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The silhouette of Castrojeriz Castle has been breaking the Castilian sky for millennia. It is not just any place of passage. Heart of the French itinerary to Santiago de Compostela, this is a village-road, made by walking by pilgrims. Since this year it is also one of the Most Beautiful Villages in Spain. "What a scoop", will say with irony the travelers who have known the municipality of Burgos.

For almost everyone, the first encounter with Castrojeriz is the old monastery of San Antón, ruins that have become one of the most iconic points of the Jacobean route. Crossing under their pointed arches, just a slight trace of what they were, is one of those rites that fill the pilgrim with emotion. A hospitalero from Burgos, Ovidio Campo, has been embarking on the titanic (and altruistic) task of keeping San Antón standing for more than a decade. In passing, he feeds and sleeps the pilgrim in exchange for a donation.

The ruins of the monastery of San Antón.SHUTTERSTOCK

Next to Ovidio, a perfect ally to follow the visit of the town of Burgos, is Cristóbal, in front of the cotarro in the tourist office, which is another indispensable stop on the Camino because it shares the stage with the Church of Santo Domingo and, at the same time, with the Pilgrim's Interpretation Center (video mapping included).

We are already in the middle of the medieval center, a long and narrow hamlet on the slope of the hill. At the top, the castle preserves a Roman tower. Down here, each stone is the product of the passage of pilgrims for a thousand and some years. So much so that the main square is simply a widening of the route, these days decorated with facsimiles that collect the privileges of the first and oldest jurisdiction of Castile, granted to Castrojeriz in 974. Following Calle Real we arrive at the church of San Juan, a space that beautifully tells a crucial chapter of the town.

Pilgrims passing in front of the church of Santo Domingo.M. G. H.

One Shepherd

Today, the only pastor left in Castrojeriz is about to retire. But in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, this was the epicenter of wool export to the Netherlands. "Families from here like the Gallo or the Castro Mujica, all with chapels in San Juan, rubbed shoulders with the most important bankers in Europe. But in addition, they took advantage of the tornaviaje of all those bales of wool to bring back valuable works of flamenco art, "says Cristóbal. In addition to its altarpieces and the cloister of the thirteenth century, the temple treasures a spectacular collection of woolen tapestries designed by a disciple of Rubens.

The Great Robbery

Interestingly, one of them is missing a square piece. This is the last piece that Erik the Belgian, the greatest thief of sacred art in Europe, wanted to sell when in 1980 he stole these Flemish tapestries at dawn. "Thanks to Interpol they would all appear, but that piece that the lawyer of the deceased thief returned last year was missing."

Detail of the tapestry of the church of San Juan, where a piece (below, left) stolen by Erik the Belgian.M. is still missing. G. H.

We can not continue the Camino de Santiago without also knowing the former collegiate church of Santa María del Manzano, one more jewel. In it is the tomb of Queen Leonor of Castile, murdered in 1359. Another bizarre story among a lot of art. Castrojeriz leaves the bar high for the next stage of the Camino.


ARRIVE. Castrojeriz is between Burgos and Palencia on the Camino Frances, two and a half hours drive from Madrid.

SLEEP. Quinta San Francisco. Rural hotel with 20 rooms, wellness area, foot bath, restaurant, orchard and garden. From 180 euros/night.

orMORE INFO. On the website of Turismo turismoburgos.org

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  • Tourism
  • Castile and Leon
  • Burgos
  • Articles Marta González-Hontoria

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