Surely at some point you have considered doing the Way of Saint James, it is even very likely that you have already walked some of them. Generally the same question always arises to the pilgrim in the first moment, which Way to do; and there are numerous itineraries that for years have led thousands of pilgrims to the tomb of the Apostle. "He who goes to Santiago and not to the Savior, visits the servant but not his Lord", this old saying, famous among the pilgrims of past centuries, can serve to resolve our doubts. The importance that the Way of Saint James has had and has in the Principality of Asturias is reflected in the different routes that run through it, in the towns it crosses and in the emblematic places it visits. The Way of San Salvador or the Way of the Coast are magnificent options to take into account, but today we want to give you our 5 Reasons why you should do the Primitive Way
There by the ninth century a hermit discovered the place where the remains of the apostle Santiago rested. King Alfonso II, upon hearing the news, set out in search of the place and built a small temple there, becoming the first known pilgrim, at least according to legend. The route followed by Alfonso II is today, it is believed, the same route that follows the current Primitive Way. Over the years, this first pilgrimage was joined by many others, and little by little other Ways emerged. An example of this is the Way of the Coast, which arose thanks to the influx of pilgrims from northern Europe. Oviedo-Uviéu has been a place of reference for pilgrims from the very first moment, and the fact of being the place of origin of the first pilgrimage is added to the fact that its cathedral, San Salvador, has the Holy Ark in whose interior rest several relics of Jesus Christ himself. Hence the aforementioned saying and the emergence of the Way of the Savior, which from León capital leads the pilgrims of the French Way to the doors of the cathedral of Oviedo-Uviéu. Undoubtedly, being the route followed by the first known pilgrim, together with the great history that surrounds it, is a compelling reason to perform the Primitive Way.
Not long ago, in a lively chat in one of those groups about the Way of Saint James that exist in social networks, someone asked which Way, in the opinion of the pilgrims, best maintained the essence and atmosphere of the old pilgrimages. The result was very clear: the Primitive Way is the one that has best preserved its essence. One of the main reasons, among others, that highlighted the pilgrims gathered there was undoubtedly the landscapes that surround this route. A rugged landscape of great beauty in which the towns and villages through which the pilgrim passes are perfectly integrated. Throughout the 7 Asturian stages of the Primitive Way, the pilgrim enjoys an exuberant nature, routes that preserve almost the same medieval character they had in the past. A clear example is the famous variant of the Hospitals, a mountainous route in which we have to find the remains of the hospitals, ancient "shelters", which helped the pilgrims in this demanding part of the route. In short, the singularity of the landscapes and the corners of the Primitive Way in Asturias will leave in the pilgrim the mark of an unforgettable experience.
It is true that the pilgrim who decides to make this journey must have a good physical shape, especially in some of the most mountainous stages. But it is no less true that we have a sufficient supply of hostels and accommodations that allow the pilgrim of the Primitive Way in Asturias to adapt the days to their tastes and characteristics. Undoubtedly the different Jacobean routes that run through the Principality of Asturias offer pilgrims all the services they need. The network of pilgrim hostels is joined by the different associations of friends of the Way of Saint James in Asturias. Associations that are responsible for providing support and advice to pilgrims, manage in some cases the public hostels and work for the conservation of the values that differentiate the Jacobean routes that we find in Asturias.
Another of the strong reasons that we can give you to encourage you to follow this Jacobean route is, without a doubt, the towns, villages and cities that it crosses. From Oviedo-Uviéu to Grandas de Salime, the Way crosses different councils with well-cared municipalities and welcoming people. Some localities that have known how to take care of and maintain the marked character that characterizes them and that receive the pilgrim with open arms. Although we are aware of the effort involved in each day of the Way, we encourage you to take some time to pause and rest to discover the towns along this route. Villages such as Grau-Grado and its magnificent historic-artistic complex full of small palaces, Cornellana and its monastery of San Salvador, or the medieval village of Salas, an almost obligatory stop for any self-respecting pilgrim; the well-kept Tinéu welcomes the pilgrim through its pleasant promenade of the friars, while Pola de Allande is an ideal village to regain strength before facing the rugged and beautiful Palo pass. Of course, we cannot forget the different villages and their cozy corners, or the great Oviedo-Uviéu, nor can we forget the different gastronomy that characterizes each area through which we pass.
As in the past, the goal that every pilgrim has in his head is to reach the tomb of the apostle Santiago. But it is no less true that those same pilgrims also had in their minds the unavoidable visit to certain emblematic places along the Way. Asturias and the Primitive Way had and still have a good number of places that are a must for pilgrims, both old and new. Undoubtedly one of them, perhaps the main one, is the cathedral of San Salvador in Oviedo-Uviéu given its monumental historical importance and its special relationship with the Way of Saint James. The Roman baths of Santa Eulalia de Valduno, just before reaching Grau-Grado, are well worth a short detour to visit them. The Sanctuary of the Virgen del Fresno is another emblematic point that invites us to enjoy the magnificent landscape that surrounds it. Another small and recommendable detour is the one that takes us to the Monastery of Santa María la Real de Obona, a place full of legends. The hermitage of Buspol precedes the descent that brings us to the imposing reservoir of Salime, for many one of the most beautiful stretches of the entire Primitive Way through Asturias. And as if that were not enough, just before saying goodbye to Asturias awaits us the admirably preserved Castro de Chao Samartín.