Via de la Plata or Camino Mozarabe
The Via de la Plata stretches across Spain from Seville to Santiago, moving up the western peninsula and through centuries of history. It’s one of the routes that allows you to obtain the Compostela (certificate of pilgrimage) when you walk at least from Ourense to Santiago.
As well as being known as the Via de la Plata, or Silver Way, the route is sometimes called the Camino Mozárabe or Mozarabic Way of St James. The name of Via de la Plata doesn’t refer to actual silver, but is thought to be derived from the Latin word ‘Lapidata’ meaning stone road, or possibly the Arabic word ‘Balatta’ meaning road.
This route was traditionally used for agricultural and trade purposes between the north and south of Spain. During Roman times, a huge access road was built to facilitate the transit of troops, goods and traders. Which also assisted with spreading the Roman culture and providing a means of controlling the territory. The route connected Emerita Augusta (Merida) with Asturica Augusta (Astorga), and crosses the western part of the Iberian Peninsula from south to north, travelling over the basins of the Tajo and Duero Rivers. The Way was laid out in early Christian times with older roads providing a convenient template.
When the Roman Empire fell, the route was used by the Moors to advance into northern Spain and then subsequently by the Spanish during the Reconquista. From the 9th Century onwards, Mozarabic pilgrims from the south of Spain, North Africa and other parts of the Mediterranean started using it as a Camino route. Mozarabic pilgrims were Iberian Christians living under Moorish rule, and it’s from this period that the route gets the name Camino Mozárabe.
The route begins in Seville, the capital of southern Spain’s Andalusia region and a Game of Thrones filming location. It then moves north, passing through the regions of Extremadura and Castilla y Leon before finishing at Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. This is the longest route of all the Caminos. It’s well marked and keeps mostly to paths and paved roads. Although easier in terms of terrain than the French Way, some days are longer and don’t have as many facilities.
To make this slightly longer route more manageable, Follow the Camino has established ten sections between six to seven days each along the Via de la Plata. Here, you’ll stay in carefully chosen accommodations and have the opportunity to sample some of the finest local cuisines.
I loved the whole experience. To my amazement, no matter how large or small the place, my baggage was always there to greet me.