Astorga is a small town, on the Camino de Santiago, in the autonomous community of Castille and León, and a short bus ride away from the city of León. We took a morning bus from the León station and arrived in Astorga, taking note of the many pilgrims with their large backpacks complete with shells, walking sticks, wearing hiking shoes and large brimmed hats, as they made their way toward Santiago de Compestela in Galicia. There are many routes of the Camino de Santiago, some that go through our city of Gijón, others through Oviedo (just South of Gijón), and another through León and Astorga (the original French way). The hike can take weeks or months in some cases, and it is very popular, as there are markers all throughout pointing the way, usually these take the form of scallop shells on the ground or on posts, telling the pilgrims they are headed in the right direction.
We had a free morning on our trip to León and was told that Astorga was really worth a visit, and it most definitely was. Our first stop was a cafe for some desayuno of coffee, Spanish tortilla, and a Nutella croissant. Once satiated, we headed to the Roman Museum of Asturica. Asturica has a similar sound to Asturias, the autonomous community where Gijon is located, and that is because, in Roman times, Asturica included the current autonomous communities of Galacia, Leon, Cantabria, and even part of Vasco.
The Roman Museum was a simple one, but made interesting in that the prominent artifacts were headstones. There was a short video in English that used the headstones as the basis for a story about the lives surrounding those buried under them. There were also coins, clay pots, and other tools used by the Ancient Romans. Many of the tombstones were paid for by their servants, and even one tomb was of a servant woman from Greece, paid for by her common law husband, as servants could not marry back then.
Outside the museum, nearby there was an ancient Roman floor to a house, with multiple rooms that we could see some of the original floor tile as well as the plumbing that ran throughout the house. It was very reminiscent of our visits to other Roman sites in Asturias.
We leisurely strolled throughout the town, and noted the similarities with some small towns in Missouri and Illinois in the wide open fields and fall colors, and bright blue skies replete with fluffy clouds.
Our next stop was the main tourist attractions of Astorga, and luck would have it they are located right next to each other, the Catedral de Santa María de Astorga (lower left) and Palacio Espiscopal, designed by Antoni Gaudí.
Luck was not on our side, however, in terms of time, as both closed within a half-hour of us arriving, and would not open again for two hours more. So we were left to sit on the bench outside, get as close as we could to gawk at the impressive architecture, and enjoy the sun shining on a wonderful late October day.
Above is the Palacio Espiscopal and below is the Catedral.
We walked back through the impressive garden that sat below the two impressive structures, which was partially shadowed by the ancient wall that was in remarkable shape, and near it, the remnants of an ancient Roman wall. Astorga provided a relaxing half-day trip that was very near León and recommended if you have some extra time while visiting León.