The Original Way or Camino Primitivo (#caminoprimitivo) was the first Camino route to Santiago de Compostela, when in the 9th century most of Spain was under Moorish control. 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 French Way in the lively town of Melide where you should try Galicia’s most classic dish: octopus. Read more Original Way Camino articles on our blog.
Please see below for our suggested itineraries. You can select the Original Way to customise your route (start point, finish point and options that you would like to have). You can walk or cycle any of our ways.
The pilgrimage way to Santiago de Compostela was used by the first devout pilgrims from the newly-formed Kingdom of Asturias. It was therefore the very first of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage routes, hence its name.
This might very well have been the route taken by King Alphonse II, the Chaste, from Oviedo, the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias to the tomb of Saint James, during the first third of the 9th century. This monarch, who played a decisive role in confirming that the remains unearthed in Compostela belonged to the Apostle Saint James, sponsored the founding of the first basilica of the budding metropolis and collaborated in organising the early cult of Saint James. He also made donations and promoted the establishment of the first monastic community devoted to services of worship at the altar of Saint James.
The Original Way was probably a safe and well-travelled route until the present-day French Way from León, the new capital of the kingdom, consolidated its position as the major route in the late 10th century. Nonetheless, the Oviedo route to Santiago remained a popular alternative, due particularly to the spiritual value of the magnificent collection of relics at the cathedral of San Salvador de Oviedo and basilica of Lugo with its permanent exhibition of the Holy Sacrament.
The many hospitals set up along the way bear witness to the importance of this route, especially those in remote spots ensconced high up in the mountains. They served a fundamental purpose: attending to the pilgrim, who, in the region of A Fonsagrada, was forced to cross areas of breath taking beauty yet also represented an arduous challenge for most part of the year, with snowstorms, strong winds and treacherous paths.