A walk around Astorga

posted in: Europe, Home, Leon, Spain | 10

We stopped for a few hours only, just enough time for a coffee and a walk around Astorga, on the road from Léon to Villafranca de Bierzo.

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 facade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Astorga
The facade of the Cathedral of Santa Maria in Astorga
The Cloister of the Cathedral in Astorga
The 18C Cloister of the Cathedral
The cloister of the Cathedral in Astorga
The 18C Cloister of the Cathedral
The High Altar of the Cathedral in Astorga
The High Altar of Astorga Cathedral by Gaspar Becerra (1558)
The Choir Stalls in Astorga Cathedral
The Choir Stalls
The Organ Loft above the Choir Stalls
The Organ Loft above the Choir Stalls
In Astorga Cathedral
Behind the Choir Stalls
A side Chapel in the Cathedral
The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Astorga
The Cathedral of Santa Maria in Astorga

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 Church of Santa Marta alongside the Cathedral, & the Celda de las Emparedadas beyond
The Church of Santa Marta alongside the Cathedral, & the Celda de las Emparedadas beyond

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.

The Cathedral (L) and Episcopal Palace (R) in Astorga
The Cathedral (L) and Episcopal Palace (R) in Astorga

Plaza Mayor

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.

The Plaza Mayor with the 17C Town Hall
The Plaza Mayor with the 17C Town Hall

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 Church of San Bartolome
In the Plaza San Bartolome

Roman remains

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 Church of San Francisco, and the small Chapel of Santa Vera Cruz in Astorga
The Church of San Francisco, and the small Chapel of Santa Vera Cruz
The church of San Francisco in Astorga
Inside the Church of San Francisco
The road down to the Puerta del Sol, next to the Church of San Francisco
The road down to the Puerta del Sol, next to the Church of San Francisco
Pilgrims arriving through the Puerta del Sol
Pilgrims arriving through the Puerta del Sol

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 town walls in the Gardens of the Synagogue
The Roman Walls in the Gardens of the Synagogue
The site of the Lower Gate through the Roman Walls, just beyond the Gardens of the Synagogue

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?

The Church of St Julian in Astorga
The Church of St Julian
The Church of St Julian in Astorga
The capitals at the doorway of the Church of St Julian
The Church of St Julian in Astorga
Inside the Church of St Julian

And that brought the brief visit to this town to a close – at least I had enjoyed a short walk around Astorga!

Further information
Background and here
The Roman Museum in Astorga
Research on Roman Astorga

10 Responses

  1. wanderessence1025

    Astorga was one of my favorite cities along The Way, and you have done it great justice with your beautiful photos. I love that photo of the interior of St. Julian. I didn’t get to explore the city wall like you did. Here is my Astorga experience, in case you want to compare notes: https://wanderessence.com/2019/09/08/camino-day-33-hospital-de-orbigo-to-astorga/

    Did you see the Gaudí Palacio Episcopal (Bishop’s Palace)? Sadly, I missed the Gardens of the Synagogue and the Roman Museum, both of which look fascinating. 🙂

    • Candy Blackham

      For various reasons we didn’t get the best from Astorga. I think, as always, that one needs to spend time in a place before it starts to ‘reveal’ itself.

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