Towns Along the Way – “M”
This post will be slightly longer than the previous ones as I try to cram the towns beginning with “M” together into one post. Hopefully, the information provided will be of use to you. There are 9 in total from the province of Navarra right through to Galicia. Again, if you have stayed in any of the below towns, please comment and let me know of your experiences!
I had to search for my guidebook before I could write about this town. It is not one that springs to mind. Mañeru is a small village located between Puente la Reina and Ciraquai in the province of Navarra and you would be forgiven if you had forgotten about it. It has a population of just over 400 people. It is a Basque-speaking zone and on reaching this town, you will have 100 km walking completed from St Jean Pied de Port. I have not stayed here however, there is an albergue here if you did wish to stay the night (Gronze). On two occasions, I chose to stay in the larger Puente la Reina, one town previous, when I walked through Navarra in September 2014 and again in 2018.
Manjarín is a very unique place. It is mostly desolate and is situated between the Cruz de Ferro and El Acebo, high up in the Leon Mountains. At present, one of a few permanent inhabitants is Tomás, and according to him, he is one of the last Templar knights. In the mid-twentieth century, like many other mountain villages in Spain, Manjarín remained abandoned until 1993 when Tomás, mentioned above, took on the work of many other hospitaleros along the Camino de Santiago. He currently serves pilgrims during the whole year, even during winter, feeding and providing them a place to stay for the night. I would consider saying hello to him when you pass his refugio, even if you don’t plan on staying there.
Mansilla de las Mulas (map)
After a good amount of road walking, arriving into Mansilla de las Mulas is something to look forward to. Having walked through Castilla y Leon on two occasions, I have stayed here once and loved it. Mansilla de las Mulas is a town in the province of Leon. It has a population of about 2000 inhabitants. The town lies on the River Esla and you will notice that on leaving the town. Mansilla is a walled town, just like Leon further on, and it is difficult not to notice these ruins on walking through the town. On arriving in Mansilla, you will see the monument of three worn-out pilgrims taking a rest. I took a rest with them in this picture..I’d say quite a few others did too. There is a wealth of albergues and pensions to choose from in Mansilla (Gronze). I found the Municipal albergue to be perfect. On leaving Mansilla, you are 19km away from Leon.
Melide is quite a large town in the province of A Coruna in Galicia. It has a population of 9,000 people and is one of the largest towns in Galicia. On reaching Melide, you will have 50km or 2-3 days left to reach Santiago. The history of this village is deeply linked with the pilgrimage to Santiago. Also during the last few centuries, like many villages in inner Galicia, it has suffered from a vast emigration. My only encounter with Melide was in 2011 when I walked from Sarria to Santiago. I stayed in the relatively plush surroundings of Hotel Carlos and had my pack transported for me. I walk a different kind of Camino nowadays, so Melide may shine a different light on me when I pass her next. For starters..there is so much history here (church of San Pedro and the cruciero of Melide – pictured). Melide is also famous for it’s pulpo, available at Casa Ezequiel. There are a vast array of albergues, pensions and hotels in Melide (Gronze).
Mercadoiro / Marcadoiro (map)
Did you know that when you reach the 100 km marker on the Camino, you don’t actually have 100 km to walk? The true 100 km distance point is at a little Galician town called Mercadoiro. For such a tiny town, it has a well-recommended albergue (Gronze) that can act as an alternative to the more popular town of Portomarin.
Ah..Molinaseca, one of my favourite towns. After a rough 6-8 hours walk up and over the Leon Mountains, Molinaseca is a small oasis. At the entrance, you will see the shrine of Our Lady of Sorrows. The medieval pilgrims bridge, which has been recently restored, crosses the River Meruelo and you are then left at the start of Calle Real. The buildings in Molinaseca are typical of those in the El Bierzo region of Leon. It has a population of just under 800 people. I have stayed in this town twice, preferring it to Ponferrada, 8 kms further on. It is not rare to see pilgrims lying down by the river and soaking up the atmosphere. Some may even take a swim. I would gladly stay there again. I have only good memories of walking from Rabanal del Camino to Molinaseca and staying there. There are many albergues and hostels in Molinaseca (Gronze) also. The main albergues are located on the main road as you leave the town, Albergue Santamarina being well recommended. Now, you have 220 km until Santiago – not long to go!
Moratinos is a small town in the province of Palencia. It has a population of just under 100 people and is situated in the meseta, just between Terradillos de los Templarios and Sahagun. When you enter the town, you will be greeted by a number of “bodegas”, or wine cellars, dug into a hill. There are a number of albergues and pensions here also (Gronze). I haven’t stayed here myself, but I would recommend Albergue Hospital San Bruno as they serve an amazing breakfast!
Another town that you can walk through very quickly. I walked through Morgade back in June 2011 and have yet to pass through it again. In a few years I will. How and ever, Morgade is situated in Galicia between Sarria and Portomarin. It is very typical of hamlets along the Camino in Galicia. This part of Spain is covered in green, just like here in Ireland. You are walking through farmland, in essence. It tends to rain a lot, so be prepared for inclement weather. I remember stopping here briefly in Casa Morgade for a cafe con leche and a sello. It was so welcome at the time as the walk from Sarria to Barbedelo is tough but worthwhile. If you are starting out your Camino in Sarria, it’s probably a little too early to stop for the day, but you should consider if your Camino starts earlier.
Murias de Rechivaldo (map)
Murias is situated just under 5 kms after Astorga in the province of Leon. It is a beautiful village with it’s building constructed in the style of the La Maragatería. The parish church of San Esteban dates back to the eighteenth century. Just over 100 people live here. I have passed through this village on two occasions – 2012 and 2015. The problem with staying in Astorga and starting out early (like I do!) is that nothing is open when I pass through it. Murias was home to one of the most talked about cafes on the Camino Frances – Meson El Llar. Run by Pilar, El Llar is unfortunately closed but was very popular with pilgrims. There are a number of albergues and hostals here to consider also (Gronze).
Stay tuned for N and O shortly!