JACA OPENS ITS DOORS TO THE FIRST PILGRIMS OF THE WAY OF THE HOLY GRAIL THANKS TO THE EFFORTS OF OLVIDO MORATINOS
Olvido Moratinos, the Councillor for Tourism of Jaca and regional deputy received the pilgrims of the Camino del Santo Grial, who sealed their credentials in the city opening the way for the tierras of Zaragoza and Teruel with more than 500 km of Aragonese territory for pilgrimage on foot, horseback or bicycle.
Currently, hikers and pilgrims who follow the steps of the Holy Grail in La Jacetania do so through the maps made from the Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail by the Equestrian Master Fernando Avilés who gave them, without any kind of financial interest, so that the Holy Grail Route could be developed (European project promoted from the University of Zaragoza in 2015 by Dr. Victoria Sanagustín). Since then, it has been working with the city council to join synergies with the aim of positioning Aragon in the world as the best place to walk and to follow the “search for the Holy Grail”, opening the doors to Huesca, Zaragoza and Teruel in the direction of the Cathedral of Valencia.
In 2017 the second edition of the Pilgrimage Credential was presented at FITUR, created in 2002, for the second Jubilee Year 2020-20, the credential was reissued with invaluable contributions from Don Jacinto Gil and the Maristas 69 Group, and work is being done to signpost the Way municipality by municipality, the unfinished business in order to continue making progress in its promotion and development.
Let us remember at this point that signposting the route of the Way of the Holy Grail is as easy as creating a GR from Somport to Valencia with the sections of the routes that already exist (Jorgeada, Camino de Santiago, del Cid…, etc.) These would be the best euros invested in the territory, given the successful figures of the Way of St. James aka ‘El Camino de Santiago’.
Since 2021, the City Council of Jaca has been collaborating with the Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail through the areas of Culture and Tourism. Precisely, in the I Jornadas Culturales El Camino del Santo Grial. Ciudad de Jaca, which was held last June with great success and with the support of Turismo de Aragón, Diputación Provincial de Huesca and mayors and other political, social, cultural and business representatives from Aragón and Valencia, acknowledged, among others, Mrs. Olvido Moratinos (Councillor for Tourism) and Mr. Javier Acín (Councillor for Culture) for their support to the association.
It is for this reason that, within the framework of collaboration between the City Council of Jaca and the association, to materialize this support, the consistory allowed that, in its municipal hostel on the Camino de Santiago, pilgrims on the Camino del Santo Grial were also allowed to rest. In addition, in the near future, will jointly seek the formula to enable the signage of the Camino and will work on its projection incorporating it into the municipal tourism portal visitjaca.es.
Cristina Monzón and Alejandro Martínez Notte, travel journalists and pilgrims, accompanied by Javier Fanlo, have walked the Aragonese stage of the Camino del Santo Grial and have been the first to stay overnight at the Albergue del Camino de Santiago de Jaca.
The first people to obtain this privilege by the City Council of Jaca have been Cristina Monzon and Alejandro Martinez Notte, travel and pilgrim publicists, accompanied by Javier Fanlo. Together they sealed their credentials in the hostel giving a giant step in the history of the Camino del Santo Graal. And all thanks to the visionary councillor Mrs. Olvido Moratinos. A fact of which those closest to her can be proud when they say “thanks to her, Aragon began to be known again in the world.”
Thus, Monzón and Martínez Notte became the first pilgrims of the Way of the Holy Grail to sleep in the Municipal Hostel of Jaca.
The Member of the Regional Parliament and Councillor for Tourism of Jaca, Olvido Moratinos, welcomed the pilgrims and encouraged them to continue the journey, discovering all the tourist and heritage potential that hides the route in its Jaca section.
It should be remembered that, on the occasion of the 20th Anniversary of the Association The Way of the Holy Grail, whose gala was held at the Royal Pantheon Monastery of San Juan de la Peña last May, the City Council of Jaén showed its support for the work of the association, expressing its willingness to sign an agreement to formalize this support in which, among other matters, the opening of the aforementioned hostel to pilgrims of the Holy Grail would be contemplated. A sacred object that remained for XI centuries guarded and venerated by the Aragonese.
From Somport to Ena
Monzón and Martínez began their project, which can be followed through their social networks and the Teleaire YouTube channel, on 29 August in Somport.
In the first stage they travelled through Somport, the Hospital de Santa Cristina, Canfranc Estación and Canfranc Pueblo, to spend the night at the Albergue de Peregrinos Elías Valiña.
On the second day, they travelled through Villanúa (to visit the Cueva de las Güixas) and Castiello de Jaca, before arriving in Jaca and spending the night in its municipal hostel. In the city they stopped for another day to visit the Cathedral and the Diocesan Museum with its director, Belén Luque, had lunch at the Rosa Rosae restaurant and enjoyed a guided tour of Medieval Jaca, then visited the Citadel of Jaca and discovered the gastronomic offer of the area.
Subsequently, the pilgrims of the Camino del Santo Graal continued their route to Santa Cilia, where they spent the night in their hostel.
During the next day, they continued through Santa Cruz de la Serós, the Monasteries of San Juan de la Peña, Botaya and Ena. This last night they slept in a private house in Botaya, to finish the following day the route of the Jacobean section of the Way of the Holy Grail.
During the trip, which the journalists documented exhaustively to make an audiovisual work that will soon be available on Youtube and social networks, they had the support and accompaniment of Javier Fanlo, councillor of La Sotonera and member of the Cultural Association The Way of the Holy Grail, who a year ago had already made the same route and is a great connoisseur of this.
This is the testimony of Cristina Monzón:
“Walking from Somport to Ena has been a unique experience both for the epic nature of the Holy Grail Way and for the scenery that has accompanied us from km 0: Pyrenean high mountain landscapes that gradually lost presence… until they became green valleys dotted with rivers, springs and small villages frozen in time, which seemed to be waiting for us to photograph their roof tiles and chimneys crowned by scarecrows; in almost every one there was a Romanesque chapel or a monastery with hidden messages in their chrismons and capitals as if to leave little crumbs of bread for the pilgrim to understand that this is where this sacred relic passed through.
We have loved travelling through this region at the slow pace of a pilgrim, which has allowed us to talk to the locals, discover their rural customs, so distant from our own, and we have even been able to have a few “vínicos” with them, listening to what their daily life is like in these villages of empty Spain.
Jaca was an obligatory stop. The jewel in the crown next to the Monastery of San Juan de la Peña, where we stopped without looking at the clock, as this trip is not so much about kilometres but about feeling the road. We have walked it unhurriedly, enjoying all its aspects, from its history, to the gastronomy and the mysticism of the search for the relic that Jesus held in his hands at his last supper.
We have tried to walk the road with the values of the ancient knights in mind, including the courage to challenge the ego. That is why we have travelled with the bare minimum: just a 5k rucksack, water bottle, walking stick and a few changes of clothes. Nothing else was needed to make us feel happy.
We recommend this route to all travellers who want to undertake a journey of the soul. The quiet, little-travelled paths and the overwhelming landscape of the Aragonese Pyrenees allow you to connect with yourself and with this beautiful land that welcomes you so well.
We would like to thank the City Council of Jaca and especially Olvido Moratinos, Councillor of Tourism of Jaca and member of the Cortes de Aragón, for allowing us to stay in the municipal hostel which until now was restricted to walkers of Santiago. Thank you for making the Camino easier for us and for putting hospitality into practice, another of the values that one learns on pilgrimages.
The most complicated thing? Finding one’s way. It would be much appreciated if there was a public commitment to this route and it was signposted, as there are stretches (especially when this route separates from that of Santiago) that are not easy and you have to use your GPS, intuition and luck.
Yes, will we continue to follow the route of the Holy Grail? Of course we will. Our intention is to take it up again next month and go down little by little until we reach the city of Valencia”.
The journey on Youtube: https://youtu.be/275viwefbis
Photos and stories:
Photo by Jose Cuñat
Report by 24/7 Valencia team
Article copyright 24/7 Valencia
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