Astorga, the old Asturica Augustea, was established as a Roman city and two important roads cross here – the Ruta de la Plata and the Camino de Santiago. The Ruta de la Plata was the road used to transport mined goods from the north (Gijon) to the ports in the south of the country (Seville), and pilgrims are still passing through the town!
Cathedral in Astorga
Like most of the churches I have seen the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Astorga, which was started in 1471, was built on the site of an earlier Romanesque church.
The church of Santa Marta
The short walk around Astorga began at the Church of Santa Marta, the Parish Church of Astorga, which sits alongside the Cathedral, and the small building next to the church is the Celda de las Emparedadas. In the Middle Ages there were apparently women, in an extreme expression of religious fervour, who walled themselves up in this cell and who only communicated with the Church through another small window.
The Episcopal Palace
Antoni Gaudi designed The Episcopal Palace next to the Cathedral. It houses a museum about the Camino which we did not visit.
We walked down to the Plaza Mayor, once the site of the Roman Forum and where I set off on a short walk in the surrounding streets.
church of San Bartolome
The Church of San Bartolomé is the oldest church in the town, and dates from the 11C. Various alterations and additions over the centuries have made the church look rather odd on the outside. I did not see the inside as sadly it was closed.
The Roman Museum is at the opposite end of the Plaza of San Bartolomé and round the corner you can see the remains of a Roman mansion. There are several Roman remains dotted around the city (baths, mansions, and part of the sewerage system).
Church of San Francisco
Next to the Roman remains is the Church of San Francisco with the adjacent Chapel of Santa Vera Cruz. Astorga is a walled city and the Puerta del Sol is the main gate through the Roman Walls and the entry/exit of the Camino.
The Aljibe Park
Opposite the Puerta del Sol is the Aljibe Park which leads to the Gardens of the Synagogue along the walls. There was a thriving Jewish community in Astorga until the Jews were expelled from Spain c.1490
The Church of St Julian
Here you find the Church of St Julian whose columns at the doorway look very old – I wonder if this was the site of a Romanesque, or Pre-Romanesque building?
And that brought the brief visit to this town to a close – at least I had enjoyed a short walk around Astorga!