In the autonomous community of Castilla y León, specifically in the province of León, there is a city with a rich history and fascinating culture: Ponferrada. Its name comes from the iron bridge (pons ferrata in Latin) that crosses the Sil River, but this city goes far beyond its relationship with engineering.

Located in the heart of the wine region of Bierzo, Ponferrada has long been an important stop for pilgrims traveling the Way of Saint James. Its charm lies in a unique combination of history, architecture, and traditions rooted in its medieval past.

Connection between Ponferrada and the Way of Saint James

Ponferrada has been a stopping point for pilgrims on the Way of Saint James for centuries on the French route. Its main icon, the Templar Castle, has served as a landmark and refuge for those traveling to the city.

Castillo templarium en Ponferrada

This imposing fortress, built in the 12th century, bears witness to the history and devotion of pilgrims traversing the mentioned spiritual route. Its majestic presence, imbued with stories and experiences, remains a lasting testament to the human journey towards spirituality and inner search.

Emblematic Attractions of Ponferrada

  • Basilica of the Encina: This Renaissance church, built in the 16th century, is a magnificent example of religious architecture of the time. Its ornate facade and impressive interior make the Basilica a must-visit.
  • Museum of Bierzo: For those interested in local history and culture, the Museum of Bierzo offers a detailed insight into the region’s evolution over the centuries. Prehistoric equipment is found, as well as exhibitions on mining and viticulture, providing an unparalleled educational and informative experience.
  • La Placa Neighborhood: This charming neighborhood retains its traditional architecture and narrow cobbled streets. Strolling through La Placa is like taking a step back in time, with its stone houses and flowered balconies.
  • Boeza Bridge: Built in the 13th century, this medieval bridge over the Boeza River is a testament to the architectural skill of the time. Crossing it provides a unique perspective of the city and its surroundings.
  • Church of San Andrés: The Romanesque church, built in the 12th century, is another historical treasure of Ponferrada. Its simple yet elegant design reflects the spirituality of the time and is a place of serenity amidst the urban bustle.
  • The Clock Tower: Located in the heart of the city, this medieval tower is a symbol of Ponferrada’s history and identity.
  • Town Hall Square: The nerve center of the city. A place where historic buildings and an interesting atmosphere reflect local life.
  • Radio Museum: For those interested in technology and the history of communications, this museum offers a fascinating collection of antique radios and transmission equipment that showcase the evolution of radio over the years.

Basilica of the Encina in Ponferrada

Ideas for Enjoying Ponferrada

Discover the fascinating city of Ponferrada through a variety of experiences that will make your visit unique.

Outside Ponferrada lies the Valley of Silence, a haven of peace, famous for its natural beauty and the tranquility it offers. Ideal for hiking and outdoor getaways. You can also explore the old town with its cobbled streets and historic buildings that invite you to get lost in the medieval atmosphere of the city.

For wine lovers, the region where Ponferrada is located is unparalleled. Take the Wine Route of Bierzo and taste some of the best wines in the area. Explore the vineyards that give life to this centuries-old tradition.

Wines in Ponferrada

On the other

hand, Ponferrada’s proximity to the Sierra de los Ancares offers exciting hiking opportunities. The mountain landscapes and well-marked trails make this activity a memorable experience. If you have arranged, or are considering arranging the services of an agency to do the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, you can rest assured that those organizing your route will likely take into account this traditional site so that you don’t miss any visits.

Tips for Pilgrims and Visitors

To ensure an unforgettable visit, we have compiled some valuable tips.

  • Accommodation on the Way: Ponferrada offers a variety of accommodation options for pilgrims. Get simple hostels or more comfortable hotels. It is recommended to book in advance, especially in high season.
  • Castle Visits: Walkers can enjoy reduced rates when visiting the Templar Castle. In this case, it will be necessary to present the pilgrim’s credential. It is a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in history while resting from the day’s walk.
  • Quiet Exploration: Take advantage of early mornings or evenings to explore Ponferrada with greater tranquility. The city comes to life with the light of dawn and dusk.
  • Respect for Local Traditions: When interacting with the local community, it is important to respect customs and traditions. Participating in local events or trying regional cuisine can enrich the pilgrim’s experience.


Explore other Jacobean Routes

Undoubtedly, Ponferrada is a landmark on the French Way. However, since the journey from that city to Santiago requires several days, you should know that you have a shorter and less demanding alternative, which is the journey of the French way from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela, to do it in approximately about 8 days.

Likewise, you can also consider in the future the Portuguese Way, starting from Porto (Portugal) and after two weeks of walking, you reach Santiago. This route has a shorter variant, which is the Camino de Santiago from Tui, starting in the city of Tui, in Pontevedra, right on the border with Portugal.

Also, do not forget, although somewhat more challenging, the Northern Route of the Camino de Santiago, which runs parallel to the coasts of Cantabria and Asturias until reaching Galicia.