The origin of the Sanabrés itinerary goes hand in hand with the Vía de la Plata that ascended from the south of Spain and a whole series of small pilgrimages and pilgrimages that went to a dense network of monasteries based on the Mozarabic repopulation and located in the province of Zamora, right at the origin of the Camino Sanabrés.
A few kilometres from Granja de Moreruela, the starting point of this route, we find the Cistercian monastery of Santa María de Moreruela, the oldest in Spain, and known until 1163 as Santiago de Moreruela. In its remains you can still see the door and fountain of the Pilgrim. 25 km away, in Tábara, there was the Mozarabic monastery of San Salvador. The same happened in Santa Marta de Tera, a town that arose from the abbey of Santa Marta de Riba de Tera. In Rionegro del Puente, at the foot of the sanctuary of Virgen de la Caraballeda, the Brotherhood of the Falifos was founded in the 14th century (still in force), a historic hospital institution that some scholars place among the first on the Pilgrim’s Way to Santiago de Compostela.
In San Martín de Castañeda, a village located on the lake of Sanabria, the monastery of Santa María was built in the 10th century. In Galicia, next to the collegiate church of Santa María la Real de Xunqueira de Ambía, there was a pilgrims’ hospital. There is also evidence of several hospitals in Verín, Monterrei, Allariz and Ourense. There is no doubt that there was an itinerary traced between all these religious centres and that, thanks to the signs of hospitality that were found, it ended up becoming another Way of St. James.
But the Sanabria route was not only travelled by the faithful and devotees, but many travellers used this road to communicate remote places in the centre of the peninsula with the north of Spain. Its roads were used as royal cattle trails and routes for merchants from all over the country. The Galician farmers used this route to go down to Castile during the harvest season, also using its hospitals, inns, temples and monasteries.