Via Künig: a historical variant of the Camino de Santiago

14 March 2022

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]

    Miguel Anxo López

    FUN Technical Assistant for Heritage Management and Disseminations. Filmmaker and Writer he has studies on Cinema Direction and Laws. Guide to Novoneyra’s House Museum.

    María González Borrajo

    Responsible for Administrative task & management. Diploma in Social Work, specialized in Public administration and inclusion. More than 10 years of experience in management of various social care programs with different groups, developing and implementing projects of sociocultural social intervention.

    Lía Pérez Domínguez

    FUN Technician for Tourism Strategies and Internationalization. Phd in Journalism & Media and Postgraduate in Tourism Destination Marketing. More than 10 years of work experience in local tourism policies and strategies. Comms Officer for the European Cultural Route of Historic Thermal Towns (EHTTA) between 2016 and 2018 and certified SICTED Agent.

    Cibrao Cabo

    FUN Technician on Cultural Management. Phd in History and Postgraduate in Digitization of Cultural Heritage. Trained on Heritage Management, Museums and Archaeology he is responsible for the management of the FUN Archives and guide at Novoneyra’s House Museum.

    Bruno Arias

    FUN Junior Technical Assistant on Communications. Degree in Audiovisual Communications. Graphic design, audiovisual contents and DigitalMarketing tools.

    Branca Novo Rey

    FUN Arts Director and Member of FUN Board. Technician on Cultural Management. Phd on Art Education and Political Sciences and Master in Digital Publishing. Between 2015 and 2019 she was the Deputy Mayor of the City Council of Santiago de Compostela and Cultural Policies Councillor and since 2019 opposition councillor.

    Ana Lombardero

    FUN Technician on Sustainability and Environmental Awareness. PhD in Biology and MSC on Biodiversity and Conservation Biology. Experienced in Environmental Education (formal and non-formal, she has volunteered with organizations including the Max Planck Institute of Ornithology and the Doñana Biological Station (CSIC).

    Silvia Cavinato

    Silvia has a Master’s degree in History of Arts and Conservation of Artistic Heritage, obtained at the Ca’ Foscari University of Venice. From 2009 to 2012 she worked at the Diocesan Pilgrimages Office with the task of organizing pilgrimages to the Middle East, managing the collection of books “Bible and the Holy Land”, organizing the international cultural event “Lymph of the Olive” and to coordinate volunteers. Since 2012 she has worked at the Girolomoni Cultural Foundation in the Marche Region, with administrative tasks, organization of events and editing of the magazine Mediterraneo Dossier dedicated to biology, religion and current affairs. Since 2019, she has worked for the Homo Viator – San Teobaldo Foundation where she has the task of managing pilgrimages, the communication of the Foundation and supporting the Romea Strata project.

    Raimondo Sinibaldi

    Raimondo Sinibaldi has been the Director and the legal representative of the Pilgrimage Office of the Diocese of Vicenza for ten years and the President and the legal representative of the Homo Viator Foundation, wanted by the Diocese of Vicenza. For thirty years he has accompanied groups of pilgrims in Biblical Lands and in significant places of pilgrimage, such as Rome, Santiago de Compostela, Częstochowa, Lourdes, etc. In particular, as far as the Holy Land (Israel-Palestine) is concerned, he has the official guide certification issued by the competent ecclesiastical authorities, having completed studies in the Theological Faculty of Vicenza and at the Jesuit Community in Jerusalem. He contributed to the ideation and promotion of the Romea Strata project.

    Luisa dal Prà

    Romea Strata coordinator. has a Bachelor’s Degree in “Forest and Environmental Sciences and Technologies”. She worked at the “Regional Forest Service” in Veneto Region managing the administration of projects, as Director of extinguishing forest fire department and teaching courses in the
    environmental sector. Since 2015 she works at the Pilgrimage office (now Homo Viator Foundation) managing the Romea Strata project. She traced the route, georeferenced it and collaborated in the realization of European projects for the Office.

    Aleksandra Grbic

    Aleksandra has a Master’s Degree in Sociology and social research. After graduation, she also attended two advanced training courses in “Innovation in social enterprises”(2015) and in “Project Management”(2019). In her last experience she worked for 4 years in a social cooperative as Accessible travel and tourism manager where her main tasks were: implementation of new accessible tourism services; organisation of holidays option for users with disabilities; management of fundraising activity; participation in EU-funded projects; care and management of the PR and communication activities; start up and management of a new accomodation facility. Since October 2019 she has worked for Homo Viator San Teobaldo Foundation as a referent for EU projects related to Romea Strata and its implementation.

    Myra Stals

    rurAllure project officer for EAVF. Myra has a background in Italian Language and Culture, and has previously worked in the field of International Higher Education. She will be managing the rurAllure communication channels and contribute to the Thermal Heritage pilot. Myra has a great love for bike touring and the environment, and is the founder and president of environmental initiative Cycle 2 Recycle.

    Luca Bruschi

    EAVF director. Leading the EAVF since 2013, Luca has extended work experience in international organisations and public bodies. With a background in art history and tourism, he is a freelance journalist, consultant, and a hiking enthusiast. Among his publications there are numerous articles in Italian internet media and a book “Via Francigena – una Strada Europea”.

    Elena Dubinina

    European projects and International relations advisor. With her extended work experience in international organisations and academic background in cultural management, Elena oversees international relations and manages European projects of the EAVF. A travel enthusiast, she spends her free time backpacking all over the world.

    Maria Laura Gasparini

    Maria Laura Gasparini is a tourism professional with over 10 years of work experience in the travel and hospitality sector. She has a degree in Tourism Economics and Management from the University of Bologna and has specialised in the role of sustainability indicators as policy making tools. Her main research interests are sustainability monitoring, community-based tourism and regenerative tourism. She is currently Research Fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in Tourism, Bologna University, where she is contributing to the management of several EU funded projects, such as rurAllure and Fab Routes, focused on cultural routes and rural development.

    Antonello Scorcu

    Antonello Scorcu is a UNIBO Economic policy and Cultural Economist. His research interests in cultural economics are focussed on pricing and quality evaluation of fine art items. He served as a Director of the Bachelor Degree in Economics and Management of Tourist Services (2001-06) and of the Bachelor Degree in Economics, Markets and Tourist Systems (2006-09). Co-founder of the European Workshop on Applied Cultural Economics he has been a member of its Scientific Committee in 2001-17. Former Director of the UNIBO School for Higher studies in tourism, he is currently member of CAST, the UNIBO Center for tourism study. Among the publications in the field, “Cultural tourism and temporary art exhibitions in Italy: a panel data analysis”, in Statistical Method and Applications, 2011, with F. Di Lascio, S. Giannerini and G. Candela; “Seaside tourism and eco-labels: The economic impact of Blue Flags”, in Tourism Management, 2015, with C. Capacci and L. Vici and “On the relationship between reserve prices and low estimates in art auctions”, in Journal of Cultural Economics, 2018, with M. Castellani and P. Pattitoni.

    Patrizia Battilani

    Patrizia Battilani is a UNIBO Economic Historian. Her research focuses on cultural heritage valorisation, public history and economic history. She has been visiting scholar at the University of Sidney (2013) and Glasgow (2018 and 2019). She served as director of the Bachelor degree in Tourism Economics (2012-2016). She has experience on participating and managing national and international projects as Head of CAST, the UNIBO Center for tourism study. She is responsible for the UNIBO Unit of the Interreg Italy-Croatia project Recolor (Reviving and EnhanCing artwOrks and Landscapes Of the adRiatic). Between 2018 and 2019 she coordinated a transnational research on dissonant heritage focusing on the European cultural route ATRIUM. Her last publications include How to cope with dissonant heritage: a way towards sustainable tourism development in Journal of Sustainable tourism (2018) with A. Mariotti and C. Bernini.

    Fiorella Dallari

    Fiorella Dallari has been a Professor of Alma Mater (PAM) since 1 November 2018, former associate professor of Political and Economic Geography since 2004 at the Rimini Campus of the Alma Mater Studiorum – University of Bologna in the Department for Life Quality Studies. In 1972 she began his research activity in the Faculty of Economics and from 1980 on didactic activity in the geographic field (disciplinary sector M-GGR / 02), with a 1st level national qualification (2012). In the field of research, she deals with tourism geography, economic-political geography and regional geography. Currently his research topics are: Local and sustainable development; Heritage and sustainable tourism; Pilgrimages, cultural itineraries and tourist routes; cooperation and sustainable tourism; Heritage, social participation and citizenship; UNESCO Heritage and Religious Heritage.

    Fiorella is also founding-editor of “AlmaTourism, Journal of Tourism, Culture and Territorial Development”, a scientific journal of the University of Bologna. Engaged in national and international research projects, she collaborates with UNESCO (UNITWIN Network “Culture, Tourism, Development”; UNESCO Italian Chairs “Territory, Sustainability, Tourism” – TEST, of which she is responsible for tourism; Mediterranean Unesco Chairs – MUNCH), ICOMOS (International Scientific Committee on Places of Religion and Ritual – PRERICO member and coordinator of the Prerico National Committee). For nearly twenty years she has collaborated and collaborates with some itineraries recognized by the Council of Europe (in particular, she is president of European Association of the Vie Francigene, the Via Romea Germanica and the Romea Strata Scientific Committees).
    Author of over 150 publications, she received the Vallega prize for research on cultural-historical itineraries (2008).

    Alessia Mariotti

    Alessia Mariotti was the head of the Center for Advanced Studies in Tourism (Rimini Campus) between 2014 and 2018 and is Associate professor in Economic Geography. Her main research interest are: cultural heritage, culture and local identity in a regional development perspective, participatory processes in local tourism development,
    territorial partnership strategies and territorial promotion policies for sustainable tourism development, management plans and monitoring indicators for World Heritage sites, cultural routes and cultural itineraries. She teaches Tourism Systems and Cultural Routes, Geography
    of Sustainable Tourism, Cultural Geography of Tourism, Local Development and Cultural Routes, Cultural Geography of Local Development, Tourism and Sport Geography. She is a member of the PhD doctoral committee in “ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, PLANNING” – University of CAMERINO and Responsible for the University of Bologna of UNESCO/UNITWIN Network
    “Culture, Tourism, Development”.

    Person Name

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