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19 junio 2024

We walk from Villanua to Jaca. Third stage of the Camino de Santiago Aragonés

And with the imposing image of the Peña Collarada in the background, we arrive at Villanúa, a town of less than 500 inhabitants, but thanks to being an eminently touristic place, it welcomes between 5000 and 6000 people in the high summer season and other important dates.

But before reaching the town of Villanua, following a track, the famous cave of the Güixas appears immediately before us, sheltered under the imposing massif of Collarada with its 2,886 meters. The cave of the Güixas, whose origin, according to several studies, would be in the last glaciation and subsequent thaw, can be visited on a guided tour that lasts about an hour and a half, where we can see lots of stalactites, stalagmites, lava flows, columns and truly beautiful areas, apart from that we will talk about their relationship with witches, their covens and other legends related to the cave.

At present the cave is active and continues its evolution of thousands of years changing by the action of water. It is crossed by the course of a dry river through which, during the thawing season or after heavy storms, the water flows again, circumstances that sometimes make it necessary to close the installation. If we are interested in visiting it, it is convenient to buy tickets online on the web.

CUEVA DE LAS GÜIXAS Camino De Santiago
CUEVA DE LAS GÜIXAS Camino De Santiago route Fran Luis Herrero

CAVE OF THE GÜIXAS. Way of St. James route Fran Luis Herrero
In the Villanua area there are also three ancient megalithic dolmens, the closest to visit being the Dolmen de las Güixas, so called because it is only five minutes from the entrance of the cave, almost next to it.

DOLMEN OF THE GÜIXAS. Camino De Santiago
DOLMEN OF THE GÜIXAS. Way of St. James route Fran Luis Herrero

Arriving at Villanúa we find the detour to the right to continue the Camino, leaving 450 meters to the left, the center of the village, which if you have time you can visit it and see some stately homes that display their coats of arms, the old town hall, the fountain of the four pipes or the parish church of San Esteban, of Romanesque origin (s. XII). On some of the slab and slate roofs, we can observe the curious truncated conical chimneys popularly known as camineras, topped by capiscoles or ‘espantabrujas’, which according to beliefs prevent evil beings from entering the home. We can also visit the Interpretation Center of the Caves, to learn a little more about the formation of the natural caves in the area.

Leaving Villanúa, we will see the Lordship of Aruej, which dates back in history to the seventh century, and whose mission was to defend both the area and the Roman road against ultra-Pyrenean incursions of enemies from the north. This Lordship was very important and enjoyed great influence in its period of splendor, which over time was progressively declining.

IGLESIA DE SAN MIGUEL.Camino De Santiago route Fran Luis Herrero
IGLESIA DE SAN MIGUEL.Camino De Santiago route Fran Luis Herrero

From Villanúa to Castiello, we can take two routes, and this time we will take the walker that runs along the road to the recreation center of Escolapios, crossing the national road and face a small climb to a cobbled cottage and then continue along one of the cabañeras to Castiello, where we enter the street Santiago.

In Castiello de Jaca, located on the right bank of the Aragon river and dominating the area from a hill, we can not forget to visit the Romanesque church of San Miguel, a building of the late eleventh or early twelfth century, inside which and in an urn are kept “the hundred relics”, which according to legend tells of a pilgrim walking to Santiago fell ill and was treated pleasantly by the locals, and when he recovered his health and continued on his way, he gave a sack containing a hundred relics to the people. Next to the church are preserved some remains of the old castle whose origin gives its name to the village.

ARCON WITH THE "HUNDRED RELIQUES" Camino De Santiago Aragonés (Aragonese Way of St. James)
ARCON WITH THE “HUNDRED RELIQUES” Camino De Santiago Aragonés (Aragonese Way of St. James)

From the same place we can take Santiago street and, next to the old washhouses now restored, we will find the Casadioses fountain, where many pilgrims make a stop at this point to refresh themselves before continuing on to the route to Jaca.

FOUNTAIN OF CASADIOSES. Aragonese Way of St. James
FOUNTAIN OF CASADIOSES. Aragonese Way of St. James

On leaving Castiello, after crossing the bridge over the Aragón River, the route continues to the right and a footbridge designed in 2009 crosses the bed of the Ijuez River. A little more than six kilometers separate Castiello de Jaca from the city of Jaca, where we will arrive walking between the Aragón River and the road, passing by the hermitage of San Cristóbal, patron saint of walkers and travelers, which welcomes those who pass by with a water fountain and a bench. The hermitage is a simple building erected in 1796 in masonry with stone buttresses and topped by a curious brick belfry.

HERMITAGE OF SAN CRISTOBAL. Aragonese Way of St. James
HERMITAGE OF SAN CRISTOBAL. Aragonese Way of St. James

Afterwards, we go ahead and cross the Rapitán ravine by the bridge medi.

Fran Lucas Herrero walks several times a year the Camino De Santiago Aragonés. His website is esmicamino.es . You can follow him on instagram @esmicaminodesantiago

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