El Camino Primitivo

"It's never too late to find the way."

El Camino Primitivo: a little bit of history


The history behind the Camino Primitivo (or “The Original Way”) is its most compelling characteristic, and as its name suggests, it was the first documented route to Santiago de Compostela, dating back to the early 9th century.

At the beginning of the 9th century news of the discovery of the tomb of the apostle Santiago (St. James) sounded throughout Europe and Hispanic kingdoms worldwide.  The first established route of the pilgrimage was organized by the Asturian King, Alfonso II El Casto, who went to visit the place where the tomb, known as “Campo de Estrellas,” was found (the city we know today as Compostela, gets its name from this place).  When King Alfonso ordered the construction of a church at the site of the discovery the news spread amongst believers and so began the pilgrimages of hundreds of Christians along what we still know today as the Camino Primitivo.

The historical starting point of the Camino Primitivo therefore, is the city of Oviedo, which has become an obligatory waypoint for pilgrims from Northern Spain and the rest of Europe.  The relics in the Cámara Santa de la Catedral de San Salvador de Oviedo (Holy chamber of the San Salvador Cathedral in Oviedo) turned the city into a  core attraction for pilgrims, so much so that pilgrims traveling the Camino del Norte would abandon the Cantabrian coast to go through Oviedo, and those who came across the plateau changed directions in León to pass through the puerto de Pajares (Pajares pass) and go down to Oviedo that way.  For this reason it is said that, “He who visits Santiago but not el Salvador (in Oviedo) visits the servant but not the Lord.”  This is the origin of the Camino del Salvador that connects León and Oviedo.


El Camino Primitivo: the itinerary


The route begins in Oviedo and in its 312 kilometers passes through mountainous areas of western Asturias before entering the Galician province of Lugo and joining up with the Camino Francés in the municipality of Melide, some 54 kilometers before reaching Santiago.

After leaving Oviedo in its trajectory through the principality of Asturias, the route runs through the municipalities of Las Regueras, Grado, Salas, Tineo, Pola de Allande and Grandes de Salime.  The  ruggedness of the route, which for the most part goes  through the middle of nature, is compensated by its scenery and the extraordinary beauty of its landscapes: along much of the route you will find forests, streams, rivers, valleys, crop fields, and small houses and villages.  In fact, just a few kilometers from Campiello are the beginnings of what have been cataloged as some of the most beautiful stages of the Camino Primitivo, known as the “Ruta de los Hospitales.”  On our web page you can find information about this route and its alternative that goes through Pola de Allande and up to the Puerto de El Palo.

The monumental legacy of the route itself makes it noteworthy, and not just in Oviedo.  Along the route are many examples of religious architecture, like the Monasterio de Santa María la Real de Obona, a Romanesque construction from the 8th century, which you can visit before arriving to our albergue.