The Coastal Way

Stage 4: Priesca - Casquita

This is a short stage, barely 12.89 kilometers long, which runs in its entirety through the council of Villaviciosa, passing through valleys dotted with small villages, such as Priesca, Sebrayu, Tornón, El Fresnu, Cardo or Casquita, as well as through the own municipal capital, one of the richest Asturian towns in terms of the architectural heritage treasured in its old town. Other jewels that flank the route of the Camino de Santiago at this stage, in addition to the pre-Romanesque church of Priesca located at the very beginning of the route, are Romanesque churches such as those of the Malian capital itself or that of San Xuan de Amandi, as well as a exuberant popular architecture, reflected in the form of dozens of granaries and breadbaskets that still retain their function as a warehouse for agricultural products and sometimes have rich carved decoration. Traditionally made bridges, small chapels of souls and some large mansions complete the catalog of heritage elements that are arranged around the Jacobean path as it passes through this council of Villaviciosa.

The route progressively moves away from the coast, giving the sea its leading role to the Villaviciosa estuary, a natural ecosystem of maximum interest that connects the municipal capital with the Cantabrian Sea, configuring in its journey a very peculiar landscape of marshes and meadows won from the Water. On its way through Villaviciosa, the Camino de Santiago will cross numerous pumaradas, also running very close to one of the most emblematic cider bottling companies, the famous “El Gaitero”.

This stage concludes in the small town of Casquita, where there is a fork in the Asturian coastal road, being able to continue towards Gijón/Xixón, through the valleys of Peón and Curbiellu, or towards the Asturian capital, through the councils of Sariego and Siero, to link in Oviedo with the Primitivo way.

For the most part, the road is paved or concreted, with a significant percentage of the route in which the earth or stone surface is maintained. The stage is 

Since its foundation in 1270, the town of Villaviciosa (initially called Maliayo), became a benchmark for pilgrims who made the coastal Camino de Santiago. Since the 15th century it had a pilgrims’ hospital, called Sancti Spiritus, of notable size and endowment, initially linked to the Valdediós monastery and which progressively came to be managed by the town itself. This hostel persisted until the beginning of the 19th century. There are, in addition, other documentary references that testify the passage of pilgrims through Villaviciosa, case of information related to the death of pilgrims in places like Amandi or the lodging of pilgrims in the monastery of Santa María de Valdediós, today far from the official route but an important reception center for pilgrims since its foundation in 1220, in a place where the pre-Romanesque church of San Salvador already existed since the 9th century, the last great example of pre-Romanesque architecture in the kingdom of Asturias.

Stage description

The stage begins next to the church of San Salvador de Priesca, in the village of Quintana. This pre-Romanesque church has been on the World Heritage List since 2015. The route borders the building through the apse, coinciding with the local road VV-15, which is abandoned as soon as the route around the church is completed to take a small dirt and stone path that emerges to the right. Then begins a descent along a path surrounded by trees, which sometimes form authentic galleries on the road. Eucalyptus trees and specimens of native vegetation such as chestnut trees abound.

Shortly after starting the descent, a chapel of souls appears on the right, a reflection of popular religiosity and the antiquity of the road on which it is circulated, known locally as “el Caminón” at this point.

After the chapel of souls, the descent continues, along a dirt path (with specific cobblestones in the central area) enclosed between lateral slopes of a certain depth, and surrounded by eucalyptus trees. We pass two successive detours on the right, continuing the path through an environment in which the eucalyptus trees leave the chestnut trees for a section, in an area where the route is flat. Shortly after, the downward slope becomes more pronounced and the eucalyptus trees reappear, once again leaving another detour on the right, and soon appearing on the right, on a steep slope, a water trough, fountain and washhouse, in the place known as Fuente Santagueda.

Shortly after, it comes out onto a local road, along whose shoulder the route of the Camino continues, already in the vicinity of the town of La Vega, which is crossed following the route of the road. On both sides there are several traditional houses, with granaries and garden spaces. An old horse shoeing rack is also preserved to the left of the Camino. At the end of the town you reach the great emblazoned house of La Güera, with an attached chapel and a property surrounded by a high stone wall with battlements.

You continue along the road until you leave this palace behind, turning just afterwards along a gravel and dirt path that opens to the left. Here begins a journey along the old royal road, which runs parallel to the Priesca River, which eventually forms small natural waterfalls in the intermediate zone, forming a natural environment of great beauty. On the right hand side, at the top, you pass the nucleus of Los Casares, which is not accessible and after which the Camino passes through an entirely natural environment, surrounded by trees. After about 800 meters from the detour, we come to a chapel of souls, in a curve in which our route continues to the right at a fork in the road. This area is known as El Pozu Les Procesiones.

After the chapel, you continue to flatten next to a meadow with an apple orchard, running parallel to the river that has been accompanying the Jacobean route from the detour after the town of La Vega. Soon you can see the large pillars that support one of the viaducts of the Cantabrian highway, the Camino runs under this infrastructure, soon arriving at a small stone bridge, with a single arch, which crosses the Ñabla or Carrión river, also known as Sebrayu, in an environment of beautiful meadows. After crossing the bridge, at the fork in the road that follows, continue straight on towards the town of Sebrayu, leaving on the left the detour towards the church of Santa María de Sebrayu, from the 13th century, which you can visit get there by following a path that deviates about 450 meters from the Camino de Santiago.

Continuing after the bridge towards Sebrayu, a wide path leads after just 150 meters of distance to the first houses of this population center, which will be deployed on both sides of the route.

Traditional houses abound, with one or two floors, some of them with granaries and with stone-based plot closings. The old schools, a building from the 1960s built according to the prototype of the Ministry of Education of the time, and with two floors, are located on the right hand side of the Camino and have hosted for years one of the first pilgrim hostels that emerged on the Asturian coast at the end of the 20th century.

After passing the Sebrayu houses, the path continues to the right, at a fork in the roads that we find in the final area of the town, which leads, in a gentle descent, towards another small core of buildings, after which it also continues towards right at another detour. This paved road runs between orchards and meadows, until it reaches, half a kilometer later, a pass under a viaduct on the Cantabrian highway. Cross this viaduct and come to a fork in the roads where you must take the road that leads to the right to the town of Tornón. Then an ascent begins along an asphalt road, sometimes parallel to the highway tracks, which after about 350 meters leads to the small town of El Fresnu, passing by a very renovated old house, which preserves a portal on its ground floor made of stone with an inscription on the key of the door, as well as a barred window.

Continue uphill alongside other houses and some granary and come to a very tight curve in which you have to continue along the road to the left, which leads to an area where the ruins of a house are preserved, called Casa Marica el Caseru, and from which it is possible to contemplate an excellent panoramic view of the Villaviciosa estuary and its mouth in the sea, between Tazones and Rodiles. We continue along the road and shortly afterwards we take a detour to the right, towards a path of stone and earth that begins a sharp descent between chestnut trees, holly trees and other native species, with good views of the estuary and the Enciena mill.

This downward path, sometimes flanked by dry stone walls, lasts for a little less than a kilometer, running through a sometimes very dense tree vegetation and revealing, on the right, the lanes of the highway, whose itinerary It runs more or less parallel to that of the path. After that kilometer you come to a road, which you cross, continuing along a dirt and stone road that goes down to a roundabout that is bordered by a parallel asphalt road, continuing along a road parallel to the highway. This roundabout is located at a point traditionally known as the Fuente los Peregrinos, with a small river of the same name running nearby.

It is circulated on an asphalt road, with an upward slope. Pass a detour to La Barzaniella on your left and you come to an overpass over the highway. On the left is the so-called Casona de La Torre, a large construction with a shield next to which there is a granary with the line decorated with geometric motifs carved in the wood.

At this point, the highway is crossed by the overpass, and the facilities of the El Gaitero cider factory can be seen from the front, as well as extensive tree plantations.

Continue along the asphalt road, reaching the vicinity of a large warehouse preceded by two high-rise cylindrical silos. At this point, continue along the paved road on the left, in an ascent that leads, after a detour to the left in the first place where possible, to the church of Santa Eulalia de Carda, located next to another overpass over the highway.

Cross the highway and just at its end, take a path to the right, which ends up converging on a dirt and stone road parallel to the highway, in an area known as La Llosa. Soon you can see how the highway, through a tunnel, goes underground (to later save the passage through the Villaviciosa estuary), while the Camino de Santiago arrives, after a slight ascent, to a road that It crosses, and that leads to the nucleus of Villaviciosa, a town declared a Historic Site in 1992.

Access to the villa is through an area of low-rise traditional houses, many of them with a corridor on the upper floor and some granaries. Continue along Calle de Les Caleyes until you reach half a kilometer later, to the modern neighborhoods on the outskirts of the municipal capital, continuing along Calle Jesús de la Piedra, until you come to the old general highway, today called Calle Cervantes and at the Parque de las Ballinas, one of the most interesting urban parks in Asturias, included in the Inventory of the Cultural Heritage of Asturias in ¿?, and neighboring the Villaviciosa Town Hall building and its square.

Leaving behind the building of the town council houses, continue straight ahead along the pedestrian Valle-Ballina and Fernández streets and from here to the historic Calle del Sol, one of the three streets that make up the historic center of the town, walled in the Old Middle, and flanked by a very numerous succession of mansions with shields and large urban palaces that make the center of Villaviciosa a paradise for lovers of cultural heritage.

It is an urban environment of exceptional heritage interest, in which you can see a multitude of balconies, galleries and corridors. It passes next to squares such as Balbín and Carlos I, presided over by the monument to this monarch, a king who made his first landing on Spanish lands in the nearby port of Tazones, and who spent several nights in Villaviciosa, staying at the Casa de los Hevia, which still conserves the room where the sovereign stayed, located a few meters from the Camino de Santiago.

Continuing along Calle del Sol, you come to Obdulio Fernández Square, with the Riera Theater on the left and the graduate schools on the right (on the site where the Sancti Spiritus pilgrim hospital once stood), all dominated by the Romanesque building of the church of Santa María de la Oliva, located in the center of the square a sculptural group called La Manzanera, the work of Mariano Benlliure.

 

At this point the Way turns to the left, passing next to the main facade of the temple (after passing which the small Casa de la Oliva of the Cardín foundation is located on the left hand side of the Way), and continuing along Cabanilles street. Continue straight ahead along this road, leaving on your left a large mountain-style house located on a closed plot with a stone wall and railings and with access through a large portal located on the chamfer leading to the complex.

At this same point, the detour to Valdediós is left on the right, continuing straight on to the El Escanciador cider company, which occupies the old palace of Torre de la Pedrera, with its Concepción chapel on the left (diverted from the itinerary of the I walk a few meters).

The route continues to the right, along the sidewalk of the As-255 road, between industrial warehouses and increasingly spaced houses. You arrive at the group of homes promoted in 1955, deviating the Way towards them, then continuing along a path parallel to the Huetes river, in the La Alameda park.

At this point, the route becomes a dirt and stone path, flanked by tree-lined paths, on the banks of the river. At the end, a ramp leads to a small bridge that crosses the river and that is not taken, but continues straight ahead, connecting with the road, along whose sidewalk it continues. At this point you pass the Los Caños fountain to the left, already in the parish of Amandi, in the center of El Palacio. We continue along the sidewalk of the regional road, between low houses, built at the beginning of the 20th century, and which soon reveal the Romanesque church of San Juan de Amandi on the left.

Access to this temple can be done, once past the building of some old schools built in 1923 (donated by the Counts of the Mesada, according to a plaque located on the facade of the building), ascending a path that deviates to to the left of the Jacobean route and that after just 100 meters leads to the monument. Shortly after the detour to Amandi, the Camino reaches a road junction, leaving on the right a two-story white house with well-developed galleries on each flank of the building. At this crossroads, the Camino de Santiago continues along the road located further to the right, a local road that starts from a two-story construction destined for a hotel business with a portico on the ground floor supported by three Doric-style columns and a ground floor. superior with a gallery in the center.

The path continues along the local road, descending towards the chapel and bridge of San Juan, located at the end of a route flanked by houses of two heights with some very altered granary between them. The chapel has a rectangular floor plan and is preceded by a portico supported by two columns on a plinth of stone ashlars, surrounded by a wooden fence. Access to the building is made, past the portico, through a large semicircular arch span, limited by jambs of ashlars. A belfry with a small bell and topped by a stone cross, completes the construction, which has a fountain attached to its rear. The open space in the center of which the chapel is located is dominated by the La Casona building, a two-story construction from the 18th century, transformed in the 20th century and which has a gallery on one of its flanks.

The path continues in front of this house, along a concrete path that leads to a stone factory bridge with a single span and which has a house attached to one of its flanks.

After crossing the bridge over the Viacaba river, the Camino continues along the local road, arriving after a brief incline at the town of La Parra, with a large house flanked by palm trees and that leads to the AS267 regional road.

At this point, you turn left and continue along the road shoulder for a little over 160 meters, until after a strip of houses located on the right hand side of the road, you take the detour to the local road VV- 10, also on the right. Shortly after taking this road, you pass a fountain on your right, continuing along the shoulder of the road, between meadows, wide views of valleys ?? and some construction (one of them on the right, large, with a palm tree and three heights, the upper one configured as a gallery continues) and that after about 800 meters leads to the town of Casquita, next to whose chapel the present ends stage.

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