Those of us who are passionate about the Camino de Santiago and accumulating Jacobean routes in our boots, we know that pilgrims always find something new to surprise them. For example, who would have told you that in Cantabria there is a Jacobean route of its own, independent of the Northern Way? What if I told you that it even has its own Holy Year? That’s right dear pilgrims. In this post we want to introduce you to one of the most magical and hidden paths of all: the Camino Lebaniego. Keep reading carefully, we assure you that it is worth discovering more about this unique itinerary.
History of the Camino Lebaniego
Perhaps more than what is the history of the Camino Lebaniego, what we should ask ourselves is: why do people make the pilgrimage to Liébana? The reason for the pilgrimage to this place lies in its monastery, the monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana. What makes this place exceptional is that it preserves in its interior the largest known relic of the Lignum crucis: “wood of the cross”. It is the largest known piece of wood from the cross of Christ. Specifically, the piece belongs to the left arm of the cross.
And now you are probably wondering how this relic ended up in the monastery of Liébana. Well, history says that Saint Toribio of Astorga was in charge of protecting the relics of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem. This man brought them to the Iberian Peninsula, and specifically took the Lignum crucis to Astorga. Later, due to the Muslim invasion, the Christians took this relic to Liébana to protect it from possible attacks.
When the existence of this relic in the monastery of Santo Toribio became known, the faithful began to make a pilgrimage to it, forming what we know as the Camino Lebaniego.
The Camino Lebaniego, for walkers who are doing the Camino del Norte, starts at a fork in the road from San Vicente de la Barquera. It is a beautiful tour of 73 kilometers of distance, in which the pilgrim walks from the coast to the interior of Cantabria. The Liébana route can be divided into 3 stages with Cades, Cabañes and Santo Toribio de Liébana as main points. This route crosses the municipalities of San Vicente de la Barquera, Herrerías, Val de San Vicente, Peñarrubia, Lamasón, Potes, Cillórigo and Camalego.
In spite of being in a natural environment orographically delimited by the Cantabrian Mountains and the Picos de Europa, there are studies that support the existence of four pilgrimage routes to the monastery of Liébana, Peaks of Europe. There are studies that support the existence of four pilgrimage routes to the monastery of Liébana. These routes have recently been signposted as short distance routes (PR).
Stage: San Vicente de la Barquera – Cades
This stage has a length of 28.5 kilometers, so it can be a bit long for those who have never practiced hiking. Before leaving San Vicente, we recommend visiting the Gothic Church of Nuestra Señora de los Ángeles, the Castle and the Convent of San Luis . The route starts by heading towards Serdio. After passing along the Nansa River Path we reach Camijanes. Afterwards, the route passes through Cabanzón, where it is essential to stop to contemplate its medieval tower. Finally the stage ends in Cades.