We have selected one of the prettiest and easiest sections, which follows the course of the Segre River
from the Remei hermitage
to the Quadres shrine
, which was also a hospital for pilgrims in the Middle Ages.
From Puigcerdà, take the N-260 road towards Seu d’Urgell. You will soon reach Bolvir de Cerdanya. Turn right on the first turnoff towards the town, and follow the sign that takes you to Torre del Remei, making a 90º turn. You will come to the Remei hermitage just 50 metres farther ahead. You can leave your car there or proceed another 50 metres, past the entrance to the Torre del Remei Hotel, and park in the empty lot in front of the hotel.
The route begins on this same paved road where you park your car. The Road to Santiago comes from Puigcerdà.
Facing towards the hermitage, on your left you’ll see signs explaining the route. You have to start walking towards Bolvir, backtracking the way you came in your vehicle.
Following the Route:
Cross through the centre of the town until you reach the N-260 road on the opposite side. Cross the road, where you’ll find a path with a sign that reads “Molí” (Mill) and a small post signalling the Road to Santiago. The first section of the path, which runs about 2 km passing a number of farmhouses, is paved. It then continues parallel to the river. Two kilometres beyond that, it crosses over the river a couple of times. You will reach the Molí de Ger, which is privately owned. Continue down the main path, which is fairly wide. But be careful, because there are several other wide paths. Still, you would have a hard time getting lost, because the little posts mark the right path to follow. The route goes on past pretty meadows where cows and horses graze, and you’ll get good views of the Cerdanya region. About 7 km after starting out, you will reach the Mare de Déu de Quadres shrine. The path continues its easy way until it reaches the C-260 road again, near Isòvol.
The Road to Santiago in the Cerdanya region starts in Llívia and ends in Martinet. It stretches a total of some 40 km, divided into 5 sections. The one we chose for this route is section 3. If you wish to continue along section 4, the road is cut off at Isòvol and then resumed near Talló. We recommend that you take your car to Talló to do section 5, which runs from Santa Maria de Talló (a large church with a canonical community since the 10th century) to Martinet, passing through Bellver de Cerdanya. The other option is to take section 2, which goes from Puigcerdà to the Remei hermitage. In any case, there are a number of relatively large towns along the way with a wide range of lodging options, so it’s an excellent route for covering in several hikes.
The Road to Santiago, the Council of Europe’s First Cultural Itinerary, arose as a result of the pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela (Galicia) which began with the discovery of the remains of St. James the Apostle in the 9th century AD.
The European routes converged in the Pyrenees, where there were two main roads, the one into Navarre via Roncesvalles, and the one crossing into Aragon via Somport and Jaca. But there were many secondary routes in addition to these two main routes. One of them entered Catalonia via the Coll de la Perxa and Coll de Pimorent mountain passes and joined together at Sant Jaume de Rigolisa, in Puigcerdà, the capital of the Cerdanya region.
All of these roads are still regularly travelled, especially in the so-called Holy Years, which occur every time St. James’ Day (25 July) falls on a Sunday, like in 2004.
Observations and Recommendations:
The Road to Santiago passes by major towns like Llívia (which boasts one of Europe’s oldest chemist’s shops), Puigcerdà (historic and trading centre), Bolvir (Romanesque Santa Cecília church), Bellver (a major hiking centre, with the Good Men’s Route, the Harvester’s Route, the GR 150, etc.), or Martinet.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the Quadres shrine was considered a domus hospitalis or travellers’ hospital.
Entrance to the Remei shrine.
The original building was erected in the 12th century, but it was replaced by a new temple in the 17th century. Archaeological diggings have uncovered some parts of the old Romanesque building, including two windows. From Bellver, it’s a good idea to pay a visit to Santa Eugènia de Nerellà
, with a Romanesque church that has been declared a Historic-Artistic Monument. It preserves the only whole Lombard-style bell tower remaining in the region. It leans 1’25 metres to one side, which is why it’s known as the Cerdanya version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa.