Why is it called “Vía de la Plata”?

Posted on October 27, 2019

Andalucía is the starting point of the famous “Vía de la Plata” (Silver Route) or also known as “Ruta de la Plata,” the route to Santiago that runs through the peninsula from South to North. In Astorga, it joins the well-known “Camino Francés” (French Route).

This route is one of the most famous thanks to its fascinating natural landscapes, its charming villages, and because it is full of ancient history. It even goes through many places declared World Heritage Sites!

Many different civilizations have passed through it since Roman times so that the historical heritage throughout it has an incalculable value.

Surely, you have heard about it because of its great importance, but: Do you know why it has this name? Let’s find it out!

The story about the “Vía de la Plata”?

This route has existed since ancient times. In Roman times, it was used by the troops of the Roman Empire to move to the north, back in the VII century B.C.

It was on the Emperors Augusto, Trajano, and Adriano period when the Roman road was built to join the military settlements they had at that time, circulating goods, troops, travelers, and merchants.

The route was used for centuries, with the arrival of the Middle Ages Arabs and Christians is one of the most critical connection points of the Iberian Peninsula.

Origin of the name “Vía de la Plata.”

There are different thesis about the origin of the name “Vía de la Plata”; we will get to know all of them.  At first, according to some experts, it is called “Vía de la Plata” because of the Arabic origin word “balath,” which means pavement, being called in ancient times as Paved Road.

Even today, it is known in some areas as Balata, if you see, in this word, the letters “B” and “L” are much closed, producing the sound “blata” that has degenerated until it reaches the name “Plata.”

The most popular theory is because it was broadly referred with a late Latin as “via delapidata”, that is, cobbled public road, so its origin, almost certainly coms from that.

The last option is that throughout history, this route was used to transport and trade silver (Plata) that arrived from America by ship to the Sevilla’s harbor was then transported to other points of the peninsula.

In any case, there are several theories considered by a lot of experts, most of them agree with their origin of a Latin word, which has degenerated until it reaches the word we know today.

Somehow, even today, after thousands of years, it is still a route of great importance thanks to the Routes of Santiago de Compostela, giving the pilgrims the chance to travel the entire peninsula from one end to the other, with final destination in Santiago. What option would you choose?


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