The capital of the county of Maragatería in the province of León offers a rich medieval legacy, the result of its location at the crossroads of: the Pilgrim’s Road to Santiago de Compostela and the Ruta de la Plata (Silver Road). Its walled town preserves churches, convents and hospitals which take travellers back to the purest tradition of the Pilgrim’s Road. Another outstanding feature in the town’s streets is a culminating work by the Modernist architect Antoni Gaudí: the Bishop’s Palace. Astorga is, also, a good opportunity for enjoying the rich cuisine of this area.
Astorga stands at the confluence of two important Spanish routes which in past times were pilgrims’ itineraries. The older of the two, the Silver Route, dates from Roman times. This itinerary (Gijón-Seville) was the route used to transport the metal extracted from the mines in the north of the peninsula to the shipping ports in the south. During the Middle Ages it was used by Arab and Christian troops at the time of the conquest and the reconquest. This excellent communications route throughout the centuries then became the way for pilgrims heading for Santiago de Compostela.
The Way of Saint James, the Jacobean route that has been declared a part of our World Heritage by the UNESCO, also runs through Astorga. This was part of a series of paths that criss-crossed Europe and northern Spain on the way to Santiago de Compostela, a holy city by virtue of being the site of the tomb of Saint James the Apostle. The historic quarter of this town in Galicia is also a World Heritage Site.