This stage of El Camino de Santiago continues along cereal fields in its first half, right until the village of Villafranca de los Montes de Oca. After that, The Way crosses the mountains of Oca during the second half of the day.
After leaving Tosantos in the morning pilgrims pass by some picturesque churches and old big houses in the middle of nowhere as if they were still some centuries behind. The grain fields will lead you to Villafranca de los Montes de Oca where there is actually a public albergue and bars and shops. From Villafranca de los Montes de Oca it is easy to take a bus to Burgos, the capital, if needed. Villafranca de los Montes de Oca used to be an important town in the Middle Ages, being episcopal see until 1075. However, nowadays there are only around 30 inhabitants in winter months. The altitude here is nearly 1000 m over the sea level and that makes winters really hard and cold.
After Villafranca de los Montes de Oca the plains turn into hills and forests of oaks and pines. El Camino de Santiago goes along a forestry firewall way and despite of the forests it’s quite difficult to get any shade due to the wideness of the firewall. Besides, there aren’t fountains so it´s better to carry plenty of water for these 8 km of forest walk.
Finally, el Camino de Santiago gets into the Romanesque church and monastery of San Juan de Ortega. There are around 20 inhabitants left, the public pilgrim’s hostel and shops are very basic but the church and monastery are priceless. Each equinox the “miracle of light” takes place: light penetrates at 5 pm (solar time) through a small window ingeniously placed in the main façade. A tiny beam of light illuminates the Annunciation of Virgin Mary, sculpted in stone in the top of a pillar. The rest of the space in the Romanesque church in darkness and silence makes this “miracle of light” a very special moment.