Primitive Route

We are not going to make the pure physical Primitive Way.
We are going through the Way letting us be influenced by the traces pilgrimage left throughout the centuries.

Primitive Route

That is why we pay a special attention to the monuments of the surroundings, which rose to impress and touch pilgrims and as a proof of the faith of pilgrims and pilgrimage

We say Camino de Santiago and automatically think of the French Way to Compostela.
But there are many other ways… People talk about eight Ways in Galicia, although there are actually so many ways as possible routes. Every one tries his Way.
The Primitive Way was the first one, it is really ours. It was called the North Way inside but is really the Primitive Way to Compostela, the Old Way. It was the first of the ways, two centuries previous to the later called the French Way, the only operative itinerary in the first period of the Reconquest free from the Moslem invasions.
This is the oldest way of St James in the world, overlapped by an outstanding prehistoric itinerary full of fortified settlements, ‘mámoas’ and milestones of the megalithic culture, specially outstanding in the mountain ranges of El Palo, Montefurado and Hospital de Montouto as well as in the county of Mera, beyond Miño… It is an antique path used as a Roman road from Lucus Asturum to Lucus Augusti for the mining of the auriferous field of the Navia River, and Lucus Augusti from Iria Flavia through the 19th way of Antonino Caracalla’s itinerary.


In the early 9th century, Alfonso II the Chaste reigned over the Spanish area with capital in Oviedo. It was in 813 that, after the Mass at San Fiz Church, the anchoret Pelagio watched the glitters of a field of stars fallen down from the sky.

He told it to Teodomiro, his bishop, in Iria Flavia and concluded there lay the sepulchre of St James, buried by his disciples. He made it known to Alfonso II, King of Asturias and Galicia, who confirmed the remains found in San Fiz de Solovio belonged to Apostle St James. In 814, he raised the first church, allowed worship and promoted the first pilgrimage flowing from Oviedo to the still born city the King wanted to be a faithful and exact replica of Oviedo.
The King spread the good news all over Europe, which soon made pilgrims arrive in Compostela, becoming the third saint city of Christendom.
The pilgrimage (the King himself was the first that went on the pilgrimage) followed a short, fast and rectilinear way. It was a way known since the beginning of history that is supposed to be the same the King used to arrive in Lugo and Compostela, which would be later known as the inner Asturian Way. It started precisely in the capital of the Kingdom, Oviedo, where the relics of Jesus Christ lay. The King had asked to fetch them from Jerusalem. So, there was a historic communication between the three great cities of the peninsular Northwest at the beginning of the Reconquest: Oviedo, first capital of the Christian kingdom; Lugo, first Galician city and Compostela, destiny of the pilgrimages of the Atlantic Fisterra.
In the “Partidas” by Alfonso the Wise King, pilgrims are defined as those who ‘andan en pelerinaje a Santiago, a San Salvador de Oviedo o a otros lugares de luenga e de extraña tierra’, letting hear the statement ‘Quien va a Santiago y no a San Salvador visita al criado y deja al Señor’. In fact, the support between San Salvador de Oviedo Way with the traditional pilgrimage to the Holy Chamber and the primitive way of St James, used both as a going and return itinerary to Compostela, is important and ancestral.
Pilgrims from the North of Spain and all over Europe arrived here, but the Primitive Way cannot be understood as a continuation. The first of the ways starts here.
Mayerne Tourquet talks about the kingdom of Ramiro I from 842 to 850 in his ‘Historia General de España’, published in 1635, stating that during the period of that king, the fame of the wonders worked by St James de Compostela began to spread all over Europe, making many pilgrims from all corners of Christendom arrive by land or by sea.
When the capital was displaced to León in the 10th century (910), the way known today as the French Way gained importance owing to the new political situation, consolidated in the 11th century, thanks to the actions of Sancho el Mayor and Alfonso VI in their respective areas.
Anyway, the name of the French Way is not exclusive to the one that holds the name today and the French Way has been known as ‘Camiño Francisco’, ‘Camiño de Ovedo’, ‘Camiño Francés de Oviedo’ or ‘Camiño Francés de Asturias’, trunk and matrix of the way of the meseta that is the main branch of that initial itinerary. Xosé Sesto has pointed out that ‘all the ways that led to the Apostle’s sepulchre were known in Europe as the Camino de Santiago and as the French Way in Spain.
Once the South route was open, the Primitive Way would no longer be the most visited although it went on being used during centuries. Oviedo (with the relics of the Holy Chamber) went on being a very important pilgrimage place. The historical extension of the Primitive Way through the Strata Santi Salvatoris or Asturian Way from León to Oviedo had a great relevance as well as the dilemma medieval pilgrimages found when arriving in León: Either follow the old way to Oviedo or the new one along Cebreiro. We have the popular saying ‘Estar entre San Marcos y La Ponte’.
So, we go through the 343 km of the Primitive Way from Oviedo to Compostela.
This Primitive Way had hospitals, ‘milladoiros’, holy fountains and chapels, and if there is some hard section in the French Way, which makes the route worthier, the Primitive Way is still harder as it goes through the difficult mountainous geography between Galicia and Asturias and called for the construction of many hospitals for pilgrims, always needing help. There was a constant support on the part of the different Kings, promoting pilgrimages on this route and consolidating the relation between Oviedo’s Court and Compostela.

1: Oviedo - Grado

The first stage starts at the Plaza de la Catedral in Oviedo and finishes at the pilgrins hostel of San Juan de Villapañada (20,9 km). In the middle of the stage we find El Escamplero hostel.


So, we go through the 343 km of the Primitive Way from Oviedo to Compostela.
This Primitive Way had hospitals, ‘milladoiros’, holy fountains or chapels and if there is some hard section in the French Way, which makes the route worthier, the Primitive Way is still harder as it goes through the difficult mountainous geography between Galicia and Asturias and called for the construction of many hospitals for pilgrims, always needing help. There was a constant support on the part of the different Kings, promoting pilgrimages on this route and consolidating the relation between Oviedo’s Court and the city that would become the third holy city of Christendom after Jerusalem and Rome.
Oviedo houses the Holy Ark, kept at St Miguel’s Chapel or Holy Chamber, left there by King Alfonso II.


According to tradition, this ark of relics was at Toledo’s Court after going through the North of Africa trying to keep its contents safe. Hidden in the Monsacro, near Oviedo, the King placed it at the Basilica of Salvador. When it was open before King Alfonso in 1075, the spreading grew all over the Christian world and more and more pilgrims arrive for its worship.
We set off from Oviedo, which was called ‘reliquary city’ for taking care of the holy relics.


From the Cathedral, housing the Church Museum in Asturias, we go across the Plaza de la Catedral, also called Plaza de Alfonso II. We go through St Juan Street and the place leaving the fortified area, Socastiello door.
Out of the old fortified area we get to the Plaza de Santa Clara Square with the St Clara Convent from the middle of the 13th century. The cross placed opposite the convent showed the beginning of the rural area.
We go on Covadonga and Melquíades Álvarez Streets to get to St Juan modern church of the early 20th century that housed the parish church created in the old hospital of this name.
Then, Independencia, Teniente Coronel Teijeiro and La Argañosa Streets… There was an aqueduct here (Los pilares) with 41 arches and 400 metres long, bringing water from the Naranco to the city since 1568 until the late 19th century.
Santa María and San Miguel de Lillo are perfect examples of the pre-Romanesque art.


The first centre of population we find in our way is San Lázaro de Paniceres, with a ‘malatería’ already mentioned in a document of 1331, a proof of attention to ill pilgrims.
In Llampaxuga, it is necessary to get to the Carmen hermitage.
We follow the slopes of the Naranco, between the mountain and the valley, with amazing heights watching our way.
After Lloriana and Fabarín, we find the Nora River with the medieval ‘Puente de Gallegos’ that show our direction.


Leaving Oviedo we get to Las Regueras and began to go up the Alto del Escamplero. There was a hospital with the same name here, supposedly from the 14th century and continuator of St Martin Monastery, mentioned in a document of the late 11th century.
After Taraniello, Valsera, La Rabaza and Picarín, you can go down the valley of the Nalón River for crossing it through the historical Peñaflor Bridge, where there was another hospital for pilgrims founded by Alfonso VII in 1144. The remains of the old Romanesque temple are preserved at Peñaflor parish church.
There were hard battles here between the French and the Spanish during the Independence War, fighting for the possession of this valuable natural route between Asturias and the West area of the Peninsula. There was a hospital for pilgrims in Premoño until the 18th century. The chapel and the house where it was placed, known as ‘Casona de la Portalada’, are still preserved.


King Alfonso X conferred the constituent act of Grado in the middle of the 13th century and had the possession of its surroundings in 1256.
Born around the Way to Compostela, it preserves the structure of the medieval city. The wall survived until the 19th century, having an outstanding political and commercial life.
There was a pilgrim’s hospital here: Nosa Señora das Candeas Hospital, from the second half of the 17th century.
The Pazo de Valdecazana (18th century) is nowadays the Cultural Centre. The Baroque Dores Chapel (18th century) should also be visited.


There was also a hospital for pilgrims of the Order of St John of Jerusalem in San Juan de Lleñapañada or Villapañada. Nowadays there is a new hostel.

2: Grado - Salas

The second stage starts at the hostel of Villapañada. After travelling 21,4 km, we get to Salas, a magnificent village declared as Historical and Artistical Village in 1944

Going up the Cabruñana hills, we get to the Virgen del Fresno Sanctuary. Near the sanctuary there was a lazaretto dedicated to St Lazarus.
During the Independence War, there was a hard battle for the control of the village, where the Primitive Way to Compostela and a branch of the Way of the Meseta joining Asturias and Leon met.
We go through Los Morrones, San Marcelo and Dóriga (with a beautiful Romanesque church of the 12th century) and get to Puebla de Cornellana.


Princess Cristina, daughter to Bermuda II de León, founded St Salvador Monastery in 1024. In 1122, Count Suero Bermúdez, the founder’s great-grandson, transferred it to the Benedictine monks of Cluny, being the only monastery of this order in Asturias.
The Romanesque church of the late 12th century with a façade of the 17th century is still preserved. The monastery and the cloister date from the early 18th century, a Romanesque and a Gothic front are preserved
From Cornellana to Salas we go through Sobrerriba, Llamas, Quintana, always near the Nonaya River… In Casazorrina, we can see St Ana Church with Romanesque carvings inside. After Mallecín, we get to Salas.


Alfonso X, the Wise King also founded Salas about the year 1270.
In 1120, Queen Urraca transferred to Suero Bermúdez a castle in this place and the city grew for being in the route to Compostela. The tower of Valdés-Salas Palace reminds us of that old castle. The tower raises elegant in the middle of the village, being the cradle of Fernando Valdés-Salas, founder of Oviedo University, General Inquisitor and Archbishop of Seville.


The Pazo dates from the 16th century. Epigraphic and ornamental pre-Romanesque elements from the old St Martin church (9th century) are kept in the tower of the 14th century.
In Salas, you must visit Santa María la Mayor Collegiate Church from the middle of the 16th century with a square nave and pentagonal top, keeping inside an alabaster mausoleum of Fernando de Valdés-Salas.
Years ago, there was also here a hospital for pilgrims, although nowadays only St Roque chapel (17th century) is preserved.
Salas, considered as a historic and artistic village, is worth a thorough visit.

3: Salas - Tineo

We leave Salas and start the third stage of the Way. There are 18,2 km from Salas passing along La Espina (it was always a relevant crossroads) up to Tineo that, according to a royal privilege in 1222, it was declared as a compulsory passage for pilgrims to Compostela in this first Way.


Leaving Salas, one must go up Bodenaya Mountain (650 m) through the ‘Camín de misa’.
La Espina, where Salas, Tineo and Valdés converge, was always an outstanding crossroads. There was here a remarkable hospital for pilgrims and travellers. It is thought to have existed since 1268 and depended on Santiago’s archbishop, proving a link with Compostela and route of this primitive Way. Afterwards, Fernando Valdés-Salas created a new hospital. There was also here the ‘Malatería de Bazar’ for attending ill pilgrims.
Two ways leave from La Espina, the one that goes to Compostela through Tineo and Pola de Allande and the one that goes on the seaside towards Vegadeo, going down the Canero River valley.
The area of Tineo starts in La Pereda, where there were a pilgrim’s hospital years ago.
From El Pedregal, we go down all the time. In the environs of Tineo, we must stop at the Campo de San Roque for watching the hermitage of this traveller saint of the 13th century.



Entering Tineo, you find in Cimadevila a memorial to the pilgrim raised in 2004 (Holy Year).
During his stay at Obona Monastery in 1222, King Alfonso IX, pilgrim to Compostela, conferred the privilege that the Monastery and the village of Tineo were compulsory passages for pilgrims towards the Apostle’s sepulchre.
At that moment, Tineo had already existed for about three centuries with a count’s jurisdiction.
St Pedro Church is the church of the old San Francisco do Monte Convent, where the Franciscan monks attended pilgrims since the 13th century. There is an outstanding Sacred Art Museum inside.
The Pazo dos Merás (16th century) and the Pazo dos García de Tineo (the present cultural centre) with its tower from the 13th century are also remarkable.
Rests of Mater Christi Hospital are still preserved in Tineo. It was raised in the 13th century for attending pilgrims and was the biggest of the Way in Asturias. This hospital spoilt in the alienation as well as the old castle of the village.

4: Tineo - Borres

From Tineo to Borres, the fourth stage, only 18 km. In the Way, we find Obona, a very important monastery declared by Alfonso IX as a compulsory pasagge to Compostela years ago. The pilgrim should collect provisions as passing along Campiello

Still near Tineo, following the way, we find Santa María la Real de Obona Monastery. This outstanding centre is thought to have been founded in the 8th century and had its golden years during the 13th and 14th centuries as a result of the order of Alfonso IX, compelling the Way to Compostela pass here.
The monastery went then through different troubles, getting worse during the secularization in 1835, being reduced to San Antolín de Obona parish church.
Villaluz, Vega del Rei, Berrugoso, Campiello, El Fresno, El Espín and Borres, with an interesting church, are modest milestones of our historical way. During the 12th century, there was a hospital for pilgrims here, today there is a hostel.


5: Borres - Peñaseita

From Borres, there are two possible routes for the walker. One of them, the so-called "Ruta dos Hospitais" (Hospital Route), is 26,5 km long and goes along Montefurado and Berducedo up to La Mesa, whereas the second one (15,3 km) stops at Peñaseita after passing along Pola de Allande. This is completed with the sixth stage (16,6 km) that goes up to La Mesa. There are pilgrim's hostels both in Peñaseita and La Mesa.

Leaving from Borres, we find Samblismo, La Mortera, Colines, Porciles, Lavadoira… and we get to Pola de Allande.
Leaving from La Mortera, where the Pazo dos Maldonado and St Pascual Chapel stand, you can go through the Hospital route in a version that leads the pilgrim through Fonfaraón and Valparaíso (old hostels in the Way) to Montefurado. You should not forget Pola de Allande either, a present passage of the Way to Compostela.


Once you pass Ferroy, you find Pola de Allande.
If the previous villages were born by a royal initiative, Pola de Allande was born because in the second half of the 13th century. Bishop Pedro gave properties so that the inhabitants could create the village.


The Pazo de Cienfuegos, from the 14th century and rebuilt in the 16th century, catches our attention in this village. It dominates the population from a hill with three towers showing its fortress.
The religious architecture is represented by San Andrés Church, from the 16th century and then restored on many occasions.


Leaving Pola de Allande, we find Peñaseita and El Palo (1.146 m) with wonderful landscapes, including the remains of old auriferous exploitations.

Mapa Etapa 5

6: Peñaseita - La Mesa

The pilgrims that have chosen the second route, that of Pola de Allande, and have stopped at Peñaseia have a brief 16,6 km stage up to La Mesa. In case they have not spend the night in Peñaseita, the stage from Borres up to La Mesa (through Pola de Allande) means a 32 km walk.

The religious architecture is represented by San Andrés Church, from the 16th century and then restored on many occasions.
Leaving Pola de Allande, we find Peñaseita and El Palo (1.146 m) with wonderful landscapes, including the remains of old auriferous exploitations.
The Way goes on through Montefurado, crossing the Hospital route, where there were a pilgrim’s hospital years ago. A carving of the Apostle is still preserved in its chapel.


Lago and Berducedo are the last towns in Allande. At Lago’s church there is a bell dating from the 16th century and near the church we find a magnificent yew that was declared Natural Monument.

Berducedo, whose access is still known as ‘Camín Francés’, has a church from the 14th century and even at the end of the last century there was a house-hospital that still preserves a plaque in the façade of the doctor’s house.

7: La Mesa - Grandas de Salime

There are only 16,5 km from La Mesa to Grandas de Salime. Even though the orography is hard, the pilgrim can get his strength back to undertake the last Asturian stage next day and face the hard beginning of the Galician section.

After passing La Mesa (with a church from the late 17th century dedicated to St Maria Magdalene), in Buspol, where there was a hospital for pilgrims, we start to go down towards Grandas, crossing over the waterfall built in 1954 that buried the old Salime. The landscapes are amazing. In Grandas, there is a boat for crossing the waters of the Navia River.

Grandas de Salime is thought to be born in the 12th century following an endowment made by a donation of King Fernando II, being formed throughout the Way. In 1222, the privilege of King Alfonso IX also included this village as a passage for pilgrims to Compostela.


The parish church, dating form the 18th century and finished with the Porch in the 19th century, preserves the old Romanesque front incorporated to the present building as well as Gothic and Baroque remains. It was a collegiate dependent on San Salvador de Oviedo until the end of the 16th century.
In the old abbey there is a very interesting ethnographic museum.

8: Grandas de Salime - Fonsagrada

Our walking along the Asturian soil finishes with this stage and the Galician Way starts. There are 36 km from Grandas de Salime to Fonsagrada to put the walker's strength to the test. Bustelo del Camino is the last Asturian village. We enter Galicia through the Porto do Acebo (1,030 metres high and about 170 km from Compostela). Fonfría (Fonte Fría) is the first Galician village.

That is the end of the Asturian section of the way: La Farrapa, Cerexeira, Malneira, San Julián, Castro, Padraira, Peñafuente and Bustelo del Camino.

In Castro, we find Chao de San Martín, a 'castro' that is being researched and is going to have an interpreting centre.
In Padraira, there was a hospital for leprous people founded at the end of the 16th century.
From here, we find Xestoselo, Peñafonte and the last Asturian village: Bustelo del Camino.


We enter Galicia through the Porto do Acebo at 1.030 m high. Since the very beginning of Galicia until Compostela there are 144 km left. Pilgrims that only walk the Galician way start walking here.
In the province of Lugo, there are remarkable traces and remembers that show there was a Way to Compostela.


Fonfría is the first village in Galicia. This name means ‘cold water spring’ and it also exists in the French Way in the province of Lugo. There was a pilgrim’s hospital here of the Order of St John of Portomarín, containing a house with oratory, lodgings and infirmary… It dates from the beginning of the 17th century and it was still functioning at the beginning of the 20th century.
The Malta Cross preserved in the church on the font reminds us of that hospital.
We pass San Cosme de Barbeitos and Santa Bárbara do Camiño Chapels and find Paradanova with Santa Cruz Chapel, where the Way forks.
A branch of the way leads us to A Fonsagrada, where there is a proof of pilgrimage since the end of the 12th century.


Nowadays, A Fonsagrada is the head of the largest municipality in Galicia. Here is the Fons Sacrata, taking the village its name. According to the legend, St James was attended in this village by a poor widow. Being sorrow about her poverty, the apostle turned the water of the fountain into milk to feed the widow and her two children.


History identifies this name with ‘Fontem Albei’ Roman station within the itinerary of the 4th century from Asturias to Lucus Augusti.
The holy fountain, then christianized, is thought to have originated the hostel and the first church of the village.



Today, A Fonsagrada is the capital of a vast area and offers in its Museum a deep vision of the ethnography of the mountains from the East of Lugo.

9: Fonsagrada - O Cádavo

There are 29 hard kilometres in this way that put the pilgrim's courage and strength to the test. The pilgrim should not miss any of the two possible itineraries from A Fonsagrada. Although it means more distance, the beauty of landscapes and the splendour of nature are worth a bigger effort. A Pobra is history made of stone. The pilgrim should visit it and go back to his steps again to be consolidated in the Way.
29 kilometros

Near A Fonsagrada, we find San Xoán de Padrón with a church from the 18th century and Montouto, where the way is only one again.
The original itinerary of the Way is the one of Pobra de Burón, A Puebla, the main point in the history of the Primitive Way. In the 13th century, people already talk about the ‘Camiño d´Ovedo’.
In this Pobra, which was the capital until 1835, there were up to four hospitals although there are only traces of A Trindade Hospital, founded in the middle of the 14th century. Raíña and Santiago Hospitals are also mentioned at the end of this century


The village shows Santa María Magdalena Church with valuable Baroque and Neoclassic altarpieces, the remains of the fortress of the Count of Lemos and the fortress of the Altamira that was devastated by the Irmandiños. It was then restored and now vanishes under the rain and wind.
Leaving Pobra de Burón with an area called O Milladoiro, we find A Bastida, where there were St Lazarus Hospital and Gardens, houses for leprous people and Romanesque church of the knights of St John.
In Xestoso, where we can enter through a new ‘Camín de misa’, there was a Lazaretto with a chapel that was preserved until the middle of the last century.
We must go beyond the Pico Muradal (1.108 m) for getting to Montouto. Montouto (‘Monte alto’) has this name for being 1.050 m above sea level. We find here the ruins of a hospital founded in 1360 by King Pedro I de Castilla, known as The Cruel, to ‘put up, welcome and house the poor pilgrims going to Santiago’.



It was the most important hospital in the Galician mountain. Restored in 1698, it was still functioning at the beginning of the 20th century and in its chapel there was a pilgrimage a year dedicated to St James.
Entering Montouto, the Pedra-Fita of Pena Labrada showed the lost travellers in the hard winters the safe shelter of the pilgrim’s hostel.
Two branches of the way join here and in the surroundings there is a beautiful dolmen (‘As Pedras Dereitas’), remembering the furthest times of human life in this region.
Near Montouto we find the Alto do Cerredo of 960 m high.
In Paradavella, which also belonged to the knights of St John of Portomarín, the ‘pallozas’ and all the beauty of the Galician traditional construction’ is still preserved.
A Degolada, the old ‘Parata Decollata’ crosses the way. In the 13th century it showed the limit of the County of Navia. Then, we find A Lastra (it also belonged to the Order of St John) and A Fontaneira (930 m) near the mountain of the same name with a church dedicated to the Apostle that had been the chapel of a pilgrim’s hostel.


We get to the Campo da Matanza. According to the legend, King Alfonso II, the Chaste fought here against a Moslem army, maybe to defend the way to Compostela. The truth is that the King passed along these regions to Compostela during the discovery of the Apostle’s sepulchre.
Rests of armours, swords and tombs appeared in this field, which was enough for popular imagination to credit the existence of this hard battle with a victory of the Christian King and the following opening of the way to Compostela.

O Cádavo

We get to O Cádavo, capital of Baleira, through the Carrileira de Santiago. A new pilgrim’s hostel in O Cádavo proves the standing passage of the Way, though A Esperela was the most important village before. There was an old monastery here that was the origin of the present Romanesque church with deep further modifications

10: O Cádavo - Castroverde - Lugo

The tenth stage (30 km) leads us from the mountain to the plain, from O Cádavo to Lugo, passing along Castroverde. In this section, Vilabade is a peaceful backwater and Soutomerille is in ruins hoping to be recovered from oblivion. Castroverde is governed by the monumental tower, hoping to resuscitate to life and go on watching the Way. Our route gets to the oldest city in Galicia, the bimillenary Lucus Augusti, Lugo. .

Passing the Alto da Vacariza, we get to Vilabade, where there was a Franciscan community for attending pilgrims since the middle of the 15th century. The Gothic church of that convent is still preserved and was declared national monument. It dates from the 15th century and has an only nave and presbytery covered by ribbed vault and restored in the 17th century by Diego Osorio Escobar, Archbishop of Puebla and Viceroy of Mexico.
The Baroque altarpiece, created by Francisco Lens in 1759, is dominated by an image of Santiago Matamoros. The beautiful neoclassic porch of the church is the product of a restoration.
Beside the church, closing the square, you find the Pazo de Abraira-Arana, Casa Grande de Vilabade, dedicated to rural tourism. Erected by Diego Osorio for his retirement, it complements with Nosa Señora do Carmen Chapel that took in the Virgin Brotherhood also founded by the Viceroy of Mexico.


But the old Way, the still called French Way or main road, went from O Cádavo to Castroverde through A Frairía and Vilalle. Besides, the diversion through Vilabade’s way with the Franciscan Monastery did not go up to the Vacariza but it would open into through the Carme hermitage.
Santiago de Castroverde, called Santiago de Vilariño in its religious denomination, has a church dedicated to the Apostle, and the tower of the old castle of the Lemos that later belonged to the Altamira erected in the 14th century.
The village is known to exist since the end of the 9th century as a part of the Trastámara County as well as a pilgrim’s hospital since the end of the 13th century.


From Castroverde to Lugo, we find San Miguel do Camiño, Souto de Torres, Santa María de Moreira, where there is a ‘Leira do Camiño de Santiago’ and Vilar de Cas.

Vilar de Cas is one of the so many diversions of the Way… One way would go through Paderne, Romeán and Báscuas and the main way through Soutomerille and Gondar, that later declined.
Soutomerille, a remarkable centre of population years ago, had a monastery and preserves a Romanesque church restored in the beginning of the 17th century as well as monumental houses. Today, only silence exists.


In Gondar, there was an important hospital that turned into A Nova Convent in 1369 as pilgrims preferred the new course through Romeán and Báscuas. The building survived until the beginning of the 20th century.
A French coast, proof of the Way, joined Gondar and Báscuas. Then, the Way went through Carballido (it preserves a pilgrim St James from the 15th century), Santiago de Fóra (today Santiago de Castelo) to the old Lucus Augusti.


In Lugo, the Way entered the Chanca and went up the Carril das Flores, entering the Wall through the ‘Porta de San Pedro’ or ‘Toledana’. There was the first hospital (Santa Catarina Hospital).
Here is the new pilgrim’s hospital in the Primitive Way in Lugo.


Travellers went through the Rúa de San Pedro. At the end of this street we find the Sancti Jacobi chapel that even today is the Santiago, A Nova parish church. This parish church, including Santigo de Fóra, is one of the foundational parishes of Lugo’s church.


They went through the one called Praza Mayor today, in those days the so-called Cortiñas de San Román, where we find the headquarters of the City Council of Lugo.
On a first stage, the gardens of the Episcopal palace changed the route of St James for the Rúa dos Cregos, entering the cathedral through the main facade. Afterwards, the entrance went on the Praza de Santa María and Porta Norte, also called Porta dos Perdóns. In the surroundings there was a hospital.

Pilgrims prayed before the Santísimo, permanently exhibited at Lugo’s cathedral, before the Romanesque image of ‘Nosa Señora dos Ollos Grandes’ and, naturally, at St James Chapel. The cathedral, started by Master Raimundo in 1129, is a beautiful whole of Romanesque, Baroque and Neoclassic styles.

San Pedro Lugo

The Gothic cloister of the old Franciscan Convent (today the Provincial Museum), the church of this same convent or St Domingo Convent, St Froilan Church and the City Council from 1738 are remarkable monuments of Lugo’s geography.
And the Roman Wall, enclosing the historical city and offering an original high walk along the ‘adarve’, as well as the historical Roman baths by the Miño River, where there is also a Roman bridge.

Muralla Lugo

There were hostels-hospitals at Porta Miñá (San Miguel), Praza do Ferrol (San Bartolomé), another one at Raíña-Dr. Castro and the last one at San Lázaro. There were numerous hospitals in Lugo both in the old and the new part of the city, including different hostels and houses around the cathedral.

11: Lugo - San Romao da Retorta

There are 19km from Lugo to San Romao da Retorta. But if the pilgrim is interested in mystery, he should go to Santalla de Bóveda and try to get to its meaning, hidden throughout the centuries. The Way the pilgrim steps on is a way with over twenty centuries of history. A milestone showed that the Way goes along the 19th route of Antonino´s itinerary, the main road of the Western Roman network.

After leaving the cathedral at Bo Xesús Street, pilgrims went down the Rúa do Miño, going through the Fonte da Pinguela. Pilgrims from the diversion of the French Way would also follow this route.
They first went out the Wall through the Porta Miñá. After the bishopric transferred the rights on the Porta de Santiago in the middle of the 16th century, pilgrims went out through this door under a statue of Santiago Matamoros.


They would go along the placed occupied by the Carmen Chapel (19th century) that substituted a hermitage of the Virgen del Camino, image preserved in an altarpiece of this temple. They would go down the Regueiro dos Hortos, down the Roman road or the Medieval Road and, after crossing the Roman Bridge, they would get to St Lazaro district, where there was an important pilgrim’s hospital. In the surrounding area, we find the Roman baths, mentioned by Plinio and sung by the Licenciado Molina.

Puente romano

Prógalo has a Romanesque church with an image of pilgrim St James.
In Bacurín, there is a Romanesque church from the second half of the 12th century, dedicated to San Miguel. There is only a nave and semicircular apse, a façade with archivolts, bilobulated tympanum and columns with Corinthian capitals. The Pazo de Bacurín draws our attention, mainly for the access arch.

O burgo

We pass along O Francés and Hospital de Mera, these toponyms are a reference in the Way.
San Pedro de Mera is the last village of Lugo in the Primitive Way. There was a pilgrim’s hospital, where travellers were offered fire, water and salt.

In Guntín, you find San Romao da Retorta Romanesque church from the 12th century with posterior alterations.


A milestone found here proves that the Way we follow coincides with the 19th Roman Way of Antonino’s Itinerary.


Santa Cruz da Retorta is also a Romanesque Church from the 12th century. The church has a Trinitarian Christogram carved in the tympanum of the North door, typical of the areas on the ways to Compostela. In the main facade there is a relief of Christ blessing, between the sun and the moon.
The pilgrim could go on through the Burgo de Negral in Friol, where there was a hospital by the friars of Ferreira de Pallares that would give fire, water, dressing and charity to pilgrims. We go on with O Pacio, also in Friol.

Throughout history, the Primitive Way always go straight on from Lugo to Melide, crossing O Careón along Hospital das Seixas, Santiago de Vilouriz, Vilamor and Compostela. The diversion from Augas Santas to Palas de Rei is a modern invention without any historical rigour.

12: San Romao da Retorta - Melide

Leaving San Romao, with a Romanesque church of the 12th church, the Way goes towards Melide. It is an easy 25 km stage that shows the end of the Primitive Way as Melide is a crossroads, but we will follow our route to Compostela. If our Way is the first one, we must understand that the old pilgrims were those that marked way to the routes that then coincided with this section.


The pilgrim could go on through the Burgo de Negral in Friol, where there was a hospital by the friars of Ferreira de Pallares that would give fire, water, dressing and charity to pilgrims. We go on with O Pacio, also in Friol
We find small villages such as Seixalbos, Xende, Ferreira… In Ponte Ferreira (Palas de Rei), there is a Roman Bridge as well as a Romanesque church from the end of the 12th century that belonged to Vilar de Donas.



Augas Santas (‘healthy springs’) is also in Palas de Rei, where there was a monastery in the 9th century. San Salvador de Merlán Church also preserves beautiful Romanesque remains.
Throughout history, the Primitive Way always go straight on from Lugo to Melide, crossing O Careón along Hospital das Seixas, Santiago de Vilouriz, Vilamor and Compostela. The diversion from Augas Santas to Palas de Rei is a modern invention without any historical rigour.
Santiago de Vilouriz belongs to the Toques and near Melide we find San Antoíño de Toques that has a Benedictine monastery and preserves a pre-Romanesque church from the 9th century.


That is the end of our primitive way as from here the itinerary is the same as that of the French Way.
Melide, where there is a pilgrim’s hostel, was always aware of its role as a crossroads so beside the Espírito Santo church (it was a Franciscan Convent), the central square of the village is called ‘Praza dos Tres Camiños’, because the Primitive Way, the North Way and the French Way to Compostela converge here.

Melide iglesia