The rurAllure associate partner, Galician Vía Künig Cultural Association, has been in charge of the popularization of the Vía Künig since 2019.
The Vía Künig is a two-thousand-year-old road: undoubtedly, a living open-air museum of the history of roads, full of beautiful landscapes, excellent gastronomy, surprising stories and, above all, endearing memories of thousands of people who stepped on it over and over again. At first, it was the majestic Roman road that linked the two most important cities in the northwest: Lucus Augusti (Lugo) and Asturica Augusta (Astorga), whose remains can be seen today in the town hall of O Corgo.
In the Middle Ages, it became the main route to enter Galicia, as evidenced by the Torre de Doncos in As Nogais, created to monitor and protect this route. In the 18th century, thanks to the efforts of King Carlos III, it became the great “Camino Real” linking the capital of the kingdom, Madrid, and La Coruña. This magnificent road structure is today part of the Vía Künig and can be traveled practically unaltered between Pedrafita and As Nogais in a section of about 17 km. Down this road the English soldiers of Sir John Moore retreated precipitously in the cold January of 1809, pursued by the hosts that Napoleon had sent to capture them, leaving behind a trail of blood.
The route is a variant of the French Way of the Camino de Santiago, that passes through the city of Lugo. This pilgrimage route deviates from the French Way in Herrerías de Valcárcel (León) to avoid the so-called “Costa da Faba” of Cebreiro and the Alto del Poio. It runs through a softer and easily walkable territory, through the municipalities of Pedrafita, As Nogais, Becerrea, Baralla, O Corgo and Lugo. From the city of Lugo, it links up with the Primitive Way to Santiago de Compostela.
It is divided into six sections:
- Section 01. Herrerías – Pedrafita, 9 Km
- Section 02. Pedrafita – As Nogais, 14 Km
- Section 03. As Nogais – Becerreá, 11 Km
- Section 04. Becerreá – Baralla, 14 Km
- Section 05. Baralla – O Corgo, 21 Km
- Section 06. O Corgo – Lugo, 19 Km
It is named after the German monk Hermann Künig who wrote a pilgrims’ guide at the end of the 15th Century, describing this itinerary. Together with the Codex Calixtinus, it constitutes the only example of a medieval pilgrim guide, which makes it invaluable.
I, Hermann Künig de Vach,
want to compose, with
God’s help, a little book that is going
to be called El camino de Santiago.
In it I want to describe paths,
footprints and how every
brother of Santiago should stock up
with food and drink.
Written in old German, the guide consists of 651 verses. The rhymes possibly help to memorize the text with the characteristics of the route that he composed during the march. The precision of the details offered is uncommon for those times: the guide includes precise information on provisioning, adequate inns and hospitals, tolls, currency exchange, road forks, bridges, boats, places to repair shoes, alms and much more. Künig also gives advice or passes judgment on different aspects, adding a personal interpretation of the places. He uses the league as a unit of measurement, corresponding to about seven kilometers, with some variability due to the lack of precise devices. He divides the guide into two differentiated parts: the outward path called the “upper route”, to which he dedicates 520 verses, while the return path, the “lower route”, occupies 130 verses. In the final decades of the Middle Ages, the fame of the pilgrimage among the German population was so widespread that Künig was able to prepare the guide and to collect several oral testimonies, a great source of information. For the same reason, the guide was successively published in five editions.
[Pictures via www.facebook.com/HermannKunig]