El Camino Fonseca

Northwest via Ourense

Tierra de Vino, Through the Vineyards

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Salamanca to Zamora

My walk in June 2006 actually started in Zamora but here is a description of this stage gathered from other sources with some photos from a previous visit to Salamanca.

Salamanca

Salamanca is a beautiful sandstone city with a long and famous history. It was founded in pre Roman times as one of a pair of forts guarding river crossings (the other fort became Zamora, the next city on this Camino). The city was conquered by Hanibal in 217BC then came under Roman influence for several centuries. Most of the old bridge, which is still in use, dates from this period. After the decline of the Roman empire the city retained its importance under the Visigoths until it was captured by the Moorish invaders in 715AD.

Salamanca Cathedral

There then followed over three centuries when it was in the despoplados or virtual no-mans-land between the Christian north of Spain and the Islamic south. During the reconquista it was captured by the Christians in 1055 and subsequently governed by Raymond of Burgundy, son-in-law of king Alphonso VI. It was Raymond’s responsibility to repopulate the city and surrounding area with Christian settlers.

The city is unusual in having two cathedrals, built side by side. The new cathedral was intended to replace the old one but they have been left together as if holding each other up.

Salamanca Uni

The University was founded in 1218 and was one of the first and most important universities in Europe. The 16C façade is in the style known as Plateresque, intricately carved sandstone resembling silver plate.

Plaza

The Plaza Mayor, in sandstone, has the ornate Ayuntamiento or Town Hall on one side and the remainder of the large square is arcaded and contains many shops and restaurants. On sunny days this is the living centre of the city with restaurant tables spilling well into the square.

The Camino between Salamanca and Zamora would normally be walked in two long days with an overnight stop in El Cubo de la Tierra del Vino. However, if you are unsure of your fitness at the start of the Camino, this stretch can be split into three shorter sections making use of the albergues in the small villages of Calzada de Valdunciel and Villanueva de Campeán.

Salamanca to El Cubo de la Tierra del Vino

The main feature of this stage is the N630 trunk road which heads north from Salamanca. Wherever possible the Camino tries to avoid this road by using farm tracks but much of the way is alongside the main road (or even on the hard shoulder). After 15km the village of Calzada de Valdunciel has a small albergue and there are also shops, bars and a hostal alongside the main road.

You are then faced with another 20km of mainly shadeless roadside walking to reach El Cubo. Take plenty of water. El Cubo is the focus of this agricultural area and has two albergues, one adjoining the church. There are also bars and shops and it may be possible to find some private accommodation.

El Cubo de la Tierra del Vino to Zamora

From El Cubo the Camino takes a more varied rural route away from the main road. There is only one village on this route so take plenty of supplies with you. At first the way follows a railway line where you may find some shade from trees lining the track. After 13 km there is the village of Villanueva de Campeán where you should receive a welcome at the Bar Jambrina. The key to the small albergue is held here.

Then there is 20km of open countryside, with some vineyards, until Zamora. The route is mostly downhill but, from a couple of rises, you may get distant views of the city.