Walking the Via de la Plata

The Camino Via de la Plata with the Sanabrés variant is a lesser-known yet immensely rewarding pilgrimage route, part of the larger network of Camino de Santiago paths across Europe. This journey, steeped in rich history and diverse landscapes, offers a unique experience for pilgrims and travelers alike.

Starting Point – Seville: The Via de la Plata begins in the vibrant city of Seville, known for its stunning architecture and deep Andalusian culture. The route heads north, weaving through the beautiful landscapes of southern Spain.

The Path Through Extremadura: The initial stages of the journey traverse the region of Extremadura, an area laden with Roman history. Cities like Mérida, with its impressive Roman ruins, and Cáceres, a UNESCO World Heritage site, are highlights.

Castilla y León: As the path continues, it enters Castilla y León, a region that showcases the rural heartland of Spain. Here, the route passes through Salamanca, famous for its ancient university and the striking Plaza Mayor.

The Sanabrés Variant: Upon reaching Zamora, pilgrims have the option to continue on the Via de la Plata towards Astorga or diverge onto the Sanabrés variant. The Sanabrés path heads northwest into the province of Galicia.

Galician Landscape: The Galician part of the route is characterized by its lush greenery, rolling hills, and traditional villages. This region, known for its rainfall, offers a stark contrast to the arid landscapes of southern Spain.

Ourense and Thermal Baths: A significant city on the Sanabrés variant is Ourense, renowned for its thermal baths. Pilgrims often take advantage of these natural hot springs for a restorative break.

Approaching Santiago de Compostela: The final stages of the Camino Sanabrés meander through the Galician countryside, dotted with ancient churches and quaint hamlets, before culminating in the pilgrim’s destination, Santiago de Compostela.

Santiago de Compostela: The journey ends at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, a magnificent structure where the remains of St. James are said to be buried. The sense of accomplishment and spiritual fulfillment upon reaching this destination is a profound experience for many pilgrims.

Duration and Difficulty: The Via de la Plata with the Sanabrés variant is approximately 1,000 kilometers long and can take about 6 to 7 weeks to complete. It is considered a challenging route due to its length, the varying terrains, and the extreme temperatures in summer.

Cultural and Spiritual Experience: This route offers a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, from the Moorish influence in Seville to the Celtic traditions in Galicia. The journey is not just a physical challenge but also a spiritual and introspective one, providing a unique opportunity for personal growth and reflection.

Embarking on the Camino Via de la Plata with the Sanabrés variant is a journey through the heart of Spain, offering a blend of history, culture, natural beauty, and a deep sense of camaraderie among fellow pilgrims.

Guidebook

Gerry Kelly has written an excellent guidebook for the Via de la Plata. He also has a channel on the app Telegram that keeps you up to date on all of the happenings on the VLDP including Albergue closures and any other information.

Via de la Plata Stages

The Camino Via de la Plata is a long and historic route that starts in Seville and heads northwards through the western part of Spain. This Camino can be divided into various stages, each offering unique landscapes and cultural experiences. Here’s a general list of the stages for the Camino Via de la Plata:

  1. Seville to Guillena
    • Distance: Approximately 22 km.
  2. Guillena to Castilblanco de los Arroyos
    • Distance: Around 18 km.
  3. Castilblanco de los Arroyos to Almadén de la Plata
    • Distance: About 29 km.
  4. Almadén de la Plata to Monesterio
    • Distance: Roughly 34 km.
  5. Monesterio to Fuente de Cantos
    • Distance: Around 20 km.
  6. Fuente de Cantos to Zafra
    • Distance: Approximately 25 km.
  7. Zafra to Villafranca de los Barros
    • Distance: About 19 km.
  8. Villafranca de los Barros to Torremejía
    • Distance: Roughly 27 km.
  9. Torremejía to Mérida
    • Distance: Around 16 km.
  10. Mérida to Alcuéscar
    • Distance: Approximately 36 km.
  11. Alcuéscar to Cáceres
    • Distance: About 38 km.
  12. Cáceres to Embalse de Alcántara
    • Distance: Roughly 37 km.
  13. Embalse de Alcántara to Grimaldo
    • Distance: Around 23 km.
  14. Grimaldo to Carcaboso
    • Distance: Approximately 20 km.
  15. Carcaboso to Aldeanueva del Camino
    • Distance: About 37 km.
  16. Aldeanueva del Camino to La Calzada de Béjar
    • Distance: Roughly 23 km.
  17. La Calzada de Béjar to Fuenterroble de Salvatierra
    • Distance: Around 20 km.
  18. Fuenterroble de Salvatierra to San Pedro de Rozados
    • Distance: Approximately 28 km.
  19. San Pedro de Rozados to Salamanca
    • Distance: About 23 km.
  20. Salamanca to El Cubo de Tierra del Vino
    • Distance: Roughly 36 km.
  21. El Cubo de Tierra del Vino to Zamora
    • Distance: Around 32 km.
  22. Zamora to Montamarta
    • Distance: Approximately 18 km.
  23. Montamarta to Granja de Moreruela
    • Distance: About 22 km.

From Granja de Moreruela, the Camino Via de la Plata often branches into two: continuing northwards towards Astorga (where it joins the Camino Francés) or heading west into Galicia via the Sanabrés variant towards Santiago de Compostela. The stages listed above are the main sections of the route up to Granja de Moreruela. Each stage can vary in difficulty and the type of terrain encountered. This Camino is known for its natural beauty, historic towns and cities, and the quieter, more contemplative journey it offers compared to the more popular Camino Francés.

Camino Sanabrés Stages

The Camino Via de la Plata with the Sanabrés variant is a unique and scenic route that branches off the main Via de la Plata at Granja de Moreruela and heads towards Santiago de Compostela through the region of Galicia. This variant is less traveled than the more popular Camino Francés but offers a rich cultural and natural experience. Here’s a list of the typical stages for the Sanabrés variant:

  1. Granja de Moreruela to Tábara
    • Distance: Approximately 25 km.
  2. Tábara to Santa Croya de Tera
    • Distance: Around 22 km.
  3. Santa Croya de Tera to Rionegro del Puente
    • Distance: About 16 km.
  4. Rionegro del Puente to Asturianos
    • Distance: Roughly 20 km.
  5. Asturianos to Puebla de Sanabria
    • Distance: Around 15 km.
  6. Puebla de Sanabria to Lubián
    • Distance: Approximately 27 km.
  7. Lubián to A Gudiña
    • Distance: About 24 km.
  8. A Gudiña to Laza
    • Distance: Roughly 34 km.
  9. Laza to Vilar de Barrio
    • Distance: Around 34 km.
  10. Vilar de Barrio to Xunqueira de Ambía
    • Distance: Approximately 14 km.
  11. Xunqueira de Ambía to Ourense
    • Distance: About 22 km.
  12. Ourense to Cea
    • Distance: Roughly 22 km.
  13. Cea to Dozón
    • Distance: Around 24 km.
  14. Dozón to Lalin
    • Distance: Approximately 20 km.
  15. Lalin to Silleda
    • Distance: About 15 km.
  16. Silleda to Bandeira
    • Distance: Roughly 15 km.
  17. Bandeira to Ponte Ulla
    • Distance: Around 20 km.
  18. Ponte Ulla to Santiago de Compostela
    • Distance: Approximately 20 km.

This variant offers a mix of terrains, including mountainous regions, rural landscapes, and historic towns. Each stage has its own charm and challenges, and the route is renowned for the beauty of the Galician countryside, its rich cultural heritage, and the warmth of the local people. The Sanabrés variant provides a quieter, more solitary Camino experience, ideal for those seeking reflection and a connection with nature.