Ruta Mariana - Shrines of the Pyrenees and beaches of Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea

Our group began the pilgrimage with the one of the most famous shrines in the world in the town of Lourdes, in the picturesque French department of the High Pyrenees, at the foot of this powerful mountain chain. After visiting the sanctuary and the town, the group took part in an evening procession of light with torches.

 

The next day we headed towards the Pyrenean Principality of Andorra. On the way we drove through some picturesque villages of this region, passing the castle in Foix, whose lords once ruled the country of Andorra. We spent the evening in a lovely high-mountain resort.

 

After breakfast, we drove from the scenic town to the capital of the Principality of Andorra. The visit of the downtown of Andorra la Vella, the former parliament house and Romanic architecture from XI-XII century was combined with a panoramic tour through the green Andorran valleys and the beautiful mountain villages from stone and wood. We also visited the Sanctuary of Meritxell – the national Andorran shrine, which belongs to the Ruta Mariana – The Marian Route.

 

After duty free shopping, we left Andorra to discover another Marian Sanctuary, beautifully located on a lakeside rock in Torreciudad, Aragon. We spend the night in the capital of the Aragón Region – the picturesque Zaragoza, with the famous Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar. We tried also a very tasty traditional dish of this region - ternasco (young lamb). After buying some souvenirs and local Aragon fruit delicacies, we crossed the border of Castile.

 

For the next few days, our route was going along the French Road – the most important of several trails of St. Jacob, connecting the whole Europe since Middle Ages with the burial place of St. Jacob – Santiago de Compostela.

 

In Burgos we had the chance to see the amazing Gothic cathedral and stroll through the streets of the city - in the footsteps of the heroic Cyd.

 

The next day took us to medieval city of Leon, which we visited with our guide. In addition to the Cathedral (as beautiful and as Gothic as the one in Burgos), the participants had the chance to visit one of the dozens of original bars of the old town to try Castilian wine and Spanish delicacies there.

 

The next step of our pilgrimage tour was Galicia region. On the way to A Coruña, we were enjoying the heather landscapes and we also tried the typical chestnut biscuits. Upon arrival to the city located on the Atlantic Ocean, we visited the beautiful city beach, the oldest still active lighthouse in the world, and the charming streets of the downtown.

 

The next day, after leaving A Coruña, we headed towards one of the most important pilgrimage centers – Santiago de Compostela. During our stay we thoroughly explored the squares and narrow streets of the granite city, we saw the world's most famous incense in the cathedral, and we travelled to the nearby Death Coast – where granite rocks, green cliffs, white lighthouses, small cottages and landscapes full of yellow bushes pleasantly relaxed swimming in the ocean.

 

But we could not leave this area without visiting the Portuguese sanctuary in Fatima. In the neighboring town of Aljustrel we learned the history of the apparitions, and in Fatima we had the opportunity to participate in a unique evening service.

 

The following day, after buying local delicacies and souvenirs, accompanied by numerous cork oaks, we left Portugal to reach Spain's capital, the royal Madrid. After visiting the historic and monumental city center and the stadium of Real Madrid, we had a delicious dinner and the opportunity to try Pacharan – the well-known Spanish blueberries liqueur.

 

After a night in the cosmopolitan Madrid, we left the city in the early morning towards the Mediterranean. We could not miss, of course, a visit to the last shrine, the Montserrat with la Moreneta.

 

The culmination of our journey was a picturesque medieval town on the coast, with Mediterranean beach, where we spent some few relaxing days.

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