stage 3. Mansilla de las Mulas - León

Etapa 3 Camino de Santiago

There are seventeen kilometres between Mansilla de las Mulas and Leon, the capital city of the province, on a route full of bridges. The first one is a medieval bridge over the river Esla just outside Mansilla de las Mulas. After walking just over one kilometre along the Nacional 601 road, take the dirt road that runs alongside it.

Three kilometres further on, you cross the river Esla once again and enter Villamoros de Mansilla. Here the route starts to meander, since you have to cross the Nacional 601 again, first to the left and then to the right.

The dirt track you’re now on takes you 2 kilometres on towards Villarente, a village born on the Way of Saint James. A 150 metre long bridge over the river Porma takes you to a large house on the left hand side of the road that was once a pilgrims’ hospital and is now a restaurant. You pass through the village on the national road, and two kilometres further on you leave the village and take the dirt track on the right. A walk of 4.5 kilometres takes you to Arcahueja, another kilometre and you’re in Valdelafuente, near one of the industrial estates of Leon. Then you come to the Nacional 601 again and at the Alto del Portillo you can enjoy your first view of the city of Leon.

Go down to Puente Castro and cross the new bridge over the river Torío. Now you’re on your way to the city. The first place you come to when you reach Leon is the Barrio de Santa Ana. Take the Calles Barahona, Puerta Moneda, Herreros, Rúa, la Plaza de San Marcelo and the Calle Ancha, and you’ve reached the Cathedral.


17 Kilometres


  • Villamoros de Mansilla

Even though Mansilla de las Mulas is four kilometres away, it owes its name to Mansilla Mayor according to Luis Pastrana in his guide to the Way of Saint James. This village is on the edge of the Way and near the Monastery of Sandoval.

  • Puente Villarente

The real name of the village is Villarente, but custom has led locals and outsiders to call it Puente Villarente because of the long 20 span bridge that crosses the river Porma. The period of maximum splendour of the pilgrims’ hospital, part of which is still standing, was in the 16th century.

  • Arcahueja

San Isidro (15 May) and San Froilán (5 October) are the main festivals of this small village 5 kilometres away from Leon. Pilgrims cross the village through the upper part.

  • Valdelafuente

This small village is the prelude for the end of this stage. Head down towards Puente Castro, where there is a copy of the original cross that is now opposite the Hostel of San Marcos.

  • Puente Castro

This is the last stop before entering Leon. There was a Roman settlement here, and in its day, it was a suburb of traders and farmers. Its name comes from the 18th century bridge over the river Torío. Cross the bridge to leave the district and enter the city of Leon.

  • León

Leon is the capital city of the province. The origins of the city go back to a Roman military camp occupied by the Legio VII Gemina. The passage of time can be seen in the walls that surround the old city, in the narrow streets of the Barrio Húmedo, in the Plaza and in the many artistic treasures to be seen in the city.

The Royal Basilica of San Isidoro is a Romanesque church whose 12th century paintings are the reason why it is called the Sistine Chapel of Spanish Romanesque art. The Royal Pantheon is the final resting place of 23 monarchs. Two of its entrances Puerta del Cordero and Puerta del Perdón, are well worth seeing. The Gothic Cathedral of Santa María de la Regla, known as the Pulchra Leonina, is a church full of light and colour, with over 100 stained glass windows that make it unique in Spain.

The monastery-convent of San Marcos is now a Parador Nacional, with a beautiful Plateresque façade and an image of Santiago Matamoros. You can also see the Casa Botines, designed by Gaudí, the Palace of Los Guzmanes, now the head offices of the Provincial Government and the Church of El Mercado.




  • Address: Calle del Puente, Nº 5
  • Where: Mansilla de las Mulas
  • +34 987 310 138 (Oficina de Turismo)
  • Owner: Municipal. The Asociación de Amigos del Peregrino de Mansilla is responsible for upkeep of the hostel.

Laura Barredo is the person responsible for the hostel. If closed, call her (+34 661 977 305).

  • Address: Plaza Santa María del Camino
  • Where: Leon
  • +34 987 252 866 - +34 680 649 289
  • Owner: Community of Benedicties (run by volunteer hospitallers)

Opposite the school and monastery of the same name.

Open from 11:00 to 22:00. Leaving the hostel after closing time is prohibited.

Open all year.

Price: voluntary donations.

180 beds in summer; 60 beds available over the rest of the year.

Very clean and well run.

  • Hot water
  • 6 toilets
  • Space for bikes
  • Drinking water
  • Wash basins
  • First aid kit
  • Public telephone
  • Heating
  • Electric lighting
  • Washing line
  • 12 showers
  • Dining room
  • Coverage for mobile phones
  • Sockets for mobile phones
  • Tourism and Information Office
  • Cash machine
  • Pharmacy
  • Workshop for bikes
  • Grocers
  • Medical assistance
  • Butcher's
  • Baker's
  • Restaurant and bars
  • Internet cafe