More than 500 years of medieval pilgrimage left wonderful stories and legends, apart from an extraordinary rich cultural and artistic legacy. San Juan de la Peña walls have witnessed the birth of the Kingdom of Aragon and the passage of the Holy Grail.
The Aragonese part of the French Road lived its zenith in the Middle Ages, between 11th and 16th century. Santa Cristina hospital construction, one of the most important three at that time, and the fact that Jaca became the capital of Aragón, made pilgrims to pick this route all over those years, known as Toulouse Road.
From Somport pass, at 1,640 m above sea level, starts this historic route crossing the Pyrenees and descending through Aragón River valley. Jaca cathedral, Monastery of San Juan de la Peña and the Romanesque shrines Santa María de Iguácel and San Adrián de Sasabe, and the village Santa Cruz de la Serós are some of the most beautiful examples.
The villages which are crossed in the Aragonese stages along the French road to Santiago are Somport, Candanchú, Canfranc, Villanúa, Castiello de Jaca, Jaca, Santa Cilia, Puente la Reina, Arrés, Martes, Mianos, Artieda, Ruesta and Undués de Lerda.
Diversion from San Juan de la Peña to Santa Cruz de la Serós
There is a diversion of the ‘Camino de Santiago’ from Jaca to the monastery of San Juan de la Peña. It is the GR 65.3.2 trail. It can be taken about 5 km past Jaca, crossing the Gas River bridge towards the village of Atarés. After leaving this pretty hamlet with traditional architecture, you walk up the Atarés ravine until you reach the San Indalecio meadow, where the New Monastery of San Juan is located.
From this point the downhill walk begins. In a simple 15-minute walk, you reach the Old Monastery and, from there, the route leads us through Santa Cruz de la Serós to find the main road again in Santa Cilia.
They are a total of 24 kilometers where a progressive drop of nearly 500 meters must be bridged. The whole itinerary is beautiful and quiet, although the pilgrim should know that in some parts it is also somewhat hard. Without a doubt, it is worth it for the beauty of the landscape and the richness of the cultural heritage that the route offers along its way.
Website of the Camino de Santiago through Aragon
Another marvellous Santiago Road passing through San Juan de la Peña is the Catalan Way or Montserrat Way. Before reaching Aragon, it covers the monastery of Monserrat, Igualada, Cervera, Tárrega and Balaguer.
In Aragon, it offers a large variety of possibilities. One route penetrates through Tamarite de Litera, Monzón, Barbastro, Huesca, Loarre and San Juan de la Peña to connect with the stretch of the French Road in Santa Cilia.
Medieval pilgrims visited it, utilizing the route of the Roman way which joined the cities of Ilerda (Lérida) and Osca (Huesca).