In August 1999 I started my Camino in Astorga because I wanted to get to Santiago within 14 days. 3 days it was raining, the rest was fine, but in July and August are the hottest months and also the most peregrinos. So it was not easy to find a place to sleep, 2 times I had to sleep outside, but it was OK !
As is general in Spain the Plaza Mayor is also home to the town hall. This town hall is unique in having two Maragatos, known as Juan Zancuda and Colasa striking the time, and this since 1748. The building is just over 300 years old.
Other things to do :
The Roman museum : The Ergastula is situated 2 mins walk from the town hall on plaza de San Bartholomé and is an ancient slaves prison. A short film gives you an idea of the times when Astorga was known as Asturica Augusta. The museum in itself on the first floor. It is open every day of the year except the days around Xmas and the New Year.
The Chocolate museum : Personally I found the museum a drag, no-one to explain anything, although there were some explanations on the walls. Even the girl who was supposed to be giving out samples seemed asleep with boredom. It is situated on C./ Juan Maria Goy, also a couple of mins from the town hall.
These two museums can be coupled in one ticket bought at the information office.
The tiny chapel of Santa Vera Cruz dates from 1816 and is at the side od Saint Francis' church, just past the Plaza Romana.
Besides the Roman museum there is evidence of the Romans all over Astorga. The only part of the original wall visible from outside, along with a Roman gate along behind the Bishops Palace. The rest of the wall is of course original but covered and re-faced. In the calle Luis Braille there are some diggings going on and there is also the Plaza Romana where you can see some lovely mosaics including one known as "the dancing bear".
This striking gothic cathedral was begun in 1471 on the site of a Romanesque predecessor and finally finished in the 1700's undergoing additions in Neo-classic, Baroque and Renaissance styles.
The small church of Santa Marta is in the shadow of the cathedral. Martha being the patron saint of Astorga.
The palace was begun in 1889 and finally deemed to be finished in 1913, although work actually carried on right into the 1960's. The attics were not finished according to Gaudi's plans, and that is why the three angels are actually exposed in the garden instead of inside. It is said the the Bishop never actually lived here and it is now a museum "Museo de los caminos", and holds a permanent exhibition dedicated to pilgrimages to Santiago.
There are only three Gaudí building outside Barcelona and Astorga has one of them! It was shut on the Monday I was there and I'm sure the inside is more quirky than the exteriior which isn't particluarly mad.
It now houses the Museo de Los Caminos. 2.50euros to enter or get a combined ticket for Museo Catedralicio fo 4 euros.
The impressive building is a sign of the importance of the city as religious centre.
The facade is a master piece, with fine sculptures in every arch and column.
The inside is also richly decorated: the altar, the choir, organ...
Plaza de españa is an attractive spot to sit outside a bar/cafe and admire the arcaded shops and historic town hall.
Cervecería La Esquina has 18 beers to choose from.
We arrived the day after Astorga's August festival 'Festividad de Santa Marta' had ended. Missed out the on bullfights ;-) and fireworks ;-(.
was an important stopping place on the way to santiago.
lost its influence on behalf of leon.
begun in 1471,finished in the 17th century.
made of pink sandstone.
one of the great architect's deliriums:pastiche of a roman-gothic castle,today fallen in ruin, of the templars in ponferrada.
inside,a santiago's ways museum.
open 10-2pm + 4-8pm exc. on sundays