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Walls of Astorga

Astorga, León

Audioguide of the Walls of Astorga

What to see in the Walls of Astorga

Truth is that in Astorga there is more quality than quantity of things that we must see. For example, its walls, very similar to other Roman cities, like the ones of Lucus Agusti, in other words the actual city of Lugo. They are built by stacking stones from around the area, it’s a simple structure but very solid, smooth walls with circular turrets every few metres. Over the years, there has been various alterations and reforms done to the original Roman structure.

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Truth is that in Astorga there is more quality than quantity of things that we must see. For example, its walls, very similar to other Roman cities, like the ones of Lucus Agusti, in other words the actual city of Lugo. They are built by stacking stones from around the area, it’s a simple structure but very solid, smooth walls with circular turrets every few metres. Over the years, there has been various alterations and reforms done to the original Roman structure.

But you can’t imagine the amount of stories this walls have seen. The people that finished building them were the slaves that Rome captured every time they won a war and decided to save their lives by sending them to do forced labour. The barbarians were around here too and made their business to pay back the increasingly weak Roman Empire, the Templars… and bishops. It happened that when the Empire fell, the Holly Roman Catholic Church was the only thing left to replace it, so Rome had no doubt in replacing Astorga’s emperor for a bishop.

But the worst thing that happened to this walls, which also endured the Arab invasion of 711 AD and the later Reconquest, was the Napoleonic wars.

That’s right… in the harsh winter of 1808 they witnessed the March of Death, in other words, the withdrawal of the last British army left at the end of that year, when Napoleon was taking over Europe. A British army lead by the stressed Sir John Moore and by the way, also quite angry after the recent defeat in Bailen against Spain.

In any case, the reality was that every army that faced Napoleon in those days ended up running away any way they could. Only Zaragoza and few more places were holding up. But Sir John, clever, wise and a bit scared, everything must be said, rightly feared that Napoleon would come back with a thirst for revenge and would defeat his army in 5 minutes, so himself and his men stopped their march and went back to protect themselves behind The Walls of Astorga.

The thing is that by the time the exhausted soldiers get back behind The Walls, there is little order and discipline left within their ranks. The city will see scenes of looting where hungry and desperate soldiers will gather even the rum mixed with muck of the ground that had been spilled from burst barrels. That was for sure the worst end of year that Astorga’s streets have ever known, full of British and Spanish soldiers, sick with typhus, hungry and covered with rags that use to be their uniforms, fighting for the little that was left to eat in Astorga’s stores. As a witness of it all there is a beautiful neoclassic building left, the Santa Clara convent.

Finally, as it was expected, Napoleon’s army arrives to put this wall under a hard siege. And they make it, but only for a few years. In 1812 general Castaños and Lord Wellington hit him back and retake the city, to which the French troops would never ever come back.


Walls of Astorga

Avenida de las Murallas
24700 Astorga
(+34) 987 618 222

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