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Roncesvalles is not the beginning of the French Way but there are many pilgrims who choose to depart from Roncesvalles to save the hardness of the Pyreness making it the sixth most chosen point to start the French Way.
Roncesvalles and the Ibaneta pass is the traditional site of the Battle of Roncesvalles (August 15, 778), in which the Basques ambushed and totally wiped out the rear guard of the Frankish army. Roncesvalles has many historical buildings and churches to visit and a great starting point on your camino.

As you walk towards the west you will walk through towns and villages that are centuries old with their own history and culture.

Pamplona is filled with loads of history, culture and food and is famous worldwide for the running of the bulls during the San Fermín festival, which is held annually from July 6 to July 14. This festival was brought to literary renown with the 1926 publication of Ernest Hemingway’s novel The Sun Also Rises. Hemingway spent hours writing his novel at the art deco Cafe Iruna just off the main plaza del Castillo.

Pamplona is one of Spain’s greenest cities and a former bastion of the Roman Empire, and is just as much worth a visit during the remaining fifty weeks of the year for its history and modern art museums, its open recreational spaces and its glorious religious monuments. The route from Pamplona to Burgos is of rolling hills with some steep ascents and descents that lead you into the city of Burgos with a population of over 355,00 people.

While in Burgos, the home of El Cid, we suggest visiting the world-class museum of Human Evolution and the breathtaking Burgos Gothic Cathedral (bring your pilgrim credentials for a discount. NO packs allowed.) along with dozens of other must-see medieval historical sites and museums. The nightlife is vibrant and the cuisine delightful. This city offers lots of places to rest, watch the world go by, and explore the culture and history before you head west.

Once you leave Burgos you will find yourself in the Meseta and the quiet countryside with fields of agriculture for as far as the eyes can see. You will walk through interesting towns like Castrojeriz, Boadilla, Fromista, Villacazar, Sahagun and Mansilla to mention a few. While the Meseta is known for its long days and flat terrain there are some steep but mostly soft rolling hills and lots of beauty along the way. You will pass through Leon which is former Roman military garrison and base for its VIIth Legion. Leon is both historical and modern and home to over 130,000 people. After leaving Leon and before reaching Santiago de Compostela you will encounter many rolling hills on the way to Hospital de Orbigo, Astorga, Castrillo de Polvarzares, Rabinal de Camino. The terrain changes to some steep hills approaching Foncebadon, Ponferrada, Cacabelos, and Villafranca del Bierzo before heading up into the western mountain range into O’Cebriero. After descending the mountains and before reaching Santiago, Samos, Sarria, Portomarin, and Melide have their own traditions, historical significance and beauty.

Your first steps on the Camino start here.

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