Walking - Ruta de la Plata

Ruta de la plata  

The Ruta de la Plata is marked footpath route which is one of the quieter pilgrim routes to Santiago de Compostela.

The Vía de La Plata is an ancient commercial and pilgrimage path that crosses the west of Spain from north to south, connecting Mérida to Astorga. An extended form begins further south in Seville and reaches north to the coast at Gijón. The path is used by the modern A-66 and the older N-630.

Although the term Plata is commonly thought to derive from the Spanish for silver, plata. There is strong evidence that name actually derives from the Arabic word al-balat, (cobbled paving) and described the road as engineered by the Romans. It was conceived and built as a trade route for the exploitation of gold, as mentioned by Pliny the Elder.   Hannibal's armies, and their elephants, must have passed along it.

The modern Vía de la Plata marked footpath has become increasingly popular as an alternative to the Camino Francés for pilgrims walking, cycling, or riding to Santiago de Compostela. Large sections are more or less the same as they were two thousand years ago. The signed footpath follows the road closely in many places.

The modern pilgrim route is from Seville (Andalucia) to Merida (Extramadura) and at Astorga the modern pilgrim path goes westwards to Santiago de Compostela.  

The route is way-marked throughout with yellow arrows and the camino shell symbols. It is a strenuous route not least due to the hot weather conditions in Southern spain, even in Spring and Autumn.   Andalucia is very hot in the summer so starting in April to arrive in Santiago in  the summer would be ideal.

There are numerous facilities such as casas parroquiales and sports halls which generally have hot water, showers, heat and other amenities. Almost all village of any size hotels and hostales.

The walk  was described in detail by Andalucia.com forum member 'Macasas' in 2008. His account took the form of a diary written every night and uploaded to the forum. Read the 45 day account called "A Pilgrim's Journey; starts in Andalucia"  and forum members encouraging messages here on the forum.