Welcome to Chapter 1, “The Beginning,” with Fresco Tours! To kick off our trip we meet the group in Pamplona for a private transfer to the foothills of the Pyrenees. After an introduction to the days ahead, we start our Camino with a shorter walk up to Ibañeta Pass and down into Roncesvalles, where we can attend a moving Pilgrim’s Mass. The pilgrim’s blessing at the end is a good way to start our journey. Afterwards, we have our first night’s feast – perhaps some trout, like the ones Hemingway used to catch in the local river!
The Abbey of Roncesvalles was founded in the 12th century. It was established as a collegiate church, meaning it was run by a chapter of canons (clergy members) rather than monks. The primary purpose of the Abbey of Roncesvalles was to provide spiritual guidance, shelter, and hospitality to pilgrims traveling along the Camino de Santiago.
The abbey served as a crucial resting place for weary pilgrims and played a significant role in the development of the Camino de Santiago as a major Christian pilgrimage route during the Middle Ages. Its strategic location in the Pyrenees provided refuge and care for pilgrims crossing from France into into Spain. Over the centuries, the Abbey of Roncesvalles has been rebuilt and expanded several times. Its current structure includes elements from different architectural styles, such as Romanesque and Gothic. The abbey complex includes a church, a cloister, a museum, and a pilgrims’ hostel.
Today, the Abbey of Roncesvalles continues to welcome pilgrims and visitors from around the world, preserving its historical and spiritual significance along the Camino de Santiago. It remains an essential place for those embarking on the pilgrimage, providing a meaningful and symbolic start to their journey.
Roncesvalles is also known for the Roncesvalles Pass, a historic location located in the Pyrenees mountain range between France and Spain. It is famous for its significance in medieval history and the legendary Battle of Roncesvalles, which took place in the early 9th century. After enjoying our first local meal and learning about the history of Roncesvalles, it is time to rest up for a full day of walking tomorrow!