Astorga

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Astorga is a town in northwest Spain, 45kms from the capital of the province of León. It has a population of less than 12,000 people and more than 2,000 years of history. Astorga hosts a rich variety of landmarks spanning from Roman ruins to modernist buildings, which makes this town truly a hidden gem.


Understand[edit]

It is believed that there had been inhabitants in the area of Astorga since Pre-Roman times, but the city was founded in the 1st century BC by the Romans, and was called Asturica Augusta. It was an important military and administrative center for the Roman presence in northwest Hispania as a gateway from the gold mines in Las Medulas.

In the Middle Ages, Astorga regained its importance as a major stop on the French route of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago) leading to the construction of the Cathedral.

During the Napoleonic invasion of the Iberian Peninsula, Astorga was occupied by the French troops suffering four years of intense battles.

As an outcome of this extensive history, Astorga offers a vast cultural, historical, and architectural heritage.

In the 16th century, Astorga became one of the first places to elaborate chocolate in Europe.

Get in[edit]

Bus[edit]

ALSA, +34 902-44-22-42, [1] runs direct buses to/from several major cities in Spain, including:

  • León 17 times a day (50 min)
  • Madrid 5 times a day (4h). Buses leave from Estación Sur de Autobuses and from Madrid Barajas International Airport.
  • Barcelona 3 times a day (10-12h)
  • Valladolid 4 times a day (3h) also from Aeropuerto Valladolid-Villanubla
  • Salamanca 2 times a day (3h)
  • Oviedo and Gijon 4 times a day (2h 30min)
  • Seville 2 times a day (10h)


Train[edit]

Renfe, +34 902-240-202, [2] operates train services to/from several major cities in Spain, including: León, Madrid, Barcelona and Valladolid.

A fast option if coming from Madrid is to take Alvia or AVE trains (high speed) to León and transfer to a local train or bus to Astorga. In León, the bus and train stations are within walking distance.


Plane[edit]

León Airport (IATA: LEN) is located in the municipality of Virgen del Camino, 6kms from León and 40kms from Astorga. It has daily connections to Barcelona and flights are operated by Iberia (Iberia). Access to the airport by road is from the N-120 Leon-Astorga road, and a taxi to León bus and train stations cost between €20 and €25. From there, you can take a bus or train to Astorga.

Other nearby airports are Valladolid-Villanubla Aiport (170kms) and Asturias Airport (200kms). ALSA operates daily direct services from Valladolid Airport to Astorga.


Get around[edit]

The best and only way to take in this beautiful city is by foot.

Taxis +34 902-44-22-42, are only necessary to visit nearby villages such as Castrillo de los Polvazares.


See[edit][add listing]

Information about what to visit can be obtained at the Tourist information office [3]

Astorga City Hall
Episcopal Palace in Astorga
  • The Walls - Astorga sits on a spur of rock, with mountains to the north and west. It has extant city walls to its south, east, and west. You can walk along the walls to the south and gaze up in awe from one of the more scenic car parks to the north.
  • Cathedral of Astorga – Built between the 15th and 18th centuries, this Roman Catholic Cathedral mixes the styles of the different epochs that its construction spanned through: Gothic, Baroque and Renaissance.
  • Episcopal Palace [4] – Or how it is know locally, El Palacio de Gaudi, is a Modernist building designed by Antoni Gaudi and one of the only three buildings by the architect outside of Catalonia. Now, it hosts a museum (See below)
  • Town Hall - The Ayuntamiento is a Baroque building from the last half of the 18th century. The building dominates the Plaza Mayor and has two Maragatos sculptures who move hitting a bell to signal each hour.
  • Roman Ruins Route – You can take a guided tour (4€) [5] visiting the multiple Roman ruins, including thermal baths, sewers, murals, etc.
  • Parque del aljibe – A former Medieval water tank which is now a park with an amphitheater.
  • Parque de la Sinagoga – A quiet park in the extreme southwestern side of the walled city and has a nice view of El Teleno Mountain.

Besides all these major landmarks, a walk around the narrow streets inside the walled city is awe-inspiring. There are several churches from diverse periods, sculptures and parks.


Museums[edit]

  • Museo de los Caminos, hosted at the Episcopal Palace and has a collection of polychrome wooden medieval sculptures, Renaissance and Baroque gold items, and objects dating from Roman times.
  • Roman Museum, it can be visited together with the Roman Ruins Route (5€ entry for both)
  • Chocolate Museum [6], (Tuesday to Sunday, 2.5€) displays the history of the chocolate in Astorga with a comprehensive exhibition of tools.
  • Casa Panero, former house of the poet and writer, Leopoldo Panero.


Nearby Towns[edit]

Castrillo de los Polvazares [7], is a very picturesque town 5kms from Astorga. It is one of Spain's Historic-Artistic sites as it is an archetypal and traditional “Maragato” town, preserving the original local stone architecture. All the streets are stone-paved and untouched since the 16th century. In 1980, Castrillo de los Polvazares was declared a historic and artistic monument. The village is typical to eat “Cocido Maragato” and has multiple restaurants and hotels.


Do[edit][add listing]

Festivals[edit]

  • Sábado de Piñata - Carnaval, the first weekend after Carnival finishes in the rest of Spain, Astorga celebrates its particular Carnival. It starts with a 60s and 70s night on Friday; followed by a large colorful parade and intense nightlife on Saturday; and fireworks on Sunday.
  • Semana Santa [8], The Holy Week processions in Astorga is a Fiesta of National Tourist Interest. For 10 days, around 20 processions walk the streets at all times during the day. Hundreds of people carry on their shoulders these elaborate, lifelike wood sculptures representing the last moments of Jesus' life from crucifixion to His resurrection.
  • Astures y Romanos, the last week of July, Astorga recreates the times of the fights between Astur tribes and the Roman legions. There are markets, a large recreated camping with more than 1,000 people, a Roman circus, and parades.
  • Fiestas de Santa Marta, the last week of August is the time for the town's popular festival. A week of concerts, theater, comedy, popular music and dance, street performances, parades, sport competitions, fireworks, and nightlife.
Roman Circus during the Astures y Romanos week

Eat[edit][add listing]

Cocido Maragato is a traditional dish comprising of meat (mostly pork), chickpeas, boiled vegetables, and soup. It is a hearty meal which will take you a good couple of hours to finish and give enough energy for the rest of the day. Something unique about this kind of cocido is that it is served in reverse order from the rest of Spain: starting from the meat and finishing with the soup.

A comprehensive list of restaurants can be found here: [9]


The province of León is well-known for the quality of its cured meats. Particularly cecina, which is a cured meat usually from the hind legs of beef. The concept is similar to ham, but with a strong salty flavor. A couple of brands have started producing crema de cecina, which is a delicious pâté or spread from this meat.


Mantecadas is a traditional spongy pastry similar to a flat muffin made of egg, flour, butter and sugar. The Mantecadas are a protected product as per Geographical Indication in the European Union.

Hojaldres is baked puff pastry sheets with honey.

Chocolate de Astorga. Given the long lasting tradition of chocolate manufacturing in Astorga, there is a large range of small-scale factories around the town. Traditionally well-known for the thick hot chocolate (chocolate a la taza), nowadays the innovation has brought to the table new kinds of chocolates incorporating other local products, such as cecina or chickpeas.

Mantecadas, Hojaldres and chocolates can be found at virtually every cafe, restaurant, and grocery store in Astorga.

Drink[edit][add listing]

The center of the town offers a range of bars and clubs. You can go bar-hopping in the evening ordering a corto (small glass of beer) which in most bars comes with a tapa of free food. Most bars can be found at the Plaza mayor and the pedestrian streets that converge in it.

Nightlife during the summer months is busy on Fridays and Saturdays, especially during the festivals season.

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Budget[edit]

There are multiple youth hostels (Albergues) for the pilgrims doing The Way of St. James.

Mid range[edit]

  • Hostal El Emigrante Luso,  Plaza de Porfirio López, 3,
  • Hostal Residencia Delfin, Carretera Mad-coruña,326,no417
  • Hotel Temple Pradorrey, Carretera N Vi, Km 329 5 minutes drive from Astorga
  • Hostal Coruña, Avenida Ponferrada, 72


Splurge[edit]

  • Hotel Spa Ciudad de Astorga, Los Sitios 7
  • Hotel Spa Via de la Plata, Padres Redentoristas, 5
  • Hotel Astur Plaza, Pza.de España, 2 y 3, in the City Hall square
  • Posada Real Casa Tepa, Calle de Santiago, 2
  • Hotel Gaudi, Plaza Ingeniero Eduardo de Castro, 6, in front of the Episcopal Palace


Nearby towns[edit]

There are several small hotels in Castrillo de los Polvazares.


Get out[edit]



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