Inspiration Jesús Huarte

Nature and spirituality on the Lebaniego Way

This is a Lebaniego Jubilee Year and summer is an ideal time to travel along the Lebaniego Way in Cantabria. This 72km pilgrimage route is to the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana, where the Lignum Crucis – the largest fragment of Christ’s cross – has been guarded for centuries. In addition to its spiritual value for Christians, the itinerary has gained increasing general interest in recent years for bringing culture and art together, thanks to unique features, such as Pre-Romanesque Cantabria, which has an extraordinary natural wealth.

Door of Forgiveness at the Monastery of Santo Toribio de Liébana

Along the route, which begins in San Vicente de la Barquera, the Way allows you to enjoy some of the most beautiful scenery in the Cantabrian Mountains, taking in the Monastery of Santo Toribio – including the landscapes of Picos de Europa Natural Park – and towns such as Potes, which is included in the list of Spain’s most beautiful villages.

San Vicente de la Barquera

Stage 1: From San Vicente de la Barquera to Cades

A thriving gastronomic destination and one of the most scenic towns in the region, San Vicente de la Barquera is the starting point of the Lebaniego Way, which continues through Serdio, La Acebosa and Hortigal, until it reaches Estrada. Here, pilgrims can visit a mediaeval defensive tower whose origins date back to the eighth century (guided tours are offered in the summer) and the Chapel of San Bartolomé, built in the 13th century.

Leaving Estrada behind, the Way follows the course of the River Nansa along a 7km river path amid fairy-tale forests and viewpoints such as the ‘Poeta’. It reaches Cabanzón, which has another mediaeval fortress and tower, and then Cades, where you can visit the restored Cades Ferrería to explore the ancient trade of forging.

Sign at the Cades Ferrería

Stage 2: From Cades to Cabañes

Authentic Cantabrian Romanesque treasures, such as the Church of Santa Juliana – completed in the early 13th century and declared a Site of Cultural Interest in 1983 – await pilgrims in Lafuente. Very near this municipality, which can be reached from Cades via Sobrelapeña, and after taking in the Lamasón Valley and crossing through imposing beech forests, the stroll through art history continues in Lebeña. Its pre-Romanesque Church of Santa María was built in the tenth century and mixes the Mozarabic style with the Spanish pre-Romanesque. This is one of the last stops on this stage, before moving on to Allende and Cabañes.

Picos de Europa Natural Park

Stage 3: From Cabañes to Santo Toribio

From Cabañes, the Way passes through ancient chestnut trees in Habario de Pendes and the Hermitage of San Francisco to the Picos de Europa. In Tama, a visitor centre dedicated to the spectacular mountain range allows you to learn about its Cantabrian side. Very close by, in Fuente Dé, you can enjoy the best panoramas in a comfortable cable car that climbs more than 1,000m up to the Mirador del Cable.


Potes – declared one of Spain’s most beautiful villages, and an unmissable stop on this stage – offers many points of interest to explore. Its old town is home to well-known buildings, such as the 15th-century Torre del Infantado, the Church of San Vicente and the Old Convent of San Raimundo, all of which are perfectly preserved. Just three kilometres separate the village from the Monastery of Santo Toribio. A destination for pilgrims, it was founded in the sixth century. Inside, it has the largest piece of Christ’s cross – part of the left arm – in a spectacular silver reliquary of Gothic design.