Walking through Galicia

Walking through Galicia

Once you start walking through Galicia, you’ll start seeing several new architectural elements, some of them quite frequently. They’re not exclusive to Galicia. But they are more common here.

In this post I’m goign to tell you a little bit about 3 of them. Two of them are ubiquitous. The third one, not so much. But I think it’s quite interesting, and that’s why I included it.

 

Hórreos

A common question I see in Camino groups from pilgrims once they enter Galicia:

Combarro, on the Variante Espiritual

‘What are these structures?’, accompanied by a picture similar to the one here. Sometimes they add a guess or two as to what these might be.

Well, they are called hórreos. And they are granaries. Not chicken coops. Not mausoleums. Granaries.

Mostly, they store maíz (corn).

 

You’ll see them everywhere while walking through rural Galicia, where every house used to have one. They’re also common in Asturias and the north of Portugal.

 

Hórreos vary slightly depending on the location. In some areas, they’re built in a combination of wood and stone. In some other places, they’re fully made of stone. They usually have a rectangular shape, although in some places, square hórreos are the norm.

 

What they all have in common is that they’re raised from the ground by pillars. This helps keep crops dry. On top of each pillar there is a flat stone designed to keep rodents out. That’s also why access stairs are separated from the hórreo. Their walls have slits to allow ventilation. The roofs usually have some decorative element, such as a cruz (cross), a pinnacle, a weather vane, cones (you’ll see those on the Camino del Norte), etc.

 

The oldest reference to an hórreo in a document dates back to 1219 and it refers to a certain hórreo in Betanzos, on the Camino Inglés. However, different versions of hórreos have been in use in Galicia since pre-Roman times. 

 

In the 17th-18th centuries, hórreos became common and they became also a symbol of status: the bigger the hórreo, the richer the family. In fact, some of the biggest hórreos in Galicia belong to the Church.

 

There are several of those in the Fisterra area, like the one pictured below, in the town of Carnota.

Walking through Galicia hórreo

 

You can see another one on the Variante Espiritual of the Portuguese Way, next to the Poio monastery. Also on the Variante Espiritual, you should check Combarro, with the highest concentration of hórreos in Galicia.

 

Cruceiros

Another common element of the Galician landscape is the cruceiro (in Galician) or crucero (in Spanish). A cruceiro is a high cross, made of stone. Cruceiros can usually be found in churchyards, crossroads or ancient pagan worship sites.

 

There are more than 12 000 cruceiros all over Galicia. The oldest one is in Melide, next to the capilla (chapel) de San Roque, and it dates back to the 14th century. There’s another one from the same period in Neda, on the Camino Inglés.

 

There are several superstitions linked to cruceiros.

Some of them were built in places where a violent death had occurred. The purpose of the cruceiro was to try to save the soul of the deceased and stop it from wandering around the area and from harming passers-by.

 

Cruceiros also offered protection against the Santa Compaña.

The Santa Compaña is a procession of the dead (or of tormented souls) who wander through the paths after midnight, wearing hooded cloaks and holding candles. The procession is led by a living person, who is under a curse. This person is carrying a cross (sometimes a cauldron too). He or she will not remember anything in the morning, although they will feel very tired.

 

The only way to be free from the curse is to get another living person to carry the cross. If they can’t do this, they will feel weaker and weaker and become sick for no apparent reason. There are several ways to avoid being cursed if you encounter the Santa Compaña. One of them is to step onto the base of a cruceiro.

Cruceiros were also the chosen location to perform magical practices, like curing certain deseases or fertility issues.

In some places, babies who had died before receiving baptism were usually buried at the base of a cruceiro. 

 

Petos de ánimas

Peto de ánimas roughly translates as souls’ money box. This is actually the Galician name but, to be honest, I have no idea if there’s a name for them in Spanish.

They are little shrines devoted to the souls in purgatory, and they can be found at crossroads or near churches. Most of them were built in the 18th century. 

Petos de ánimas can vary a lot, but tend to have 3 common elements: 

  • A base, usually made of stone.
  • On top of the base goes the niche, with a stone carving depicting souls in the fire of purgatory.
  • Under the niche, there’s the peto or money box where people used to leave their alms for the salvation of those souls.

Nowdays, it’s not common to leave money, but you will still see other kinds of offerings such as flores (flowers), maíz, or velas (candles).

Walking through Galicia peto de ánimas

This peto de ánimas is in Tui, on the Camino Portugués. It shows souls in the fire of purgatory, with the dove/Holy Spirit watching over them.

You can see remains of flowers and a candle that someone offered for the salvation of the souls in purgatory.

 

 

When a soul is saved and goes to Heaven thanks to your offering or prayers, they will later intercede on your behalf, so you can go into Heaven too. Keep it in mind when you’re next walking through Galicia and you see a peto de ánimas.

 

Today’s Spanish words

For the pronunciation of cruz, check Tarta de Santiago.

 

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Camino Portugués: Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis

Camino Portugués: Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis

Camino Portugués: Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis |

Back in October I walked from Porriño to Redondela, on the Camino Portugués with a large group organised by the Asociación de Amigos del Camino Portugués (details about that stage here). I skipped the next 2 domingos (Sundays) because I had already walked those stages.

I walked Redondela-Pontevedra in 2020, right before the confinamiento (lockdown). And I have walked Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis twice now. Both times in julio (July), a year apart. It is my little contribution to the Luz del Camino project.

 

The first time I walked the Pontevedra-Caldas de Reis stage of the Camino Portugués was in 2020. I was part of a small group of 5 pilgrims, so I wasn’t alone. But it was a very lonely experience: there were no other pilgrims around and everything was closed.

The second time was in julio 2021. Again, I was part of a small group. But it was a very different experience. This time around, there were lots of other pilgrims walking too (mostly españoles but other nationalities too). Bars and cafés were open for business. The Camino felt alive again.

 

Peregrina Pontevedra

We had a very hot day in 2020, so we left at 6.00am, in the dark.

This time around, the weather forecast was not as hot. There was no need to start so early.

We left from the Peregrina Church in Pontevedra at 7.30am.

We crossed the bridge, and once out of Pontevedra and Lérez we met the first pilgrims of the day. It was a group of cinco polacos (5 Polish people) who wrote a message on the notebook that travels inside the mochila de la luz.

After Alba, I noticed an improvement on the route. There was a stretch where pilgrims had to walk on the side of the carretera (road). They’ve now added a new pedestrian path away from the road. Much safer than before.

 

Meeting other pilgrims

And then we crossed the road and quickly got to one of my favourite parts of this stage, a beautiful forest area. We met several other pilgrims here.

One of them was a Spanish woman who was walking from Tui by herself. She had wanted to walk the Camino for a while but could never find the right time. A few weeks before we met she found out she was embarazada (false friend alert! This means pregnant, not embarrassed). And she thought that she probably wouldn’t be able to walk for a long time if she waited until the baby was born. So, she packed a few things, got her partner to drop her in Tui and started walking.

 

We ended up walking together most of the rest of the stage and talking about all sorts of things. We got along quite well and the conversation kept flowing naturally.

Roughly halfway to Caldas we took a café con leche break. The place where we stopped was so busy! Full of pilgrims. So different from 2020.

 

After the break, we kept walking through bosques (forests) and aldeas (villages)… and meeting more pilgrims. Not what I’m used to. I know the July 2020 experience was kind of extreme, with everything closed and no pilgrims at all. But I must say I wasn’t used to meeting so many other pilgrims on the Camino. It actually felt crowded at times, especially coming out of a strict lockdown and over a year of so many restrictions and not socialising that much.

 

When the Camino joins the busy N-550 road (5 or 6km before Caldas de Reis), I recommend you cross it and take the short detour to “Parque Natural Río Barosa”. It’s a beautiful place with waterfalls and old watermills. There’s a picnic area there. It’s a popular spot for the locals to go for the day. It’s about 500m off the Camino, but it’s well worth it. That’s what we did again, although our stop was shorter than the previous year.

And before we knew it, we were in Caldas and we all went our separate ways. Somehow I lost sight of my new friend and couldn’t find her again. I would have liked to say goodbye and wish her luck with the rest of her Camino and with her pregnancy too. No pudo ser (it couldn’t be).

Read about the Caldas-Padrón stage here.

* Caldas de Reis and Caldas are the same place. Caldas de Reis is the official name of the town, but we usually refer to it as just Caldas.

 

Through a field of stars

Through a field of stars

Through a Field of Stars

Brian John Skillen, is a professional filmmaker, author, and international dance instructor. His many adventures around the world have strongly influenced his life, but nothing has affected him more than his pilgrimages along the Camino de Santiago. He was first inspired to write the Through a Field of Stars trilogy on his pilgrimage in 2017, where he was told about the clues the Knights Templar left behind on the Camino de Santiago.

Since 2017 he has walked over 1,000 miles across Spain doing research for the trilogy. He has walked the miles his characters have walked and learned the lessons they have learned. All of the characters in the novel that aren’t based on historical people are based on pilgrims Brian met on his Camino. Brian’s goal with the trilogy is to inspire one million people to take a pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago.

He tells us more about in this guest post. Over to Brian!

Flecha azul

 

 

Have you ever seen something so amazing it changed your life in an instant?

In 2017, I took an epic pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. I saw many amazing things, but when I first saw the Arc of San Anton, I knew my life would never be the same. To me, it looked like something that could only exist in a movie or a novel. Stepping through the Arc was like stepping into another world. Something about me and my life changed as I emerged on the other side.

 

I didn’t know it then, but that was a defining moment for me as a person. I didn’t know that after stepping through the Arc of San Anton, I would  hang up my dance shoes and trade them in for a story. I didn’t know that I would face one of my biggest fears and achieve something that I thought was impossible… 

 

Just past the Arc of San Anton is the city of Castrojeriz—a hilled city with the ruins of a castle on top. Once again my breath was taken away. When I first saw the city, I thought, My God, someone has to write a book about this place! Little did I know I was going to be that someone.

 

Every Camino is like a lifetime—you begin as one person and end up leaving as someone completely different. 

The Knights Templar

At the albergue (pilgrims Shelter), I looked at my credencial (pilgrims passport) and noticed that the stamp for the city was the cross of Jerusalem. After seeing some Knights Templar symbology at the Arc of San Anton and in the city, I made a comment about the Templars. The hospitalero (person who runs the hostel) raised an eyebrow and asked, “What do you know about the Knights Templar?”

This question led to a long discussion about the importance of the Templars on the Camino de Santiago and in Castrojeriz. The hospitalero told me that there used to be several Templar commanderies in the city, and that the entire hill was hollowed out with tunnels that the Templars had used for rituals and to store their treasure. As we were finishing, he lowered his voice and told me to look for the clues that the Templars had left behind on the Camino.

The next morning I woke up with the hospitalero’s stories still in my head. As I was leaving the town, I did something significant that has changed my life. I took my most valuable possession—my dance shoes—from my backpack and left them at a second-hand store. I said to the world, “I will trade these in for a story.” This may not seem like such a big deal, but for someone who has been a professional dancer for the past twenty years, it was huge. This was my symbolic gesture of stepping into a new time in my life.

Every day after I made that declaration, the people I met and the experiences I had, all came together to form The Way: Through a Field of Stars. 

There was only one problem though, I grew up with dyslexia and a third-grade reading and spelling level in highschool—who was I to write a book?

 

Writing the story

However, once it has been unleashed, nothing can stop inspiration. On the Camino, I woke up every morning before the sun and walked under the stars. As I hiked, The Way: Through  Field of Stars played like a movie in my head, and I dictated exactly what I was seeing into my phone. 

By the end of my Camino, I had the entire story outlined in an audio format. Now, I had to face my biggest fear, actually writing the book down on paper.

I mix up letters in words, and I didn’t learn the rules of grammar—so writing a book was something I never thought I would do. As I returned home, I committed to writing 2,000 words a day no matter what. At first it was incredibly hard and took a very long time—as I had to teach myself the rules of grammar. But, I stayed committed—and within three months, I had finished the first draft of my novel. I thought it was perfect, however as most of you know, the Camino doesn’t always provide what you want, but exactly what you need to fulfill your life’s purpose.

When I showed the book to my girlfriend (who is now my wife), she answered honestly and said it needed some work. After learning more about editing and publishing, we reached out to fifty agents and all we got in return were two rejection letters and forty-eight other agents that didn’t even bother to write back.

In 2020, we realized the book was as far as we could take it ourselves so we ran a Kickstarter to hire professional editors, formatters, designers, etc. We raised $10,000 in presells on Kickstarter and since publishing The Way: Through a Field of Stars, it has won an Eric Hoffer Award in the Spiritual Fiction category and has also reached the #1 Amazon Bestseller spot in several categories.

 

My wife and I are currently launching the second book in the series Back: Through a Field of Stars on Kickstarter until July 9, 2021. Follow our Kickstarter link to get both books and support the creation of a new novel. Also, if you are interested in how we launch books on Kickstarter, you can join our free group on Facebook—Kickstarter to Amazon Best Seller. We believe in a life of contribution and are happy to share some of the things we have learned along the way.

 

My wife and I returned to the Camino in 2019 and my favorite phrase to say was Soy escritor. I declared that “I am a writer” in Spanish, long before I did in English. I hope your Caminos bring you as much growth, inspiration, and love as mine did—Buen Camino!

 

Some of our favorite Spanish words and phrases we use on the Camino

Zumo de naranja – Fresh squeezed orange juice

Tortilla – an egg dish they serve at breakfast

Leche de soja  – Soy milk

¿Dónde está el albergue municipal? – Where is the state run hostel (these are usually the most cost efficient)

¿Cuándo es la misa?  When is the Mass?

Through a field of stars

For more on Brian and his novels, follow this link.

 

Today’s Spanish words

For the pronunciation of credencial, check ¿Cómo vas a hacer el Camino?

For the pronunciation of albergue, check ¿Dónde vas a dormir?

For the pronunciation of hospitalero, check El albergue.

 

 

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¡Buen Camino!

Conversation on the Camino

Conversation on the Camino

Conversation on the Camino

I met Kate Fisher in person while she was walking the Camino Portugués in October 2018. We had known each other online for a while and this was the perfect opportunity to connect.

Kate has recently published a book recounting her experience of walking the Camino de Santiago after recovering from anxiety and depression.

In the post that follows, Kate writes about the conversations that take place on the Camino, both with others and with ourselves. She also gives us some tips on how to improve those conversations.

 

Conversation on the Camino

by Kate Fisher 

(includes excerpts from her book Beyond Expectations: 6 Days on the Camino Portugués and her guide, “Calm Your Brain: 7 Tips to Connect and Communicate”)

 

My very first day on the Camino Portugués began in the dark. The day before, I had flown from Madrid to Vigo and then taken a taxi to a hotel north of Tui. I arranged for the hotel van to transport me to the Camino at 7:30 am without checking the time of sunrise. The van driver spoke no English and already I wished I had spent more time studying Spanish!

 

I was the only passenger in the van and when he dropped me off at a dimly lit and empty parking lot behind a small church, I felt foolish. It was early October and it would be another 45 minutes before dawn. I also felt disoriented. Which way was north, toward Santiago? What if the pilgrims were walking south toward Fátima? I took a deep breath and said a little prayer for safety.

 

Then I saw it, a large yellow arrow painted on a crumbling concrete wall, pointing the way. Fátima arrows were blue, I remembered. This yellow arrow was the only bright spot in a shroud of darkness. Should I follow it now or wait as I’d been instructed? I decided to do a walking meditation around the parking lot until daybreak.

 

Before long, my attention was caught by three small lights bobbing up and down in the distance. They seemed to draw closer and I recognized them as headlamps on three people walking in rhythm down the sidewalk in front of the church. I ran toward the yellow arrow and through the driveway to catch up with them. As I approached, I slowed down and joined the line of pilgrims, barely visible by the light on their foreheads. Not one of them made a sound. It felt a bit strange, and yet I was relieved. I was walking on the Camino!

 

When I thought about the fact that these walkers had also started in the dark, I relaxed a bit. Maybe I knew what I was doing, after all. The line of pilgrims spaced out into small groups, everyone walking at their own pace, still in complete silence. 

 

I sensed someone behind me and turned to look. A small woman carrying a large backpack smiled at me. I smiled back and whispered, “Is it against the rules to talk?”

“If it is, I guess we are breaking the rules,” she said wryly, and thus began a conversation with my walking companion for the day.

 

Walking and Talking

If you ask me, I will tell you that “walking and talking” is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I enjoy walking alone, to be sure, but there is a special connection to be made between people who enjoy a good conversation while walking.

 

Maybe it’s the fresh air. Or the freedom from a schedule and interruptions. I have had some of my very best conversations while walking with a friend and I found that to be true on the Camino, too.

 

Small talk guidelines are generally to avoid talking about politics, religion, and personal health. Perhaps because we were mostly strangers and may never see each other again, these small talk rules did not seem to apply. Most of my conversations were about politics, religion, and mental or physical health.

A German man told me about his liver transplant. A young man from Israel was eager to talk about religion and his Polish grandfather, who had lived through the Holocaust. When people found out that I was from the US, they asked me what happened to cause the outcome of the 2016 election. They were baffled. My explanation was that 2016 was The Year of the Rooster on the Chinese calendar, and it was most definitely a wake-up call.

Conversation on the Camino

Some people dedicate their walk to someone or something. Grateful for my own recovery, I dedicated my walk to those who struggle with depression and anxiety.

It just so happened that at the time I was preparing to walk on the Camino, I discovered that Project Happiness was promoting The Race For Wellness Project to raise money for mental wellness resources for youth. 

 

The project also aimed to raise awareness and help remove the stigma that prevents people of all ages from getting help. All I needed to do was pledge to walk at least 50 miles (approximately 80.5 kilometers) and invite friends and family to be sponsors.

Every day I had opportunities to talk about mental health and share my story. On some days, I would share it as my reason for walking. Fellow pilgrims were eager to talk about their own depression or their concern for a friend or family member. Because of the stigma, hardly anyone talks about it in day-to-day life. Here on the Camino, it felt like the most natural conversation in the world. 

 

Meeting Maria

Not every conversation was serious. Some were observations like “blisters are my sisters.” Or talking about a 90-year-old pilgrim who seemed to have more energy than all of us. 

One of my favorite conversations was with Maria. We had met online in the Opted Out Community of language teachers and I’d been learning about Spain and the Camino through her blog articles, workbooks, and courses. I was delighted to walk through Pontevedra and have the opportunity to meet her at the end of my third day. 

 

Conversation on the Camino

Conversation with food or wine

Maria and I enjoyed our conversation over a glass of wine and then she needed to return to her family so I had dinner around 9 pm. At home, this would have been very late. Since this was my second week in Spain, I was beginning to get used to the different times of eating. 

 

Breakfast was usually light, consisting of café con leche, toasted baguette with jam, and a glass of fresh-squeezed orange juice. I usually started walking on an empty stomach and stopped at a café sometime mid-morning. Conversations were light, too, and often involved the cafe proprietor who was happy to stamp our credencial or passport and send us on our way with the ubiquitous greeting, Buen Camino!

 

The midday meal was also later than I normally eat. Instead of noon, we often ate around 2 pm, and even pilgrims liked to linger at the table afterward for conversation. I learned that there is actually a word for this time of conversation, sobremesa

 

Conversation starters

If you want to have an interesting conversation on the Camino, I recommend asking open-ended questions. In other words, questions that can’t be answered with yes, no, or simply one word, Here’s an example that does not promote conversation. Question: Where did you start your Camino? Answer: Porto. 

Open-ended questions usually begin with “what” or “how” and invite people to elaborate and share their opinions, views, and personal stories. Start with something that is not too personal or specific.

Some examples:

What brings you to the Camino? – ¿Qué te trae al Camino?

How do you use hiking poles/GPS/your guidebook? – ¿Cómo usas los bastones / el GPS / tu guía?

What has been your experience at the albergues? – ¿Cómo ha sido tu experiencia en los albergues?

How do you like this part of the Camino? – ¿Qué te parece esta parte del Camino?

How do you like Spanish cuisine? – ¿Qué te parece la cocina española?

What do you recommend for a vegetarian? – ¿Qué recomiendas para un vegetariano?

Has anything surprised you about Spanish culture or customs? – ¿Te ha sorprendido algo de la cultura o las costumbres españolas?

 

Follow up with another open-ended question or “That’s interesting. Tell me more.”

 

Conversation with myself

Because the Camino Portugués was not crowded, I experienced a lovely balance of inner conversations with myself while walking alone and meaningful conversations with other pilgrims while walking or enjoying a meal or cafe con leche in a cafe.

 

I think that many people come to the Camino to sort out things in their life and these inner and outer conversations are one way to do it. It’s almost as if pilgrims hold up a mirror for one another, listening to each other’s stories and reflecting back what each person needs to see or hear.

All in all, 6 Days on the Camino Portugués gave me the perfect opportunity to think about my own life and have conversations with people from Spain and at least a dozen other countries around the world. If you can’t be away for more than a week, I highly recommend walking from Tui to Santiago. And if you have any questions for me, I’d be happy to have a conversation. You can find me at www.conversationswithkate.net

For more info on Kate’s book and workbook, click on the picture.

Beyond expectations

You can listen to some of our Conversations about the Camino on Kate’s podcast. You will find a link to those conversation on my About page.

Today’s Spanish phrases

¿Te ha sorprendido algo de la cultura o las costumbres españolas?

Conversations with Kate

Kate is a hiker and language enthusiast from the US who has dabbled in German, French, Spanish, and Polish at different times in her life. Through volunteer work in Poland and Spain, she discovered a passion for helping business professionals develop confidence speaking in English and began teaching online at Conversations with Kate. She is a certified Neurolanguage Coach®, hosts a podcast, and recently published her first book for English Language Learners and anyone interested in walking six days on the Camino. She’s grateful to Maria for helping her with Spanish for her walk and for the book. : )

You can connect with Kate on Linkedin, Instagram, Facebook, and Soundcloud via her website, www.conversationswithkate.net.

Make sure you don’t miss any posts by subscribing for free here. That way, when a new post is out, you will get it in your inbox. And… you also get access to exclusive content.

 

¡Buen Camino!

Holy Year 2021

Holy Year 2021

Año Santo. Holy Year. How many times have you heard these 2 words in recents weeks? Months even?

2021 is a Holy Year. People have been talking about it for months, either planning their Camino to coincide with it or postponing it for a “regular” year. Then, on December 31, we learned that the Holy Year will be extended until the end of 2022. But do you know what that means? And more importantly, how does that affect the Camino de Santiago?

Next, I’ll try to explain a few basic ideas regarding the Holy Year. And, as usual, you’ll be able to learn some Spanish vocabulary. Let’s start from the beginning. 

 

What is a Holy Year?

Un Año Santo or Jubileo (Jubilee) is a special year in the Catholic Church. During these special years, an indulgence (indulgencia) is granted to those who fulfill certain criteria.

To differentiate it from other Holy Years, the one in Santiago can be referred to as jacobeo (of St. James) or compostelano (from Compostela). You may also see the Galician word Xacobeo to refer to it.

We have an Año Santo Jacobeo or Año Santo Compostelano when July 25, feast of St. James, falls on a Sunday. So, we have a Holy Year in Santiago every 6 (seis), 5 (cinco), 6 and 11 (once) years. The last Holy Year before 2021 was in 2010.

Some sources date the first Año Santo Compostelano in the 12th century but research has shown this to be false. The first documented Holy Year took place in 1424.

 

El Jubileo

In order to obtain the Jubilee or indulgence during Holy Years you must:

  • visit the tomb of St. James and say a prayer for the Pope.
  • confess, 15 days before or after your visit to Santiago.
  • receive holy communion

 

It’s worth noting that getting a jubilee and a compostela are not connected. To get a compostela, you must walk at least the last 100km of any Camino. This will not grant your indulgence. For that, you must fulfill the requirements listed above. And you can travel to Santiago by any means.

In other words, you could drive up to Santiago, visit the tomb of the Apostle, say your prayers and receive confession and communion. You would be receiving the jubileo. But not a compostela. On the other hand, you could walk over 100km to Santiago and not do any of the others things. You could then claim your compostela, but wouldn’t be earning the indulgence.

Music, poetry, history… to celebrate the beginning of the Holy Year 2021

La Puerta Santa

To mark the beginning of a Holy Year, a special ceremony performed by the Archbishop takes place in the cathedral. This happens in the evening of December 31. During this ceremony, the Holy Door or Puerta Santa is opened.

In case you’re wondering what’s so special about a door being opened: the Puerta Santa only gets opened during Holy Years. The rest of the time, it remains closed. At the end of a Holy Year, a new ceremony takes place to close the door again. It will remain closed until the following Año Santo. So, before 2021, the last time people were able to access the cathedral through the Holy Door was in 2010.

During this year’s opening ceremony, a representative of the Pope announced the extension of this Holy Year until the end of 2022. This is due to the special circumstances brought about by the pandemic. The only time a Holy Year was extended before was in 1937-1938 due to the Spanish Civil War.

Access to the Puerta Santa is from Plaza de la Quintana.

 

What about the Camino?

It’s hard to predict what this Holy Year will be like. At the moment, travelling is not an option. Not only for international pilgrims but for those of us who live locally too. As I write this, I can’t go to Santiago. And I live less than 100km away. Both my town and Santiago have perimeter lockdowns in place. That means we can’t get in or out, unless we have a valid reason such as work or a medical appointment.There’s also a perimeter lockdown on the whole region of Galicia until the end of this month of January. The region of Castilla y León has a perimeter lockdown too… until May 9.

In summary, there are perimeter lockdowns both at regional and local level, which means you could be fined if you get caught getting in or out of one of these areas without a valid reason. And doing the Camino is not considered a valid reason.

Under normal circumstances, Holy Years are very busy on the Camino. The number of pilgrims tends to increase quite dramatically. To give you an idea, the Holy Year of 2010 saw an 85% increase in the number of pilgrims collecting their compostela, compared to the previous year. If you’re looking for a quite Camino, Holy Years are not a good idea. If, on the other hand, you don’t mind the crowds, and entering through the Holy Door holds a special significance for you, then go for it! What type are you?

In any case, we’ll have to wait for the current circumstances to change before we can go back to the Camino.

A summary of this year’s opening ceremony