Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Pilgrim Way to Santiago

In 2011 I found myself by accident on the pilgrim route to Santiago. I snapped this photo of a pilgrim's scallop shell in the little shrine on the back road, which is actually only about 20 minutes' drive from our house.
Just over two years later, we headed quite deliberately to the end of the pilgrimage - Santiago de Compostela itself. You can see my photos of the Baroque frontage of the cathedral in my previous post.
Ben and I paid to go up into the museums which take up some of the rooms around the cathedral, and I snapped this photo of pilgrims and tourists together in the square. You can spot the pilgrims because most of them are lying down! They have had to walk at least 100 kilometers to get there, or cycle 200, and most of them had probably done more. You can see a huge pile of rucsacs in the middle of my photo, with a few pilgrims watching them as their fellows head off - maybe into the cathedral, or maybe into the well-stocked city pharmacies, which advertise a great range of foot-care products!
The sense of arrival must be wonderful. The Catholic pilgrims go to confession and mass, and everyone mills around in the cathedral, which has quite a sense of bustle and awe, probably as it has done for the last thousand years. This photo shows you what you can see there:
But this photo gives you a much better feel of the place!
Whisper, crackle, shuffle, bustle, shhhh, shuffle, bustle... it's a fascinating place.
But when you think that you have come to the end of the pilgrim route, it turns out you are wrong. THIS is the end of the road - the end of the world - Finisterre!
Pilgrims traditionally continued walking until they got to the true end of the road, on the blustery cape of Fisterra, or Finisterre.
There they burnt their pilgrim clothes - Son 2 is investigating the site of a very recent fire, composed mostly of boots, he informed us.
Nowadays, as well as pilgrims and tourists, there is a lighthouse and a radio mast.
The sign says 'Do not leave clothes on this radio mast' in many pilgrim languages...

The town of Fisterra is just tucked into a bay behind the cape. Here the pilgrims stopped in medieval times to pick up the scallop shell which would show the world that they had completed their holy travels. And here Son 2 dived in the cold, cold waters of the Atlantic and found...


Fat Dormouse said...

How wonderful to have your own scallopshell to remind you of this trip.

Do you know the poem by Sir Walter Raleigh:
GIVE me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My scrip of joy, immortal diet,
My bottle of salvation,
My gown of glory, hope's true gage;
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

I thought that was all of the poem, but you can read it all over at (should you wish to...)

Jane and Chris said...

Our Mexican migrant workers go on a pilgrimage each and every year,they view it much as we'd view a vacation.
Jane x
PS What a colour coordinated family you are!

Winkel's Crazy Ideas said...

A wonderful post and beautiful pictures, so interesting. Thank you for sharing. Pam xx

Pom Pom said...

This post reminds me of one of my favorite books, Mount Joy.

Frances said...

I've read other articles and even books about thise pilgrimage, but have found even more from reading your post.


Julia said...

Lovely...maybe someday...maybe...

Fat Dormouse said...

Whenever I see the title to this post on my Blog roll, I find myself singing it to the tune of "Is this the way to Amarillo"...Was that your intention?!