Camino Francés description : 35. Pedrouzo (Arca) - Santiago de Compostela   

 

              Camino de Santiago / French Way : 35. Pedrouzo (Arca) - Santiago de Compostela

                                                                                        (20.3 km)

 

                        

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  Leaving the village of Arca / Pedrouzo, back on the Camino, you pass through some more woods and down a track towards the hamlet of San Antón. The track now follows a path through some fields which run parallel to the main road and at the bottom of a hill you will enter the village of Amenal.

 

  After passing through Amenal the track crosses a river and climbs up to the hamlet of Cimadevila and then again through some more woods before, after about 2 kilometres, you come to a large roundabout with a stone marker close by indicating that you have reached the outskirts of Santiago.

 

  The Camino now passes by the runway of Santiago Airport where you might be lucky enough to see a plane landing or taking off, mind you that is if you are interested in that sort of thing. The path now takes you through the hamlet of San Paio where there is a restaurant and a small hotel, and then through to the village of Lavacolla.

 

  In ancient times when pilgrims were close to the end of their pilgrimage it was customary to stop at a stream which flowed through the village now known as Lavacolla, to wash themselves before making their final journey down to the cathedral. The name is said to derive from the pilgrims taking particular attention in washing their backsides because literally translated Lavacolla means washing the tail.

  Around the village there are a number of café/bars, hostels and hotels but most seem to be catering for those making their way to the airport rather than the pilgrims so they may not be a cheap so it’s probably better to continue on to Monte de Gozo for accommodation.

 

  The Camino passes the Iglesia de Benaval which is dedicated to a local man called Juan Pourón who during some local unrest was sentenced to death by the local magistrates. Just as he was about to be hung he shouted out to the Virgen de Belen (Virgin of Bethlehem) “ven e valme” which roughly translated means come and save me. The Virgin heard his plea and sent him straight to heaven thus preventing a painful death through hanging.

 

  The Camino continues down some quiet roads and down through the village of Vilamaior where there is a casa rural and an old pazo converted into a hotel. Continuing on you will pass a couple of television stations belonging to Television Galicia as well as for the main Spanish channel Television de España. Just a little further on you arrive at San Marcos where there are a couple of café/bars.

 

  About 1 kilometre from the village of San Marcos is your resting place before the final short trek into Santiago de Compostela, the extremely large pilgrim complex of Monte do Gozo. It is tradition that if you are walking in a group the first of your group to arrive at Monte do Gozo will be designated a pilgrim King (or Queen if it happens to be a woman).

 

  The name Monte do Gozo means mount of joy. After the pilgrims had finished their wash at Lavacolla they would ascend to the top of the hill which looked out over the beautiful town of Santiago de Compostela and the spires of the cathedral in the distance. The joy came from what the pilgrim felt at seeing his journey’s end. In the complex you will find a statue of two pilgrims looking out toward the cathedral. There is also a modern sculpture that was put up to commemorate the visit of Pope John Paul II visit in 1993. He performed a mass here to thousands of people.

 

  The albergue here as I’ve said is huge, it accommodates around 500 pilgrims and if you have your credencial you can stay here for free for one night only. If you choose to stay longer they will charge a small fee. The complex has all the amenities including shops, restaurants and café/bars all geared to the pilgrim. If you can’t find accommodation in the Albergue San Marcos there are a couple more nearby over the other side of the motorway.

 

  As you wake up on the last morning of your journey you will hopefully rise with a great sense of achievement and that your long Camino is soon to come to an end in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Mind you I am biased as I was born a stone's throw from the Cathedral. In ancient times the tradition was that pilgrims would walk the last 4.5 kilometre stretch barefoot, however I wouldn't recommend it especially if your feet are really sore.

 

  From the albergue the path takes you past the Capilla de San Marcos where there is a little picnic area. The path continues downhill passing a house with various creatures made from concrete in its garden. From here the path continues down some steps and over a bridge across the motorway. You are now entering the area known as San Lázaro, one of Santiago's suburbs where there are a number of café/bars and other shops as well as a tourist information office which provides free maps of Santiago, well worth picking one up before you continue on. After crossing the motorway walk down Rúa do Valiño and past the Iglesia de San Lázaro. Continuing down Rúa do Valiño the road soon becomes Barrio das Fontiñas and then at the main junction take the Barrio de los Concheiros.

 

  The path goes through a small square or plaza where there is a cross to Homo Sancto and then down Rúa San Pedro and then to Porta do Camiño. This is the traditional entry point for pilgrims into the old town of Santiago de Compostela.

 

  The path now takes you down the Rúa das Casas Reales, across the Plaza de Parga and the Plaza de Animas where you will need to take a left down to the Plaza Cervantes and then take a right down Calle Azabachería to the Praza da Immaculada, taking some steps down past the side of the cathedral and down a walkway under the Arco del Obispo which will take you into the Plaza del Obradoiro and the front of the cathedral.

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  Santiago de Compostela - Santiago city map (Rabe)Santiago city map (Pombo)

 

  If you arrive before noon you will be able to attend the pilgrim mass, but if you have time pop down to the pilgrim's office in the Casa do Deán to collect your Compostela. From the Plaza del Obradoiro and whilst facing the front of the cathedral walk to your right down the Rúa de Gilmirez and then take another right down Rúa Vilar where you will find the Casa do Deán on your left and the pilgrim office is found on the second floor. At the next day's pilgrim mass your country of origin and starting point of your pilgrimage will be announced at the mass.

  You are entitled to a Compostela as long as you've completed at least 100 kilometres of the Camino and you have had your pilgrim passport or credencial stamped along the way. This credencial is proof of where you have been. If you have undertaken the Camino for spiritual or religious reasons you will be given the traditional Compostela. If you undertook the Camino for any other reason you will be given a slightly different, more colourful alternative.

 

  The Cathedral itself is vast covering around 10,000 square metres. It was originally consecrated in the very early 13th century, having been commission by Alfonso VI the king of Leon and Santiago's first Archbishop Diego Gelmirez. The cathedral has been added to over the years, but the Portico de la Gloria designed by the sculptor Master Mateo was an original feature. The twin Baroque towers, the iconic symbol of the cathedral were added in the late 18th century.

 

  Behind the façade lies the Portico de la Gloria carved between 1166 and 1188 by the inspired genius of Maestro Mateo. The central elements of the rich decoration with ftgures is the middle pillar with the statue of St. James, with Christ the Redeemer above and surrounded by the four evangelists.

  The base of the column shows signs of wear from millions of pilgrims' hands. Touching the column has since been forbidden.

  On the left of the middle pillar stand the prophets of Jeremia, Jesaja, Moses and Daniel on a column, the latter with an enchanted smile on his face. According to many he was delighted with the bare-bosomed that had been carved by the hand of an expert on the opposite side.

  The kneeling ftgure facing the altar is said to be master Mateo who, allegedly, was destined never to be allowed to see his work. He 's also called Santo dos Croques, the saint of the clout on the head, since you can receive a share of his genius by touching his head three times with your forehead (access is no longerallowed).

 

  The 97m long church interior is dominated by the lavishly carved altar with the Smiling Daniel. gold, silver and jewel encrusted St. James. Not until the steps behind the altar are climbed and the apostle embraced, is the pilgrim journey at an end.

  The alleged bones of the Saint lie supposedly in the crypt below the altar.

  Pilgrim mass at noon each day. The swinging Botafumeiro, the silver-plated censer weighing roughly 60 kg (100 kg full) and 160 cm high, is only used in certain circumstances, otherwise it is kept in the library.It was once used to make more bearable the strong body odour of pilgrims. Today it is a popular spectacle when, hanging from the 35m long rope, it is swung through the transept. It has twice overshot and ended up outside the church.

 

  South of the cathedral lie the Praza de Platerias in front of the similarly named, oldest preserved portal of the cathedral, and the Praza de Quintana ontowhich the Porta Santa (17th century, adorned with sculptures from the 12th century) opens out during Holy Years.

  

  Going back to the Plaza del Obradoiro you will have passed the 15th century Hostal de los Reyes Católicos. This now very grand parador hotel was once a pilgrim hostal founded by the catholic monarchs Ferdinand and Isabella and is regarded as one of the oldest hotels not only in Spain but the whole world. If you are lucky you may be able to get one of the free meals that they offer to pilgrims with breakfast at 9am, lunch at noon or dinner at 7pm. You will need to have your Compostela with you as proof that you have completed the Camino and wait at the garage entrance to the hotel, which is to the left of the main entrance. In busy periods the free meals are limited to the first 10 pilgrims. It might seem a little unfair, but at the end of the day they are a business. In summer or peak times arrive early as the free meals are only limited to the first 10 pilgrims. You are entitled to take these meals within 3 days of your arrival in Santiago.

 

  In the Praza do Obradoiro there is the 18th century Pazo de Raxoi built for Archbishop Raxoi by the French engineer Charles Lemaur. It is now used as the main council offices and some of the local government departments of the Xunta de Galicia.

  Finaly, making up the fourth side of the square is the gable end of the Colegio de San Jerónimo, part of the university.   

  In the center of the square del Obradoiro stands the km 0 of the pilgrimage.

  

  There is so much to see in Santiago de Compostela, it really does have one of the most stunning old town's of any city I've ever been to. Not only has it got a truly impressive cathedral but there are a large number of other historic buildings worth visiting.

  Monasterio de San Martín Pinario, Palacio de Fonseca...

 

  Museums:

- Cathedrals museum: June-Sept. Mon.-Sat. 10.00-14.00 and 16.00-20.00, Sun./public holidays 10.00-

14.00, Oct.-May only until 13.30 and 18.30, 5 € .

- Museo das Peregrinaciones, history of the PilgrimWay. Rua de San Miguel, Tue.-Fri. 10.00-20.00, Sat. 10.30-13.30 and 17.00-20.00, Sun. 10.30-13.30,2.40 € (Sat. 17.00-20.00 and Sun. free).

- Museo do Pobo Galego, museum of Galician folklore, San Domingo de Bonaval, Tue.-Sat. 10.00-14.00 and 16.00-20.00, Sun./public holidays Il.00-14.00,3 €.

- Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo, museum for contemporary art, c/ Valle Indém, Tue.-Sun. Il.00-20.00, free.

- Cidade da Cultura de Galicia, cultural centre, designed by the American architect Peter Eisenman, (www.cidadedacultura.org).

 

  One monument with an interesting legend is that of the Convento de San Francisco de Valdediós. It is rumoured to have been founded by St Francis of Assisi. St Francis is said to have made a pilgrimage to Santiago in 1214 where he received a vision of the Apostle St James asking him to build a monastery. St Francis decided to move into a small hermitage close to Monte Pedroso where he met a coal merchant by the name of Cotolay and to whom St Francis entrusted the building of his monastery. Poor Cotolay had no idea how he was going to complete this mammoth task, he wasn't a builder and he was extremely poor and didn't have the resources to undertake a venture such as this. 

  One day St Francis asked Cotolay to accompany him on a walk to look for the right spot to build the monastery. They came across a piece of land in an area known as Val de Dios which belonged to an existing monastery. St Francis spoke to the Abbot who agreed to hand over the land to St Francis on the condition that they would receive from him a basket of fish on an annual basis. St Francis and Cotolay continued on their walk until they came upon a fountain where St Francis asked Cotolay to dig a hole. This he did and soon struck something solid which turned out to be a chest containing gold coins and other riches. Cotolay now had the financial means to build the monastery and he put the money to good use. He was even able to live comparatively comfortable for the rest of his life. Little remains of the original 13th century church but you will still find Cotolay's tomb and 5 gothic arches in the cloister.

 

  There are many sights to see....

  more : C.Francés / Santiago

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                                                         delhommeb at wanadoo.fr - 11/01/2014