The oldest route in the Camino de Santiago is now considered by many to be the one of greatest beauty, of challenging layout, yet not too crowded, it follows the footsteps of the first pilgrims.
In the historic centre of Santiago, very close to the university faculty of History and, to Abastos Square, there is an imposing statue of a Medieval king, that of Alfonso II, nicknamed Casto (the pure), he was king at the beginning of the IX century over a large territory that now comprises of the autonomous regions of Galicia, Asturias and Leon: the ancient Gallaecia.
A fundamental monarch to the development of Compostela and to the current world famous Jacobean phenomenon, he was considered the first ever pilgrim. In 813 when they discovered the alleged remains of the Apostle, the bishop of the neighbouring Iria Flavia travelled to Oviedo to inform the King of the discovery. He did not miss the opportunity to morally and ideologically rearm the Christian part of Roman Hispania, bordered in the north of the peninsular by the overwhelming Muslim rule.
Alfonso II embarked on his journey crossing the mountain that separates Asturias of Galicia from Os Ancares, passing the walled city of Lugo and continuing the Camino west to the place where, according to legend Paio the hermit saw the heavenly signs that enabled him to find the tomb of the Apostle. The king ordered the construction of a church in the place where, in the year 2012, more than two hundred thousand people did the pilgrimage. Several thousand did so in the footsteps of king Alfonso, completing the oldest pilgrimage route to Santiago: the Primitive Way.
Also known as the Camino of Ovedo or the North-Interior way was one of the most important in the early years of the Jacobean cult. This route also received the nickname of “the French”, however, this became lost for political reasons linked to the historical phenomenon known as the Reconquista. At the end of the X century the central powers of the Galician-Asturian monarchy moved south to León as did the majority of pilgrims. The Primitive Way however survived.
A demanding journey through landscapes of great beauty The Primitive way travels through very sparsely populated mountainous areas through the lesser-known areas of Galicia and Asturias, almost devoid of basic services such as accommodation, food and medical supplies. In exchange pilgrims can enjoy areas and landscapes of great beauty without the hassle of crowds or rushing. Travellers will see three monumental cities that deserve a lengthy visit (Oviedo, Lugo and of course Santiago).
This journey involves hardly any asphalt and is recommended to all level of walkers (the route however can be somewhat more complicated depending on the weather, particularly when it snows or rains), inhabited by hospitable residents and following problems at some stages of the journey it now has a sufficient number of public and private hostels. It is perhaps one of the most attractive of all the Jacobean routes as a result of its scenic splendour, for its ethnographic wealth, its history and because pilgrims can walk calmly. The Primitive way is difficult but pleasant and is not well signposted.
The Primitive Way, one of the most emblematic routes of the Camino Santiago, begins at the foot of the cathedral of Oviedo. From there it runs through the western half of interior Asturias. It enters Galicia via the peak of Acebo (1.130 meters high), reaching Lugo, 100 km from Santiago (the minimum distance required to receive the Compostela, the popular pilgrim certificate).
© Copyright LA VOZ DE GALICIA S.A. Polígono de Sabón, Arteixo, A CORUÑA (ESPAÑA) Inscrita en el Registro Mercantil de A Coruña en el Tomo 2438 del Archivo, Sección General, a los folios 91 y siguientes, hoja C-2141. CIF: A-15000649