It is San Vicente de la Barquera, a beautiful fishing village, whose history is linked, at least, to two great transcendental epics, such as the world of pilgrimages and the spiritual devotion to the mythical figure of Stella Maris or Star of the Mares, invocation of a Marian nature, although better known as the Virgen del Carmen or, in this case, as the Virgen de la Barquera.
Among the various ports of the Cantabrian, which in the years after the discovery in the Llibredón forest - the current Compostela - of the alleged remains of Santiago el Mayor received the influx of pilgrims, who chose the landing in the North and a much more road Tough than the traditional but safer against the constant Muslim threat, San Vicente de la Barquera was one of the main, along with the ports of Laredo, Santoña and Castro Urdiales.
Its splendid situation, the peaceful security of its port and its proximity to the natural border with neighboring Asturias - practically located at the confluence of those two natural charms, known as the Tina Menor and the Tina Mayor - made it an idyllic place where to arrive, recover from the effects of the hard sea crossings of those times and have the opportunity to meditate the route to follow.
This was mainly due to the proximity of the Picos de Europa, where another secondary road developed, the Lebanensis, in whose monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, the pilgrim had the opportunity to venerate, and in some cases to kiss, one of the greatest fragments in the world of Vera Cruz: the cross on which Jesus Christ was crucified, found, apparently, in Jerusalem, by Saint Helena, the mother of Emperor Constantine.
From Liébana, the pilgrim descended the dangerous roads of the Hermida gorge and the Cares route, and from Potes had the possibility of reaching, following the so-called Royal Roads, another of the most revered Marian sanctuaries of the Principality of Asturias: Covadonga, located in an impressive cave of Mount Auseba, from which it is assumed that rebel Don Pelayo became strong against the Muslim invader, giving rise to what History knows as the Reconquest.
Although San Vicente de la Barquera was growing, like all cities, it still retains a good and interesting part of its original medieval constitution, which certainly gives it a very attractive appearance.
This is proven, above all, on the left side of the estuary, on the promontory on which it originally sat and on which, as main elements, its primitive strength, as well as the church, of Gothic characteristics, which remains under the invocation stand out. of Our Lady of the Angels.
Next to the church, which still retains in its surroundings remains of the walls behind which it was sheltered, some canvases remain standing, of what was once a hospital, which confirms the hospitality and pilgrim character of the town.
Next to these and occupying old dependencies, a new pilgrim hostel is currently enabled, which hosts throughout the year, the many pilgrims attracted by the beauty and uniqueness of this coastal road.
In the vicinity and also attached to the ruins of the old hospital, one of the oldest monuments of San Vicente de la Barquera is located: the Torre del Preboste.
It is located, next to one of the medieval access doors to the villa, not far from the old town, where the pilgrim can enjoy the gastronomic bonanzas of the taverns that are located between its narrow streets.
However, it is in the part closest to the port, where pilgrims, tourists and visitors find the largest and most varied number of places of restoration, where to savor the gastronomic richness of the food of Northern Spain.
Given its privileged location as a sea port, in addition to the excellent meats inside, the dishes where the main star are the fish stand out, the traditionally prepared hake being really exquisite.
Notorious are also the gastronomic days of seafood, which are usually held, usually during the month of October.
On the right side of the estuary, away from the newly created neighborhoods, including hotels such as the one named San Vicente, is located, alone and looking eternally at the sea, the Sanctuary of the Virgen de la Barquera, which Although very rehabilitated today, it must have been one of the most relevant Marian sanctuaries and echo of pilgrim devotions during the Middle Ages.
As has been said and given its privileged situation, San Vicente de la Barquera is a strategically located place, special for various routes: on the one hand, the always fantastic and emblematic Picos de Europa and on the other, following the highway of the coast recalar , either in Asturias or on the wonderful coasts of the Basque Country and cities as relevant and worth visiting and getting to know, such as Bilbao.
NOTICE: Both the text and the accompanying photographs, as well as the video that illustrates it (except for music, reproduced under YouTube license), are my exclusive intellectual property.