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David M. Davidson has written several scholarly works on the pilgrimage to Compostela with co-author Maryjane Dunn. Gitlitz is the author of various books on Hispanic and Seph Martin's Press Language: English. Select Parent Grandparent Teacher Kid at heart. Age of the child I gave this to:. Hours of Play:. Tell Us Where You Are:. Preview Your Review. We bought a newspaper; we caught up on the internet. We had a glass of wine from the region, Ribera del Duero. The innkeeper recommended a cool glass of Condado de Haza.
For lunch, we stopped by the celebrated Asador de Aranda, and treated ourselves to a serving of their suckling pig. Then we waited out with a coffee in one of the city squares. By late afternoon, we were eager tourists; ready to access the most fanciful sights. Nothing in your guidebook prepares you for the solitude and beauty of the Castilian landscape.
By the seventeenth day, the sun rose over our backs as we made our way through cultivated wheat fields to the city of Leon. Leon is an old Roman outpost that rests on the northwestern corner of the Castilian meseta. Once the seat of an important dynasty, its buildings are gold and regal with the sun, not yet broken and lingering after dark.
During the Middle Ages, Leon became a city of craftsmen and masons who built elaborate shrines for the most coveted relics on the pilgrimage. The Cathedral of Santa Maria la Real embodies the authentic spirit of the journey. Its delicate stain glass transforms the interior into a diaphanous space, bathing everyone and everything in a purifying light.
In the summer, when the river runs dry, you can see the old ruins of Portomarin rising from the mud-encrusted reservoir.
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The new Portomarin rests island-like above its predecessor. Its small whitewashed houses and granite arcades could easily be relocated to the south of Spain. Most of the town was spared from the reservoir, transported stone by stone to the current site by Today the fortress-church of St.
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Nicholas stands out as the greatest achievement of the relocation. During the Middle Ages, the Knights Hospitaller ran the church as a stronghold to ensure safe passage to Santiago. Its thick walls and huge restraining arches evoke a less secular time, when the romance of chivalry still kindled the hearts of pilgrims.
The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook
We approached our last day with the consciousness of ending a cycle. On the morning of the thirtieth day, we set out early into the darkness, fixated on reaching Santiago in time for the noon pilgrim mass. Medieval pilgrims would group for mass by country and language, waiting to hear the indulgences that were being granted on that particular day.
Today many pilgrims see the mass as a rite for a new beginning. During the mass, we saw the familiar faces of pilgrims that we had encountered along the way. It was as if our life during the past thirty days had been condensed into that single moment. Then we experienced one of the last marvels of the camino; the lifting of the giant incense burner, known as the botafumeiro, swung like a pendulum across the transepts.
There, in the billowing smoke, you will see yourself as someone changed; someone who looked at life through the quixotic eyes of a pilgrim. Getting Started Preparing for the journey is as important as walking it. Adequate footwear is a must. Waterproof boots will suffice, but bring a pair of sandals for when you are not trekking. Windbreakers, ponchos, or any other weather resistant material is ideal to keep dry and insulated.
Although the route is complete with a network of shelters, refugios , designed for pilgrims, you need a sleeping bag. Shelters are available for travelers with a Pilgrim Credential for U. You can obtain the credential at many shelters and tourist offices. Breakfast coffee and pastry on the road is about U. A bocadillo ,sandwich, is approximately U. We started our first day by walking seventeen kilometers through the countryside between Burgos and Leon.
The sun shone brightly, but stretches of nothing but mud told of recent rains. Piles of stone lined the Camino path alongside the fields they had been pulled from. Stone proved to be an integral part of our experience along the Camino. Pilgrims create small stone cairns milladoiros along the Camino.
Traditionally, they are used to mark the path for others following, but also act as symbols of being present in a place that has been sacred for thousands of years Nilsen.
I will in some way live on even when I am gone because of these stones. On those long stretches of the Way that were void of civilization, these small piles of rock motivated us to keep walking towards Leon. Our second day of walking started on the top of a mountain. Just a few kilometers from the Iron Cross, this village has its roots in the Roman road over the mountain pass. Only 4 human inhabitants remained to tend a couple of cows and a handful of sheep… On our last visit, in , a handful of former inhabitants had reconditioned some of the ruins as summer homes, but anyone wishing to spend the night needed a tent….
The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook
The two small restaurants were closed because of the season and the rest of the buildings were slowly crumbling into ruin. I walked a little further to see the many buildings half-covered in snow — some partially standing — the remainder of their walls dissolved into piles of slate. At one time in history, this place had grown prosperous from the Roman road. It thrived on trade, and people once lived here.
A cross was probably added in the 12th century by the hermit Gaucelmo. It is a pilgrimage tradition to bring a stone from home or elsewhere to the foot of this cross. The actual Cruz de Fierro structure was a tall wooden pole topped with an iron cross. The base of the splintering wood was wrapped with hundreds of prayer ties in all colors. Photographs of children and loved ones were tucked in these strips, each a supplication or memory that lingered long after the departure of each pilgrim. The Camino was lined with objects such as these.
As we walked through the pine-filled forests descending from O Cebreiro, a Buddhist prayer flag waved in the breeze; worn threads in once-bright colors that had seen many days of sun and rain. The third day of our Camino started when we met with the other half of the group. We headed out on the Camino while exchanging questions and stories from the night before, when we were split into two places of lodging.
Was your casa rural warm? What did you have for breakfast? The terrain was different from what we had experienced the past two days. If trekking to the Iron Cross in early March was like climbing Mount Everest, then walking through the Lugo province was like frolicking through the hills of Ireland.
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