Our Favourite Places on the Camino Primitivo through Asturias
The Asturias region in northern Spain is home to the origins of the Camino de Santiago. The Camino Primitivo route, or The Original Way of Saint James, is one of the world’s first pilgrimage routes. Many historians believe that the Cathedral of Oviedo, San Salvador, is the official beginning of the Christian pilgrimage to Santiago.
This route is filled with incredible history, and it is also a magnificent walk. The Primitive Way is spectacularly beautiful with many stretches of excellent scenery. It also passes by many historically significant churches, buildings, and towns. You can feel the spirituality of this wonderful walk through Asturias as you visit these places and walk in the footsteps of thousands of pilgrims before you.
The route runs through Asturias from Oviedo to Alto del Acebo (1,030 m), and there it continues towards Galicia. The Way runs through the interior of Asturias, through rural and natural environments of native forests and villages with an atmosphere of authenticity and tranquillity.
Walking through these areas, meeting the local inhabitants makes the Camino Primitivo a unique experience.Tourismo Asturias
This section of the Camino Primitivo starts in Oviedo and will cover most of the highlights of Asturias that we list here. Some are a slight detour from the most direct route, but you can always add an extra day or two along the way to make sure you see everything!
Start Your Camino from Its Birthplace – Oviedo
Oviedo/Uviéu in Spain is the origin of the Camino Primitivo, and the original starting point of the Way of Saint James. The capital of Asturias, this area was one of the last strongholds of Christianity during the Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula. Make sure to visit the city’s cathedral – Salvador Cathedral – and visit the Statue of Saint Salvador.
Take some time to explore the Holy Chamber – an excellent example of Pre-Romanesque style and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Inside this chamber, there are invaluable pieces of metalwork from the High Medieval period.
Another unique artefact to see is the Holy Shroud, which made Oviedo a stronghold of Christianity in the Medieval Period. The Sudarium of Oviedo, or Shroud of Oviedo, is a bloodstained piece of cloth. The Sudarium is thought to be the cloth that was wrapped around the head of Jesus Christ after he died. It is kept in the Cámara Santa of the Cathedral of San Salvador.
For more fantastic history in Asturias and to see a different side of Spain, visit the Roman baths of Santa Eulalia. Unfortunately, these are an archaeological site, so you will need to find somewhere else to rest your feet on the Camino Primitivo!
Los Dolores Chapel in Grau/Grado is stunning, and its external simplicity hides unbelievable Churrigueresque exuberance. If you happen to be passing through on a Sunday, visit the market. It is one of the most famous and most frequented in Asturias.
Make sure to explore the San Salvador Monastery in Cornellana, as well as the River Nonaya.
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There is plenty to see in and around this wonderful town on the Camino Primitivo. If you are spiritually inclined, attend a service at Santa María Collegiate Church. There are plenty of wonderful churches in Asturias, and across Spain and each of them is unique!
You will also pass close to the Nonaya Waterfall on your Camino route. This is a lovely spot to stop for a snack and a rest surrounded by nature. While we are on the topic of snacks, try “Carajitos”, delicious local baked treats made of hazelnuts and sugar.
Santa María La Real Monastery in Obona, Asturias is fascinating to visit on your Camino. It is abandoned and run-down, but the details are stunning. Ask around at the local town to see if you are able to visit.
Pola de Allande
The Palace of Cienfuegos de Peñalba is just outside Pola de Allande in Asturias, Spain. The town is picturesque, and a lovely spot to explore on the Camino Primitivo.
Montefurado is a unique spot that owes its name to the gold mines that the Romans opened in this area. While you are in the area, visit Santiago Shrine. The climb is steep, but the views are lovely!
Grandas de Salime is the capital city, and one of seven parishes in the municipality of Grandas de Salime, within Asturias, in northern Spain. Visit the Iglesia de San Salvador in the center of town. There are also a number of old manor homes in the town. A highlight of the town is the Museo Etnográfico de Grandas de Salime, which offers a beautifully curated glimpse into the history of the area.
Once you are finished in town, get back into nature. Visit the large lake near the town. The views down the valley are fantastic!
As you near the end of your Camino Primitivo through Asturias you will come to Castro. This quaint town is home to the great archaeological site of Chao Samartín.
Chao Samartin is a “castro”, a fortified village founded in the Bronze Age, around the year 800 BCE. The archaeological site grew during the Iron Age, and the Romans built on it in the 2nd Century AD.
It was declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 2014 and is linked to an excellent museum.
We hope that these highlights have inspired you to start planning your next Camino in Asturias! This region of northern Spain has so much to offer and is an excellent option for Camino enthusiasts.
To learn even more about Asturias, Spain, and the UNESCO World Heritage recognised Northern Caminos, visit the Tourismo Asturias website.
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Originally published on 8th June 2021