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.