Villafranca del Bierzo village

Villafranca del Bierzo


Villafranca del Bierzo (Galician: Vilafranca do Bierzo) is a village and municipality located in the comarca of El Bierzo, in the province of León, Castile and León, Spain. Villafranca del Bierzo lies 187 kilometers from Santiago de Compostela and is located between Ponferrada and O Cebreiro on the Way of St. James pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. The first human settlements in the area date to the Neolithic age, while the first historically known people living here were the Celtiberians, who lived in Bergidum, later known as Bergidum Flavium after the Roman conquest. In the Middle Ages, the town is first mentioned in 791. The origin of the modern town is connected to the Way of St. James, as a rest place for the pilgrims on their way to Santiago de Compostela beginning in the 9th century. In the Codex Calixtinus Villafranca is mentioned as an intermediate stage between Rabornal and Triacastela. In 1070, during the reign of Alfonso VI of León, a Cluniac monastery was founded here to cultivate wine, and a borough of French pilgrims rose around it, from which the town's name (meaning "French Town") stems. Numerous hotels and hospitals were established in the town for the pilgrims. In the late 12th century Alfonso VII of León gave the lordship of Villafranca to his sister Sancha. Later it went to Urraca, wife of King Ferdinand II and then to Teresa, wife of Alfonso IX, and then to numerous other noble people. In 1486 the lordship became a marquisate assigned to Luis Pimentel y Pacego: his daughter married Pedro Álvarez de Toledo, whose family thenceforth held the marquisate for centuries. In 1619 saint Lawrence of Brindisi was brought here after his death in Lisbon and buried in the Monastery of the Assumtiion, which still contains his spoils.During the Peninsular War Villafranca was the headquarters of the Galician army and was sacked three times by the English troops, and was later occupied by the French troops. The Spanish general Antonio Filangieri died here. The town was freed in 1810.

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Villafranca del Bierzo is it’s a stopover point on The Camino Francés and The Camino Aragonés. You can reach Fisterra in 11 days and Santiago de Compostela in 8 days.

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