This stage of El Camino de Santiago is similar to the previous one: more cereal and sunflower fields, and, still some vineyards. The only difference is that on your left you will see high mountains, normally snow capped even in summer. Also the black and white storks increase their presence from now on. The path is now completely flat and will continue like this for several hundreds of kilometers. The meseta has already started.
In theory, Castile starts right after Grañon which is the last Rioja village, and that’s one of the reasons why I have chosen it as the end of my “imaginary” first part. But although during this stage pilgrims are still walking along La Rioja, the landscape and climate is already the Castilian one.
Santo Domingo de La Calzada is again a really beautiful monumental historical town. Calzada is another way to say Camino in Spanish and this town was one of the most important along the pilgrimage in the Middle Ages as well as one of its biggest sponsors. It has a great cathedral which was started in the 12th century. Inside the cathedral there is a living cock, as a pet. This is in honor of an old legend, a miracle, that, instead of telling it here, I will let you find it out by yourselves when you are in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. In overall it is a really pleasant town full of medieval palaces and monuments and cobbled streets and a good point as end of stage. The public albergue in Santo Domingo is one of the most luxurious and modern in El Camino de Santiago and they only ask a donation for sleeping in it.
Another important piece of information is that from Santo Domingo you can take direct buses to Madrid in case you are finishing your Camino de Santiago there or you can arrive directly to Santo Domingo de la Calzada from Madrid if you are starting your Camino de Santiago there.
I’ve chosen Grañon as the end of stage because I think it is one of the most especial places along all the Camino de Santiago. There is a special energy in Grañon. Not only have I slept there as a pilgrim but also I came back years later as a volunteer to run Grañon’s albergue for two weeks.
Grañon’s albergue is on the attic and tower of a Romanesque church. Can you imagine a better place for a pilgrims hostel? The village is medieval, tiny and beautiful and its people kind and helpful. Grañon is the place where the association of volunteers for el Camino started and the courses for becoming a volunteer hospitalero are still held there. Following the example of Grañon, many other villages rehabilitated old buildings thanks to voluntary help for them to serve as pilgrim hostels.
This is the end of my “personal” first part. Tomorrow flat and dry Castile starts….
“The very heart of El Camino de Santiago…
Stay at Grañón albergue, you won’t regret it. It’s such an experience of fraternity, community and sharing. The albergue is up in the tower of the church!
By now you will surely sleep better with your sleeping bag and a mattress, and only foam earplugs to drown out the sound of snores, than you had in months in a big comfortable bed.
Inner peace goes a long way…”
Contribution of Helen