SAINT VINCENT THE MARTYR’S WAY is a route that is somewhat reminiscent of the Saint’s path, which was captured in the 4 th century besides bishop Valero by roman soldiers ordered by the Consul Daciano and then send to Valencia to suffer martyrdom as a result of his refusal to denounce his faith. The story of this event has inspired people from all over Europe to undertake the pilgrimage, which finishes in Valencia- where the remains of the Martyr at San Vicente de la Roqueta, becoming so a medieval phenomenon previous to the Way of Saint James.
We propose a wonderful route, 17 hundred years old, which remained forgotten until the arrival of Muslims in the area. We will journey with Vicentius through glorious past lands over a route which spans five Provinces and two Communities. These areas contain villages which exist apart from typically industrialized contemporary towns. The villagers here live from simple physical labour, amid astonishing landscapes. So, let’s put behind us modern concerns, & be open to these charming ancient villages- places of Historic paths and mansions, and Churches that contain thousands of secrets. Let’s cycle and be respectful. In our encounter with the local lifestyle, we can create an unforgettable experience.
There’s a real treasure to be found at the Oriental Pirineo. Hidden between sierras and massifs, Roda has, on first sight, the appearance of a rocky island. It is in fact rich in History and culture- as we will discover in medieval streets that lead to the Cathedral of Saint Vicente. This Cathedral is the real highlight of Roda. It was visited by the most infamous European antiquity burglar, Eric “the Belgian”. Here he stole the Saint Ramon chair, which was replaced by him years later.
Its cobbled and narrow streets on occasion reveal to us remnants of the ancient walls, samples of Roman architecture- thus transporting you back into an ancient era.
Following the route that brought us from Campo, we arrive at Ainsa. Its origins date back to the Reconquest period- in the mountains that surround Jaca is to be found evidence of hiding places used by people at the time to evade Muslim aggressors. The Villa of Ainsa contains the old part of the town- a harmonious set of medieval houses. Here is to be seen the Colegiata tower, and the huge Castillo fairground- together they are almost equal in size to the village itself! In this old part of the town almost all the original surrounding walls are intact, & it impresses one as a formidable fortress. Two of its main gates remain standing there today.
Through small villages of hospitable people, where you will never go long without a glass of wine, we come to Huesca- which has almost 2500 years of History. It was an important Roman city but nowadays has become quite depopulated. The most important monuments and pieces of art of the city are: the Arabic walls from 9 th century; the Montearagon castle, Saint old Peter’s Church and the gothic Cathedral.
By the banks of Gallego and Huerva’s rivers, Saragossa appears- capital of the Autonomous Community of Aragón. Its name comes from the ancient roman place-name: Caesar Augusta. It is located on the banks of the Ebro River and the Imperial Canal of Aragon, located in the center of a wide valley. Today, works from the 2008 water Expo are on display, which brings to the city a fresh energy. The main highlights are: The Aljafería Palace, the Cathedral-Basilic of El Pilar and the Cathedral of El Salvador (La Seo). They are located near each other, & are both nominated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In its surroundings can be found a wine region called “El Tubo”- where we strongly recommend you take a rest and some “tapas”!
Passing alongside beautiful Mudejar churches and amidst vineyards, we arrive at Daroca. On both sides there are smaller streets, all of them leading to Saint Cristobal and the hills of Saint George. At either end of the main street, there is a door that traditionally permitted entrance to the city- the Baja and Alta ones. Here begins the large surrounding wall- of about three and a half kilometers. Be warned that the sun in summer is quite hot, but in winter the cold is even worse- so try to choose the season of the year well for this part!
At the marvelous village of Teruel’s Maestrazgo we arrive, after a descent through the “altiplano” (as it is known by the villagers) of about 1200 meters- through villages of otherworldly charm, such as Miravete de la Sierra, Villarrova de los Pinares y Fortanete. It has earned its place in History thanks to the Reconquest, because the Temple Order named it as the most important place in the area. It also has an impressive fortified wall, which has existed there since 1835.
We arrive at the Valencian Community, after crossing such beautiful villages as Mirambel, Todolella and Forcall. Morella is an authentic medieval village, surrounded by a wall of around 1500 meters. In its interior, the narrow streets conceal quaint corners and a great Gothic Church. Presiding in the village is a castle, which bore witness to multiple battles- but which was not often captured by aggressors, due to its strategic location. It’s a real pleasure walk around Morella, visiting its multiple local pottery shops. Thought it was destroyed in part during the Carlistas Wars. Morella has an authentic architectonical jewel, the arciprestal Basilic of Santa Maria la Mayor, with the organ still working. On the outskirts of Morella we find a remarkably well-preserved aqueduct. Onwards from here farm lands line the hills, many of them containing impressive old olive groves. In fact this part is called the Route of Millenary Olives .
Sant Mateu :
We reach the very famous roman Via Augusta a few kilometers before arriving to Sant Mateu. You will begin to notice the typical white and blue signs of this Way. In the Middle Ages this village was a very important center for commerce, farming and craftwork. The wool of the region used to be exported to such places as Florence. Its key monuments are the Arciprestal Church and a great public square.
Vila Real :
The city was originally built in a curious way- rectangular in shape, surrounded by walls, and crossed by two main streets. At the intersection of these two streets is the main square with arcs. There are exterior walls, a surrounding moat, as well as armored doors. Due to an increase in population, housing developments sprung up outside the traditionally defined city limits. Highlights are: the square and the Basilica of Saint Pascual. Or maybe we just know this city due to the success of its football team! At this point we are near the beach, so prepare your swimming clothes!
Its relevance comes from its more than 2000 years of existence, as well as from the conservation of large artistic and cultural manifestations. These correspond with the different cultures of people that had settled down here throughout the centuries. Its more significant monuments are the Roman theatre and the Castle. 10 km away we encounter the monastery of Santa Maria del Puig- this is also well worth a visit.
We come to the end of our trip, with the feeling of coming upon a vigorous Mediterranean city. Note the floodlights that light up both antique and modern art here at the City of Arts and Sciences and its Events Centre. Valencia is a focal point for the enormous cultural richness accumulated over centuries, due to the diverse range of prior settlers. To walk around Valencia is to feel a special emotion- sharing in the vital optimism of its inhabitants. Walk around the Historic centre; see religious temples and civil monuments, gothic, baroque, modernist, it’s a real pleasure not to be missed. There is much to see. We recommend that you stop by the Lonja de la Seda; la Plaza Redonda; its Cathedral and the Square of the Virgin; its Palacio de la Generalitat; there are also many Churches, palaces and fountain. & Of course, do not forget, the jails where Saint Vicente Martyr suffered martyrdom and the Basilica of Saint Vicente de la Roqueta where he takes his last rest.
Valencia is today one of the most important Mediterranean epicenters of modernity- with its America’s Cup, Formula 1 Grand Prix, its new football stadium…As well it has become a reference in European Events Congress and sea reference for it’s commercial port and its beaches. To visit Valencia is to share a unique window to the Mediterranean, where each visitor bears witness to its charm & heritage.
To find all the information needed: Camino de San Vicente Martir.