'latta. The Moslems used to designate this wide, stoned-paved public way, with its solid design, leading north to the land of the Christians. It was used, in part, by the infantry of Cordoba during the military expedition, conducted by Almanzor against Santiago in August 997. The term Via de la Plata, therefore, makes no reference to anything that might have to do with the extraction or trade of this precious metal.

In the late Middle Ages, the route was once again Christianised by the Andalusian Mozarabs, who found making the pilgrimage to Santiago less perilous following the conquest of Seville and Cordoba by Ferdinand III. The story that recounts the return of the bells to the Cathedral of Santiago is related to the Via de la Plata. With this symbolic act, the route between Cordoba and Santiago entered a new era, and as of 1250, it was used by pilgrims from Andalusia and Extremadura. Some would continue on to Astorga, linking up with the French Way, while others would take the cut-off leading to Puebla de Sanabria-A Gudina-Laza/Verin-Ourense-Santiago, which made the route shorter and more direct. The way that passes through Laza is 214 km in length, whereas the route through Verin is 233 km. A third possibility takes pilgrims through Northeast Portugal, towards Braganca or Chaves, entering Galicia in the southern part of the province in the direction of Verin, continuing along towards

The way that passes through Laza is 214 km in length, whereas the route through Verin is 233 km. A third possibility takes pilgrims through Northeast Portugal, towards Braganca or Chaves. The route enters Galicia in the southern part of the province in the direction of Verin, continuing along towards Lazaor XinzodeLimia. These itineraries all converge in the city of Ourense. From there, the route continues as far as San Cristovo de Cea. It travels along until it reaches San Cristovo de Cea. Many pilgrims sought the hospitality offered by the monastery of Oseira. Others preferred to hurry on to Dozon.  From this location, they would set out for Lalin, Silleda, Ponte Ulla and Santiago. As for the military orders in charge of safeguarding the Way, one of the most important is the Order of Saint James, on the Laza-Xunqueira-Ourense route. The Silver Way.

The Santiago commander of Barra protected the stretch going from Codesedo, at the foot of Monte Talariho, where there is a roadside shrine in honour of Vilar de Gumareites. The Order of Saint John of Jerusalem (later the Order of Malta) setup a priory in 1170 and was responsible for protecting the Vilanova Bridge and the way at the far end of this royal town.The late 12th-century Romanesque church is still standing, and, with the medieval bridge, constitutes a historical group of monuments. The Knights Templar were based in Santa Marina de Augas Santas and shortly before they were repressed, they had begun to construct a church on the site of the"Forno da Santa".

Take a look at a Brief History of the Camino de Santiago here

If you want more information on walking the Via de la Plata, click here. If you'd like more details on walking the Camino or our other Camino de Santiago tours then please email us at info@followthecamino.com

Follow the Camino organises walking and cycling holidays in Europe for adventure seekers from all over the world. Since 2006, we’ve offered a great range of manageable walks and cycles for all age groups, in particular on the famous Camino de Santiago. We were the first ever tour operator to operate the Camino de Santiago by creating manageable sections along the main routes to Santiago de Compostela. We are often copied but never equalled!

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