En route to Astorga, romantics will want to make the slight diversion off the highway to the small town of Hospital de Órbigo, 36km southwest of León. It was here, legend has it, that in 1434 Don Suero de Quiñones, a jilted knight, defeated three hundred men in a jousting tournament at the town’s famous twenty-arched medieval bridge. Standing on the beautifully restored bridge today, it’s easily imagined – astride a horse, furious at the world, picking off all-comers with a whacking great lance. And as only foot traffic is allowed, the long, cobbled bridge is still one of those places where the Camino de Santiago really reaches back into history, with knots of hiking pilgrims crossing all day, falling gratefully into one of the small cafés at the Astorga end of the bridge.

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