2. The Legendary Saint Juan de Ortega, The Path Builder.

Second Stage: 42km from the Monastery of San Juan Ortega to the stunning medieval mountain village of Pineda de la Sierra.

The collapse of the Roman Empire laid open Hispania to the various invading tribes from Northern Europe and Africa but Spain was finally taken over by the Visigoths of Germanic origin. The Visigoths brought two hundred years of relative peace and in the process accumulated great wealth and treasures while establishing their Capital in Toledo. The prophecy spoke of the “cave of Hercules” not only where the vast treasures were kept but also where the destiny of Spain lay safe whilst every successive King continued the ritual of adding a new lock to the door. In 710 AD the noble Rodrigo became King and instead of adding a new lock he decided to break the existing ones and entered the chamber to find a depiction of the slaying of the Visigoths and the conquest of Spain by the North African invaders. Within a year King Rodrigo was dead and defeated by Tariq Ibn Ziyad, the Commander at the service of the Umayyad Caliphate, who chased the remaining Visigoth nobles way up North where he slay them all, took the coveted treasure and completed the conquest of Spain.

For many centuries the Christians fought back the occupation but in the Northern Plains of Castille due to the continous squermishes and instability of these frontier lands most of it lay devastated and abandoned for many decades. The Christian Nobles in an attempt to stabilize the population in order to regain permanent control established the Camino “Frances” a pilgimage route to Santiago which crossed these vast empty lands. In the 12th century a local civil engineer by the name of Juan de Ortega dedicated his life to constructing the necessary infrastructure along the pilgrimage route, he built a hostel for the pilgrims and the initial church upon which the monastery now sits and which bears his name, as a result soon thereafter early medieval towns appeared along the route settling the population and generating enormous wealth from the income of wealthy pilgrims, setting the foundation for the permenant reconquest of Spain.

Stage 2 begins at The Monastery of San Juan Ortega on “The Camino de Santiago” heading up along the historic pilgimage route in the opposite direction from the flow of pilgrims before turning south through a beautiful forest directly towards the mountains, from the village of Alarcia it begins a steady climb along an amazing forest trail to the top of the Trigaza peak and then along a short rugged ridge  before heading sharply down the south side of the mountain to the village of Pineda de la Sierra. 

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