Perhaps you’ll feel reluctant to leave Leon but the Camino de Santiago continues and now there are less tan 300km to Santiago de Compostela. The exit of Leon is a bit painful although not excessive. There is still three or four hours walk along the “paramo” again dry and brown. But right after Villandangos del Paramo the irrigated valley of the river Orbigo brings back the greenery.
El Camino de Santiago takes you through the village of San Martin del Camino and then finally to Hospital de Orbigo on the shores of the river Orbigo.
Hospital de Orbigo is a beautiful medieval village and takes its name from the hospital that the Knights of Malta (The Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta) founded by the river Orbigo to assist the medieval pilgrims. Apart from the nicely kept medieval buildings and charming streets the great landmark of the village is the 13th century bridge over the river Orbigo. This long bridge has 19 arches and is really well preserved. Hospital del Orbigo’s bridge is on the old Roman route that went from Leon (Legio Septima Gemina) to Astorga, which was the Roman capital of the Roman province Asturica Augusta.
Besides, there is a nice story about the Orbigo’s bridge. That’s the tournament of the Honorable Passage. This fight tournament took place on the Jacobean Holy Year of 1434, when Suero de Quiñones, a prestigious knight from Leon, asked the King Juan II of Castile his permission to celebrate a special tournament which every knight that wanted to cross the bridge had to take part in. If they didn’t want to participate, they had to leave a glove as a sign of cowardice and cross the river wading it.
During one month Suero de Quiñones and his best friends were on the bridge waiting to battle anyone who wanted to cross the bridge. After that they all made the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.
As a practical note, Hospital de Orbigo has every service that an average pilgrim might need so no need to worry.