The Way of St James enters the borough of Villaviciosa via the hamlet of La Llera before continuing on towards Priesca. The Pre-Romanesque Church of San Salvador, consecrated in 921, greets the pilgrim here from its imposing vantage point.
The Way continues surrounded by woods and meadows, alternating between paths and small stretches of secondary roads on its way to the village of Sebrayu. The Pilgrim Hostel is located in the old schoolhouses, which constitute both a meeting place and well-earned rest for those following the Way.
After leaving Sebrayu, the Way continues on to El Fresno, accompanied along a fair stretch of the journey by incomparable views of Villaviciosa Estuary.
Passing among apple orchards, the trail then come to Carda, offering vistas of the famous El Gaitero Cider Factory and the meanderings of the estuary.
Villaviciosa greets pilgrims with its squares, mansions, cobblestone streets and gardens. In the old part of the town, you can see remains of the old walls, the late 13th-century Church of Santa María de la Oliva, a fine example of the transition between Romanesque and Gothic, and the celebrated Hevia Mansion, where the Emperor Carlos V stayed the first time he travelled to Spain to take charge of his kingdom, around the year 1517.
Leaving Villaviciosa behind, the pilgrim trail continues through La Alameda Park to the village of Amandi. There, the Church of San Juan calls down to those following the Way to head uphill and contemplate its remarkable decoration. Not in vain is this one of the best examples of Romanesque architecture in the region.
After crossing San Juan Bridge in Amandi, the route continues on through La Parra to then reach Casquita, the place where the Chapel of San Blas signals the branching point between the Original Way and the Coastal Road to Santiago. Before heading for Gijón, pilgrims can choose to make a detour of only a few kilometres to the beautiful valley of Valdediós to visit the Church of San Salvador, also known as the Conventín (little convent). Built in the year 893 by order of the last king of the Asturian monarchy, Alfonso III The Great, this church is one of the masterpieces of Pre-Romanesque Asturian art.
Beside the Conventín stands the Monastery of Santa María, whose Cistercian Romanesque church was founded in the 13th century. Those following the trail can spend the night in the monastery buildings and enjoy the tranquillity of this idyllic spot in its pilgrim hostel.
If you have decided to proceed directly from Casquita to Gijón, your steps will take you first to Grases and then to the small village of Niévares. The climb leading to Alto de la Cruz begins here. The city of Gijón can be made out on the horizon from this hilltop, as can the nearby Peón Valley. The Way heads down into the valley, passing by the Church of Santiago before heading uphill once again to Alto del Curbiello. From there, the pilgrim trail gradually heads downhill, reducing the remaining distance before reaching the end of the stage in Gijón.
Pilgrim Pass to the Cider Shire: Several establishments offering accommodation in Villaviciosa have joined the so-called “Pilgrim Pass to the Cider Shire” project. This special offer for accredited pilgrims comprises accommodation plus a welcome gift for €20/person. What’s more, if the establishment is located more than 500 metres from the Way, a shuttle service is provided at no extra cost to pick you up and return you the next day to the point of departure. You can find out more on the following websites: www.lacomarcadelasidra.com and www.turismovillaviciosa.es
In Villaviciosa, you mustn’t miss out on…
Villaviciosa Estuary Partial Nature Reserve, one of the most ecologically important estuaries in northern Spain and a paradise for bird lovers.
Tazones, a famous fishing village which saw the arrival for the first time on Spanish soil of the Emperor Carlos V in 1517. It stages a recreation of this historic event every August together with Villaviciosa.
Valdediós monumental site, with its beautiful 9th-century Pre-Romanesque church and 13th-century Romanesque monastery.
Villaviciosa historic-artistic site, with its charming squares, mansions, cobblestone streets and gardens.
Rodiles Beach, one of the best sandy beaches in Asturias and a mecca for surfers in northern Spain.