It’s a short walk from Hospital de Orbigo to Astorga. An easy day in the Camino de Santiago that will allow you to fully enjoy the monumental city of Astorga located in the transition from the “paramo” to the mountains of Leon.
Astorga has a great history having been founded by the Romans in the 1st century B.C. It became a very important communication hub and a mining center at the Romans time. After some centuries of decadence it flourished again in the 11th century with the beginning of the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela and the Camino de Santiago. Astorga, apart from being a very important point in the French Way, it’s where the Southern Camino de Santiago coming from Seville: La Via de la Plata (which was actually another Roman route) merges with the French Way.
Astorga’s cathedral is an amazing mixture of Romanesque, Renaissance, Gothic, Neo-Classicist and Baroque elements since its construction was spammed several centuries. Then, there is the 19th century Episcopal Palace (Palacio Espiscopal), designed by Antoni Gaudi. Yes, you are right, it’s the same Gaudi of Barcelona. Astorga’s Episcopal Palace has a Catalan Modernisme style and it is one of only three buildings by Gaudi outside Catalonia.
Other interesting landmarks of Astorga are the Baroque Town Hall, and the remains of the Roman constructions and the city walls.
In overall the town which has little more than 10,000 inhabitants has a really nice atmosphere and it’s a nice point for relaxing, doing a bit of sightseeing, enjoying good food and recover all your strength for the following days. The Cruz de Ferro, which is highest point in all the Camino de Santiago is just behind the corner.