Leon to Hospital de Orbigo – Part 3

As I approached Puente de Orbigo and near-by Hospital de Orbigo, I felt under-dressed. I really should have been wearing armour and carrying a lance or a sword. And I should have been on a horse and not arriving by foot.

This town has one of the longest and oldest medieval bridges in Spain, dating back to the 13th century, and has come to be known as the Jousting Bridge. There are different versions of the story, but it goes something like this: in 1434 a knight named Don Suerco de Quinones staged a jousting tournament here. In hopes of winning over a beautiful lady (some versions of the story say he was jilted by his lover and was trying to win her back) he threw down the gauntlet to any knight who dared to pass as he tried to defend the bridge against all comers. Knights from all over this area took up the challenge. Donald successfully defended the bridge for a month until the required 300 lances had been broken (again, there is conflicting information here. Some accounts say he only broke 166 lances before he was released from his vow). He certainly had style, I’ll give him that. It is said that he was the inspiration for the book Don Quixote. Nowadays, a jousting tournament is staged each year and people dress up in medieval clothing, participate in games from the Middle Ages, run a medieval market, and generally just have a good time. Here’s a bit of video I found on YouTube from some of the festivities, and here’s another of the actual jousting itself.

 As I walked across the bridge, who should I see but Moya and Jo Anne sitting at an outdoor cafe. They were both feeling much better although they weren’t yet up to eating a Pilgrim’s Meal. We decided on what we called a ‘bits and bites’ dinner: pate, crackers, raw veggies, fruit, etc. They went off to shop for supplies while I checked in to the albergue and cleaned up.

The albergue was lovely and it didn’t appear to have many people staying there. I loved the fact that the operators had set up an easel and there was a sign inviting pilgrims to paint a picture of our Camino experience. Not being at all talented in that regard, I left that task to others. However I did enjoy looking at the paintings done by other visitors that were hanging throughout the hostel.

Jousting bridge. When I was there the bridge was under construction so this particular photo was taken from a travel web site just so you can get a better idea of what it normally looks like.
The photo I took of the bridge
Another view of the bridge
A painting in progress
Some of the completed paintings
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