Camino Francés description : 30. Triacastela - Samos - Sarria   

 

                       Camino de Santiago / French Way : 30. Triacastela - Sarria via San Xil (18.6 km)

                                                     / or Triacastela - Sarria via Samos (21,5 km)

  

            

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  As you leave Triacastela at a T-junction you are given a choice of 2 routes towards Sarria. The left hand route takes you to the impressive monastery at Samos which is our preferred route. It is about 11 kilometres but the monastery there is one of the most impressive buildings I have seen and well worth a visit. The right hand route takes you through a more rural route towards San Xil. Both routes meet a few kilometres before Sarria and are clearly marked, though only the San Xil route has those marker stones we mentioned before.

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  The route by Samos :

 

  At the T-junction take the left turn and cross the Río Oríbio and walk down the main road for 3 kilometres to the village of San Cristobo do Real. Go through the village passing the church and again crossing the Río Oríbio by the lavadero.

 

  Pass the cemetery and take the lane and keep on walking down it until you get to a junction where 4 tracks meet. Keep walking straight on and then cross the Río Oríbio once again. Here you start walking uphill and pass a church and its adjoining cemetery into the village of Renche (café/bar).

 

  Take the minor tarmacked road and over the Río Oaga, crossing another bridge and walk along a track until you enter the village of Tredezín.

  Walk through the village and walk down a path running parallel to the river. As before, the path begins to climb and at a T-junction take a left, cross the bridge over the Río Oríbio once more and walk into the village of San Martíno.

  Pass through the village and up a hill where you cross a minor road and down a path which links up with the main road to Sarria. Here take a left and then down a lane sign posted Friexo 4 and before the bridge turn right down a lane into Samos.

 

  In Samos you will find the impressive Benedictine Monasterio de San Julián de Samos. It was founded in the 6th century by San Martin Dumiense and renovated by San Fructuoso in the 7th century. Unfortunately soon after the monastery was renovated it was abandoned because of the Moorish invasion and it wasn't until the Asturian King Fruela I reconquered the area did the monks return. Some years later King Fruela was assassinated and the monks gave refuge to the King's wife and son, who was later to become Alfonso II of Asturias. Because of this the monastery was granted royal protection.

 

  Over its history the monastery has changed hands many times. Early in the 10th century the monks were expelled by the Bishop of Lugo, Don Ero, because he wanted control of the monastery himself. Later that same century it was reoccupied by the Benedictines under the direction of King Ordoño II de León and in the 12th century the monastery was taken over by the Cluny order. Unfortunately in 1558 there was a massive fire which destroyed much of the monastery. It was rebuilt but the monks were again expelled in 1835, however the Benedictine monks returned in 1880. In the 19th century, during the wars with Napoleon it was used as a military hospital. In 1951 the monastery yet again caught fire which destroyed its famous library and causing it to be reconstructed once more.

 

  The monastery's church was built between 1734 and 1748 and contains a library measuring 31 metres in length and contains more than 25,000 books. The monastery has 2 cloisters. The larger one called unsurprisingly Claustro Grande was built in the 17th century and at 3,000 m2 it is considered to be the largest in Spain. It contains a statue to Padre Feijóo (Benito Jerónimo Feijóo y Montenegro) a Spanish friar and scholar who did much to demystify myths and superstitions.

 

  The other smaller cloister, Claustro Pequeño built in the 16th century is also known as the Claustro de las Nereidas because of the strange serpentine fountain in the middle. The figures have serpentine bodies but the head and chest of a woman. There's a strange tale that surrounds this 18th century fountain. It is said that the ecclesiastical authority at the monastery didn't think it was an appropriate location for this type of fountain and they ordered it to be dismantled and transported to a more discreet location. The day came for the fountain to be moved and everything was ready but as the men tried to lift the fountain it appeared to increase in weight dramatically, so much so that no matter what they tried they just could not move it. There was no option but to leave the fountain where it was and rebuilt it in its original location. Miraculously they were able to move the stones once more because they had gone back to their normal weight. Clearly the fountain had no intention of moving from that spot.

 

  If you wish to look around the monastery they do offer guided tours but you will need to check the times when these occur at the Porteria. The monastery also has an albergue for the weary pilgrim.

 

  In Samos village itself there are 2 other albergues and a number of restaurants offer a pilgrim menu. There are other shops including bakeries and banks.

 

  To leave Samos continue along the main road towards Sarria for about 2 kilometres and through the small hamlet of Teiguín. If you want a quieter route take the minor road marked Pascais, this leads you to the hamlet of Hospital where the other road through San Xil meets this one. Alternatively you can just stay on the main road until you reach Sarria.

 

  Follow the marked route down country lanes passing the 12th century church of Santa Eulalia de Pascais and another small chapel before crossing over a couple of bridges and a bit of an up and down track until you enter the village of Hospital, where centuries ago there used to be a pilgrim hospital.

 

  From here follow the track through the villages of San Mamede del Camino where there is an albergue, San Pedro, Carballal and Vigo de Sarria before reaching the town of Sarria after approximately 4.5 kilometres.

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  Alternative route through San Xil :

 

  As mentioned at the T-junction in Triacastela there was an alternative route to Sarria that went through San Xil. If you choose this route take a right at the T-junction in Triacastela taking the minor road sign posted to San Xil. After about 1.5 kilometres take a green lane towards the hamlet of A Balsa and then cross the river, pass the ermita and walk through the woods. You will pass by an unusual scallop shaped fountain and picnic area before you reach another T-junction where you take a left into San Xil.

 

  Once back on the Camino after about 2 kilometres you come to Alto de Riocabo. The path then goes down the side of the valley and through the hamlets of O Real, Montán, Fontearcuda and the slightly odd sounding Zoo Mondarega.

 

  Just after Zoo Mondarega take a left down a track towards Furela where there is a small chapel la Capilla San Roque, and then follow the lane through to the hamlet of Pintín where there is a hostal.

 

  8 kilometres out from Triacastela you eventually arrive at the village of Calvor. There is a small albergue here plus just before reaching the village you will have passed a bar that does good food such as Caldo Gallego, a hearty meal of various meats, vegetables, potatoes and cabbage, lovely on a cold day.

 

  Just through the village you go down a road sign posted Aguiada where there is a private hostel and a café that does food and then through to the hamlet of Hospital.

 

  From here follow the route as described earlier through to Sarria.

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  Sarria - Sarria city map

 

  Sarria has been inhabited for many thousands of years both by the Celts and the Romans but the town was founded at the end of the 12th century by Alfonso IX, the last king of León and he named the village Vilanova de Sarria. He unfortunately died here in 1230 from a serious illness that he contracted as he was undertaking the pilgrimage to Santiago. A statue of the king can be seen near the police station.

 

  On first inspection Sarria doesn't appear to have much to offer for the tourist, unless you like antiques that is. It looks pretty much like many other Spanish towns, heavily built up along a very busy main street but you just need to look beyond that and head towards the river. Most of the buildings linked to the Camino can be found behind the main street on the hill where the old town used to be.

 

  Located on the Camino itself the Monasterio de la Magdalena is said to have been founded by a couple of Italian friars who passed this way on their pilgrimage to Santiago. They asked the Bishop of Lugo if he would grant them permission to look after the pilgrims and this he did and they administered this help from the Ermita de San Blas de Vilanova.

 

  The Italian friars belonged to an order called Frailes de la Penitencia de los Venerables Mártires de Cristo or roughly translated Friars of the Penance of the Venerable Martyrs of Christ who maintained control over the monastery until 1568 when they disappeared. An Augustinian order took over the maintenance of the Hospital de San Roque, but the monastery was eventually abandoned altogether in the late 18th century when the Desamortización occurred, the Spanish version of the dissolution of the monasteries. Over the next century it was used as a prison, a firewood warehouse, a headquarters and eventually left to rack and ruin. However in 1896 Bishop Murúa gives the building to the Orden de la Merced or Order of Mercy who begin to restore and extend the monastery. The monastery is now dedicated to the education of the monks that reside there. They still provide spiritual guidance to the pilgrims that pass through their doors.

 

  Just before reaching the Monasterio de la Magdalena you will have passed a green and white building that between 1930 and 1950 was the prison or Prisión Preventativa where criminals will have been held whilst awaiting trial. It is now used as a museum by the local building college.

 

  Like so many of the town and villages along the Camino Sarria too had its fair share of pilgrim hospitals boasting at least 7 at one point. The Juzgado or courthouse now occupies the building that once housed the pilgrim Hospital of San Antón Abade.  It was built in 1592 under the orders of Don Dionís de Castro y Portugal who was cleric to the noble family of Condal de Lemos, who provided money for its upkeep. The hospital would welcome the pilgrims who were returning from Santiago complete with their Compestelana and would offer them a bed, heat and for some peculiar reason, the services of a surgeon. The hospital was still in operation up until 1821.

 

  Next to the courthouse and underneath the Torre de la Fortaleza is the mainly 13th century Iglesia San Salvador, the belfry is a later 19th century addition. Due to its proximity to the former Hospital of Santo Antón it may well have been the church for the hospital.

 

  Keeping guard over the town is the Torre de la Fortaleza the only remains of a once impressive castle. It is believed to have been built in the 13th century but was destroyed during the Irmandiño uprising in the 15th century. The castle was rebuilt and was lived in by the Merinos and then the senior judges of the Marquis until 1730. In 1860 the town council along with Don Manuel Pérez Batallón purchased the castle and many of the stones and the other towers were sold off to the townspeople. Originally the castle had four towers, dungeons, pits and buttresses but the only part that remains now is the south east tower with its open stairway and two shields with the coats of arms of Castro, Enríquez and Osorio. Unfortunately you can't visit the tower but the council are in the process of renovating it as a museum so you may be able to some time in the future.

 

  The 19th century Iglesia de Santa Mariña is located on the Rúa Maior next to the ancient Praza do Mercado where markets were held every Sunday up until the 1950's, now known as the Praza de D. Juan Mª López. The current church was built over the ruins of a 13th century church and inside is a drawing of the original church's door and capital. The church has a distinctive pyramid style tower that contains a clock. Depending on which way you approach the church you will see a mural on a side wall depicting pilgrims making their way to the church.

 

  On your way out of Sarria you will pass the 18th century Capilla de San Lazaro the only remaining part of Sarria's principal pilgrim hospital, el Hospital de San Lazaro. This hospital was known for taking in lepers who were making their way to Santiago with the hope of a cure, along with those pilgrims with other contagious diseases.

 

  The Rúa Maior, the main street through the town also has some grand houses intermingled with the modern apartment blocks.

  It is also along this street that you will find a number of the albergues and most of the cafés, restaurants and shops. There are 7 albergues in total plus 4 hostals. These can get very busy as Sarria is considered the starting point for those pilgrims who are doing the short 100 kilometre Camino to Santiago.

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                                                              delhommeb at wanadoo.fr - 07/01/2014