San Juan de Ortega

Camino Frances

To end of camino

Villafranca Montes de Oca


San Juan de Ortega




The monastery has been partially rehabilitated into an albergue for pilgrims, and it is here that pilgrims were served garlic soup by the monks; a tradition that continued up to recent times. If you have never spent the night in a room full of pilgrims that have eaten garlic soup for dinner, you have not lived.

The church has been restored and is a popular place for weddings. Twice a year (the 20th of March and the 23rd of September, both equinoxes) at around 5pm, light shines through one of the windows to illuminate one of the capitals, moving from the Anunciation to the birth of Christ.

This is one of the notable cases where the first bar is the better of the two; it is newer and appears to have won the hearts of most pilgrims.


Ignore the information board when leaving San Juan de Ortega. It is incorrect and may trick you into taking the wrong road to Castañares. Continue straight along the camino that heads back into the forest. 


The communities surrounding San Juan holds a romería (a small pilgrimage) to the church every 2nd of June.


Contrary to popular belief, the village is not the birthplace of San Juan, he was born 20km away in the town of Quintanaortuño (north of Burgos). He was the disciple of Santo Domingo, and together they built many of the roads and bridges between here and Nájera. He earned the name Ortega, which derives from nettle, by building a hospice here and another in the forests between here and Villafranca.

His dedication to pilgrims en route to Santiago is a direct result of his own pilgrimage to the Holy Land. During his return journey, his ship was wrecked, and a promise was made by Juan to San Nicolas de Bari (himself a benevolent Bishop in Turkey and the model for present day Santa Claus). Juan would, in exchange for safety, devote himself to pilgrims. Back on dry land, he chose these mountains as his base; they were notoriously dangerous at the time, being both confusing to navigate and thick with thieves.

The hospice he built here grew to be a full monastery and attracted the attention of nobility, which placed it under the protection of nearby the Catedral de Burgos. Neglected for centuries, it is now undergoing a remarkable restoration and accurate replicas of the intricate stonework can be viewed up close.

City Map


All Caminos App User (not verified)

A wonderful place. We managed to pre-book the cute double room with a tiny ensuite. There are only about seven other beds in the entire place. It was lovely and cosy, the first building as you enter the village and their beer garden is the perfect spot to sip on a beer, eat a pizza and wait for your peregrino friends to arrive.

All Caminos App User (not verified)

This is a great option if the other Albergues are full or if you want a relaxed stay with good facilities and great food. It’s very new and spotless. The manager is very friendly and went out of her way to sort some breakfast out for us. It’s only a couple of kilometres off the route from San Juan and you can get back onto the Camino at Ages

All Caminos App User (not verified)

Horrible place. Mattresses are completely worn, it’s dirty, old and there was no toilet paper. They don’t open the second room when all the bottom beds are taken. No, they put everyone in one dark and dense room. Got my money back and walked another 3.6 kilometers to Agés instead…

Camino de Sant… (not verified)

We opted to stay at the albergue in Santovenia. A very pleasant stay with good food. If you are finding it hard to find a bed, don’t overlook this clean, friendly place. They even have a wash machine.

Camino de Sant… (not verified)

El Camino de Santovenia is off the main Camino route but a great option if accommodation is tight in San Juan / Agés or, even if it's nor Excellent dinner and friendly staff. About 3 km from San Juan and 2 back to Agés.

Camino de Sant…

There appears to be a new albergue opened on the approach to San Juan de Ortega. It has opened six months ago. I had food and it was okay. But it looks clean and new. It is called El Descanso de SAN Juan. I don’t have a reservation number. There are seven beds.

Camino de Sant…

San Juan de Ortega’s remains are contained in the sarcophagus next to the albergué.

Camino de Sant…

Can warmly recommend “El Descanso” :). Call. +34 690 398 024 to make reservations. Barbara, Denmark

Camino de Sant…

2 May 2019 in El Descanso de San Juan Albergue - €12. 7 beds in 2 rooms with a bath & a toilet in each room. Clean friendly service, hot fireplace in the bar downstairs! Great wiFi! 4-5 powerpoints in each room. Beautiful small cottage with character. No washers. Would stay here again! Singapore Girl.