The Camino Primitivo was the first pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela
At that time, in the 9th century, most of Spain was under Moorish control, but a tiny Christian kingdom remained unconquered protected by the mountains of Asturias. They started the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela following the hardest but most protective way crossing the heart of the mountains range.
Theoretically, the Primitive Way or Original Way starts in the Asturias coast, nowadays as a deviation of the Northern Way or Camino del Norte. Some pilgrims who were following the Northern Way along the coast from the Basque Country, close to France, decide to divert their way towards the Primitive Way in the town of Villaviciosa. However, if you want to walk only the Primitive Way you can just start in the city of Oviedo, capital of Asturias.
This Camino de Santiago is not long: it can be completed in around ten or eleven days but it is physically demanding with many ups and downs and with a wet and fresh weather, still, you’ll have the reward of walking through unspoiled nature, beautiful mountains, streams of fresh water and charming little old villages some times untouched by progress. The Primitive Way is, therefore, a Camino de Santiago for the physically fit pilgrims, for nature lovers and who doesn’t mind – or are actually looking for – a bit of solitude since this is one of the less crowded Camino de Santiago. One final tip is to walk the Primitive Way well prepared with rain gear and preferably in the late spring or summer months.
This was the route followed by King Alfonso II the Chaste in the 9th century, from the city of Oviedo, in Asturias. Oviedo is the starting point of the Original Way but this was also the route traditionally followed by pilgrims from further afield in Northern Spain and Europe. The first section of the Camino Primitivo is one of the most challenging of all the Camino routes but the scenery along this way is simply breath taking. The route crosses the Cantabrian Mountains giving walkers outstanding views of the Picos de Europa and passes quaint mountain villages in Asturias and Galicia.
The second section of the Original Way starts in the city of Lugo, its old town nested inside the only fully preserved Roman wall in Spain, an impressive UNESCO World Heritage site. From Lugo, the Original Way continues towards Santiago de Compostela through peaceful forests and farmland, joining the final stretch of the Camino Frances in the lively town of Melide where you should try Galicia’s most classic dish: octopus.
Alternatively it is possible to walk the Camino using a number of different travel companies that take all the organisational work out (including organising your luggage transfer for you) leaving you free to enjoy the Camino in style.
Camino de Santiago • Locations & Activities