Lugo, Spain ~ A UNESCO World Heritage Center for its Roman Fortifications

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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. 

3rd Century Roman Walls in Lugo, Spain3rd Century Roman Walls in Lugo, Spain

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.

Map of Central LugoMap of the Old Town

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 Pilgrimage Gate Called the Porta de San Pedro ou Toledana in Lugo, SpainThe Pilgrimage Gate Called the Porta de San Pedro ou Toledana

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. 

roman fortifications of Lugo, SpainMore Roman Fortifications

There is ongoing work to preserve these incredible walls. 

roman fortifications of Lugo, SpainRoman Walls

The Main Plaza

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. 

Restaurants Line the North Side of the Praza MaiorRestaurants Line the North Side of the Praza Maior
Praza Maior Southwestern CornerPraza Maior Southwestern Corner
Town Hall on the Main Plaza, Lugo SpainTown Hall on the Main Plaza
Close Up of the Town HallClose Up of the Town Hall

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.

Western End of the Praza Maior, Lugo, SpainWestern End of the Praza Maior

Cathedral de Santa María de Lugo

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.

Cathedral de Santa María de LugoCathedral de Santa María de Lugo

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. 

Close-Up of Rear of the CathedralClose-Up of Rear of the Cathedral

Here I am walking around the northern side, toward the main façade to the west. The north entrance is to my left. 

Elle Walking in the Praza de Santa MaríaElle Walking in the Praza de Santa María

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. 

Main Façade of the Cathedral de Santa María de LugoMain Façade of the Cathedral de Santa María de Lugo

Immediately behind the main façade is the handicapped ramp up to the path that runs on the top of the Roman walls. 

Ramp to the Rampart WalkwayRamp to the Rampart Walkway

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.)

Porta de Santiago on the Camino PrimitivoPorta de Santiago on the Camino Primitivo

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. 

Main Altar of the Cathedral de Santa María de LugoMain Altar
Altar de La Virgen de los Ojos Grandes, Cathedral of Lugo, SpainRear Alcove Altar

However, the angels flanking the main altar held my attention for some time. 

Close-Up of One of the Angels on Main Altar, Cathedral of Lugo, SpainClose-Up of One of the Angels on Main Altar

On the north side of the Praza de Santa María is the Palacio Episcopal, home of the Lugo diocese. 

Palacio Episcopal in Lugo, SpainPalacio Episcopal

A Walk on the Roman Walls ~ 2 Kilometers

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!

The Roman Wall Path in Lugo SpainThe Roman Wall Path

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. 

One of Several Stairways Leading to the Wall Path in Lugo, SpainOne of Several Stairways Leading to the Wall Path
Elle on the Roman Wall in Lugo, SpainElle on the Wall
The Roman Wall is Used as an Exercise Loop, Lugo, SpainWall is Used as an Exercise Loop
Great View of the Wall Fortifications in Lugo SpainGreat View of the Wall Fortifications
Elle on the Roman Wall in Lugo, SpainElle at Another Section
Bird's Eye View of the City From the Wall, Lugo, SpainBird's Eye View of the City From the Wall
View of the Rúa Nova on the North Side, Lugo, SpainView of the Rúa Nova on the North Side
Approaching the Cathedral From the North on the Roman Wall, Lugo SpainApproaching the Cathedral From the North
The Path to the Cathedral, Lugo, SpainThe Path to the Cathedral

Interesting Landmarks

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. 

Igrexa de San Pedro in the Center of TownIgrexa de San Pedro in the Center of Town

Another interesting church is the Igrexa de San Froilán, shown below. 

Igrexa de San Froilán, Lugo, SpainIgrexa de San Froilán

And, one final picture, my favorite of the wall, the path and the cathedral spires!

Cathedral de Santa María de Lugo SpiresCathedral 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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Camino Primitivo and Its Stages

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