Our walk today continued alongside the same motorway we followed yesterday. It was not a particularly interesting walk, but there were a few stretches that veered away from the highway for a bit and offered us a quiet, shady path, which was nice. Our destination today was the town of Hospital de Orbigo (population of 1100) which has been a refuge point for pilgrims since medieval times.
This town is justly famous for the 13th century bridge that spans the rio Orbigo leading into town. The bridge has a fascinating history and an interesting legend associated with it. The bridge is one of the longest and best preserved medieval bridges in Spain and is one of the most famous landmarks along the Camino. It has witnessed many battles during its long history, but it’s legendary jousting tournament is perhaps one of the most interesting stories associated with the structure. In the year 1434, a knight from Leon (Don Suero de Quinones) was scorned by the woman he loved. As a result, he challenged any knight who dared to pass over the bridge to a jousting battle. Knights from all over Europe took up the challenge and Don Suero successfully defended the bridge for a month until he had broken the 300 lances he had pledged to use in its defense. Thus, he retained his honor, although it doesn’t appear that the lady changed her mind. He later travelled on to Santiago to give thanks for his newly restored honor. There are indications that Cervantes may have used this story as inspiration for his character, Don Quixote.