For the very fittest of the pilgrims, it was one day’s walk (50km) southwest of León to the next major stop at ASTORGA. The town has a long history – originally settled by the Romans (of whom many traces remain), sacked by the Moors in the eleventh century, then rebuilt and endowed with the usual hospices and monasteries, but as the pilgrimage lost popularity in the late Middle Ages, Astorga fell into decline. These days it’s a bustling, if small, provincial capital that once again places much emphasis on the pilgrimage, full of footsore hikers and Santiago souvenir shops, not to mention an incongruously grand cathedral and an even more out-of-place modernista bishop’s palace, the latter now used as a museum dedicated to the camino.

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