Sahagún — one way to say half-way

depending on how you measure your Camino, the town of Sahagún marks the half-way point … if you start your Camino in Roncesvalles and not St. Jean-Pied-de-Port, as we did. it’s long been an important religious and trading center.

it was named after San Facundo, whose body was buried near the river in the 4th century and later marked by a Visigothic church (which was under renovations when we passed). as rich agricultural land, it proved a focal point for conflicts between Muslims and Christians. over the course of the 9th and 10th centuries, Muslims destroyed the Visigothic church (833), it was rebuilt and a monastery added (872), reclaimed by the Muslims, rebuilt (904-5), destroyed (987), and rebuilt again. once chartered in 1085 and fully reestablished, it became the most important Christian religious and economic center in the region outside of León. Alfonso VI took refuge, was educated, wed his third wife, and was ultimately buried here. 

its location on the Road made it an excellent market for trading the the agricultural goods grown in the fertile area surrounding it. the three-week-long annual market the ruling powers permitted starting in 1155 was a length unheard of elsewhere. in the mid-13th century, Alfonso X granted safety and rights to all merchants travelling to the city, regardless of their religious affiliation. the rights and opportunities prompted rapid population growth and religiously-segregated neighborhoods quickly grew up within the city limits and then beyond. the city prospered for several hundred years; the monastery grew in strength and influence and by the 14th century housed a University. tensions gradually grew worse between Christian merchants and their Jewish counterparts, however, undermining the city’s influence and prosperity; local riots in 1127 killed many Jews, nationwide ones killed even more in 1391 and by 1492 very few Jewish families remained in the town. in the 19th century, the once influential monastery was closed and the building destroyed; now Sahagún is a small market city in the middle of the dusty Meseta Alta of León.

Author: Erica

born in the midwest with wandering feet.