The fascinating city of Lugo and its Roman walls are the finest surviving examples of late Roman military fortifications, according to the UNESCO World Heritage Center. This particular feature dominates the cityscape and creates a boundary for the old town.
"It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it's the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time." ~ David Allen Coe
It was here in the city of Lugo that we took a well-deserved break from our Camino Primitivo, after the 10th day on the road. The Roman walls, built in the 3rd century C.E. have certainly stood the test of time, and provide a bird's eye view of the medieval city below.
Here is a photo of these walls, from one of the most optimal viewing points on the SE side of the Ronda de Muralla, the street that encircles the ancient walls.
This map, below, that I photographed at one of the tourist sites, is seen throughout the city, helping you orient to your location and to identify other sites. I was unable to find an online link for this.
If you are looking for accommodation in Lugo, there are many within these medieval city walls where you are in the center of all the action. To see them, click here.
When you enter the old city from the Camino Primitivo, you enter here at the Porta de San Pedro, and walk westward on the Rúa San Pedro toward the main plaza, the Praza Maior. This gate is on the eastern side of the medieval city.
The walls are indeed, well-preserved, massive and quite dramatic in appearance. They reach a height of 8-12 meters, about 26-40 feet. They are 4.2 meters thick, or almost 14 feet.
There is ongoing work to preserve these incredible walls.
The main plaza dominates the city, and is just east of the grand cathedral. Here is where we gathered on the evening of day nine to have our Camino family dinner together. It is a wonderful place to hang out.
The following photos of the plaza are taken from the western end.
The Catedral de Santa María de Lugo, the grand cathedral, is immediately to the west, or right of this photo, below. The Camino de Santiago goes from the main plaza to the cathedral, and through the walls by its main façade.
When you walk westward from the main plaza in Lugo, this view of the cathedral soon looms over you. This is the rear, eastern end of the cathedral. There is a side entrance to the cathedral here, to the right of the bell tower, shown below.
The cathedral was built over many centuries and boasts many different styles including Romanesque, Gothic, Baroque, Renaissance and Neoclassic.
The rear of the cathedral with its buttresses are essentially in the Gothic style and was built in the 12th century.
Here I am walking around the northern side, toward the main façade to the west. The north entrance is to my left.
Here is the main façade of the cathedral, looking to the East, in the Neoclassic style, the most recent addition, built around the mid-18th century.
Immediately behind the main façade is the handicapped ramp up to the path that runs on the top of the Roman walls.
Immediately to the left of this ramp, as you face it, is the gate, the Porta de Santiago, the gate through which the Camino Primitivo leaves the city. This is an important land mark to find if you are staying within the city walls.
Of course, St. James, Santiago in Spanish, sits atop the gate on his horse, depicted as the Moorslayer. It is appropriate that the Camino Primitivo leaves Lugo here, isn't it? (See day ten on the Camino Primitivo for precise directions out of town.)
The interior of the cathedral is quite stunning, as you would expect. Make sure you also explore the small chapels in the alcoves behind the main altar, to see this amazing and intricate alcove on the right, below. It is called the Altar de La Virgen de los Ojos Grandes (Altar of the Virgin with Big Eyes) and I liked it better than the main altar. This was a more intimate place for me.
However, the angels flanking the main altar held my attention for some time.
On the north side of the Praza de Santa María is the Palacio Episcopal, home of the Lugo diocese.
If you have any time while you are in Lugo, I would highly recommend a walk on the ramparts. It is a bit over 2 kilometers to walk the entire circumference, and I know it would be a push to add it to a full Camino traditional stage. This is why we chose to stay a day to explore the city in more detail.
I believe that if you had a short day on your Camino Primitivo, and allowed 2-4 hours to do this path at a leisurely pace, that it would be more than enough. Even though I loved my day off here, if I had to do it again, I would only spend an extra half day here.
Consider walking the walls first thing in the morning and starting your next Camino day a bit late? In my opinion, it is worth it!
Here is my husband, Rich, at one of several stairways that lead you from the city to the top of the wall and to the path. Check the tourist map at the beginning of the article for the location of the stairways. This is on the eastern end of the city.
The main museum in town, the Museo Provincial de Lugo contains some Roman artifacts as well as other items of cultural interest. The museum was closed and under renovation when we were there, unfortunately, so we did not see it. It sits in a complex with the Convento de San Francisco as well as the Church of San Pedro, shown below. We were unable to see inside any of these buildings.
Another interesting church is the Igrexa de San Froilán, shown below.
And, one final picture, my favorite of the wall, the path and the cathedral spires!
I hope you take some extra time from your Camino, if you have it, to explore this lovely city. It is worth it! Treat yourself to a reservation at a comfortable accommodation in Lugo, and slow down for awhile, if only for the day!
I hope you too will take the time to explore the historic city of Lugo, Spain. May your Camino Primitivo be filled with a full or half day rest here! You will not regret it!
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