As we've already mentioned in one of our articles, the Camino de Santiago has its origins in the first journey made by King Alfonso II in the year 813, and was developed so much so that by the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, there were already thousands of pilgrims travelling the Camino every year.
For this reason, kings and clergy members began to build shelters, roads, bridges and hospitals to facilitate the pilgrimage of those who were on their way to Santiago de Compostela. But this was not enough, since it was also necessary to offer some security to pilgrims, and that is where an order, famous in some respects, but also shrouded in mystery appears: the order of the Knights Templar.
The Templars, officially the "Order of the Poor Knights of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon", was a Christian military order during the Middle Ages that was founded at the beginning of the twelfth century by nine French knights, whose mission was to patrol the road to Jerusalem and protect the safety of those pilgrims who were headed there after their conquest.
The power of this order grew rapidly thanks to several factors, although the principal reason is the fact that they managed the Arabic numeration while the rest of Europe was still using Roman numeration, which allowed them to develop their knowledge of arithmetic, geometry and trigonometry, and would be applied to create a system that would be a predecessor to the banking system we have today.
This would end up being used to trick them and make them the enemies of those who would end up destroying them; but that is another story for another time. Let's now focus on what the Knights Templar left on the Camino.
When the Camino de Santiago began to gain importance, and attract more and more pilgrims, the Templars not only realized that these people would need protection, but that this protection could be beneficial to the organisation. Therefore, the presence of the Order was stronger day by day on the Camino, so much so that even today there are places and constructions that account for this. Let's learn more about them!
Although there is no documentation to conclusively prove the Templar origins of this church, there are certain features that lead us to believe that the Knights Templar had something to do with its construction: from its octagonal floor (typical of Templar construction) to its supposed similarity to the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem situated at the location of King Solomon's temple where the Templars had their first seat, there are many connections to the Templar order
Located in Torres del Río, and constructed under a clearly Romanesque aesthetic, this church served as a lighthouse in its day for pilgrims on the Camino. Its Templar origin is much more recognised than that of the Hermitage of Eunate, since there are several documents linking this church with the Order, along with other discoveries, including bodies buried around the church wearing typical Templar dress.
In Villalcazar de Sirga, the Knights Templar founded an important commandry in the thirteenth century (a commandry was real estate located in a certain place that the Templars formed from donations and subsequent purchase of other property or nearby land), the result of which is the magnificent temple of Santa María de la Blanca.
In Puente la Reina at the beginning of the Camino Francés we can find this church that dates back to the end of the twelfth century and was founded by the order of the Knights Templar under the name of Santa María de los Huertos. Inside, there is a mysterious crucifix of large dimensions and in the shape of a Y, which is considered one of the best works of Gothic imagery preserved in Spain.
With Romanesque remains at its base and located on the street-Camino of Castrojeriz, this immense 3 nave columnar temple belonged to the Templars before passing to the Hermanos Hospitalarios of San Antonio once the Temple Order was expelled. On the capitals of the columns, you can see some jumper struts of clear Templar origin.
In this case, we're not only talking about the church, but also the town of Rabanal del Camino having purely Templar origins: the result of an advancement of the Order from Ponderrada, which sought to protect the pilgrims who crossed the Mountains of Leon, until Bierzo. In this sense, the Parish Church not only stands out because of its Templar origins, but also because it is one of the few examples remaining of Leonese Romanesque.
In 1178 Ponferrada became a subject of the Order of the Temple thanks to a donation from the Leonese kings. When the Templars arrived there, they found a small fortress, which had previously served as a Roman fort. From there began a series of expansions that would serve to turn the complex into a defence of the Camino, which would finish only in 1282 (what we see today has many more renovations made throughout the centuries).
This castle was an important Templar enclave in its day, since it occupies an ideal position for the defence of pilgrims going to Santiago. The place where it is located, Vega de Valcarce, was a point of conflict since there was a toll collected (payment for the right of passage) of which pilgrims were exempt, with many trying to avoid it using alternative routes to the area. Thus, a route parallel to the original was created that just so happened to run by the Castle of Sarracín so that pilgrims could be defended by the Templars with the intention of collecting from any toll gatherer in the area.
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¡Buen Camino! This is our wish at Correos! – that pilgrims can fully enjoy their Camino and discover new places, histories, people and experiences through our postcards.
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We transfer your rucksack or suitcase from your accommodation at one stage to the next!! This way, your walk is more comfortable, your bag is lighter and you can enjoy every step of the Camino. We will take your luggage every day to your next hostel or hotel.
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Decide where you want to start the Camino and we will send your bicycle there from any branch of Correos. Once you finish the Camino de Santiago you can go to the nearest post office and send it back home again. Your bicycle will be insured and we package your bike without disassembling it.
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Correos offers a prepaid card that is not linked to a bank account. In this way, you can defort walk the Camino without taking your credit or debit cards with you. You only have to put the money on the card that you are going to need and then top up again if your balance is low. This is a simple, safe and comfortable way of taking your money along the Camino.
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Branches of Correos along the Camino de Santiago stamp your Credential or Pilgrim's Passport with our special stamps. Many of these stamps represent important tourist attractions from that particular place to help you remember your jorney.
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You can send a parcel from any of the over one-hundred branches of CORREOS located along the Camino de Santiago and additionally from some of our “Tiendas Amigas del Camino”, a network of shops and accommodation from where you can send parcels any time of the day. This service will help you to get rid of things from your luggage that you no longer need. You can also buy souvenirs or some typical products without having to worry about carrying them with you.
Lockers in Santiago
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Our Pilgrim's Office at Rúa do Franco, 150 metres from the Plaza del Obradoiro, has lockers. You can leave your rucksack, suitcase, bike or trekking pole before you go into the Cathedral or you can wander around Santiago without having to worry about your luggage.
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