The Lebaniego Way in Cantabria

The Lebaniego Way in Cantabria

The Liébana Jubilee Year (Año Jubilar Lebaniego) is a religious and cultural event celebrated in Cantabria. This celebration takes place in the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, an important pilgrimage site and place of Christian worship. 

The event occurs whenever the feast day of 16 April, the date that commemorates Santo Toribio de Liébana finding the Cross of Christ, falls on a Sunday.

The Liébana Jubilee Year

The Liébana Jubilee Year occurs whenever 16 April falls on a Sunday, which happens every 6, 5, 6 and 11 years in what’s called a “quadrennial” cycle. During this period, the Holy See grants the privilege of plenary indulgence (the forgiveness of all sins) to pilgrims who visit the monastery and who comply with certain religious conditions, such as confession and Holy Communion and attending the “Pilgrim’s Mass”, held every day at 12 noon in the Monastery of Santo Toribio throughout the Liébana Jubilee Year.

Monastery of Santo Toribio of Liébana

Pilgrims and visitors go to the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana to worship the Lignum Crucis, the largest surviving fragment of the Cross on which Christ is believed to have been crucified. Aside from the religious aspect, the Liébana Jubilee Year is also important in terms of culture and tourism, as it attracts people to Cantabria from all over the world, promoting the history, tradition and beauty of the region (as well as its food, of course!). 

Lignum Crucis

This Jubilee Year ends on 15 April 2024 but, as has been the case since the Middle Ages, every symbolic closure of the Puerta Del Perdón (Door of Forgiveness) by no means signifies the closure of the doors of activity until the next Jubilee. Nor does it mean that Liébana ceases to welcome visitors. On the contrary: adding this renewed value to its already numerous assets, it must constantly keep its doors open to all those wishing to discover this region and enjoy the legacy, heritage and values that make this part of Cantabria our “Jubilee Land”, as it does not have to be a Jubilee Year for pilgrims to enjoy the experience of the Lebaniego Way and to visit the Monastery of Santo Toribio.

All you need to know about the Lebaniego Way

The Lebaniego Way (Camino Lebaniego) is the pilgrimage route to the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana.

In this post we’ll be giving you all the basics on this adventure so that you can decide how to go about it and how to divide up the stages. The Lebaniego Way is 72 kilometres long, running from San Vicente de la Barquera to the Monastery of Santo Toribio. Traditionally it has been divided into three stages, but this depends on each individual, their aim and their level of fitness.

The town of Cicera, on the Camino Lebaniego

The three stages of the Lebaniego Way

Each of the three stages is very different and it’s essential that you bear this in mind when planning your journey.

The first stage goes from San Vicente de la Barquera to Cades and includes a river trail of almost 8km along the River Nansa, between Muñorrodero and Camijanes, a natural paradise.

The second stage is the longest, covering 30.5km from Cades to Cabañes. Possibly the most challenging of the three, due to its length and its slopes. As well as passing such noteworthy sites as the Church of Lebeña, the Santa Catalina lookout and the Hermida Gorge with its stunning views of Picos de Europa National Park, you’ll be walking through oak and beech trees, in woodland full of figures from Cantabrian mythology.

Santa Catalina lookout

The third stage takes you to the Monastery of Santo Toribio, where you can kiss the relic of the Lignum Crucis, and where your journey comes to an end. This is the shortest stage, covering just under 14km and almost all downhill or on the flat, except for the last section, which takes you from Potes up to the monastery. During this stage you’ll pass the famous Habario de Pendes chestnut grove and you can savour some of the finest Liébana cheeses there. Potes is next, and then the end of the Way.

potes cantabria

These three stages can be adapted to suit your own interests and abilities. Just like everyone’s reasons for walking it, the stages of the Way are numerous and varied, but all are equally valid.

There are said to be three types of pilgrim: those who make the journey with their feet, concentrating on the physical effort and the challenge to be overcome each day; those who make the pilgrimage with their eyes, delighting in the wonder of the nature, heritage and culture found along the way; and lastly, those who walk the Way with their heart, with a spiritual purpose, to find themselves, for a moment of reconciliation or to honour a promise.

Do you feel like walking the Way this Liébana Jubilee Year? We look forward to seeing you on your visit to Infinite Cantabria!

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