The Primitive Way

The Primitive Way was the path most commonly followed by the people of Asturias and Galicia during the 9th century and a good part of the 10th. It also attracted pilgrims from other parts of northern Spain and Europe. In 2015, it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Northern Route.

through San Xoán de Padrón:

  • Length 161.8 Km
  • Difficulty Low

through A Proba de Burón:

  • Length 162.9 Km
  • Difficulty Low
Alto do Acevo

The Primitive Way is the original and oldest pilgrimage route. It links Oviedo with Santiago de Compostela and primarily follows the path of Roman roads. The first pilgrim king was in fact Asturian-Galician monarch Alfonso II, called the Chaste, who travelled to Santiago in the first third of the 9th century to confirm that the remains which had just been discovered in Compostela were really those of the apostle.

Alfonso II’s devotion to the Jacobean cause – he had been raised at Samos Monastery in Lugo and was a follower of Beatus of Liébana – was a decisive factor in consolidating the new cult. The first church in the new city would be built on the orders of the kind. He also made a number of donations and promoted the establishment of the first monastic community intended to serve the needs of the cult at the altar of Santiago, Antealtares Monastery.

The Primitive Way remained an alternative for pilgrims who venerated the large collection of relics at San Salvador Cathedral in Oviedo and in Lugo, which had obtained a papal privilege to display the Holy Sacrament around the clock.

The Primitive Way was the path most commonly followed by the people of Asturias and Galicia during the 9th century and a good part of the 10th. It also attracted pilgrims from other parts of northern Spain and Europe. This route was also taken – on two occasions – by the successor to Alfonso II, Alfonso III, called the Great, architect of the consecration of the second basilica in Santiago in the year 899.

Later, when León became the new capital of the kingdom, the monarchs of the 11th and 12th centuries promoted the French Way as the quintessential pilgrimage route. Despite this, the Primitive Way remained an alternative for pilgrims who venerated the large collection of relics at San Salvador Cathedral in Oviedo and in Lugo, which had obtained a papal privilege to display the Holy Sacrament around the clock. Another testament to the importance of this route are the vestiges of the many hospitals created to serve pilgrims, some in mountainous areas and others in the city of Lugo itself.

In 2015, it was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, along with the Northern Way. This is the highest recognition a heritage asset can receive.

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