Touring Santiago de Compostela
Aug 30, 2015
|Sunday, August 30
The buses only ran hourly on the half hour and by the time we were ready to go we caught the 12:30 one into the old town.
It was a good thing to catch a bus because our campground is perched on the top of a small hill and the old town is down, down and down.
We passed many treed areas and parkland on our way. Santiago de Compostela seems like a very clean modern city a scant 50 km from one of the largest rias on this coast.
“the door is open to all, to sick and healthy, not only to Catholics but also to pagans, Jews, heretics and vagabonds.”
So go the words of a 13th century poet describing the Camino de Santiago.
Sometime in the 9th century a religious hermit followed a shining star to discover the buried remains of the apostle James the Great.(Spanish-Santiago). It was confirmed by the local bishop, the Asturian king and then the Pope. First a trickle then a flood of Christian Europeans began to journey towards this site in search of salvation.
(I found it particularly interesting that about the same time the Muslims had taken over much of Spain except this far northern corner –hummm.)
Compostela became the most important destination for Christians after Rome and Jerusalem. Its popularity increased with an 11th century papal decree granting it Holy Year status; pilgrims could receive a remission off one’s lifetime sins-during a Holy Year. These occur when Santiago’s feast day (July 25th) falls on a Sunday.
Don’t worry you have lots of time to train. The next one isn’t until 2021
The most popular “path” starts in France, crosses the Pyrenees and heads west the 783 km to Santiago de Compostela.
In the 20th century it became popular as a personal and spiritual journey of discovery, rather than one primarily motivated by religion.
We stumbled upon a very large church; St. Martin Pinario, that had once been a monastery.
There was no one else in the church which was interesting on a Sunday. It seemed to us to be quite barren except for the ornate and wooden pieces.
The choir stalls behind the altar and above the entrance were quite beautiful. In the front of each one there was a wooden carving depicting a biblical story.
Once we found the huge Praza do Obradoiro with the Cathedral built in honour of St. James towering over it, we were surprised at the number of people who had recently entered the prazo and were celebrating the end of their incredible journey. What a thrilling adventure they must have had!
The wait for admittance into the cathedral was around 30 minutes, once we realized they were juggling admittance around Sunday services the wait was a little more tolerable.
The cathedral itself was a large cavernous building except for its many incredibly ornate altars.
As we were wandering around Bill tapped me on the shoulder and said look who’s here; our Irish friends – Terry and Ann. They had arrived about an hour before having driven in from the coast. It is fun to run into people you have met if only for a short time, you don’t feel quite so alone on your adventure.
Anyway, this Cathedral had a very cool, damp, dusty and dark feeling about it. It was sort of creepy and I was happy to leave its interior.
We enjoyed the cool air walking the narrow cobblestone streets with their very tall stone buildings. Thick stone was definitely the original air con.
After enjoying a glass of wine and a late lunch we caught a cab back to the campground.
Our own air con was waiting for us; 2 fans, and they are keeping our quarters quite comfortable, now that the sun has set.