Where was “The Way” filmed along the Camino de Santiago?
If the movie “The Way’ starring Martin Sheen inspired your Camino journey, you may be interested to learn where scenes from the movie “The Way” were filmed along the Camino de Santiago. If you’ve walked the Camino Frances, several of these locations from the movie may be as familiar as the film itself.
LOCATIONS FOR THE MOVIE ‘THE WAY’ STARRING MARTIN SHEEN
Saint-Jean Pied-de-Port, France
Following the unexpected death of his son, Tom decides to walk the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. On his first day, he begins his pilgrimage along the Camino Frances at the door of the Hotel Continental in Saint-Jean Pied-de-Port, France, initially going the wrong way!
After his first day, Tom arrives late and spends his first night on the Camino at the Albergue La Posada in Roncesvalles, Navarra, Spain. This is where Tom first encounters Joost, a fellow pilgrim. This historic hostel has welcomed pilgrims along the Way since 1612.
Following a long day of walking with Joost, Tom arrives at an albergue in the middle of a communal meal where the region’s medieval history is discussed. Here he meets a fellow pilgrim, Sarah. In real life, this albergue is the Hotel Akerreta, in the town of the same name, close to Pamplona.
In Pamplona, Tom and Joost sit at the Mesón del Caballo Blanco near the cathedral atop the city wall in Pamplona and discuss the differences between pintxos and tapas. To settle the debate, the waiter explains that in Pamplona the locals order small plates as pintxos, not tapas!
Alto del Perdón, Navarra, SpainOne of the best known landmarks along the Camino de Santiago, the Alto del Perdón is located in Navarra, between Cizur Mayor and Puente la Reina. The sculpture exhibits a history of pilgrims and the pilgrimage…through various stages from the Middle Ages up to the present day, in the form of a procession.
Albergue at the Monastery of Irache
Tom and his fellow pilgrims spend the night at an albergue set up in a medieval cloister. In reality, this scene was not filmed at an albergue, rather it was shot at the Monastery of Irache, which dates back to the eighth century and has served as a pilgrim hospital, a religious college, and a war hospital.
Ramón’s albergue at Torres del Río
One of the movie’s most unusual encounters was inspired by author Jack Hitt’s real experience with Ramon, a somewhat infamous hospitalero, along the Camino de Santiago. While his albergue Casa Santa Bárbara at Torres del Río no longer exists scenes, fans of the movie still hope to find a pilgrim stamp from El Ramon.
Tom and his fellow pilgrims enter the Spanish city of Burgos through the Arch of Santa María, one of the last remaining gates of this formerly walled city. The Arco de Santa María was rebuilt in its embellished form in the 16th century by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, as thanks to the city leaders who supported him during a revolt. Some of these leaders are featured among the sculptures on the facade, alongside other Burgos notables. After passing through it, you find yourself at the plaza del Rey San Fernando, where the cathedral is located.
Parador de León, Spain
After weeks along the Camino Frances, the characters from The Way take Tom up on his offer to provide rooms at the luxury hotel, el Parador de León, known as the Hostal de San Marcos. Originally constructed by the King of Spain and the Catholic Chuch to house the Military Order of Saint James, the building now known as the Parador was built int the 16th-century and converted to a hotel in the 20th century.
Cruz de Ferro
One of the most revered locations on the Camino Frances, pilgrims visit Cruz de Ferro to lay down a stone from their home to symbolize a release of their burdens. Believed to have been in this location since the 11th Century, the Iron Cross (and those that have followed in this same location) may have originally served to help pilgrims locate the way during winter months, once the road becomes obscured by snow. The original Cross from this location is now stored in the Pilgrims Museum in Astorga, Spain.
In a scene filmed specifically for its scenic location, the pilgrims stop to discuss what they will do after they reach Santiago de Compostela, with Sarah telling everyone that she will stop smoking cigarettes. Throughout this scene, the pilgrims are actually walking and facing East – the wrong direction!
Santiago de Compostela
The pilgrims from the movie “The Way” arrive in Santiago and stand before the Cathedral in the Plaza de Obradoiro, the traditional meeting point for pilgrims. The enter the Cathedral by way of the front staircase (which is no longer accessible to visitors) to view the Portico de Gloria, the cathedral’s main gate created by Master Mateo on the orders of King Ferdinand II. During the middle ages, these doors were never to be closed – day or night. The pilgrims enter the Cathedral, marveling at the images of the Saints and place their hand on the stone at the foot of St. James (Santiago). To view the Portico of Gloria, please join the Cathedral Tour groups arranged by the church.
The pilgrims depart Santiago de Compostela and continue on to Muxia – as suggested to Tom by Ishmael – and the Virxe da Barca sanctuary to place the remains of Tom’s son, Daniel. Thought to be the place where the image of the Virgin Mary arrived by boat to inspire courage in Santiago, the interior of the church was destroyed by a fire started by lightning on Christmas Day in 2013. Only the exterior walls were left standing, along with some elements like pews and confessionals. In addition, the lateral altars were able to be recovered. Efforts were undertaken to restore and rebuild much of the church in 2015.
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Thank you to the community of Santiago pilgrims who helped contribute location information for this blog post as well as years of advice, insights, and trusted counsel to the pilgrim community.
Husband. Father. Backpacker. Pilgrim. Author.
My recent treks include the Camino de Santiago through Portugal and Spain as well as section hiking along the Florida Trail and the Appalachian Trail. Provided I can do so safely, in 2021 I’m walking the California Missions Trail in the United States, as well as England’s ancient Pilgrims’ Way from London to Canterbury. Afterward, I’ll begin the Via Francigena, the historic way in Europe connecting Canterbury to Rome.