A CAMINO FROM TUI TO SANTIAGO : MAY-JUNE 2010

 

THE GALICIAN BIT OF THE PORTUGUESE WAY

Author: Colin Davies                                                                                                                                                                                                                               25.7.10.  

 

INTRO

 

This is just a personal memoir. Written simply because I enjoy writing and because I have the time to do so. It’s essentially a record of my own observations and experiences. Although it’s been augmented by prompts from my fellow pilgrims, it’s still a chronicle in which - for good or bad – everything is seen through my personal prism. My hope is it’ll be a good read for those who enjoyed the Camino with me, for those who couldn’t make it but who’d like to know what they missed, and for anyone who reads it on my Galicia web page. For some of the latter, it may even prove useful.

 

The idea for this Camino came to me one sunny afternoon in June 2009, when I was relaxing after my usual Sunday lunch of deep-fried squid and a couple of glasses of Albariño. So, more of a wine than a pipe dream. My initial email drew an astonishingly positive response and, at back then, it looked as if we’d have an almost-unmanageable group of twenty plus. Thirty even. By early 2010 though, this had whittled itself down to a mere fifteen and last minute problems for some reduced this to the final eight. (Appendix 1).

 

What had also shrunk by April 2010 was the size of our aspiration. Instead of two weeks to do 230km from Oporto to Santiago, we’d decided on only one week of 115km from Tui to Santiago. And the dates had moved forward by a week, meaning that one of us (Jane) could only come to Galicia for what would have been the now-aborted Portugal leg. Happily, though, she could manage a couple of days at the start of the walk before she went home for half-term grandparent duties.

 

Not long after I’d set the whole thing in motion a friend who’d done something similar questioned my sanity. There was no way, she insisted, I’d be able to keep a heterogeneous group of aesthetes of my age happy and I’d surely end up losing at least some friends of many years. Well, as far as I know, she was wrong on this.

 

Maybe it was the preparation; maybe it was the glorious weather; maybe we were lucky with the whittling-down process; or maybe it was just the much-celebrated magic of the Camino. But, whatever it was, my own feeling is that the week couldn’t have gone much better. The only negative for me was the absence of the other good friends whom I’d hoped until quite late on would be there.

 

I can think of no better way to sum up the experience than I did ex cuffo at lunch on Saturday in Santiago – It’s a wonderful feeling to like friends even more at the end of ten days together than you did at the beginning.

 

To which I would only add now that, if there were any altercations or clashes, I missed all of them.

 

At the end of this memoir there are 16 Appendices. Not everyone will be interested in all of them. Some folk won't be interested in any. But a few of the appendices may well prove useful to anyone planning a Camino.

 

My apologies for any irritation caused by white space in this document. Blame it on the photos. And the fact it’s not a professional document. I can be reached on colindavies@terra.es, if anyone has any comments or recommendations.

 

If you've stumbled upon this because of an interest in Galicia, you might enjoy my Guide to this region of Spain (www.colindavies.net) and my regular blog Thoughts from Galicia

(www.colindavies.blogspot.com)

 

THE BASIC DETAILS

 

We all met up in Tui, on Friday 28 May. Or, rather, we would have done if David and Susan’s plane hadn’t broken down on the tarmac at Manchester. Sadly, they lost a day and could only join us at lunchtime on Saturday.

 

We stayed two nights in Tui (three for Jane) and set off on our Camino on Sunday 30 May.

 

We walked around 115km and took seven days to do it. Or an average of c.16.5km a day. I believe we could easily have covered the ground in six days. I should add that those of us who walked to and from Valença to Tui after lunch on the first Saturday can reasonably claim to have done 6km more than the rest.

 

We set off reasonably early each morning, always stopping at least once for refreshments and always arriving in time for a large lunch at our next destination. This, of course, fitted with the Spanish midday meal time of 1.30 onwards. In the afternoons, we usually all relaxed in our own ways before meeting up for drinks and dinner.

 

As far as I’m aware, none of us had problems with our feet. And only a couple of us seemed to suffer from mosquito bites, possibly after an expedition to a rural furancho in the hills behind Redondela on Monday night.

 

We stayed in 3-star hotels in most places but a perfectly acceptable 2-star hotel (Sena) in Caldas de Reis. The quality varied, from the low of the Parque hotel in Porriño and the high of the Herradura in Santiago. Prices naturally rose as we got closer to Santiago.

 

The original plan was that I would move our luggage onto our next hotel each day in my car, with me then returning to the group by public transport. This was actually done for the first three days but, with my car showing persistent signs of engine problems, once we’d reached my home town of Pontevedra we shifted to the use of taxis to take our luggage on to the next hotel. This worked well, with each hotel being willing to store our bags until check in time. The going rate between towns seemed to be 25 euros, though we were only charged 13 between Bertamiráns and Santiago on our last day. As this was a detour from the Camino proper, my guess is the taxi drivers there are not aware of just how exploitable pilgrims are. Though 25 euros between seven people is hardly expensive.

 

We ate mostly large menus del día at midday and tapas meals in the evening and we drank exclusively Galician wines, both red and white. We were not often disappointed on either count. A bit more information on the wines can be found in Appendix 15.

 

Apart from the camaraderie among the group and the superb weather, the highlights included the excellent service in all the hotels - sometimes even in English – and the friendliness of all the Galicians we met along the Way.

 

As for low moments, the only one I can think of is saying Goodbye at the end of it all.

 

A little to my surprise, there was an apparently unanimous view expressed at the end of the week that we’d have had no problem with the original plan of starting in Oporto and walking the first week up to Valença, across the river Miño from Tui. Perhaps this was a realistic assessment or perhaps it was just an expression of satisfaction. But the work on it has been done and I, for one, will complete this stage relatively soon.

 

The only guide we used was John Brierley’s on the Portuguese Way, which covers the legs in both Portugal and Spain. This was useful, if not essential. As were the various books and maps I’d boned up on. In Spain at least – the way-marks are so clear and prominent it would be hard to get lost. Indeed, some of them appeared to have been re-painted within the past week.

 

David, an artist, felt compelled to take more than 500 photos during the week. Some of these I’ve used to illustrate this article and more can be found on Flickr, here - http://www.flickr.com/photos/camino-2010

 

Finally, there was no religious element to this Camino. None of us bothered with a Credencial in Tui, nor a Compostela in Santiago. Though we did accept the occasional Estampa that was offered in cafés along the way. And everyone – except me – attended the (long) Pilgrims’ Mass at noon on the Saturday we arrived in Santiago.

 

So, how did it all unfold . . . . ?

 

FRIDAY & SATURDAY 28 & 29 MAY : TUI

 

Friday

 

Originally, we’d planned to stay just one night in the old fortress town of Tui but the shift of dates by a week had brought us up against half-term in the UK and everyone had to fly out one day earlier and back one day later. For those not stuck on the tarmac at Manchester, this gave us the bonus of an extra day for sight-seeing in Tui and its opposite number in Portugal, Valença. And it also meant that Jane could spend an extra day with us.

 

En passant, for those who might be interested, there’s a personal guide of mine to Tui in Appendix 2 to this memoir.

 

Jane and I had spent the previous three days walking in Galicia and on Friday drove down to Tui, where we checked into the Hotel Colón, prior to me driving to Vigo to pick up the four folk who’d flown from Stanstead and trained down from Santiago. Having dropped these off at the hotel, I then headed for Vigo airport, to pick up David and Susan. Meanwhile, the rest of the group refreshed themselves and went off for their first enjoyable Galician lunch, at the Jaqueyvi restaurant opposite the town-hall. Where, coincidentally, Jane had eaten earlier.

 

Having failed to check my emails at the hotel and, more importantly, having somehow missed a couple of numerals off the mobile number I’d emailed David, what I didn’t know was that their plane had broken down on take-off and that they weren’t going to get off the flight from Paris they’d never connected with. So, it was back to the hotel empty-handed.

 

In the late afternoon we took a stroll down to the majestic Miño and then along its northern bank, taking the opportunity to view the old rail-road-pedestrian bridge attributed to M. Eiffel. And where, not so very long ago, it used to take an hour or two to get through the Customs and on to the shops in Valença. Where things were to be had at prices much lower than in Spain.

 

 

 

Along the bank of the Miño.

 

The walk also gave me the opportunity to point out – in the ancient walls of the town – a WC para perros. Or Dog Toilet. Quite how this metal object functioned, we couldn’t figure out but it clearly hadn’t been put to much use in some time. Here’s a photo I took a while ago, before it fell into (inevitable?) disuse . . .

 

 

Then it was into Tui’s enchantingly tranquil old quarter, stretching all the way up the hillside from the river to the plateau on which the modern town is located.

 

 

View from near the river, up towards the cathedral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Alley down to the Miño

 

 

Misericordia church

 

 

 

Misericordia tunnel

 

Church of San Telmo, patron saint of Tui

 

The tour of the old quarter over, we repaired to the bandstand in the centre of the town for a drink or two in the evening sun.

 

Dinner was a tremendous spread of various tapas dishes in the surprisingly empty O Vello Cabalo Furado  restaurant, where most of us had our first taste of the shellfish of Galicia’s rich coastal waters and the red Mencia wine of her uplands. And where we all experienced, for a while, the irritatingly loud and raucous laughter of a woman who was clearly revelling in the company of her three male colleagues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awaiting David and Susan, marooned somewhere between Manchester and Vigo.

 

And so to bed.

 

Saturday

 

The morning saw us doing the tourist thing at Tui’s impressive fortress-cum cathedral, where the cloisters are a must-see and the gardens offer wonderful views over the Miño into northern Portugal. Especially from the top of a steeply-staired tower which would surely never pass muster under the UK’s Health & Safety regulations.

 

The glorious portico of Tui cathedral

 

Side view of the entrance to the cathedral. With the local tax office just visible through it.

 

Incidentally, the cathedral produces an interesting leaflet for those who pay for the tour. This is in almost-English and – like many of these things – has clearly never been reviewed by a native speaker. Appendix 3 shows the first page, with some interesting turns of phrase. It will help to know that cruz/cruces is Spanish for cross/crosses and that cruce means both crossing/intersection and cruise.

 

Then it was on to the nearby Diocesan Museum, which Jane rightly described as the best two euros’ worth you’re likely to get anywhere. Unless you go on Monday, when – like all museums in Spain - it’s closed.

 

At midday, I directed the rest of the group down to the bridge across the river and to a favourite restaurant of mine in Valença. I, meanwhile, went off for a second stab at picking up David and Susan at Vigo airport, arriving back in Valença with them not long after the others had sat down in the restaurant. As lunches go, this one would be hard to beat, particularly for Adie and me, enjoying the roast kid (cabrito) not available across the border in Spain. But the others seemed equally satisfied with everything they had, washed down with an excellent vinho verde from Pontedelima.

 

After lunch, we toured the fascinatingly fortified old quarter at the top of the nearby hill – the fortaleza – from which, it’s said, the Portuguese used to bombard Tui, while receiving identical treatment from their Spanish counterparts across the Miño. How much damage they managed to inflict on each other is a matter for speculation.

 

From the ramparts, looking across the Miño (and the Eiffel bridge) to Tui

 

 

 

A shopping street – one of several! – in Valença’s Fortaleza

 

In the evening we strolled down through the Tui’s park to the old walls near the river, passing the church of San Francisco and the town’s famous horses statue on the way.

 

San Francisco church

 

 

 

Horses. Obviously. With the park’s plane trees behind. Or are they beeches? Chris did tell me.

 

Reaching the Camino we’d take the next day, we took a brief look at the church of Santo Domingo, behind which we stumbled upon a pretty mirador (viewpoint) offering terrific photo opportunities of both banks of the Miño and of both fortress towns under the evening sun.

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Santo Domingo church

 

 

View from the mirador, taking in both Tui and Valença (just).

 

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped off to take an Albariño aperitif on the roof terrace of a tapas bar at the side of the route we would take the following morning.

 

 

 

Four Juliets and only two Romeos.

 

Dinner was in a modern tapas bar down to the left of the cathedral. Only cold dishes but appetising nonetheless. Especially the stuffed peppers. The two bottles of Mencia red wine undoubtedly helped.

 

And so to bed. To relax ahead of our first day of hard walking.

 

DAY 1. SUNDAY, MAY 30: TUI-PORRIÑO

 

According to whom you read, this stretch is either 15 or 16km. Say 10 miles – a nice distance for breaking in our boots. And our feet. The best thing about this leg is that, starting your week’s walk at Tui, you get it out of the way immediately. For there’s no avoiding the fact that – although it starts off bucolically enough – it deserves its reputation for being the ugliest along any of the several Ways to Santiago. Essentially, you have to pass through the industrial outskirts of Porriño and spend much of your time alongside the truck-laden N550 in doing so. And, sad to say, Porriño itself is simply not worth the effort. In a nutshell, it’s awful arriving, horrible leaving and none-too-appealing while you’re there. Especially on a Sunday night. A true test of nascent camaraderie.

 

The two other good things about this leg were, firstly, that Jane was able to do it with us, before returning to Tui. And, secondly, along the way we met Jill and Justine for the first time.

 

There are no cafés open at eight in the morning in Tui, especially on a Sunday. On top of this, there was confusion as to whether the hotel café was open for breakfast or whether we’d be forced to take the restaurant buffet none of us really wanted at that hour. In the end, the café turned out to be open for business and the group unintentionally split into those taking a coffee and croissant there and those stuffing themselves at the buffet and stocking up on fruit and cakes for the walk. The wiser/cheekier ones at least.

 

Breakfast over, the bags were packed in my car - to be picked up later - and we set off towards the old quarter and the start of our Camino. As it would be for the rest of the week, the weather was fine. Though each of us took the unnecessary precaution of carrying our wet-weather gear on the off-chance of rain. Just as we would pointlessly do every day.

 

We were not the only people to have set off reasonably early. Indeed, the initial stages felt positively crowded. It’s possible some of our fellow pilgrims were mere Sunday walkers, as we weren’t to see them again during the week. With the exception of those we labelled “The Asian Woman”, her partner “The man with the GPS”, and “The German Guy”, who possibly wasn’t German at all. “The ladies who lunch” were to come later.

 

The early part of the walk is through the usual pretty fields and vineyards of Galicia, followed by quite a bit of road and then cool and pleasant forest tracks. The highlight is the crossing of the bridge (O Ponte das Febres) where San Telmo (the patron saint of Tui) is said to have caught a fatal fever back in 1251. And it’s stimulating to be passed by folk doing the Camino on horseback. Especially if they don’t appear to be too worried about who they might trample on.

Said bridge. Where St Telmo either caught a fever or fell off and later succumbed to gangrene.

 

At the village of Orbenlle, we stopped for a coffee/tea/shandy break that was most welcome. All the more so because, thanks to me, we’d missed an earlier café and the troops were getting a tad restless. It was here that we met and chatted with Jill and Justine, who’d come up from Lisbon and started their pilgrimage in Oporto. They were scheduled, like us to stop in Porriño but then to do the Porriño-Pontevedra leg in one day. Which I, at least, thought was ambitious. Especially because I knew it to be longer than indicated in their guide.

 

 

Arguing the finer points of respective guides.

 

For a while, the route continued to be pleasantly rural but eventually you come to the must-be-endured industrial estate on the south west of Porriño, before crossing the railway bridge to tackle the long walk alongside the busy N550 until you hit the small old quarter of Porriño and its smattering of ancient churches. So it was a relief to find ourselves in the centre and to come upon Jill and Justine having large beers just a few yards from the hotel in which we were all staying that night.

 

A moment of reflected glory during the trek through Porriño’s industrial wasteland

 The Hotel del Parque is located next to a pretty chapel but has surely seen better days. It certainly once had better views – albeit of the motorway and the N550 - before an unfinished block of flats was (quarter)built directly opposite it. As a 3-star place, it was a come-down from the Hotel Colón in Tui and way below the standard of the Herradura we would enjoy in Santiago. But prices were reasonably low and the staff were charming and helpful at all times. Especially the red-nosed barman.

 

The pretty chapel squeezed between the less-than-pretty Parque Hotel and an unfinished block of flats

 

Once the rest of us had checked in, Jane said her goodbyes and she and I set off for Tui by taxi, to pick up my car and the luggage. After depositing the latter at the hotel, we drove to Pontevedra, to spend a couple of hours with my younger daughter and her two friends who’d arrived the previous day for – as it turned out – a week of unrelenting sunshine by the pool. Then it was back to Tui, to drop off Jane for her final night there, and then back to Porriño to snatch a siesta and to meet up with the rest of the group for an account of their midday adventures in Porriño.

 

Happily, I found them (without too much difficulty) having a drink with Jill and Justine on the hotel terrace, where they regaled me with an account of a dubious lunch at the only place they’d found open in the entire town. A bar where hams hung from the ceiling and the owner was swathed in a permanent aura of body odour. Not enjoyed by all, it seemed. Perhaps just a bit too much couleur local for some.

 

 

 

Basking in the light reflected from the Parque Hotel’s handsome brown tiles

 

The evening started well with a pleasant drink with Jill and Justine on the edge of the old quarter, just across from a particularly charming old villa.

 

Said villa.

 

But then came the issue of dinner, in a town which looked rather closed for business. J&J were ‘contracted’ to eat at the hotel but we were keen to find somewhere more interesting, if not exotic. So, having got none-too-convincing recommendations from the bar staff, we headed off for the road that leaves Porriño for the mountains, where I fancied I’d once noticed a churrasquería, a place specialising in grilled meats. But our efforts were in vain; all we could find open were unappetising sandwich bars or pizza places. So we gave up and returned to eat at the hotel with J&J. Edible, basic stuff but not really a patch on what we’d enjoyed in both Valença and Tui and what we’d eat everywhere else along the Camino. Though the wine went down well.

 

The moral of this tale – As you have to pass through Porriño, take a deep breath and do it. But not on a Sunday. Nor possibly on a Monday, when many restaurants in Spain take the night off.

 

And so to bed.

 

DAY 2. MONDAY, MAY 31: PORRIÑO-REDONDELA

 

This stretch is, again, either 14 or 15km, depending on who you read. It starts badly but improves considerably after 15-20 minutes, when you leave the throbbing N550 and head up towards the villages of O Castro and Mos (also called Santa Eulalia). This assumes you’ve successfully defied death by getting past the large roundabout on the outskirts of Porriño and then not been hit by a passing truck on the said N550.

 

Positive memories of this stretch include the pleasure of coming across a fine granite pile (O Pazo de Mos)  in the village of the same name, which looked like it had been converted into a exhibition centre. We thought later it might have been the new pilgrims’ albergue (Casa Blanca) in Mos but Brierley says this is behind the Pazo and we must have missed it.

 

And, shortly after this in Cabaleiros, we came upon a group of happy and chatty school kids outside their school gate.

Young school-kids with quite young teacher and old man.

 

Just a few metres after that, we came upon not only a notice about an imminent scarecrow-making competition but also an example of the sort of thing required.

 

The scarecrow is in the middle.

 

Apart from passing The Asian woman, The Man with the GPS and The German guy – all of whom had clearly abandoned Porriño even earlier than us – the most memorable aspects of this leg were the disappointment of finding that the much-needed café-bar La Taberna near the capela of Santiaguino was closed and then the chance discovery of an alternative place only five or ten minutes later. Here, on top of the welcome shandies, we were provided with a pile of ham and cheese sandwiches by the very agreeable proprietor. One guidebook claims that “From the picnic area of Coto de Grandal, there are magnificent views of the Ría de Vigo and of Redondela” but I must have blinked. Or been a bit too blasé about these. Albeit subconsciously.

 

But I do seem to recall a proliferation of florists in one village along this stretch.

 

What I don’t remember seeing are any planes flying level with us as they landed at Vigo airport on the nearby hilltop to our left. Which was a disappointment.

 

Having arrived in Redondela in time for our reward of a large midday meal and copious liquid refreshment, we then found this hard to achieve. My first choice of a converted mill I’d eaten at a few years previously was a kilometre or two out of town and we decided not to risk walking to it and finding it closed. So, on we pressed to seek an alternative, only to find nothing open in the town centre. Having finally decided to resort to the place Jane and I had eaten (unimpressively) at the previous week, we found this closed too. In desperation, we entered the only bar that did seem to be serving food in Redondela. It was not terribly prepossessing but, happily, looks proved deceptive and it turned out to be excellent, with friendly serving staff. A few minutes after us, a group of four rather well-turned out Spanish women arrived and sat at an outside table to eat. Although we didn’t know it at the time, these were to become (thanks to Adie) “The ladies who lunch” and to figure quite large in our chat.

 

For David and I, the meal was foreshortened as we had to catch a train to get back to Porriño to pick up my car and the luggage in it. Well, I did; David kindly volunteered to go with me. And to struggle up the steep hill in the blazing sun to the station out of town. As the sweat on us dried, we couldn’t help noticing that the journey took about ten (comfortable) minutes, compared with the several hours of hard pounding it had taken us in the opposite direction.

 

While David and I were thus engaged, the rest of the group leisurely finished lunch and then made their way by taxi to the Pazo de Torres de Agrelo a couple of kilometres out of town. So leisurely, in fact, that they were only just arriving when David and I got there with the luggage.

 

After the comedown of Porriño and the Parque hotel, the pazo was a massive boost to morale. A truly beautiful old house, it has magnificent gardens and lovely views down to the Rande straits and the bay of San Simón. It also has a swimming pool but, to Adies’s disappointment in particular, this one was as closed as the one at the Colón hotel in Tui. In this case, we were told, because of the cost of complying with safety regulations.

 

The terrace at the Pazo of Torres de Agrelo, sans The Ladies who lunch.

One of the Ladies who lunch is reading in the pagoda on the island. Honest.

 

 

Me pointing at Adie sunbathing, who’s been cut out by Caroline.

 

As ever, the afternoon was spent in relaxing as each of us saw fit, which was rather easy to do in such splendid surroundings. Some of us even took tea on the terrace, where contact was re-made with The ladies who lunch, also staying there the night.

 

They were also dining there but this option was closed to us as we hadn’t said – not having been asked – that we’d want to dine when the booking had been made in January. But the young chap on Reception came up trumps. After we’d called the old mill in the hills and found it closed on Mondays, he insisted on taking us in their minibus to one of the nearby furanchos - unpretentious places licensed to sell both food and the wine made from the owner’s home-grown grapes. But this, too, was closed and there followed a rather tortuous expedition to find the one furancho in the area which did open on a Monday night. Reactions were initially mixed to this Hobson’s choice venue but both the surroundings and the wine helped, even if one of us did have to have the latter in a glass rather than the traditional white bowl which put her mind of something unappetising. And at seven euros each for the evening, it was at least good value for money. Especially the three litres of wine, I suppose.

 

 

The furancho in the hills behind Redondela. Before Adie got her glass. And the rest of us got any food.

 

By this time, The ladies who lunch had begun to fascinate us. They seemed too well turned-out to be walkers. And we hadn’t seen them on either of the two legs we’d done so far. So, were they doing the Camino by car? Or even by taxi? My own suggestion was by Sedan chairs, as this seemed the most in keeping with the style to which they were clearly accustomed.

 

And so to bed, having decided to set off as early as possible the next morning, to maximise time in my home town of Pontevedra. This, Brierley writes, is a “wonderful city, with many fascinating monuments and historic buildings.” An opinion with which I wholeheartedly concur. And the validity of which I was anxious to demonstrate to my colleagues.

 

DAY 3. TUESDAY, 1 JUNE: REDONDELA-PONTEVEDRA

 

The books agree this is 21km stretch but with the pazo being a couple of kilometres out of town, we did a bit less than this. It’s also generally agreed to be one of the prettier stages, though the last four or five kilometres are along a rather boring secondary road into the southern outskirts of Pontevedra.

 

Susan had done her homework and had decided that the long hilly section between Arcade and Pontevedra was more than her knees could take. So, with my car showing worrying signs of overheating, it was decided that the best thing to do would be for me to take the luggage to my house and then to return to Arcade, from where Caroline would pick up the car and ferry Susan back to Pontevedra. This would’ve worked perfectly if I’d given them page 2 of the instructions I printed out when back at the house and not the pretty useless page 1 I did contrive to give them. Which caused them a problem or two in finding my house. But they got there in the end, having taken the urban, rather than the scenic, route. And there they relaxed with my daughter and friends before being summoned to meet us for lunch in the centre of Pontevedra.

 

We left the pazo early, hampered briefly by the fact that all the doors and emergency exits were locked. As with dinner the previous night, we hadn’t thought to book breakfast. In contrast, sounds and smells from the dining room suggested that The ladies who lunch had again done so. Happily, though, there was a café open down by the main road, only a minute or two away.

 

With breakfast out of the way, I set off for Pontevedra with the luggage while the rest of the group began the hike to Arcade. Where they took refreshment while awaiting my return.

 

Almost immediately after setting off from Arcade, we crossed the ancient bridge at Ponte Sampaio, the scene of a tremendous victory by Galician irregulars over the forces of the French (under Marshal Ney) in 1809. (See Appendix 4)

 

 

The ancient bridge at Ponte Sampaio

 

The wisdom of Susan’s decision became clear once we’d crossed the bridge, climbed up the narrow streets of the adjacent village, passed The German guy and begun the long climb up towards Canicouva. Much of this is along what one book calls ‘bouldered paths’. Which is true enough but they’d been bouldered rivers when Jane and I had done this bit in the opposite direction in the rains of the previous week.

 

 

 

Climbing up through the lanes of Ponte Sampaio, past one of Galicia’s ubiquitous ‘horreos’.

 

 

The steep ‘bouldered path’, which went on for quite a while. But was at least dry.

 

A minor highlight of the morning was the realisation that, at least two hours away from Pontevedra, we could see my house on the hill behind the city.

 

With an hour or so to go, we took a brief detour off the Camino to take refreshments in a café on the tarmac road, near a workshop with an astonishing array of granite carvings.

 

 

 

Variations on a religious theme. All stoned.

 

Then it was a long slog along the road into the city, where we met up with Susan and Caroline on the Alameda and went off to lunch at the Almoro restaurant on the edge of the beautiful old quarter. Followed by a brief tour of the latter. Sadly, though, there was nothing going on in the market; so we gave it a miss.

 

Down by the market, with Chicken Woman and chickens. Also stoned.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vegetables Square (Plaza de la verdura)

 

The rest of the afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool with my younger daughter, Hannah, and her two friends. Things were only marred by the discovery that these young ladies had ignored instructions to sleep on mattresses on the top floor and to use the second-best towels and sheets. Instead, they’d strayed down to the first floor and used the beds, sheets and towels intended for more important guests. I was not well pleased but my younger daughter – for good reason - is well-versed at apologising and the important guests pretended not to be put out by this shoddy treatment.

 

Dinner was a highly enjoyable, all-comers affair down at the incomparably atmospheric tapas bar (O Cortello) next to the Basilica of Santa María, where we were joined by my daughter and her friend, plus several local friends of mine. O Cortello means The Pigsty and its ambience is appropriately rustic. Its outstanding feature, however, is the crazy Andalucian who owns it, Agostín - who once gave me 20 euros from the till after I’d embarrassingly told him I had no money to pay for the lunch I’d just had. “No man should walk around town without money in his wallet”, he’d said.

Me and the owner of The Pigsty, Agostín. Long-lost brothers? I’m the one on the left. I think.

 

Afterwards, we repaired to the nearby El Bocaito tapas bar, to take coffee and to sample both their exquisite cheese flan and the region’s equally appetising cream liqueur, crema de orujo. Which puts Baileys Cream in the shade.

 

DAY 4. WEDNESDAY, 2 JUNE: PONTEVEDRA-CALDAS DE REIS

 

The guides again differ on distance, one quoting a little over 19km and the other 22. I suspect this stems from one of them using the centre of town as the starting point and the other the pilgrims’ albergue on its southern edge. But this was all a bit academic to us, as I saved us at least 2km by ferrying my guests down to the barrio of Gándara so we could begin our trek from there. Having done so in two lots, I parked my car and said a prayer it would start when we returned the following Sunday. So we probably did around 17km.

 

A slightly disturbing aspect to our start was the very visible presence of soldiers, military police and even an army ambulance. I recalled reading that the army was going to be walking from Pontevedra to Santiago this week but the presence of medical facilities was still a bit worrying. Did they know something we didn’t?

 

Not long after we’d set out, we reached the church of Santa María de Alba (the Dawn). The guide says there are “two modern, Camino-related sculptures here”. One of these is of a large gourd and the other is an old-ish man in spectacles, carved out of granite and sitting on a bench of the same material. I was duly snapped sitting next to the latter. If I have a quizzical look on my face, it’s because I was sure (and still am) that there’d been a second statue – of his wife with a scarf over her head – when I’d been there three weeks previously. Unlikely but that’s the sort of trick memory plays on you.

One of these is an artefact.

 

Not long after Alba, the Camino is currently disrupted by works connected with the AVE high-speed train scheduled to arrive in Galicia some time in the 21st century but the route is essentially rural and pretty. The big surprise was to coming upon an excavation of a Roman settlement that definitely hadn’t been in process there three weeks previously.

Roman settlement, presumably revealed by the AVE high-speed train works, a tad ironically.

 

Another surprise was the amount of water on the track, despite days and days of nothing but sun. I imagine things get quite difficult along here when it’s raining.

 

By a stroke of managerial genius – or perhaps because of depredations on the part of my daughter and her friends – there’d been nothing to eat in my house before we left. So we were all very much looking forward to our first R&R stop in the village of San Amaro. To the almost well-hidden frustration/irritation of my colleagues, I seriously underestimated the time we’d take to get to this. And, when we did, it was to find the place swarming with soldiers, the bar-counter in chaos and the shelves virtually empty. Adie even found a soldier having a shower in the ladies‘ toilets. But what was really disturbing was the sight of soldiers limping, hobbling and even lying on their backs with badly blistered feet exposed to the healing rays of the sun. And this after only 10 or 11 kilometres. Our natural assumption was that army boots need a great deal of breaking in.

 

Also sitting on the bar terrace was a group of four Spaniards which included a young lady in brief floral shorts. Our expert on nomenclature (Adie) immediately nicknamed her Fancy Pants. We were to discover she had several pairs of these. Well, at least two.

 

The bar, by the way, is called Mesón del Pulpo, or ‘The house of Octopus’ but there was little evidence of this being a speciality. Perhaps on Sundays. In the house of the garden near it is a large structure which the waitress had told me on a previous visit was related to the Camino. As it resembles a massive surfboard, I have my doubts about this.

 

We were to pass groups of soldiers throughout the morning, some of them ambling, some of them sitting around chatting and some of them with their feet sticking out of the back of a military ambulance. In truth, we weren’t terribly impressed by this example of Spain’s military might. But, then, we weren’t wearing their boots.

 

Having waited so long for liquid and solid refreshments – not to mention toilets - it was a major irony that we came upon a second café-bar (A Eiras) in Ponte Valbón/Balbón only 4km later. Where we felt compelled to resort to very welcome shandies all round. Very much our Camino drink by now.

 

Just after this bar you can take a detour to the small town of San Antoniño on the N55, where there’s a Romanesque chapel that some may consider worth seeing. Though we didn’t.

 

We may have passed numerous soldiers during the morning but – as with the Redondela to Pontevedra stretch - we never happened upon The Ladies who lunch. Which rather confirmed us in our theory that they were doing the Camino by car.

 

I had hoped that we’d come upon a field of magnificent yellow and purple wild flowers I’d seen on my earlier walk but, sadly, they’d all blown. Which left the massive concrete overhead rail-track for the AVE as the outstanding feature of this stretch. As it would be for many of the stages between Pontevedra and Santiago.

The field of flowers, in better times.

 

Around 6km before Caldas de Reis, near the new albergue in Briallos, the track hits the N550 but it’s only a few hundred metres before you return to the fields and the vineyards which dominate this leg between Pontevedra and Caldas de Reis.

 

Our objective there was a riverside restaurant in which I’d eaten several times over the years, right on the edge of the river and opposite a grandly restored thermal hotel, the Balneario Acuña. Which we would have stayed at if it had been open in March when I went to Caldas to secure hotel bookings.

 

A couple of us had walked on ahead to get a table but found the riverside restaurant closed. As I searched for a suitable alternative, the others arrived at the bridge, to be hailed by David and Susan, who’d done the last few kilometres by taxi and who’d found an alternative riverside place – the Taberna O Muiño - which I’d never visited. Largely because it had been closed for years, following floods in the winter of 2000. David and Susan had also hailed me but, in my anxiety about finding an alternative to the first choice, I hadn’t heard them. But all’s well that ends well and there was the added joy of finding not only Jill and Justine there but also The ladies who lunch. As we again hadn’t seen these on the walk, this strengthened our suspicions they were doing the Camino by car.

 

Jill and Justine joined us at our table and a memorable lunch then took place in idyllic surroundings. Perhaps the only regret was our failure to order one of the humungous T-bone steaks that arrived at the next table to ours. But, then, we hadn’t known these were on offer and they didn’t figure on the menu.

 

 

The memorable lunch with J & J (forefront) in Caldas de Reis. Justine is sporting the Union Jack because she’s Australian.

 

While we ate and drank a little raucously, The ladies who lunch were chatted up by a Panama-sporting, white-haired, white-bearded man of considerable girth. And his rather more conventional friend. We assumed the former was the owner and well practised at this activity. Especially when his photo albums were produced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Ladies who lunch. Just prior to being properly chatted up. Like most Spanish women, all natural blondes.

 

Lunch over, we repaired to the small thermal fountain across the street, in front of the hotel Balneario Davila, where one or two of us braved the water. Which was quite a bit hotter than it had been a couple of weeks earlier when I’d first done this. So it was a brief interlude.

 

Our hotel (the Sena) was only two-star but perfectly adequate. Even more importantly, it had a pool that was open. Sited in pleasant garden surroundings, it was happily taken advantage of by some of us.

 

After an evening stroll round the small quarter and a look at the church of St. Thomas a Becket in the centre, we set off to find a nice place in which to drink and then eat. This proved rather difficult, as all attempts to get a local recommendation resulted in the nomination of the place we’d had lunch in. Jill and Justine were again contracted to eat in their hotel and, in retrospect, it might have been best for us to join them there. As it was, we ended up at a decent-enough place near the park, serving pasta and pizza dishes which could only have been defrosted. But they were edible and filled a gap. And the wine was fine. For me, the high-spot of the evening came when the young waiter declined to take a pile of euros I was trying to pay him against a bill I’d already settled by credit card. I was rather touched by his honesty.

 

And so to bed.

 

DAY 5. THURSDAY, 3 JUNE: CALDAS DE REIS-PADRÓN

 

Once again there’s a difference of 3 kilometres between the guides, 17 and 20. This time, however, we did more than whichever one is correct, as our hotel lay a couple of kilometres north of the town. Though we did tackle this challenge after an energy-restoring lunch.

 

For me, this leg was a pleasant surprise. Perhaps because I’ve always put Padrón in the same ‘industrial’ box as Porriño, I really wasn’t expecting it to be as pretty as it was. In a word, very possibly the most attractive of the Galician half of the Portuguese Camino. Though the hay fever I suffered from – the first time in years – did knock some of the shine off it for me. The walk starts with a lovely Roman bridge in the centre of Caldas and, until you get close to Padrón, this it keeps you off the tarmac and on rural tracks, taking you through woods a good deal of the time.

 

 

 

The Roman bridge in Caldas

 

 

A competing bridge in Caldas

 

 

A lovely glade, not long after Caldas. A Ponte Raibal, I believe.

 

Appropriately, you briefly cross the N550 at O Cruceiro, where we stopped at a welcome bar for the inevitable shandy and to have whatever we had to hand stamped by the charming lady who runs it. Strangely enough, the stamp bears the name not of Cruceiro but of the nearby village of Santa Maria de Carrecedo.

 

Shortly after O Cruceiro we passed through the said village of SM de C, where Caroline bought a Camino shell for a couple of euros from a wayside seller, twice the price they’d be on sale for in Santiago but with much greater sentimental value. A few metres further on, the pupils in the little school greeted us vociferously through the window and the teacher – who’d taught in the USA – chatted to us about sending photos to him for display on the school’s web page. One wonders how much work gets done in the pilgrim season.

 

The big negative of the morning was losing Adie not just once but twice to long calls from an worried but irritating client. But, by exerting herself in the name of solidarity, she managed to catch up with us - the first time at O Cruceiro and the second time at O Pino. Where I’d taken the opportunity of a break to dry my sweat-soaked shirt on a large rock. Almost causing at least one of a group of cycling pilgrims to fall off at the sight of my shimmering white torso.

 

 

Apart from my bare torso, the most exciting sight at O Pino.

 

And one of the big positives was coming across a strangely-coloured lizard which declined to move off the path, however much attention we paid to it.

 

 

As we emerged from the woods just south of San Miguel de Valga, we were met by a reception committee of firemen and village ‘officials’, who were keen to know what nationality we were. Quite why, we could only guess. Though there did seem to be a medical element to their concern. Perhaps they’d been there for the soldiers we didn’t actually see until later in the morning.

 

In the village itself, we stopped at its shop-cum-bar for our second shandy of the morning, to be joined by a Fancy Pants and her three colleagues.

 

Shortly after the village, David and I took a brief detour to take a photo of a large shield (escudo) which at one time must surely have crowned something better than today’s incongruous corrugated metal door.

 

 

As we crossed the ancient bridge at Pontecesuras, just south of Padrón, we were thrown into confusion by the statement in the Brierley guide that we could avoid the traffic-ridden N550 by taking a tree-lined path along the river Sar. In fact, this is the way – west of the highway – that the signs take you. But we – or, rather I – had decided we were being advised to detour from the official Camino. Seeing some soldiers taking a path to the east of the N550, I asked them about alternative routes. But they knew even less than I did and suggested we just follow the way-markers, as they were only deviating from the Camino to get to their campsite in a nearby field. So we did, arriving shortly after in Padrón’s arboreally pretty - but rather fishy-smelling - market square.

 

 

As David kindly put it, “Colin entertaining the troops”. Who don’t appear to be laughing.

 

With just a little bit of difficulty, we then located the restaurant cited in Brierley’s guide – O Pementeiro where we enjoyed a very good menu del día – plus extra wine, of course – before doing the two kilometres along the N550 to our hotel. This involved the challenge of crossing the railway line just north of the city. Which we just about managed before an oncoming train hit us. In compensation, we then moved along a short stretch of the original highway, where there are some lovely old granite villas, enjoying far more tranquillity than once must have been the case.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A surprisingly bloodless stretch of the railway, just north of Padrón

 

Our hotel was the large and modern Hotel Scala, right on the N550. On arrival, we found Fancy pants and her colleagues checking in. A little more disturbingly, the hotel seemed to be overflowing with gun-toting policemen, attending a national gathering of some sort. And who were a little more threatening than the numerous cyclists there to participate in a race being organised and run from the large car-park in front of the hotel.

 

The Scala is blessed with a large pool, though it’s rather exposed both to the wind that blows across the adjacent fields and to the traffic noise from a road from Noia which joins the N550 at the roundabout at which the hotel sits.

 

With no alternative in sight, we decided to take the easy option of dining in the hotel. This proved a reasonable decision as far as the food went but the house white wine was easily the least enjoyable we’d experienced. So, having polished this off, we were compelled to order something better. A good part of dinner was spent trying to guess which of the couples arriving after us was the one in the room adjacent to mine who’d disturbed my afternoon bath by making love rather loudly. If thankfully briefly.

 

 

Contemplating whether the wine would have tasted even more like urine if it’d been in one the furancho white bowls.

 

And so to bed. Perhaps to reminisce about our respective honeymoons. And perhaps not, I was later assured.

 

DAY 6. FRIDAY, 4 JUNE: PADRÓN-BERTAMIRÁNS

 

We never did get confirmation of our choice as to who my amorous neighbours might be, as the couple had hung a Do not disturb sign on their door the next morning and never emerged for breakfast for identification purposes. The breakfast, incidentally, was a buffet affair that set us up nicely for the day.

 

The official length of this leg is 22km and most pilgrims do it in one day, ending up with a less-than-pretty hike through the outskirts of Santiago and a final push along the busy N550 from Pontevedra and Vigo to the south.

 

We, however, were deviating from the main Camino after an hour or so, to have lunch with my Dutch friend, Peter, in Os Anxeles and to spend the night in the nearby town of Bertamiráns. So, our Friday leg would be around 13km and our Saturday leg around 11km.

 

There were several pluses to this plan – and one or two minuses – and one of the former was that we would enter Santiago on Saturday morning via a much more attractive route than would otherwise have been the case.

 

As Susan felt that recurrent knee problems might slow her down, she and David set off ten or fifteen minutes earlier than the rest of us, in the expectation that we’d catch them up before they reached a café at Picaraña. But this was not to be.

 

As one book puts it, the first few kilometres of this stretch pass through peaceful and picturesque hamlets, prior to arrival at the oddly-named village of Esclavitud (‘Slavery’), which hosts the brothel cited by Giles Trimlett in his book “The Ghosts of Spain”. The path then moves up into the hills and the forest a little, before passing the ubiquitous AVE works and then coming down through the lovely hamlets of Angueira de Suso and Areal and hitting the N550 again at Picaraña.

 

 

Agueira de Suso?

 

 

Areal?

 

Just before arriving here we were delighted to bump into Jill and Justine again, taking photos of sheep in a pen to the side of the  road.   

 

 

The (rather clean) sheep which so fascinated Justine and Jill. And Adrienne, Caroline and Phyllida.

 

Together, we walked on to the Casa Alonso café on the N550 at Picaraña, where we caught up with not only David and Susan but also The Asian woman, The man with the GPS and, to our great surprise, The ladies who lunch. The latter told me they’d stayed in a marvellous place near Padrón. Even better, they claimed, than the Pazo de Torres de Agrelo we’d enjoyed so much in Redondela. They then set off walking towards Santiago, thus knocking a huge hole in each of our theories as to how they were doing the Camino. Unless, of course, they were heading for a car parked up the road.

 

Refreshments taken and scraps of paper stamped, we said our sad farewells to Jill and Justine, pointed them up an awful stretch along the N550 in the direction of Faramello and then set off on our detour along the AC300 in the direction of Estrar, Os Anxeles and Bertamiráns.

 

Not long after we’d passed the village of Sixto we came upon a bar in Chave de Ponte where additional refreshments could have been taken but this was rejected as premature and so we walked on to the next bar, in San Julian de Bastavales, a couple of kilometres further along the road. Here we partook of the customary shandies, noting they were twice the price of those we’d had at San Miguel de Valga. Perhaps because of the tapas of bread and jamón we were given with the drinks.

 

Just under a kilometre later, we had the chance to take a detour west to see the large church in San Salvador de Bastavales we could see across the fields in the distance. This opportunity was, however, universally spurned by we pseudo-pilgrims and David contented himself with snapping a little church at the end of an avenue on the other side of the road.

 

 

The alternative to the (rather larger) church of San Salvador de Bastavales.

 

On several occasions along this stretch there was no verge or pavement of any sort on which to walk and we were forced onto the tarmac. So it was impressive – and reassuring – to see how wide a birth the (admittedly relatively light) traffic was giving us as it passed. Especially to the person selflessly spearheading the group – viz. me.

 

The other notable feature of this stage was the absence of people telling us we were, literally, off track. This was (not) to happen again on Saturday morning and left us wondering whether we were, in fact, exceptional in taking this detour. It certainly contrasted with the treatment Jane and I had experienced in walking the Camino the “wrong way” from Pontevedra to Redondela the previous week, when numerous kind Gallegos had tried to put us right and when we'd had to resort to the line that we were heading for the shrine of Fatima in southern Portugal.

 

In due course, we arrived at the hamlet of Estrar and met up with my Dutch friend, Peter, who’s a fellow member of the George Borrow Society and had been even before he and his Valencian wife, Palmyra, bought a house not far from a church visited by the illustrious “Jorgito” in the village of Os Anxeles in 1837. Peter insists this is a coincidence but I remain unconvinced. Os Anxeles, by the way, is Gallego for Los Angeles. Peter, though, is the only luminary to live in the Galician version.

 

As it happened, we met Peter walking his rather large dog, Argos, on the main road and, while he and I took this canine home, the rest of the group went on ahead to a restaurant (O Adro) which is a regular meeting place of ours. There they ordered and were disappointed by the house white wine. So a fresh order was placed by those of us with local knowledge about these things (the two at the back of this photo) and harmony was restored.

 

 

 

Peter propping up the bar. Plus some of us.

 

The lunch was one of the more memorable of our week. Partly because of Peter’s scintillating presence and partly because we declined the menu del día options of tripe or merluza a la gallega (hake covered in sweet paprika sauce and accompanied by a kilo of boiled potatoes). Instead, we went for a selection of the restaurant’s specialities, including grilled ribs and a tremendous spinach omelette. Plus some decent Rioja wine, in place of the perfectly drinkable – but less expensive - Mencia red we’d been drinking all week. Peter and I, after all, had standards (and a reputation) to maintain in this place.

 

 

 

Lunch in O Adro. Before Christopher got down to the lettuce.

 

But the highlight of the lunch was Phyllida’s reaction to the sight of her husband, Christopher, eating lettuce leaves. So unusual – even unprecedented - was this that Phyllida collapsed in tears of laughter. Or, more accurately, almost spontaneously combusted. Perhaps this was because of the look of studied consternation on Christopher’s face.

 

 

Christopher attempting to digest lettuce for the first time in his life. Phyllida is off-screen, prostrate.

 

Lunch over, Peter directed us to a short-cut to our nearby hotel and off we went to check in at this modern, rather characterless pile on the fringes of Bertamiráns. The best thing to say about the Balneario Compostela is that it’s close to hot springs visited by George Borrow in 1837. Essentially, it’s a thermal hotel of a standard which is out of keeping with the attractions of Bertamiráns – which are few – and it possibly doesn’t make much of a profit. It does have a swimming pool but this is part of its thermal facilities and is expensive to use. Especially on top of a room price which seems less than justified by the location. A perfect place, perhaps, for the smooth-talking chap at the bar with his rather sexy, younger companion, if not for us. But at least I wasn’t disturbed in my bath by the sound of people making love next door. All in all, it would have been so much better if we’d been able to stay in our first choice hotel, the Hotel Casa de Rosalia just along from the O Adro restaurant in Os Anxeles. But all rooms there had been commandeered by people attending some art festival over the weekend in nearby Brión. Next time perhaps.

 

As ever, we relaxed in the afternoon according to our personal preferences. Adie, understandably unwilling to pay the 27 euros for the use of the pool, decided to sunbathe on the lawn behind the hotel, only to have a harpy descend on her from the nearby flats to tell her in no uncertain terms that this was not allowed.

 

Unfortunately, domestic duties prevented Peter from joining us for dinner, which we enjoyed in the garden of a bodega (O Caballeiro) he’d recommended to us. The outstanding memories of this are a very pleasant waitress and a mushroom-laced dish of at least twenty scrambled eggs which defied all attempts to finish it off. Mention should also be made of a particularly good ensaladilla. This is a ubiquitous starter throughout Galicia - and quite possibly Spain. At its most basic, it's a 'Russian Salad' of diced potatoes and carrots or peas in mayonnaise. But it can be rather more interesting than this, with tuna, boiled eggs and asparagus. Apart from a simple salad of lettuce leaves, onions and tomato slices, it may be the only thing ravenous vegetarians can attack at the end of a long walk.

 

 

 

Dinner in Bertamiráns. Awaiting the arrival of Galicia’s largest plate of scrambled eggs. And other diners.

 

And so to bed. To sweat in rooms that were too warm in the first place and got hotter whatever you did to the control panel on the wall.

 

DAY 7, SATURDAY, 5 JUNE: BERTAMIRÁNS - SANTIAGO

 

Checking out after a less-than-perfect night of sleep, I asked the receptionist how I might successfully have adjusted the temperature in my room. “By the control panel on the wall”, he replied. “But there are no instructions”, I said. “And everything I did seemed to increase the temperature”. “Oh”, he mumbled. And that was that. Another reason to be glad this stay was a one-off. Though they did bill us rather less than the amount they’d quoted to me several months earlier. Which we didn’t complain about. Or even mention.

 

Anyway, we set off at 8 on this final 11km stretch, in order to arrive in Santiago well in time to check into our hotel, to dump all our bags and then get to the inevitable queue for the Pilgrim’s Mass at noon in the cathedral.

 

Within ten minutes, we were taking coffee in a café on the main street, where the décolletage and bare midriff of the young woman behind the bar were rather a lot to cope with that early of a morning. Especially as I had to ask her three times for a bottle of juice from the bottom shelf. Before she got it right.

 

Suitably refreshed, we set off along the “old road to Noia” (the AC543) in the direction of its starting point in Santiago. This is essentially a long, slow climb but, after it leaves Bertamiráns and passes the inevitable brothel on the edge of town, it’s quite pretty. And, on Saturday mornings at least, relatively free of traffic. Particularly pleasing to the eye were the several fine houses and gardens along what was once a more important highway than it is now, after the construction of the Santiago-Noia autovia. And we never lacked a pavement on which to walk. Or so I had thought before David sent me this photo . . .

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shortly after we left the café. We noticed this sign at the side of the road

 

 

It’s anyone’s guess what it means but we felt it indicated where you could empty your chemical toilet. Hopefully not into the river.

 

After 8km, we detoured to visit the Quinta da Auga for our second coffee of the morning. This is an ex paper mill on the banks of the river Sar, constructed of granite and converted into a magnificently appointed spa hotel and conference centre. More relevantly, it’s managed by a friend of mine from Pontevedra and I wanted my companions to see and briefly enjoy its impressive facilities. Which can be viewed here - http://www.aquintadaauga.com/en

 

That done, we set off again for the final 3km into Santiago. If we’d wanted to re-join the Camino proper, we could have done this just south-east of the large new hospital on the southern outskirts of Santiago. But I knew this was essentially a long, steep slog through dull suburbs and then finally along the packed pavements of the N550 from Vigo and Pontevedra. So I’d unilaterally decided we’d avoid not only this but also the last stretch of the AC543, up the long hill to the west of the hospital before this, too, joins the N550. Happily, this turned out to be a good decision, confirmed by J&J’s later comment that they’d found the true Camino both unattractive and exhausting.

 

Opposite the hospital, we crossed a small bridge and walked up through lanes and quiet, leafy roads to the west of the university campus, passing the monastery of San Lourenzo de Trasouto on our left and catching our first glimpse of the cathedral spires from the short Travesia de San Loure shortly afterwards.

 

We then walked up Avenida das Burgas before climbing the steps at the southern end of the Alameda, passing the small temple at the top and then making the brief walk down to our hotel, conveniently located at the side of the Alameda in the Paseo de Herradura. Here we left our bags and departed as swiftly as we could for the Pilgrims’ Mass, giving my colleagues their first sight and experience of Santiago’s old quarter as we did so. As expected, there were longish queues at the only cathedral entrance open for the Mass and things were not helped by the lax Spanish attitude to the traditional approach of various Latin folk keen to get in without waiting. But at least I’d discovered previously that we couldn’t go in with any sort of bag on our backs. So we were not among those sent away to deposit things at a nearby facility and to rejoin the queue at the back. And we made it into the (crowded) church with a few minutes to spare.

 

 

The noon-time Pilgrims’ Mass in Santiago cathedral

 

Sadly, the crowning glory of the cathedral – the Portico de Gloria – is being restored and so is under wraps and fenced off, making it impossible to get even a glimpse of it. Though you can do a virtual tour of it here - http://www.catedraldesantiago.es/visita/visitavirtualcatedralING.htm?pcated

 

 Similarly disappointing was the inability to follow the tradition of placing one’s hand in the spot near the entrance where the granite has been worn deeply concave by the hands of a thousand years of pilgrims doing this before you. But the sight and experience of the famous botofumeiro was at least some compensation for this. And the Mass was something that even the non-Catholics amongst us were pleased to have attended. Likewise, they were happy to have the experience of going up behind the preposterously ornate Baroque altar and down below it to where the bones of St James are said to lie in a silver casket. Though not by Richard Ford and George Borrow (See Appendices 5 and 6).

 

 

The pilgrims in their post-Mass euphoria

 

Lunch of another fine menu del día was then taken at a favourite place of mine, far enough from the tourist epicentre to offer good Galician fare at reasonable prices. As ever, though, this was augmented by an additional bottle or two of fine Galician wine.

 

 

More white drinking bowls. And Caroline with her map of Galicia.

 

We then repaired to our hotel to check in and relax before returning to the old quarter to sight-see, to enjoy the Medieval Fair fortuitously taking place in the city that weekend, to take a peek at the interior of the Reyes Católicos hotel, and, in the case of Susan and Caroline, to slip in a bit of (assisted) shopping.

 

 

The entrance to the very up market Hotel of Los Reyes Católicos. Which you can usually enter unless you look like a compete tramp.

 

While the others were at Mass, I had the luck to bump into - and snap - not just The Asian woman and her partner The man with the GPS but also The German guy. The latter clearly delighted to have made it to Santiago.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

During our walk, David had established that The man with the GPS actually was German. But we never got to know the true nationality of The German guy. One doesn’t really like to ask. Especially if he’s lying on his back with a look of ecstasy on his face.

 

The highlight of the day for me came when I went into the Tourist Centre to ask if they had a large map of Galicia for Caroline, to be told by the obviously delighted young lady behind the counter that I was the first foreigner she’d ever heard speaking Spanish in a Gallego accent. She was even more thrilled when I used my (little) knowledge of Gallego to tell her I was equally pleased to know this.

 

Also worthy of mention is the altercation I witnessed between a couple of angry Spaniards and two men posing “sacrilegiously” as Jesus Christ and Saint James on boxes outside the Cathedral in the Plaza do Obradoiro. Followed by another argument between the outraged couple and a group of fellow Spaniards with a rather more laissez-faire attitude to this form of begging. I say “witnessed” but “enjoyed” would be more accurate. A nice Spanish vignette.

 

 

 

Jesus and St James in divine tranquillity. With a woman, possibly from Sevilla, checking her make up.

 

 

Jesus and St James masked by a group of Spaniards arguing about how insulting to God their presence is.

 

My own afternoon included a trip to the north eastern corner of Santiago’s old quarter, to take a look at the church and adjacent (ex) hospital of San Roque. These figure hugely in a book which Peter is about to publish and which has been inspired by one of the most colourful characters in Borrow’s book The Bible in Spain. One Benedict Mol. Who’s the eponymous (anti)hero of said book – The Treasure Hunter of Santiago. See here for more info (one day soon) on this web page. http://homepage.mac.com/ronaldlamars/georgeborrowpublic/

 

And we all made a trip to the Museum of the Galician People, only to find it closed.

 

Dinner was taken in an out-of-the way vegetarian place which I knew of and which was far more enjoyable than I would ever have managed such a place could be. And this was not, I stress, a judgment clouded by wine.

 

And so to bed, in the excellent Hotel Herradura, where the quality of facilities and the attentiveness of the staff were exceptional for a three-star place.

 

DAY 8. SUNDAY, 7 JUNE: SANTIAGO & PONTEVEDRA

 

This day was not really a part of our walk but it certainly formed part of our Camino experience as we’d decided not to return to Pontevedra until late morning, so as to give ourselves more time to enjoy the city.

 

Having agreed to meet and check out at 11.45, we all did our own thing for the morning, with most (if not all of us) rising early to cram in as much as possible before getting a midday train.

 

There’d been a little rain overnight, leaving the granite streets and buildings glistening under the morning sun. And rendering the deserted old quarter delightfully atmospheric. Like a scene from The Third Man, in fact. I could almost hear haunting zither music and half-expected Orson Welles to step out from one of the many doorsteps. Or at least to bump into an ancient balloon-seller.

 

 

Early Sunday morning in atmospheric Santiago.

 

 

Ditto, only a bit later. And by a better photographer than me (David).

 

My daughter, Hannah, and her two friends had caught a (very) early train from Pontevedra and we spent a pleasant hour in a silent and virtually empty old quarter, before they took a taxi to the airport for their flight home. We tried to get a drink in the only place open in Rúa Franco but gave up and left, after the waiter had repeatedly ignored us and served several people who’d come in after us. Fortunately, there was another bar a little further up the street, where we enjoyed not only a welcome coffee but also this sign on the toilet door:-

 

The services it’s privates, to disposition of the clients

 

In the less-populated-than-usual Plaza de Obradoiro, a fraternity of pilgrims on horseback were strutting their stuff on their steeds and offering photo opportunities to the few folk in the square. Particularly the young ladies, I couldn’t help noticing. There was no sign of either a static Jesus or St. James. Nor of their critics or admirers.

 

 

 

Riders looking for young ladies to impress with the size of their mounts.

 

The train back to Pontevedra took us, at times, parallel to our walk and it was impossible to resist the urge to search for features and buildings nostalgically familiar to us. Needless to say, it was also impossible not to reflect on just how long it had taken us to walk the route now being done in less than an hour by the train.

 

After just a little bit of difficulty getting a taxi to take the second lot of us from Pontevedra station – in the end the same one who’d taken the first lot – we got to my parked car and were pleased to find it dirtier than ever but still working.

 

Lunch of varied tapas dishes was taken at Os Carballos down in Vegetables Square, next to the regular Sunday flea market. David and Susan rather liked a small oil painting on sale there but the stall-holder held out for 60 euros, against the 20 they were prepared to pay. So they left it for me to discuss on a later occasion and, if all went well, to bring it back to the with me on my next trip. (Suffice to say, after an initial spat the following Sunday, the seller accepted 20 euros a week later.)

 

The afternoon was spent relaxing down by the pool in the gardens of my community. And in the evening we all took a stroll to the collection of exhibition of petrogliphs near my house recently set up by our local council.

 

One of the numerous petrogliphs on this large and impressive – but information-free – site near my house.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And another.

 

My favourite tapas bars are all closed of a Sunday night in Pontevedra, including the one with the divine cheese flan we’d had on Tuesday night – El Bocaito. But La Alquería Mudejar bodega was a reasonable fallback for our final dinner together and we all enjoyed their speciality of potatoes, eggs, prawns and cream (Patatas Mimosa). And their excellent house Mencia wine. Not to mention their newly-available facsimile of the flan de queso of El Bocaito. Which just happens to be only five metres away. Their crema de orujo was also quite acceptable.

 

The Last Supper, as David called it. He’s the one at the far end who’s rarely featured in earlier photos. For obvious reasons.

 

And so to bed. Very content but not necessarily religiously or even spiritually inspired by our unforgettable ten days together. And rather sad it was all over.

 

Colin Davies                                                                                                                                                                             Pontevedra, Galicia  9.7.10

 

 

  

FOR THE REALLY SERIOUS - THE APPENDICES

 

 

1 The Pilgrims

 

2. My guide to Tui

 

3. Extract from the brochure for Tui cathedral

 

4. The battle of Ponte Sampaio 1809

 

5. Richard Ford on Santiago, its buildings and the St James Legend.

 

6. George Borrow on Santiago Cathedral and worship there

 

7. Extracts from Annette Meakin's 1907 book on Galicia

 

8. Practical tips for the Camino

 

9. Relevant Associations

 

10. Relevant web pages

 

11. Relevant blogs

 

12. Guides

 

13. Maps

 

14. The weather

 

15. Galician wines

 

16. Advice for those arranging a group pilgrimage ("PG Tips")

 

So . . .

 

APPENDIX 1: THE PILGRIMS

 

Jane Boynton (First 3 days only)                      Leamington Spa

David and Susan Brown                                  Bromborough

Christopher and Phyllida Cornfield                   London

Colin Davies                                                   Pontevedra

Caroline Kallipetis                                           London

Adrienne Tallents                                            London

 

APPENDIX 2: MY GUIDE TO TUI

 

Please note this is a personal guide, written a few years ago. Accuracy is not guaranteed . . .

 

This the only city in the region but, in truth, it's no more than a large town. With only 16,000 inhabitants, it's the smallest city in the Pontevedra province. It stands on a hillside, 55m above sea level. Probably because of its position as the first town on the Spanish side of the river, Tui was an important Roman settlement, then the court of Swavian and Visigoth kings and, later, an Episcopal see. And 200 years ago it was the capital of the Pontevedra province. But its days of splendour and strategic importance are long gone and it now ranks, at best, only a few lines in most guide books. This is unfair but some of us would regard it as a blessing as it receives far fewer summer visitors than other cities in Galicia, partially compensated by Portuguese day trippers.

 

According to one of the myths with which Galicia abounds, Tui [like Pontevedra] has Greek origins. Pliny tells us there was a colony there and that the name of the city [Tyde] is associated with Tideus of Etolia, whose son Diomedes founded Tui. Yes, well. Maybe.

 

Here's what the Rough Guide says about it:-

 

Tui is the main Galician frontier town on the Miño, staring across to the neat ramparts of Portuguese Valença do Minho. The old town stands back from the river, tiered amid trees and stretches of ancient walls above the fertile riverbank. Sloping lanes, paved with huge slabs of granite, climb to the imposing fortress-like Cathedral dedicated to San Telmo, patron saint of fishermen; its military aspect is a distinctive mark of Tui, scene of sporadic skirmishes with the Portuguese throughout the Middle Ages. There are other churches of interest, too, such as the Romanesque San Telmo, or Gothic Santo Domingo with its ivy-shrouded cloisters. More memorable, though, is the lovely rambling quality of the place, coupled with a pair of enticing little river beaches.

 

For more history of Tui than you might want, see Appendix A

 

Its sights include the following, for which there is greater detail in Appendix B:-

 

The Old Quarter: This is pretty, though, compared with Santiago and Pontevedra, quite small. And it is built on a steeper incline. But, as it says here, The old walled quarter of the city provides an exceptional example of a medieval town. There are several outstanding buildings emblazoned with family crests or adorned with the canopial arches characteristic of the 15th and 16th centuries. Walk down streets like Canicouba, Entrefornos, Corpo Santo or through the tunnels of Las Encerrada or La Misericordia and you'll see the Galician granite which evokes the history of times past.

 

Tui was always an important stage on the road to Santiago. It provided a Hospital for the pilgrims, now part of the Diocesan Museum, where they could stay 3 nights. Here you will find a collection of sacred artefacts, as well as archaeological remains from the medieval city. The chapel  dedicated to the Virgin of Pilgrimage and the bridge in Ribadelouro known as the Bridge of Fevers [where the city's patron San Telmo became fatally ill] are testaments to Tui's place on the pilgrimage route. Nowadays, there is a hostel for pilgrims beside the cathedral.

 

The Romanesque-Gothic cathedral fortress. Rebuilt in the 18th century. Its Gothic facade is considered the most perfect of its style in Galicia. Has a lovely 13th century Gothic cloister that was modified in the 15th century; it features artistic capitals of Romanesque influence.

 

The church of San Bartolomé, 12th century but with an 18th century neo-classical facade, the city's first cathedral

 

The church of Santo Domingo, Gothic with Baroque additions

 

The church of San Pedro Telmo, Baroque but showing Portuguese influence, devoted to the patron saint of Tui and built, they say, on the sight of his house

 

The church of San Francisco. Neoclassical.

 

The Church of the Misericordia

 

Santo Domingo park - lovely views of the river Miño and the cathedral

 

The Ancient Walls [Murallas]

 

The Convento de Clarisas

 

Monte Aloi Natural Park: This is off the Gondomar road, just a kilometre or so out of town. It is a magnificent area of 746 hectares which features a walled precinct from the Celtic-Romano era and a small chapel dedicated to San Xian [San Juan]. This was built in 1713, on top of a Romanesque church. Another feature of the park is the Casa Forestal. This building of strange design now serves as the Centro de Interpretación de Naturaleza. The park has a wide range of high-value flora [ including native caducifolios and exotic trees] and fauna typical of the mountains of the interior – foxes, rabbits, partridge, buzzards, kestrels, etc. It also has scenery of great beauty and, above all, several lookout points providing spectacular views not only of the valley of the Miño but also of Bayona, Vigo and the Atlantic Islands The peak of the mountain is presided over by a large stone cross. Just below the chapel is a cafe and restaurant run by a friendly family and offering grilled fish and meats done on a fire set in the nearby rocks. Very worth a visit.

 

The city's main tourist office is out on the road to Portugal. In addition, there used to be a kiosk you can still see in the Paseo de Calvo Sotelo in the little square in front of the police station. Now there is desk in the lobby of the police station itself.

 

Eating and Drinking in Tui

 

O Nuevo Cabalo Furado on Praza de Generalísimo, next to the cathedral and opposite the town hall. Expensive but excellent.

 

Jacquevi: Next door. Same comments.

 

O Vello Cabalo Furado, in Rua Seixas, down and round the corner. Equally good as its newer sister but cheaper.

 

La Cerilla, down in the Troncoso Gardens, behind this horses' statue in the main road from

Pontevedra [Paseo de Calvo Sotelo] Now called something else, I relieve.

 

Pizza. 1. Happy Pizza. 2. Pizzeria di Marco, in Rua Seixas

 

Cafe Central: in c/. Monjas, on the way to the Convento Monjas de Clausura. Pleasant, old-fashioned place.

 

Tapas bars in the old quarter

 

RELEVANT WEB SITES

 

 

Tui - www.concellotui.org   [Maybe]

 

 

EVENTS/FESTIVALS    

 

27 January: Romaría de San Juan en Monte Aloia

 

Holy Week processions

 

Easter Sunday: Festa do Angula [Meixón] do Sábalo[Fiesta of the Eels], and of Lamprey, trout, amongst others

 

First Sunday after Easter: Feast of San Telmo. Gigantes and cabuzedos

 

July: Procession in honour of the Virgin Mary of Las Angustias

 

7 September: Romaría of the Virgin of Las Angustias en Monte Aloia

 

8 September: Feast of Santa María de Aguía en Randufe

 

29 September: Feast of San Miguel en Pazos de Rei

 

MUSEUMS

 

Diocesan museum, opposite the cathedral

 

 

Appendix A: TUI'S HISTORY

 

The fertile valley of the Miño and its magnificent environment have permitted human settlements since time immemorial. The bronze helmet of Caldelas [today in the Diocesan Museum] is the best testament to these.

 

The castro culture [8th century BC to 1st century AD] is represented in the peak of Mount Aloia, by the Cabeza de Francos [in Pazos de Reis], by A Guía [ìn Randufe] or in the very location of today's Tui.

 

The arrival in 137BC of Decimus Junius Brutus and his troops marked the beginning of the Romanisation of this region. Classical sources [Pliny, Ptolemy, Silo Italico, etc.] document the existence of Castellum Tyde and the mythical founding of the city by the Greek hero, Diomedes. Numerous traces of the Roman period have been unearthed, especially in the Santa Eufemia-San Bartolomé area, as well as in Tui itself.

 

Towards the end of the imperial era, Tui continued to be an important military, administrative and religious centre, whose Episcopal See is documented from the 5th century. With the arrival of the Swabians in the 4th century Tui, as Rekiamundo, became both the capital of the kingdom and a mint for the local currency.

 

The Visigoth king, Witiza, sited his court and palace in Tui, in Monterreal [Pazos de Reis].

Tui then endured both Arab raids and Norman attacks until, in 1071, the Galician king, D. García, and Doña Urraca restored it as their court. Almost a century later, Ferdinand II moved the city to its

current location and constructed its walls.

 

In the Middle Ages, Tui was an important centre of commerce. It was a thriving river port, blessed with two distinct gifts, a Jewish community with its 2 synagogues and its position as a port of call for pilgrims on the road to Santiago. In today's old quarter - which covers about 10 hectares - there are numerous buildings from this era, especially from the 15th century with characteristic canopial arches. There are also many more modern buildings emblazoned with family crests.

 

1640. coinciding with the war with Portugal, the walls were extended and modified to take account of new defensive systems.

 

Until 1833, Tui was one of the six capitals of the Kingdom of Galicia and the Juntas of the Kingdome met there in 1664.

 

In the early 19th century, Tui was the scene of battles against the invading French forces.

 

The city has maintained its cultural heritage and its prime position as a meeting point with its

 

Portuguese neighbours, especially since the building of the first bridge across the Miño in 1886.

 

Appendix B: TUI'S MONUMENTS

 

The Cathedral of Santa Maria

 

This is the best example of the city's architectural richness. Construction began in the 12th century and consecration was by Archbishop Esteban Egea in 1225. Its floor, northern entrance and the magnificent iconography of its capitals are in the Romanesque style, whereas its Gothic features are its main facade [the first work in this style in the Iberian Peninsula] and its typanum. The lower part of the latter depicts the birth of Christ, whilst the upper part portrays the Adoration of the Magi, complemented by a vision of a celestial Jerusalem.

 

Outstanding internal features include the retablo of The Expectation and the reliquary altar of the Chapel of Relics, both dating from the 18th century. In the large chapel is the the choir, constructed in 1699 by Castro Canseco. In the old chapel of Santa Catalina you will find the museum of the cathedral's treasures, amongst which stand out a 15th century coconut chalice, a carving of the Virgin [known as La Patrona and gifted in the 14th century] and a fragment of the original Great Retablo in limestone of 1520.

 

The cloister - the only original in all Galician cathedrals - is a superb Gothic masterpiece. It gives marvellous vies of the countryside from the tower of Soutomaior and the early Romanesque Sala Capitular of the 12th century

 

The Church of San Francisco

 

This originally formed part of the the Franciscan convent of San Antonio. Built between 1682 and 1728, it has an outstanding baroque retablo from the first half of the 18th century

 

The Church of San Bartolomé de Rebordáns

 

Built over Roman and Swavian remains, this church dates from the 11th century and was built as a basilica, highlighting its historical capitals of rude primitivism. In the main chapel are preserved some magnificent 16th century murals. Its old monastery was the Episcopal seat in the early Middle Ages.

 

The Convent of Santo Domingo

 

The convent's church, built in the Gothic style characteristic of the Dominican order, is blessed with two magnificent baroque retablos. The larger one is the work of Antonio de Villar, of nearby Redondela, and dates from the 18th century and is outstandingly magnificent. The crucifix on the retablo of the Virgen del Rosario features a curious representation of the battle of Lepanto on its upper half. This church and convent - of which little remain - was the burial place of the local nobility from Tui, Soutomaior, Correas, Ozores, etc.

 

The Chapel of San Telmo

 

The only example of Portuguese Baroque in Galicia, built over the remains of the house where this Dominican saint died in the 13th century. The chapel was begun in 1769 but not completed until 1803. Outstanding features are its circular floor, its .......... cupola and its frescoes dating from the early 19th century.

 

The Convento de Clarisas

 

This was built between the 17th and 18th centuries on the remains of the old Episcopal palaces of Oliveira. The church, in the classical style, is integrated with the convent buildings, which are outstanding in their size and solidity.

 

The Ancient Walls

 

The city retains parts of the two walls built for its defence. One is from the medieval period and was built in the 12th and 13th centuries. It forms a large, irregular trapezium, featuring several defensive towers. Of its original entrances, we still have the Porta da Pia, where you can still see its gate, the base of the tower and various pieces of the wall. During the wars with Portugal of the 17th and 18th centuries, a larger defensive wall was built and the main remains of this can be seen near the Paseo Fluvial, down by the river.

 

 

 APPENDIX 3: EXTRACT OF THE TUI CATHEDRAL BROCHURE

 

 

 

APPENDIX 4: THE BATTLE OF PONTE SAMPAIO 1809

 

Extracted from Peter Missler’s forthcoming book “The Treasure Hunter of Santiago”.

 

In the first days of June, Ney’s forces approached Santiago. The Spanish commanders understood that they could not hold the unfortified city with their peasant army against a large number of the veteran French soldiers under one of Napoleon’s best marshals. Wisely, they decided to evacuate, and dig in at a stronger position further south. On June 2nd they withdrew. Next day, Ney’s advance guard marched in. Hurt in their ‘invincible’ pride, vengeful and furious, the French soldiers behaved barbarously on return. Santiago had shown itself a hostile city, and it was now to pay for the offence. All churches, chapels, convents and monasteries were indiscriminately sacked. At the monastery of Saint Augustine – the only one of which a report has survived - the soldiers accused the monks of having taken pot-shots at them from the windows during their retreat in May – something which is not wholly unthinkable given the patriotic hatred of the times and the robust nature of Galician friars. In retaliation, they mistreated the monks, destroyed the furniture, broke up the altars, the statues, the glass windows and everything else sufficiently fragile, burned the library, robbed the remaining jewellery from chapels and treasuries, and even stripped the gold leaf off the woodwork of the altarpiece. It seems similar scenes took place at the other great temples and monastic institutions. What little church plate the French had allowed to remain in the churches for the saying of mass – and such pieces which the clerics had managed to hide! - were now taken by brute force and indiscriminately carried off.

           

Then, on June 6th, Ney marched his men southwards. The Miño Division was waiting for him at the bridge of Sampaio, a strategic crossing over one of Galicia’s broad firths between Vigo and Pontevedra. With foresight, the Spanish commander, Don Pablo Morillo, had fortified the spot weeks in advance, and the Alarmas were perfectly dug in. Ney, however, had no choice but charge. If he ever wanted to join up with Soult and keep hold of Galicia for France, he had to break through at this point. On the morning of the 8th, he ordered a kamikaze style assault. Time after time the French columns charged over the bridge. Just as often they were thrown back before they could reach the opposite bank. The position proved simply impregnable and at the end of the day the French had to give up. Reputedly for the first time in his career, ‘Brave Ney’, Napoleon’s most celebrated marshal, had lost a battle. And to add insult to injury: he had been beaten by a bunch of peasants of whom almost a third went unarmed. Wellington had indeed shown great foresight when after the conquest of Oporto, he declined to pursue the French into Galicia with the remark that he would leave Marshal Ney ‘to the war of the peasantry, which has been so successful.’

                       

Then, on June 6th, Ney marched his men southwards. The Miño Division was waiting for him at the bridge of Sampaio, a strategic crossing over one of Galicia’s broad firths between Vigo and Pontevedra. With foresight, the Spanish commander, Don Pablo Morillo, had fortified the spot weeks in advance, and the Alarmas were perfectly dug in. Ney, however, had no choice but charge. If he ever wanted to join up with Soult and keep hold of Galicia for France, he had to break through at this point. On the morning of the 8th, he ordered a kamikaze style assault. Time after time the French columns charged over the bridge. Just as often they were thrown back before they could reach the opposite bank. The position proved simply impregnable and at the end of the day the French had to give up. Reputedly for the first time in his career, ‘Brave Ney’, Napoleon’s most celebrated marshal, had lost a battle. And to add insult to injury: he had been beaten by a bunch of peasants of whom almost a third went unarmed. Wellington had indeed shown great foresight when after the conquest of Oporto, he declined to pursue the French into Galicia with the remark that he would leave Marshal Ney ‘to the war of the peasantry, which has been so successful.’

           

The battle of Sampaio bridge was the straw that broke the camel’s back. On June 11th Ney returned to Santiago disheartened and began to prepare for a definite evacuation. Soult – who had managed to do little more than march fruitlessly to and fro between the Miño and the border at Sanabria – agreed. He wrote a bitter and frustrated letter to King Joseph, explaining his retreat with the observation that ‘this province is in continuous fermentation. The soldiers are either doomed to perish from pure want or from assault by the peasants, who, through a system of incessant pestering and the evasion of all open battle, would succeed in wiping out even the strongest army; and unless that army be constantly replenished anew with fresh men, [these peasants] would

manage to destroy it without any combat.’ The ‘Spanish Ulcer’ was playing up; and it finally began to dawn on the overconfident French marshals that one may perhaps battle a country, but never beat a nation. With less than 20,000 men left to them out of the splendid 70,000 with which they had marched in, the two marshals abandoned Galicia in the final week of June, burning and sacking as they went, and being ambushed in return by the Alarmas. On July 1st not one French soldier remained in the province.

 

 

APPENDIX 5: RICHARD FORD ON SANTIAGO, ITS BUILDINGS AND THE LEGEND OF ST. JAMES, 1855

  

SANTIAGO: the best inns are those of La Viscaina, a respectable Basque widow in La Rua Nueva, it is clean and orderly; and La Posada de Martin Moreno en las Cases Reales. The Maragatos put up in the Rua de San Pedro. They go to Valladolid in about 12, and to Madrid in 15 days; and those who, having landed at Vigo, propose a riding tour, may safely trust them with the conveyance of any heavy baggage.

Rey Romero (King Pilgrim), 16, Ce. de la Azabacheria, is a good bookseller for those about to start on Spanish travel.

The town of Santiago is so named after St. James the Elder; it is also called Compostella, Campus Stellæ, because a star pointed out where his body was concealed. Those who wish at once to hurry to sight-seeing may pass on to p. 997, but it is impossible to understand many important portions of Spanish fine art and religious character, without an acquaintance with the history of this St. George of the Peninsula, which has never been fully detailed to English readers.

The Spanish legend of St. James the Elder, or of "Santiago, as," says Southey, "he may more properly be called in his mythological history," when not purely Pagan, is Mahomedan. The Gotho-Spanish clergy adapted these matters from the ancients and the Moslem, just as Mahomet formed his creed from the Old and New Testament, making such alterations as best suited the peculiar character and climate of their people and country; hence the success, and their still existing hold over their followers.

The custom of choosing a tutelar over kingdoms and cities prevailed all over the ancient world, and when by the advice of{986} Gregory the Great the Pagan stock in trade was taken by its successor into the Roman Catholic firm, the names being merely changed, the system of patron-saints was too inveterate to be abandoned. The Spaniards contend, without a shadow of real evidence, that St. Peter, St. Paul, and St. James, came all three to the Peninsula immediately after the crucifixion. Rome, however having monopolized the two former for her tutelars, Spain was obliged to take the latter. The making his burial-place a place of pilgrimage was next borrowed from the East, and was one of the results of Sa. Helena's invention (and a rare one it was) of the cross at Jerusalem in 298. The principle of visiting a sacred spot was too inspiring to be overlooked by Mahomet, when he adapted Christianity to Arabian habits, and pilgrimage became one of the four precepts of his new creed, Mecca being selected in order to favour his native town by this rich influx. The ill-usage of the Christian pilgrims led to the crusades, in which Spaniards took little part; nay, they were forbidden to do so by the Pope, because they had the infidel actually on their own soil. Yet Spaniard and Moor felt the spirit-stirring effect of a particular holy spot, and determined on having a counterpart Jerusalem and Mecca in the Peninsula itself. The Spanish Moors were accordingly absolved by their clergy from the necessity of going to Mecca, which being in possession of the Kalif of the East, was inaccessible to the subjects of his rival in the West; and Cordova being the capital of his new state was chosen by Abdu-r-rahman, who, like Mahomet, wished to enrich his new city; and a visit to the Ceca, where some of the bones of Mahomet were pretended to be preserved, was declared to be in every respect equivalent to a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Thereupon the imitating Spaniards, who could not go to Jerusalem, set up their local substitute; they chose their mountain capital, where they, too, said their prophet was buried: thus the sepulchre at Compostella represented alike those of Jerusalem and Mecca. The Arragonese, whose kingdom was then independent, chose for their Ceca their capital Zaragoza, where they said the Virgin descended from heaven on a visit to Santiago; and the religious duty and saving merits of pilgrimage became as much a parcel of the orthodox Spaniard's creed as it was of the infidels, whom they always fought against with a weapon borrowed from their own armoury. As the Moors had established soldier-monks or Rábitos to guard their frontiers and protect their pilgrims, so the next imitation of the Spaniards was the institution of similar military religious orders, of which that of Santiago became the chief. Founded in 1158 by Fernando II. of Leon, it soon, like that of the Templars, from being poor and humble, became rich, proud, and powerful, insomuch that El Maestre de Santiago, in the early Spanish annals, figures almost as a rival to the monarch. When Granada was conquered their assistance was no longer needed, and Isabella, by bestowing the grand-mastership on Ferdinand, absorbed the dreaded wealth and power of the order into the crown, without having recourse to the perfidy and murders by which Philippe le Bel suppressed the Templars in France.

This was now accomplished without difficulty, for these corporate bodies lacked the security of private properties, which every one is interested in upholding. They were hated by the clergy, because rivals and independent brotherhoods, half priest, half soldier, without being either one or the other, although assuming the most offensive privileges of both. The people also stood aloof, for they saw in the members only proud knights, who scorned to interchange with them the kindly offices of the poor monks; while the statesman, from knowing that the substance was no longer wanted, held the order to be both obsolete and dangerous. All parties, therefore, aided Ferdinand, who was greedy of gold, and Isabella, who was determined to be really a queen, and the order virtually ceased to exist, save as conferring a badge on nobles and courtiers.

But in the mediæval period it was a reality, as then a genuine lively faith existed in both Moor and Spaniard; each grasped the legend of their champion prophet as firmly as they did the sword by which it was to be defended and propagated. Proud towards men, these warriors bowed to the priest, in whom they saw the ministers of their tutelar, and their faith sanctified and ennobled such obedience: both equally fanatical, fought believing that they were backed by their tutelars: this confidence went far to realise victory, possunt quia posse videntur, and especially with the Spaniard, who has always been disposed to depend on others; in the critical moment of need, he folds his arms and clamours for supernatural assistance; thus the Iberians invoked their Netos, and afterwards prayed to the Phœnician Hercules. All this is classical and Oriental: Castor and Pollux fought visibly for the Romans at Regillum (Cic. 'N.D.' ii. 2); Mahomet appeared on the Orontes to overthrow Count Roger, as Santiago, mounted on his war-horse, interfered at Clavijo in 846 to crush the Moslem. There was no mention of Santiago, or his visit to Spain, or his patronage, in the time of the Goths (Sn. Isidoro, 'Or.,' vii. 9), and simply because there being no Moors then to be expelled, he was not wanted.

For this Hagiography consult 'El Teatro de Santiago,' Gil. Gonzalez. Florez (E. S. iii.) has collected all the authentic facts which different infallible Popes from Leo III. have ratified. The best book is 'Historia del Apostol de Jesus Christo, Sanctiago Zebedeo, Patron y Capitan General de las Españas;' Mauro Castellá Ferrer, fol. Mad. 1610, for this is the correct title of the apostle in Spain. The conferring military rank spoke the spirit of the age and people when bishops rode in armour and knights in cowls, and a nation of caballeros never would have respected a footman tutelar. Accordingly Santiago, San Martin, and San Isidoro are always mounted, and represent the Fortuna Equestris of the Romans.

Froissart felt the full rank of this chief of a religious chivalry, and of a church-militant, and, therefore, like Dante, he calls St. James a Baron—Varon, Vir, a gentleman, a man emphatically, in contradiction to Homo, Hombre, or a mere mortal clod of earth. So Don Quixote speaks of him as "Don Diego," the Moor-killer, and one of the most valiant of saints. The Cids and Alonzos of Spain's dark ages at least had the common sense to choose a male tutelar to lead their armies to victory; it was left to the enlightened Cortes of Cadiz in 1810 to nominate Sa. Teresa, the crazy nun of Avila, to be the fit commandress of the Cuestas, Blakes, and suchlike spoilt children of defeat.

According to church-authorised legends, St. James was beheaded at Jerusalem in 42, but his body was taken to Joppa, where a boat appeared "nutu dei," into which the corpse embarked itself, and sailed to Padron, which lies 4 L. below Santiago; it performed the voyage in seven days, which proves the miracle, since the modern Alexandria Steam Company can do nothing like it. It first made for Barcelona, then coasted Spain, and avoiding the delicious S. (probably because polluted by the infidel), selected this damp diocese, where the wise prelate Theodomirus, who planned the self-evident trick, resided. The body rested on a stone at Padron, which hollowed itself out, wax to receive, and marble to retain, although some contend that this stone was the vessel in which it sailed. The corpse was then removed to a cave sacred to Bacchus, and the whole affair was forgotten for nearly 800 years, when, says Florez, "Spain breathed again by the discovery of the body, which occurred after this wise:—Pelagius, a hermit, informed Theodomirus bishop of Iria Flavia, Padron, that he saw heavenly lights always{989} hovering over a certain site. It was examined, and a tomb found which contained a body, but how it was ascertained to be that of the apostle is not stated: that unimportant fact was assumed. Thereupon Alonzo el Casto built a church on the spot, and granted all the rich land round for three miles to the good bishop. In 829 the body was removed for greater security to the stronger town of Santiago, wild bulls coming by "divine inspiration," Toros guiados divinamente, to draw the carriage, as a delicate compliment to the tutelar of the land of Tauromachia. Riches now poured in, especially the corn-rent, said to be granted in 846 by Ramiro, to repay Santiago's services at Clavijo, where he killed single-handed 60,000 Moors to a fraction. This grant was a bushel of corn from every acre in Spain, and was called el Voto and el Morion, the votive offering of the quantity which the Capt.-General's capacious helmet contained. The deed, dated Calahorra 834, convicts itself of forgery (see however Mariana, vii. 13). This roguery in grain recalls that in oil of Hinckmar, who, 360 years after the right date, forged the story of the Sainte Ampoule being brought down by a dove from Heaven for St. Remy in 496 to baptize Clovis at Rheims.

This corn-rent, estimated at 200,000l. a-year, used to be collected by agents, although not much eventually reached Gallicia, for grains of gold and wheat stick like oil to Spanish fingers, and Quien aceite mesura le unta las manos. The jokes in Spain on these and other corn-collectors were many: Quien pide por Dios, pide por dos; anda con alforjas de fraile, predicando por el saco. This tax was abolished in 1835. When corn-rents were given to discoverers of bones, revelations never were wanting if the land was good; hence every district had its high place and palladium, which however tended indirectly to advance civilization, for the convents became asylums in a rude age, since in them the lamp of learning, of the arts and religion, flickered. The duty of visiting Compostella, which, like that of a pilgrimage to Mecca, was absolutely necessary in many cases to take up an inheritance, led to the construction of roads, bridges, and hospitals,—to armed associations, which put down robbers and maintained order: thus the violence of brute force was tempered.

The scholar will see in the whole legend a poverty of invention worthy of this Bœotia of the North. "Lucida Sidera," strange constellations, eclipses, and comets, are the common signs of Pagan mythology, palmed on an age ignorant of astronomy. These star-indicated spots were always consecrated. Compare this Compostella with the Roman Campus Stellatus (Suet. 'Cæs.' 20).{990} The Gallicians, however, of old, were noted for seeing supernatural illuminations, and what was more, for interpreting their import (Sil. Ital. iii. 344). Thus when the gods struck with lightning the sacred hill, gold (not bones) was sought for (Justin, xliv. 3). But ancient avarice was straightforward and unblushing: the results nevertheless were the same, and the invention of the modern priests gave them the philosopher's stone, the magnet wherewith to attract bullion.

As to marvellous transportations by sea in miraculously sent ships, Lucian, de D. Syriis (and Santiago too came from Syria), tells us, that the head of Osiris was carried to Byblus by water θειη ναυτιλιη, and also in seven days; again Herodotus (iv. 152) records that Corobius was transported θειη πομπη by sea, and also to Spain and also through the Straits. Pausanias (vii. 5. 5), particularly names Tyre as the port whence an image (which Faber, 'Cabiri,' i. 109, says was one of Hercules) was carried by a ship conscious of its sacred cargo to Priene, and there became the object of pilgrimage; so, according to the Greeks, Cecrops sailed from Egypt in a boat of papyrus. But it would be mere pedantry to multiply instances extracted from Pagan mythology, and for every one a parallel might be found in papal practice in Spain. See, e.g. El Cristo de Beyrut at Valencia, and El Cristo de Burgos.

That rocks soften on these occasions, all geologists know well. Thus the stone at Delphi, on which the Sibyl Herophile sat down, received the full impression, second only in basso-relievo to that grand stone on which Silenus reposed, and which Pausanias (i. 22. 5) was shown at Trœzene: so among the Moslem, when Mahomet ascended to Heaven, his camel's hoofs were imprinted on the rock (just as those of Castor were at Regillum, Cic. 'N. D.' iii. 5); and his own footmark is shown near Cairo, at Attar é Nebbee, and in the Sahara or sanctum of the Haram at Jerusalem. Such a saxeous metamorphosis was an old story even in skeptical Ovid's times (Met. i. 400).

"Saxa, qui hos credat? nisi sit pro teste vetustas,
Ponere duritiem cœpere, suumque rigorem
Mollirique morâ."

Some antiquarians, with sad want of faith, have pronounced this stone to be only a Roman sarcophagus; if, however, people can once believe that Santiago ever came to Spain at all, all the rest is plain sailing; yet this legend, the emphatic one of Spain, is not yet disbelieved, for see Mellado's Guide, 1843, p. 275, on Santiago and his Cockle Shells; but the Phœnix of the ancients is no bad symbol of the vitality of superstitious frauds, which, however exploded for a time, rise up again from their ashes. As the inventive powers of man are limited, an old story comes round and round like the same tune in a barrel organ. There is nothing new under the sun, said the wisest of kings, il n'y a rien de nouveau, que ce que l'on ait oublié, says the cleverest of lady letter-writers. The Pontifex maximus of old and modern Rome have alike fathomed the depths of human credulity, which loves to be deceived, and will have it so, "and the priests bear rule by their means:" Jer. v. 31.

The first cathedral built over the body was finished in 874, and consecrated May 17, 899; the city rose around it, and waxing strong, the Cordovese felt the recoil of the antagonist shrine and tutelar, even at their Ceca; whereupon Al-mansúr, dreading the crusading influence, determined on its total destruction, and in July, 997, he left Cordova on his 48th al jihad, or holy crusade, having also sent a fleet round to co-operate on the Duero and Miño. He advanced by Coria, and was met at Zamora by many Spanish counts, or local petty sheikhs, who with true Iberian selfishness and disunion sided with the invader, in order to secure their own safety and share in the spoil (see 'E. S.' xxxiv. 303). Al-mansúr entered Santiago Wed. Aug. 10, 997; he found it deserted, the inhabitants having fled from the merciless infidel, whose warfare was extermination; then he razed the city, sparing only the tomb of the Spaniards' Prophet, before which he trembled: so close was the analogy of these cognate superstitions.

Mariana (viii. 9), however, asserts that he was "dazzled by a divine splendour," and that his retiring army was visited by sickness inflicted by La divina venganza. Had this taken place before Al-mansúr sacked the town, it would have been more creditable to the miraculous powers of Spain's great tutelar. The learned Jesuit, however, dismisses this humiliating conquest in a few lines, and these contain every possible mistake in names, dates, and localities. Thus he fixes the period A.D. 993, and kills Al-mansúr, whom he calls Mohamad Alhagib, at Begalcorax in 998, whereas he died in 1002 at Medinaceli (see Index).

Shant Yakoh, the "Holy City of Jalikijah (Gallicia), is thus described by the more accurate contemporaneous Moorish annalists (see 'Moh. D.' i. 74; ii. 193); and it affords a curious proof of the early and wide-spread effect and influence of the antagonistic tutelar and tomb on the Moors. The shrine was frequented even by those Christians who lived among the Moors, and the pilgrims brought back minute reports. "Their Kabáh is a colossal idol, which they have in the centre of the church; they swear by it, and repair to it in pilgrimage from the most distant parts, from Rome as well as from other countries, pretending that the tomb which is to be seen within the church is that of Yákob (James), one of the 12 apostles, and the most beloved of Isa (Jesus): may the blessing of God and salutation be on him and on our prophet!" "They say that the Moslems found no living soul at Santiago except an old monk who was sitting on the tomb of St. James, who being interrogated by Al-mansúr as to himself, and what he was doing in that spot, he answered, I am a familiar of St. James, upon which Al-mansúr ordered that no harm should be done unto him." The Moslem respected the Faquir monk, in whom he saw a devotee borrowed from his own Caaba of Mecca. His great object was to destroy the idols of the polytheist Spaniards, as the uncompromising Deism of the Hebrew, and his abhorrence for graven images, formed the essence of Islamism. Al-mansúr purified the temples according to the Jewish law (Duet. vii. 5), and exactly as the early Christians in the 4th century had treated the symbols of Paganism. Thus, by a strange fate, the followers of the false prophet trod in the steps of both Testaments, while Christianity, corrupted by Rome, was remodelling and renewing those very Pagan abominations which the old and new law equally forbade.

Al-mansúr returned to Cordova laden with spoil. The bells of the cathedral of Santiago were conveyed to Cordova on the shoulders of Christian captives, and hung up reversed as lamps in the Great Mezquita, where they remained until 1236, when St. Ferd. restored them, sending them back on the shoulders of Moorish prisoners. Al-mansúr is said to have fed his horse out of the still existing porphyry font in the cathedral, but the barb, reply the Spaniards, burst and died. Possibly, coming from Cordova, the change of diet had affected his condition, and certainly we ourselves nearly lost our superb haca Cordovesa from the "hay and oats" of Gallicia.

Al-Mansúr could not find the body of Santiago, at which some will not be surprised; however the soundest local divines contend that the Captain-General surrounded himself when in danger with an obfuscation of his own making, like the cuttle-fish, or the Lord Admiral of the Invincible Armada; and to this day no one knows exactly where the bones are deposited: de non apparentibus et non existentibus eadem est lex. It is said that Gelmirez built them into the foundations of his new cathedral, in order that they never might be pried into by the impertinente curioso, or removed by the enemy. Thus it was forbidden among the Romans to reveal even the name of Rome's tutelar, lest the foe, by greater bribes, or by violence, might induce the patron to prove false. The remains of Hercules were also said to be buried in his temple at Gades, but no one knew where. However, Santiago lies somewhere, for he was heard clashing his arms when Buonaparte invaded Spain; so, before the battle of Leuctra, Herculis fano arma sonuerunt (Cic. de Div. i. 34), so the old war-horse neighs at the trumpet's sound. The Captain-General, valiant at Clavijo, had already given up active service in 997, and it could not be expected that such an invalided veteran should put on, like old Priam, arma diu senior desueta, and turn out of his comfortable resting-place to oppose Soult 812 years afterwards. After all it is just possible that the veritable Santiago is not buried at Compostella, for as the Coruñese claimed a duplicate body of Geryon, to the indignation of the Gaditanians, so the priests of St. Sernin at Toulouse, among 7 bodies of the 12 apostles, said that Santiago's was one; and when we remember the triumph of Soult at Santiago and his trouncing at Toulouse, it is difficult not to think that the real Simon Pure is buried at St. Sernin, and helped our Duke.

Be this as it may, for non nobis talem est componere litem, all Spanish divines lose temper whenever this legend is questioned; volumes of controversy have been written, and the evidence thus summed up:—Primo, The veneras or scallop shells found at Clavijo, prove that they were dropt there by Santiago, when busy in killing 60,000 Moors. Secundo, If the Virgin descended from Heaven at Zaragoza to visit Santiago, of which there can be no doubt, it follows that Santiago must have been at Zaragoza. However the honest Jesuit Mariana (vii. 10) thinks no proof at all necessary, because so great an event never could have been believed at first without sufficient evidence; while Morales concludes that "none but a heretic could doubt a fact which no man can dare to deny;" be that as it may, the Pope soon became jealous of this assumed elevation, which the sons of Zebedee excited even while alive (Mark x. 41); and Baronius resented pretensions which rivalled those of St. Peter, and were pretty much as unfounded. Accordingly Clement VIII. altered the Calendar of Pius V., and threw a doubt on the whole visit, whereat the whole Peninsula took alarm (see M'Crie's excellent 'Reformation in Spain,' p. 5). The Pontiff was assailed with such irresistible arguments, that his virtue, like Danäe's, gave way, and the affair was thus compromised in the Papal record: "Divus Jacobus mox Hispaniam adisse, et aliquos discipulos ad fidem convertisse apud Hispanos receptum esse affirmatur." This would not do; and Urban VIII. in 1625, being "refreshed" with golden opinions, restored Santiago to all his Spanish honours.

The see, now an archbishopric, was formerly suffragan to the metropolitan Merida, at that time in partibus infidelium. It was elevated in 1120 by the management of Diego Gelmirez, a partisan of Queen Urraca, who prevailed on her husband Ramon to intercede with his brother Pope Calixtus II. Diego, the first primate, presided 39 years, and was the true founder of the cathedral; and although the people rose against him and Urraca, he was the real king during that troubled period when Urraca was false to him and to every one else. There is a curious Latin contemporary history, called 'La Compostellana,' which was written by two of his canons, Munio Hugo and Giraldo; it is given at length in 'E. S.' xx., and none can understand this period without reading it. The city and chapter of Toledo opposed the elevation of a rival Santiago, for as in the systems of Mahomet and the imitating Spaniard, religion went hand in hand with commerce and profit, as it had since the days of the Phœnicians. A relic or shrine attracted rich strangers, while its sanctity awed robbers, and shed security over wealthy merchants; hence an eternal bickering between places of established holiness and commerce, and any upstart competitors: as Medina hated Mecca, so Toledo hated Santiago.

But Gelmirez was a cunning prelate, and well knew how to carry his point; he put Santiago's images and plate into the crucible, and sent the ingots to the Pope. Such was the advice given by the Sibyl to the Phocæans, to "plough with a silver plough;" and they too, in obedience, converted their holy vessels of precious metal into unconsecrated cash, and conquered. He remitted the cash to Rome (where no heresy ever was more abominable than the non-payment of Peter's pence, for, no penny no paternoster), by means of pilgrims, who received from his Holiness a number of indulgences proportioned to the sums which they smuggled through Arragon and Catalonia, then independent and hostile kingdoms, and the "dens," say these historians, "not of thieves, but of devils," for Spain in those unhappy times resembled the Oriental insecurity of Deborah's age, "when the highways were unoccupied, and travellers walked through the byways."

Following the example of the Pagan priests of the temple of Hercules at Gades, Gelmirez now extolled the virtues of making a visit and an offering to the new tutelar at Santiago. The patron saint became el santo, the saint par excellence, as Antonio at Padua is il santo. He never turned a deaf ear to those pilgrims who came with money in their sacks: "exaudit quos non audit et ipse Deus!" and great was the stream of wealthy guilt which poured in; kings gave gold, and even paupers their mites. Thus all the capital expended by Gelmirez at Rome in establishing the machinery was reimbursed, and a clear income obtained; the roads of Christendom were so thronged, that Dante exclaims (Par. xxv. 17)—

"Mira mira ecco il Barone
Per cui laggiu si visita Galizia!"

At the marriage of our Edward I., in 1254, with Leonora, sister of Alonzo el Sabio, a protection to English pilgrims was stipulated for; but they came in such numbers as to alarm the French, insomuch that when Enrique II. was enabled by them to dethrone Don Pedro, he was compelled by his allies to prevent any English whatever entering Spain without the French king's permission. The capture of Santiago by John of Gaunt increased the difficulties, by rousing the suspicions of Spain also. The numbers in the 15th century were also great. Rymer (x. xi) mentions 916 licences granted to English in 1428, and 2460 in 1434.

But the pilgrimage to Compostella began to fall off after the Reformation; then, according to Molina, "the damned doctrines of the accursed Luther diminished the numbers of Germans and wealthy English." The injurious effect of the pilgrimage on public morals in Gallicia was exactly such as Burckhardt found at Mecca; it fostered a vagrant, idle, mendicant life; nothing could be more disorderly than the scenes at the tomb itself; the habit of pilgrims, once the garb of piety, became that of rogues (see Ricote's account in Don Quixote). It was at last prohibited in Spain, except under regulations. But smaller pilgrimages in Spain, as among the Moslems, are still universally prevalent; every district has its miracle-shrine and high place. These combine, in an uncommercial and unsocial country, a little amusement with devotion and business. The pilgrims, like beggars in an Irish cabin, were once welcome to a "bite and sup," as they were itinerant gossips, who brought news in an age when there were no post-offices and broad sheets; now they are unpopular even at Santiago, since they bring no grist to the mill, but take everything, and contribute nothing; they are particularly hated in Ventas, those unchristian places, from whence even the rich are sent away empty; hence the proverb, Los peregrinos, muchas posadas y pocos amigos.

A residence in holy places has a tendency to materialize the spiritual, and to render the ceremonial professional and mechanical. Thus at Santiago, as at Mecca, the citizens are less solicitous about their "lord of the apostles," than those are who come from afar; as at Rome, those who live on the spot have been let behind the scenes, and familiarity breeds contempt. They are, as at all places of periodical visit ancient or modern, chiefly thinking how they can make the best of the "season," how they can profit most from the fresh enthusiasm of the stranger; and as he never will come back again, they covet his cash more than his favourable recollections. Accordingly the callous indigines turn a deaf ear to the beggar who requests a copper for Santiago's sake, he gets nothing from the natives but a dry—perdone Vmd. por Dios, Hermano! Therefore the shrewd mendicant tribe avoid them, and smell a strange pilgrim, for whom even the blind are on a look-out, ere he descends the hill of Sn. Marcos; he enters the holy city, attended by a suite hoarse with damp and importunity—quære peregrinum, vicinia rauca reclamat.

Santiago, although much shorn of its former religious and civil dignities, is still the see of an archbishop, with a cathedral, 2 collegiate, and 15 parish churches. Its numerous convents were plundered and desecrated by the invaders in 1809, and since have been suppressed: built for monks, and fit for nothing else, they now remain like untenanted, rifled sepulchres going to ruin, and adding to the melancholy appearance of this melancholy town, on which the Levitical character is still deeply impressed, notwithstanding the Reformation, by withdrawing the rich English and German pilgrims, and the French Revolution, by sapping not only the buildings of religion, but the very principle, have dried up the pactolian streams of offerings and legacies.

The removal of the captain-general and the audiencia to La Coruña, a blow dealt by the liberals against a priest-ridden city, has completed the impoverishment, by taking away the military, the legal profession, and clients. No wonder that the two cities hate each other with more than the usual Spanish detestation or a neighbour. This measure was alike uncalled-for and injudicious, since La Coruña possesses no single advantage over Santiago, which, besides the religio loci, abounds in noble and suitable edifices. The university alone remains, which has a good library, and is much frequented by Gallician students.

Santiago is built on an uneven, irregular site, thus the convent of San Francisco lies almost in a hole: the cathedral occupies the heart of the city, and indeed it was the origin of its life, from this centre many veins of streets diverge, and the tutelar's tomb may be compared to a spider in the middle of its web, catching strange and foolish flies. Santiago itself is damp, cold, and gloomy-looking. It is full of arcades, fountains, and scallop shells, and has a sombre look, from the effect of humidity on its granite materials. From the constant rain this holy city is irreverently called El orinal de España, therefore every body carries an umbrella: the peasants add also a stick, for their courage is not dampt, and they love broils as if their patron had been St. Patrick. The rivulets Sar and Sarela, better known as the toad streams, Los rios de los Sapos, flow to the N.W. The best streets run parallel to each other, such as La rua nueva and La rua del villar. The wet weather, however disagreeable to those coming from the adust Castiles, is favourable to vegetable productions, and the clouds drop fatness; in consequence the town is cheap and well supplied with fruit, among which the Urraca pear is delicious; the sea and river fish, especially trout, is excellent, and here we find fresh butter, a luxury rare in the central and warmer provinces.

The situation of Santiago is very picturesque: for general views ascend the cathedral tower, taking up the good map of the town by Juan Freyre; walk up to the Monte de la Almaziza to the E. near the quarries, and looking over Sa. Clara, it commands a noble view; saunter also to the Alameda de Sa. Susana, going out at the Puerta Fajera, on to the Campo de Feria, and thence to the Crucero del Gayo, and if you have time up to the Monte Pedroso, from whence the panorama is as extensive as beautiful.

Of course the cathedral is the grand object of every pilgrim to Compostella: first let him examine the exterior; each of its four fronts looks on to an open plaza; the largest of these lies to the W., or the grand entrance; it is called El Mayor, or El Real, and is really royal.

The first cathedral was commenced in the 9th century by Sisnandus, when Alonzo III. and Ximena gave the site, and the materials of destroyed mosques. This cathedral was razed to the ground by Al-Mansúr; but in the 11th century Bermudo II. and the Bp. Cresonio restored it, and erected strong towers against the Moors and Normans. Gelmirez in 1082 rebuilt the pile, which was completed in 1128. The primitive character has been injured by subsequent alterations; one singularity is, that most of these have been built up against the original walls; thus the old edifice is as it were encased, and accordingly is well preserved from the effects of weather in this damp climate.

The grand façade is quite modern, and is placed between two overcharged towers, which terminate in pepper-box cupolas, but which are not unsightly: the churrigueresque entrance is adorned with the statue of the tutelar, before which kings are kneeling; although the work looks older from the action of moisture, all this was only raised in 1738, by Fernando Casas y Noboa, whose original designs are to be seen in the cathedral; here damp and mosses, which are so much wanted in the dry South, have tinted the already sober granite. To the r. rise the square towers of the cloister, with pyramidical tops, and a long upper row of arcaded windows. These grand cloisters, simple and serious in the inside, were built in 1533 by Fonseca, afterwards Archbp. of Toledo; his library was placed in a noble suite of rooms above them: here also are the oficinas, or offices of the cathedral; to the l. of the portal is the gloomy simple palace of the prelate. On the N. side of this Plaza is the Hospicio de los Reyes, the hospital for pilgrims, built for Ferd. and Isab. by Henrique de Egas in 1504. This was one of the finest establishments of the age, and Molina mentions in 1551, that there were seldom less than 200 patients; hardships on journey, contagious disease, and religious madness peopled these dwellings, which, unknown to the ancients, were first founded in 1050 by Godfrey of Bouillon, for the use of pilgrims to Jerusalem. Many infirm persons went purposely to Santiago, in order to die there with comfort, just as the Hindoos do to Benares, believing that the patron would take them to heaven with him at the resurrection. This notion was borrowed alike from Mecca, and from Jugannât-ha, "the captain-general of the universe," whose region, consecrated to death, is strewed with pilgrims' bones; but superstitions of purely human invention must necessarily reproduce themselves.

The hospital is a grand building, but badly conducted, as since the appropriation of church revenues, it was much impoverished by losing a revenue of tithes. It is square in form, and divided into four quadrangles, with a chapel in the centre, and so contrived that the patients in the different stories can all see the service performed. The elaborate portal is enriched with saints, pilgrims, chainwork under the cornice, and the badges of Ferd. and Isab. Two of the patios have arches and delicate Gothic work: observe a fountain gushing into a tazza from four masks. The chapel is plain, but the portion within the railing is unequalled in Santiago for delicacy and richness of work; the roof springs from four arches with Gothic niches and statues. The other two patios are of later date, and in the Doric style; in the entrance hall are bad portraits of Ferd. and Isab.

The Seminario fronts this façade of the cathedral; it was built by the Archbp. Rasoy in 1777, for the education of young priests; in the celibate system of Rome those destined for the altar are instructed apart from the sons of laymen, in order, as at ladies' schools, that they may be brought up in certain sexual ignorances, which is not always the case in either. In this fine palace the captain-general used to reside and the audiencia sat; it is now partly assigned to the Ayuntamiento; the now suppressed Sn. Jeronimo lies to the S., and from the poverty of its accommodations it was commonly called Pan y Sardina. The front is ancient, but the interior has little worth notice. Some idea of this assemblage of architectural piles may be formed from the charming view which our good friend Roberts made from a drawing by the author of these humble pages (Landscape Annual, 1838, p. 108), but the letter-press account of Santiago is neither by him or us.

On the noble plaza the bull-fights take place, and fire-works are let off on San Juan, June 24, and Santiago, July 25. This city, in spite of the rain, was and is the Vauxhall of Spain, and every saint's day was kept with consecrated crackers, and at every convent, when a member obtained a dignity, rockets were let off, starring again this Campus Stellæ, with a St. Peter's Girandola, on a small scale; then the spectators crowd together in pious and picturesque groups, and the Protestant pilgrim finds it difficult to say which are the best or most numerous, the Roman candles or Catholics; but explosions are very naturally thought to please the son of thunder, and blue lights to conciliate the Luz y Patron de las Españas. So among the Hindoos (the inventors of all superstitions) pyrotechnics are a favourite act of devotion, especially to their female goddess Kali. Reform and church appropriation have put out many of these meritorious squibs, but still, among the Cofradias and rich and pious laity, money seldom is wanting for them. Santiago being a Levitical town which depended on the church for amusement, indulgences, and expenditure, now must decay like Toledo. Hence it is not over-pleased with the progreso, or march of intellect; so when the Cortes abolished the Inquisition, and wished to appropriate the church revenues, "it depended," said the Duke, "on the Archbp. of Santiago whether the N.W. of Spain should rise or not against us, who were supposed to uphold the constitutional changes."

Leaving the Plaza by the S.W., observe the now suppressed Colegio de Fonseca, founded by the Primate of Toledo, and then turn into the Plateria, situated at the S. entrance of the cathedral. This is the most ancient front; observe the Torre del Reloj, one of the original towers, into which Gelmirez and Urraca fled from the populace. The mob tried to burn them out—a very Oriental and Spanish custom. Thus Abimelech destroyed those who fled to the tower of their "captain-general" Berith (Judges ix. 52). Formerly the tower was called Torre de Francia, as the long street is still del Franco. The French then supported and enriched the shrine, and Louis le Jeune came here in person as a pilgrim; but La Jeune or revolutionary France has since laboured to undo what her forefathers contributed to adorn, for Ney was sent by Soult on one of the usual plunder expeditions; he arrived here Jan. 17, 1809, and remained until May 23, when Soult's defeat at Oporto forced him to fly, carrying off, says Toreno, 10 cwt. of sacred vessels of the temple, the time-honoured gifts of former kings:

"——Grandia templi
Pocula adorandæ robiginis, aut populorum
Dona, vel antiquo positas a rege coronas!"

and now Bory, an accomplice, turns king's evidence (see his Guide, 259; and Laborde, iv. 460), and laments with unspeakable naïveté the poorness of the "swag;" alas, says he, the solid silver candelabra were "plus mince que du billon, et de peu de poids;" "ce fameux St. Jacques d'or massif avec des yeux en diamant, était de Vermeil; et n'avait que des prunelles en pierres fausses." Hannibal, more clever in pillage, never needlessly incurred the odium of sacrilege, for he, sharper than M. Bory, bored church plate first, and if solid, then, and only then, stole it (Cic. de Div. i. 24). The chapter thus took in both the intelligent French and the pious pilgrims, by imitating their pagan predecessors (see Baruch vi. 10), and converting the solid offerings into dollars for themselves, and cheating the vulgar eye with tinsel substitutes, just as they foisted empty forms and ceremonies, instead of the spirit and practice of religion. According to Bory, "On n'a pas tiré en lingots la somme de cent mille écus, quand la nécessité des temps força d'employer, pour la solde des troupes Françaises de la division du Génl. Marchand le don qu'en fit le chapitre au corps d'armée du Ml. Ney." This necessity (the old plea by which a certain person excuses his deeds) was the necessary consequence of the Buonaparte maxim, "La guerre doit nourrir la guerre;" the precise Bellum se alet of Portius Cato, who razed the cities and razziad the plains of Spain, filling every place "fugâ et terrore" (Livy xxxiv. 9). Possibly the plundering of Santiago's altars may have been forced on the French officers, since Foy (i. 67) states that "ils eussent cru s'avilir en prenant part au pillage, tant ils avaient le cœur haut placé:" a eulogy, however, which Toreno and Maldonado think pitched a trifle too high: at all events a portion of the cathedral treasure was spared, because the spoilers feared the hostility of the Plateros, the silversmiths who live close to the cathedral, and by whom many workmen were employed in making little graven images, teraphims and lares, as well as medallions of Santiago, which pilgrims purchase. Thus Alexander the coppersmith of Ephesus, and Demetrius the silversmith, called together their operatives, "Sirs, ye know that by this craft we get our wealth;" and they became the bitter opponents of St. Paul, who preached against image and female worship. Thus the Agrigentines rose against Verres (to whom Toreno compares Soult), when he attempted to steal their golden tutelar Hercules.

The Plateros, like those at Zaragoza, are loud in the praises of their images, phylacteries, and preservative talismans, and swear that they keep these shops solely for the benefit of their customers' souls; they assert that a silver Santiago on horseback is an infallible security against ague and robbers; and certainly as such a Santito only costs a few shillings, the insurance is not an unsafe speculation, as it is like a waterman's protection badge. We appended such a medallion to our Zamarra, and travelled hundreds of leagues over every part of Spain, without sickness, sorrow, or ever being robbed except by innkeepers; all which was attributed by an excellent canon of Seville to the special intervention of the "Captain-General of the Spains;" and certain it is that very few Gallician soldiers ever omit to stow away in their Petos, or linen gorget waddings, a Santiagito and rosary which ought to turn aside bullets and bayonets.

In the Plaza de los Plateros, observe a gushing fountain supported on Triton horses. To the left is the Quintana de los Muertos, the former cemetery of the canons. The very ancient portal of the cathedral on this side is only opened in the Jubilee year; over it is Santiago in pilgrim attire, and below in square-niched compartments are 12 saints, 6 on each side. This is the door by which pilgrims enter. On the E. side of the Quintana is the church dedicated to Sn. Payo, Pelayo. The altar is said to be the identical one on which Santiago offered, but Morales (Viage, 132) discovered, to his horror, that it was only a Roman tomb converted to this new office. He obtained the effacing of the Latin and Pagan inscription, to the indignation of the Gallicians, who contended that D.M.S. i.e. Diis manibus sacrum, meant Deo maximo sacrum: "Who shall decide when doctors disagree?"

The ground on which the cathedral is built is far from being level on this side, hence the steps; and here yet remains a circular portion of the first building. The fourth and last side opens to the N. on the Azabacheria or Plaza de Sn. Martin. The former term is derived from Azabache, jet, of which vast quantities of rosaries used to be made and sold on this spot to the pilgrims as they entered, just as is done at Jerusalem, and in the Great Court of Mecca. The whole thing is borrowed from the Oriental: thus Azzabach, the Persian Schabah, signifies "small black beads." The making these chaplets constitutes a lucrative trade in all pilgrim cities, whether in the East or in the Peninsula. The mendicant monks manufacture their cuentas, counters, from a brown sort of mais berry, which were the precise Moslem Sibhá, counters, and made of berries, Hab; the divisions were marked by cuttings of vines, sarmientos. They presented these holy beads as a great favour to those who put money into their purses, and the counting them affords an occupation to the indolence of devout Spaniards,—so the pious Moors are always telling their Twer. The modern Egyptian Mahomedan's chaplet, the Seb'hhah, Soob'hhah, consists of 99 small beads, with marks of divisions between them (Lane i. 92). At each of these beads the Moslem repeats an epithet in praise of God, whose name is reserved as a climax for the last and largest. In the jealous worship of one God, the Mahomedan contrasts with the Marian Spaniard, who, having borrowed the Rosario from him, has adapted it to his female worship. Few Spanish females ever go to church without this Oriental appendage; and there devotion is

"To number Ave-Marias on their beads."

The Dominicans were the managers and great preachers of its virtues and miraculous properties, the Virgin having given her own chaplet of beads to St. Dominic, which was called a rosary from the sweet perfume which it emitted. It is carried in the hand, or tied round the neck, while the excellent rope of St. Francis is only worn round the waist. The hands of many Spanish monks have been observed after death to be perfumed with attar, from their constantly holding the rosary, and never washing off its fragrance, just as the cigar has the same effect on profaner fingers. The illiterate, both Moors, Chinese, and Spaniards, find these beads to be a convenient help in the difficult arithmetical operations of counting the "long prayers" and frequent repetitions which Christianity especially condemns, and the Pope and Mahomet especially require, since such mere repetitions have in both creeds an actual saving virtue of themselves, where forms have been substituted for spiritual essentials. The Rosario ought to contain 150 beads, in which only one Paternoster, one Lord's prayer, is allowed for every ten Ave-Marias; "but one halfpenny-worth of bread to this intolerable deal of sack!" The prayers are divided by certain breaks in the string. Santiago, and Seville, were the great cities of the Rosario. The peculiar chaunt re-appears here, but the hymn sounds harshly, sung by sore-throated Gallicians, who howl in their catch-cold climate as barbarously as in the days of their ancestors: "Barbara nunc patriis ululantem carmina linguis" (Sil. Ital. iii. 346). Nor are these jet chaplets less gloomy when compared to those made in the bright south. Few, however, of the Rosarios of the golden age of Spain have escaped the sacrilegious melting-pot. Those of Cordovese and Mexican manufacture are exquisitely wrought in pure gold filigree, and studded with precious stones, but the virtues of the rosary would form a handbook of themselves.

The second name of this N. Plaza de Sn. Martin, is in reference to the enormous convent of that saint, which was founded here July 26, 912, by King Ordoño II. San Martin is honoured at Santiago next to Santiago; and in fact, as among mortal captains-general in Spain, he is el Segundo Cabo de la Provincia, the deputy lord lieutenant: so among the pagans Castor and Pollux, and always on horseback, presided in couples, and such was the aboriginal Iberian belief before Rome introduced her particular polytheism. Now Santiago is their Bandua, the god of war, and San Martin is his associate, like their Vexillor. It is the precise arrangement of the early inscription, mutato nomine, "Deo Vexillor Martis socio Banduæ" (Masdeu, 'II. C.' v. inscrip. 86). The Romans, who cared very little about the abstract religion of their new subjects, provided they paid taxes and obeyed the Prætor, at once admitted concurrent local gods into their capacious pantheon, and gave them ad eundem rank and ceremonials, thereby setting an example to Gregory the Great.

San Martin, if the whole of Christendom were polled, would be found to be more universally worshipped than Santiago, whose influence is a thing of local isolated Spain,—for where, indeed, is there a city in Europe without its Saint Martin? He was the great raiser of convents in the fourth century, whose monks naturally elevated shrines to their champion and benefactor, thus the first Christian church built in England was dedicated to him. As he was the great iconoclast, and destroyer of graven images and idols of the Pagan, how he would now be pained, could he revisit Santiago and the Peninsula, where more statues are now erected to his own worship when dead, than ever he brake down while alive. Tours is his real Compostella, where the mere exhibition of his relics scared away the Normans. The modern term chapel has been derived by Ducange from the small chamber in which his cope or cloak was adored (Capa, Capilla); for when alive he had divided it in order to cover a naked beggar, and this is the especial action in which he is usually painted and carved by Spaniards, and with reason, since no nation can better appreciate this act of charity than the gens togata of modern times, although none is less likely to follow the example, even were a lady in the case—Da mihi et beatæ Martinæ. This ancient covent has been almost entirely modernised. It is on an enormous scale; a portion hangs over a ravine; it has a fine garden, and commands noble views from its magnificent long corridor upstairs. Formerly it was one of the most wealthy of the Benedictine establishments, now it is a barrack.

The heavy modern Doric entrance is the work of Casas y Noboa, in 1738. The grand patio was rebuilt in 1636, and finished in 1743, as the dates over the arches indicate. This was the vile period of bad taste, when models were afforded to our half-convent, half-bastile, half-barrack, new poor-law Unions, by which the sweet country of England is disfigured; but cheapness and accomodation of numbers was the principle. Observe, however, the handsome fountain with three falls and satyrs' heads. The interior is commensurate with the exterior, as one corridor is 205 paces long. The library was superb. The Benedictines were a learned order, and promoters of schools and antiquarian research. The chapel, now a parish church, is in bad taste, with a heavy tesselated trunk-headed roof. The Retablo is of vilest churrigueresque, but in it Santiago and San Martin ride quietly together, like the fratres Helenæ, lucida sidera, in a fricassee of gilt ginger-bread. The pulpits are composed of rich marbles: the circular sacristia is fine. From the Azabacheria to the opposite great Plaza there is an arched communication under the archbishop's palace.

Now enter the cathedral from the Azabacheria, first looking at the modern encasement, which, with its Doric and Corinthian tiers, its heavy pediment, supported by caryatides of Moorish slaves, with Santiago above dressed as a pilgrim, etc., was erected in 1765 by one Domingo Anto. Lois Monteagudo, a Gallician, i.e. a Bœotian builder. The original façade had been previously tampered with by one Sarela, a worthy who ought to have been cast into his namesake's river.

The interior has escaped much better, and is very striking. It has purposely been kept somewhat dark in order to increase the effect of the illuminations at the high altar, thus rendering the image of the tutelar the emphatic feature. The cathedral forms a beautiful cross, of which the lateral chapels do not injure the general effect. The three grand naves are narrow in proportion to their height and length, the central being the highest. The piers are light and elegant, and contrast with the enormous thickness of the outer walls. Low galleries are carried round the Coro, and above, with an open arcade of double-rounded arches. The two transept ends of the ancient cathedral remain as they were, and the new fronts built outside them add to the strange effect. The dark side aisles, which almost look like corridors, are filled with confessional boxes, dedicated to different saints, while on those destined for foreign pilgrims are inscribed the languages which the priest in them is supposed to understand. This once was necessary when strangers came from all countries, but now the Gallego confessors can only speak strange tongues "comme des vaches Espagnoles." Polyglot confessionals are in like manner provided at St. Peter's by his Holiness, El vivo Oraculo, as was done at the pilgrim shrine at Delos, where hymns were composed in all languages—παντων δ' ανθρωπων φωνας (Hom. 'Hym. Apol.' 162).

Near the Capilla de los Reyes is the grand confessional, in which the Penitenciario alone may sit; and in order that he may do so, this great dignitary is excused attendance in coro: his box is inscribed "Tabula post Naufragium." To him alone the monks, clergy, and men of rank and rankest crimes confessed, and he had proportionate powers of absolution, since his capacious ears were the cloaca maxima of offences not to be named to minor auriculars. He pardoned, through the merits and intercession of Santiago, les forfaits, que le courroux des dieux ne pardonne jamais. Nor were those who had come so far ever used harshly; the natural interest of the chapter to attract rich sinners rendered them very indulgent, and the previous grades of ordinary repen{1006}tance—to wit Contricion, the sorrow for having sinned, because it is offensive to God, and Atricion, the sorrow for having sinned, because of fear of punishment—are assumed by the ipsum factum of pilgrimage. The confessors, it must be confessed, for we looked at them all, will disappoint most readers of Mrs. Radcliffe; they have little of the unearthly Schidoni scowl which rends the soul; they are mostly fat and well-fed, with a dormouse look of bore, especially when subjected to the communications of a garrulous aged woman, and the pleasing prospect of coveys of similar hags, squatting around waiting their turn, like patients at a doctor's door who gives advice gratis; the confessors, like hospital nurses, soon become callous from long habit, and like Spanish Sangrados, they doubt in the efficacy of their own remedies. A desire to confess, and a belief in the magical effect produced by a tap of a white wand, through which the penitent is spiritually whitewashed, is daily diminishing among male Spaniards, who would gladly see their wives and womankind rescued from this abominable private cross-examination, by which the priest pries into the innermost arcana of every family; thus he can apply a moral screw to the weaker sex, who under the most favourable circumstances seldom keep any secret except that of their age. The confessional is a most awful police and inquisition, from whose polluting scrutiny no Spanish man or woman is safe. "The strictest delicacy," says Blanco White (Letter 3), "is inadequate fully to oppose its demoralizing tendency; without the slightest responsibility, and not unfrequently in the conscientious discharge of what he believes to be his duty, the confessor conveys to the female mind the first foul breath which dims its virgin purity." That author, who knew the whole truth, did not dare to continue the subject; the sort of questioning may be seen in Sanchez de Matrimonio, or in any of the Promtuarios, sold for the use of young confessors, to which Dr. Dens and his filth is untrodden snow.

In former times, to confess was absolutely necessary to obtain the benefits of the Apostle, and to convey information on that point was the object of the mediæval Mrs. Starkes; thus, in the earliest English Handbook for Spain, full details—fuller, indeed, than ours—are given of the power of "Confessourez," confessors, to absolve and name penance, and to "assoyle thee of all thinge." This taking off the soil of moral dirt was particularly to be had{1007} on the north side, where "there is pardon and much faire grace."

The sacred effigy of the martial intercessor is placed, as it was when Al-mansúr arrived here, on the chief, and here an isolated altar: this was usual in all ancient Asturian Gotho-Spanish churches. This Simulacro is the identical Iberian idol "Neton, Martis Simulacrum, quod maximâ religione colebant" (Macrob. 'Sat.' i. 19). The base is composed of richly polished marbles, enclosed by gilt pillars, adorned with foliage and grapes, possibly in remembrance of the cave of Bacchus. But every sentiment of antiquity and veneration is marred by the abominable, immense, and lofty canopy, or Baldaquino, which is reared above and behind the image, instead of the usual Retablo; this Hojarasca, carved and gilt in the worst churriguerismo, is a mixture of the Pagan, classical, and Salominic styles, and anything indeed but Christian, while the heavy supporting angels savour nothing of heaven. The image was graven by Mateo for Gelmirez, out "of a stone good for nothing, by an ancient hand" (Wis. Sol. xiii. 10). In his left hand he holds the Bordon, or pilgrim's staff, with a gilt gourd, Calabaza, fastened to it: cum baculo perâque (Mart. iv. 53); for the derided cynic of the Pagans is the type of the Catholic pilgrim's god. In his right hand is a label inscribed, "Hic est corpus Divi Jacobi Apostoli et Hispaniarum Patroni." The face is painted,—the expression is chubby and commonplace, with a bottle-nose and small twinkling eyes, more like a pursy minor canon than a captain-general, a destroyer of 60,000 Moors at one time, and one of the sons of Thunder, Boanerges: but the idols of rude people preceded fine art, and in time obtained a conventional sanctity independent of form; nay, when beauty and grace were substituted, the stern deep religious sentiment was lost. Reverence was then merged in artistical admiration, and the altars, as at Rome, were visited as picture-galleries, and the siren beauty seduced the pilgrim and anchorite. Thus, when Leo X. succumbed to the fair sin (for the cinque-cento, or resurrection of the antique, was almost the renaissance both of Pagan creed and art), the severe majesty of insulted religion avenged herself in the iconoclastic Reformation.

Great importance is attached to the hood worn by the image, the Esclavina, which resembles those worn by policemen in London, and Cardinals at Rome. It indeed is also called Dengue, from a sort of mantilla worn by women, or a modern "Cardinal." It was once made of gold, which M. Ney secured, thinking, like the tyrant Dionisius, when he stole the golden mantle of Jupiter, that a woollen hood would be more comfortable in this damp Gallicia. The present Esclavina is studded with such ornaments as become a saint and a captain-general, to wit, with canons and shells, both scallop, veneras, and projectiles, bombas; possibly artillery might have been miraculously used at Clavijo in the year 846, as Spanish was spoken by San Cecilio. Mass can only be said before this image by bishops, or by canons of a dignity called Cardenales, of which there were seven on grand occasions. Then the altar is decorated with the exquisite silver Custodia by Antonio d'Arphe, 1544, and with the small gilt figure of Santiago, whose glory, Aureola, is composed of rubies and emeralds bright as a peacock's tail. Most of the silver lamps disappeared in 1809; but under the Cimborio still hangs the large Incensario, which is swung backwards and forwards by an iron chain, filling the Crucero with perfumed wreaths. The tabernacle is also cased with silver.

Through the influence of a friend in the chapter, we, Protestantism notwithstanding, were conducted through the ceremonial of the pilgrimage. The newly-arrived ascends some steps behind the image, places his hands on the shoulders, and kisses the hood. This is called el fin del Romaje, the end, the object of the pilgrimage. This osculation is the essential homage; thus the people of Agrigentum kissed their idol of Hercules (Cic. in Ver. iv. 43), as the multitude at Rome now do the old Jupiter, with a new St. Peter's head. All kiss; some the toe, some the shoulders, for the part kissed is a matter of local convention: thus, at Mecca, the Moslem Hadji kissed the black stone of the Kaaba (and see Toledo).

After this osculation the pilgrim proceeds to one of the "Confessourez," makes a clean breast of it, and is "assoyled," or scoured from all moral dirt, like a dyspeptic after a course at Kissingen. He next communicates, and receives his certificate, or, as it is called, his "Compostella." This is a printed Latin document, signed by the canon, "Fabricæ administrador," which certifies that he has complied with all the devotional ceremonies necessary to constitute a Romero or Hadji, a pilgrim, and returns quite whitewashed from having taken the benefit of the act. This Compostella was often deposited with the family title-deeds as a voucher of the visit, as otherwise lands under certain entails could not be inherited.

The Silla. del Coro was carved with holy subjects in 1606 by Gregorio Español; the two bronze Ambones, or pulpits, on each side of the Reja of the high altar, are masterpieces of cinque-cento art, by Juan Baua. Celma, 1563. Observe the 6 exquisite gilt alto-relievos, carved with battles and sacred subjects, for here the strong restoration of Paganism struggles with Catholicity, and mermaids and battles mingle with holy subjects. There is not much other fine art in this cathedral, for Gallicia is a Bœotia. The pictures of St. Peter and St. Andrew are by Juan Antonio Bonzas, a Gallician imitator of Luca Giordano, his master.

Behind the apostle is a small room which contains what has escaped of the church plate. Observe two very ancient gilt pixes, a Saviour seated under a Gothic niche with two angels, and some ewers and basins in the shape of scallops. Next visit the Relicario, in which are many exquisitely wrought shrines and goldsmith work, containing the usual assortment of bones, rags, &c., which we do not detail because printed catalogues of the items are given gratis in Latin, Spanish, and French, to which "eighty days' indulgence" for one Paternoster and Ave-Maria repeated delante de esta Imagen, are also added and also gratis by the grace of the Archbishop. The relics are pointed out by a clergyman with a long stick, who goes through the marvels with the rote and apathy of a wearied showman. Formerly there were Lenguageros, linguists, who explained what he said in all the tongues of the earth. Observe some milk of the Virgin, quite fresh and white; a thorn of the crown which turns red every Good Friday; sundry parcels of the 11,000 Virgins, and a mighty molar of San Cristobal. We were much struck with a smaller tooth of Santiago himself, the gift of Gaufridus Coquatriz. This Relicario is also called La Capilla de los Reyes, in which the royal tablets have been barbarously modernised. Some of the sepulchral statues are of remote antiquity, e.g. Don Ramon, era 1126; Fernandus II., era 1226; Berenguela, era 1187; Alonzo IX. of Leon, 1268; Juana de Castro, 1412. The enamelled tombs of San Cucufato and Fructuoso are curious, so are the chased relicarios. The rich chased crucifix, which contains a portion of the real cross (Morales, alas! found it to be palo de Peral, or made of peartree) is one of the oldest authentic pieces of Christian plate existing. It is a gilt filigree work, studded with uncut jewels, and is inscribed, "Hoc opus perfectum est in era ixoo et duodecima. Hoc signo vincitur inimicus, hoc signo tuetur pius; hoc offerunt famuli Dei Adefonzus princeps et conjux." It was therefore made about 874, and resembles the cross of Oviedo, the work of angels; the figure of the Christ on it is more modern. Here are two chandeliers of gilt arabesque, studded with jewels and bassi-relievi of the Rey Chico, and said to have been taken in 1492 in the Alhambra, but they are modern, and of the date 1673. The Tesoro, upstairs, has a fine artesonado roof. Here is the Urna, the silver sarcophagus, with the star above, in which the host is deposited on Good Friday, when it is placed in a beautiful viril, made in 1702 by Figueroa, of Salamanca.

One of the ancient entrances to the transept remains, having been encased by a modern facing, and deserves close inspection; it consists of three arches: in the centre is La Gloria, or Paradise, with the Saviour surrounded by angels and saints, with prophets on the pillars. The small arch to the r. is called El Infierno, the Hell, from the appropriate subjects. Observe the musicians, and their costume and instruments. All this was designed and mostly erected by Maestro Mateo, who is named in an inscription, bearing date era 1226, A.D. 1188. Of the chapels one of the most interesting is that behind the high altar, which is dedicated to La Virgen del Pilar, in memorial of her descent from heaven on a pillar, when visiting Santiago at Zaragoza. Observe the jaspers and precious marbles, and the elaborate Retablo. The founder, Antonio Monroy, 1725, a rich Mexican prelate, is buried here: the head of the fine old kneeling man is admirable. The Capilla del Rey de Francia retains a delicate white and gold Berruguete Retablo; otherwise the ancient tombs and screens in the cathedral have been sadly modernised and concealed, and many ancient sepulchres swept away: take the Ca. del Espiritu Santo as a specimen; observe the recumbent effigy of Didacus de Castilla, and then the traveller may look at the Virgen de las Angustias, in the trascoro, and on leaving the cathedral visit La Cortesela, or parish church, which, as usual, is a separate building. It is a fine specimen of early style, with three naves, roundheaded arches, and absises. It has recently been abominably repainted in a style, says Capt. Widdrington, fit for the green-room of a provincial theatre.

The university of Santiago is much frequented, as the minor colleges have been suppressed and incorporated into it. The building is heavy, with an Ionic portal, but the simple Doric patio is better. The library is a fine room, and well provided with books, not indeed of much value, being the sweepings of convents: here, however, are several French works, and (rara avis!) Cobbett's parliamentary debates, in truly Britannic half-russia, contrasting with the vellums of Spain, as our rubicund soldiers at Gibraltar do with the sallow-faced Spaniards at the Lines. The once splendid convents of Santiago are in the usual desecrated, half-ruined, and untenanted condition: visit, however, that of San Francisco, as the chapel, which has been converted into a parish church, is fine, and has a good roof: behind the altar is a portrait of a Monroy, a former benefactor. The cloisters of the half-destroyed Sn. Agustin deserve notice, and the square belfry of Sto. Domingo. Among the parish churches, that of S{n.} Felix de Solorio is the work of Martin Paris, 1316, but it has been much modernised. In Las Animas is some good painted sculpture, principally representing our Saviour's Passion, by one Prado.

The public walk called Susana is charming. It was destroyed in 1823 by the Royalists, because planted by the Constitutionalists, who, for the reciprocal reason, and, at the same time, beheaded a statue in the Plaza del Toral.

The artist and naturalist will of course go to the market on the Plaza del Pan, to study natural history and costume. The women are clad in white or striped linen, which they throw over their heads for mantillas, exhibiting their dark sayas. The men wear a singular helmet-shaped Montera (the mitra cristata of their forefathers), which is worked in many-coloured cloths by their Queridas. Sunday, as is usual in Gallicia, is the great market-day; then, after mass, the peasants enjoy their dances and bagpipes, the Gaita Gallega, put on their best costume, and play at single-stick.

The roads to and from Santiago are detestable. There has been for many years much talk, and many plans prepared on paper, for their improvement, especially in opening a good carriage communication between this capital and Lugo and Orense. In other provinces of Spain, the star-paved milky way in heaven is called El Camino de Santiago, but the Gallicians, who know what their roads really are, namely, the worst on earth, call the milky-way El Camino de Jerusalem. The Pagans poetically attributed this phenomenon to some spilt milk of Juno. Thus the monks, our early gardeners, changed Juno into the Virgin, and called the milk-thistle Carduus Marianus.

Meanwhile the roads in Gallicia are under the patronage of Santiago, who has replaced the Roman Hermes, or Macadam; and they, like his milky-way in heaven, are but little indebted to mortal repairs. The Dean of Santiago is waywarden virtute dignitatis, and especially "protector." The chapter, however, now chiefly profess to make smooth the road to a better world. They have altogether degenerated from their forefathers, whose grand object was to construct bridle-roads for the pilgrim; but since the invention of carriages and the cessation of offering-making Hadjis, little or nothing has been done.

  

APPENDIX 6:  GEORGE BORROW'S VIEW OF SANTIAGO ['ST. JAMES'] IN THE LATE 1830s

 

Saint James stands on a pleasant level amidst mountains:  the most extraordinary of these is a conical hill, called the Pico Sacro, or Sacred Peak, connected with which are many wonderful legends.  A beautiful old town is Saint James, containing about twenty thousand inhabitants.  Time has been when, with the single exception of Rome, it was the most celebrated resort of pilgrims in the world; its cathedral being said to contain the bones of Saint James the elder, the child of the thunder, who, according to the legend of the Romish church, first preached the Gospel in Spain.  Its glory, however, as a place of pilgrimage is rapidly passing away.

 

The cathedral, though a work of various periods, and exhibiting various styles of architecture, is a majestic venerable pile, in every respect calculated to excite awe and admiration; indeed, it is almost impossible to walk its long dusky aisles, and hear the solemn music and the noble chanting, and inhale the incense of the mighty censers, which are at times swung so high by machinery as to smite the vaulted roof, whilst gigantic tapers glitter here and there amongst the gloom, from the shrine of many a saint, before which the worshippers are kneeling, breathing forth their prayers and petitions for help, love, and mercy, and entertain a doubt that we are treading the floor of a house where God delighteth to dwell. Yet the Lord is distant from that house; he hears not, he sees not, or if he do, it is with anger.  What availeth that solemn music, that noble chanting, that incense of sweet savour?  What availeth kneeling before that grand altar of silver, surmounted by that figure with its silver hat and breast-plate, the emblem of one who, though an apostle and confessor, was at best an unprofitable servant?  What availeth hoping for remission of sin by trusting in the merits of one who possessed none, or by paying homage to others who were born and nurtured in sin, and who alone, by the exercise of a lively faith granted from above, could hope to preserve themselves from the wrath of the Almighty?

 

Rise from your knees, ye children of Compostella, or if ye bend, let it be to the Almighty alone, and no longer on the eve of your patron's day address him in the following strain, however sublime it may sound:

 

"Thou shield of that faith which in Spain we revere,

Thou scourge of each foeman who dares to draw near;

Whom the Son of that God who the elements tames,

Called child of the thunder, immortal Saint James!

 

"From the blessed asylum of glory intense,

Upon us thy sovereign influence dispense;

And list to the praises our gratitude aims

To offer up worthily, mighty Saint James.

 

"To thee fervent thanks Spain shall ever outpour;

In thy name though she glory, she glories yet more

In thy thrice-hallowed corse, which the sanctuary claims

Of high Compostella, O, blessed Saint James.

 

"When heathen impiety, loathsome and dread,

With a chaos of darkness our Spain overspread,

Thou wast the first light which dispell'd with its flames

The hell-born obscurity, glorious Saint James!

 

"And when terrible wars had nigh wasted our force,

All bright 'midst the battle we saw thee on horse,

Fierce scattering the hosts, whom their fury proclaims

To be warriors of Islam, victorious Saint James.

 

"Beneath thy direction, stretch'd prone at thy feet,

With hearts low and humble, this day we intreat

Thou wilt strengthen the hope which enlivens our frames,

The hope of thy favour and presence, Saint James.

 

"Then praise to the Son and the Father above,

And to that Holy Spirit which springs from their love;

To that bright emanation whose vividness shames

The sun's burst of splendour, and praise to Saint James."

 

 

APPENDIX 7: EXTRACTS FROM ANNETTE MEAKIN’S 1907 BOOK “GALICIA, THE SWITZERLAND OF SPAIN”.

 

CHAPTER VI : PILGRIMS TO SANTIAGO

 

St. James's Road — The legend of St. James — Landing at Padron — Abbot Ildefred — Alfonso el Casto — The town of Santiago — Diego Gelmirez — The Historia Composielana — Another famous manuscript — The Codex of Calistus II. — Basque words — Origin of the Basques — Molina's list of pilgrims — In the cathedral — Hymn of the Flemings — Relics of St. James — The scallop shell — Images of St. James — Jet workers — Money-changers — St. Bridget — Philip II — William of Rubruquis — Queen Matilda — An irreparable loss — A book on Galicia — Why the pilgrims wear a scallop shell — Crowding of pilgrims to the Mass — Beds in the cathedral — Incense in Christian worship — The great censer — Early references to the botafumeiro — The censer swings too far — Candlemas — An impressive ceremony — The Chirimias — English pilgrims to Santiago — An English hospital — The monastery of Sobrado

 

"THE mediaeval Spanish roads were the work of the clergy," wrote Ford, " and the long-bearded monks, here as elsewhere, were the pioneers of civilisation. ... In other provinces of Spain, the star-paved milky way in the heavens is called El Camino de Santiago ("the road of St. James ") ; but the Galicians, who know what their roads really are, namely, the worst on earth, call the milky way El Camino de Jerusalem ("the road to Jerusalem"). And here is a passage that we find among the poetic writings of Daudet : A shepherdess has asked a young shepherd if he knows the names of all the stars, and he begins his reply with, "Why, yes, mistress. Look, straight above our heads. That is St. James's Road. It runs from France straight over Spain. It was St. James of Galicia who traced it there, to show the brave Charlemagne his way when he was making war upon the Saracens."

 

The actual road which brought pilgrims and troubadours from France, across northern Spain to the town of Santiago in Galicia, was known as el camino frances, or the French Road. Ford says that the Spaniards made Santiago a centre for their pilgrimages, because, as every one knows, the Pope had forbidden them to take part in the Crusades as long as they had infidels on their own soil.

 

The legend of how St. James came to be the patron saint of Spain — the legend as it is authorised by the Catholic Church in the twentieth century, is as follows : — St. James, eleven years after the crucifixion of Christ, was decapitated by the order of King Herod, because he preached the Gospel to the Jews. The disciples took possession of his holy body by night, and, accompanied by the Angel of the Lord, arrived at Joppa, on the seashore. While they were hesitating as to what they should do next, a ship, provided with all that they could require during a long voyage, appeared before them. The disciples, filled with joy, entered the ship, and, singing hymns of praise to God, sailed with favourable breezes and a calm voyage, till they came to the harbour of Iria, on the Gallegan coast. There, full of happiness, they sang a psalm of David.

 

Having landed near what is now the town of Padron, the disciples deposited the holy body in a little enclosure, which is venerated to this day under the name of Libredon — about eight miles distant from the town of Iria. There they found a great stone idol that had been erected by the pagans, — this they hacked to pieces with the aid of some iron tools they had discovered in a cave close by. Having reduced the idol to dust, they made of it a very firm cement, and with this they made a stone (or marble) sepulchre, and a little oratory supported by arches. Having enclosed the holy body in the sepulchre and placed it in the oratory, they built over it a tiny church with an altar for the use of the people of the neighbourhood. Then they sang two more psalms (which are still given in the guide-books). The people of the place were very soon converted to the true faith through the preaching of the disciples, and it was at length decided that two of them, Athanasius and Theodosius, should remain at Iria to watch over the sepulchre of St. James and strengthen the new converts in their new religion, while the rest departed to carry the Gospel to other parts of Spain. Athanasius and Theodosius kept reverent watch over the sepulchre, and commanded their converts that after their death they two should be buried one on either side of St. James. In due time they died peacefully and happily, and entered into heaven. Later on a small community of monks, twelve in all, established itself near the spot ; they were presided over by the venerable Abbot Ildefred, and it was their business to offer up solemn prayers to the glorious apostle to whom Spain owes her faith, and by whose vahant championship that nation considers itself to have been freed from the Mussalman yoke.

 

For eight hundred years the holy body remained where the disciples had placed it, forgotten by all. Then in the year 812 "some men of authority" went to Teodomirus, who was then bishop of Iria Flavia (Padron), and informed him that they had seen on many occasions strange lights flickering at night-time in a neighbouring wood, and angels hovering near them. The bishop hurried to the spot indicated, and, seeing the lights with his own eyes, at once ordered the wood to be carefully searched. Very soon, amongst the trees, a little oratory was discovered, and in it a marble sarcophagus. The king, Alfonso el Casto (Alfonso 11) was at once informed of the marvellous discovery ; he came in person to see the sepulchre, and immediately decided to transfer the Episcopal See from Iria to this sacred spot, which henceforth bore the name of Compostela (from campos " a field," and Stella " a star "). A solemn procession of bishops, priests, nobles, and citizens inaugurated the foundation of the new city (which became known to all the Spanish world as Santiago de Compostela). This (the translation of the Episcopal See) took place, we are told, in the reign of Charlemagne. From that moment " Spanish heroism sought, as was natural, in the sepulchre of the holy Apostle the strength and enthusiasm which saved Europe from the barbarism of Islam, and the roads leading to Santiago were the wide highways that were trodden by nobility and virtue, by science and valour, during the centuries of the Reconquest."

 

Santiago soon became one of the most celebrated cities of Christendom. The modest church built by Alfonso el Casto was too small to accommodate the pilgrims who flocked to it, so it was replaced by a beautiful cathedral. The whole Christian world is said to have contributed towards the building of this edifice, pious alms poured in from every part of Europe, the pilgrims themselves took part, with their own hands, in the laying of its stones, — young men and old, women of all ages, rich and poor, learned and ignorant, popes and prelates, emperors and kings, all lent their aid.

 

Diego Gelmirez was at that time the prelate of Santiago. This remarkable man is famed not only for the zeal with which he superintended the building of the cathedral, but also for the many agricultural improvements which he introduced and encouraged, and for the works of art with which he beautified the city; he also erected many churches, both within and without it, among which may be noted that of Sar, that of Conjo, and that of St. Susanna. He performed the part of bishop and mayor combined in one. So much did literature flourish under his patronage, that he has been called "the Maecenas of Galicia." The Historia Compostelana, preserved in the archives of the cathedral, from which I have taken my account of the finding of St. James, was written at his bidding. The first part of it is the work of two authors, and the last of one. The first two were chosen by Gelmirez as the most learned of his canons, Don Munio (or Nunio) a Spaniard, and Don Hugo a Frenchman by birth. Both, according to Florez, had the full confidence of the prelate, who confided to them without reserve his most important secrets. Gelmirez set them to work upon this book as soon as he became bishop, in 1100. In 1112, both canons became bishops in their turn, Munio of Mondoñedo, and Hugo of Porto. After their departure from Santiago the work of writing the book was carried on by Girardo. The work is without doubt one of the most precious literary monuments of the twelfth century. Florez brought it before the public after it had lain dead for six hundred years, by publishing it in his Espana Sagrada.

 

In the Historia Compostelana there is no allusion to St. James beyond the finding of the sepulchre in the first chapter, and some have thought this fact a proof that the legend about the apostle has no foundation, but Florez points out that this book was written solely to perpetuate the memory of Gelmirez, as the title, Registro del Venerable Obispo, shows. The early history of Santiago is only touched upon in the first three chapters, and the work does not pretend to be a church register.

 

Another famous manuscript preserved in the archives of Santiago Cathedral since the twelfth century is the priceless Codex of Calistus 11, the date of which is supposed to be a few years later than that of the Historia Compostelana (about 1140). This document, of which the capitals are illuminated, contains some curious miniatures, one having for its subject the departure of Charlemagne for Spain. Here there is a description of the principal roads by which pilgrims were wont to reach Santiago. Pope Calistus 11. was one of the most illustrious of all the pilgrims who visited Santiago. He undertook the pilgrimage when he was an archbishop in France, about 1109. There are in existence three examples of this manuscript which bears his name : one is in the Royal Library at Madrid, and another, preserved in one of the other libraries, is a Gallegan translation dating from the first half of the fifteenth century. At the end of the twelfth century there was in existence a French translation.

In the year 11 73, Arnaldo del Monte, a monk of the celebrated monastery of Ripoll in the province of Gerona, went on a pilgrimage to Santiago. He handled, described, and made extracts from the precious Codex ; his dedication of it is still preserved in the library of Ripoll, and there is also said to be a copy in the Paris library.

 

The Codex of Calistus III, supposed to have been partly written by his chancellor, Aimerico Picard, is in five books, The first contains four homilies of Calistus on the three great festivals of Santiago, and the Mass, with a dramatic liturgy set to music composed by Fulbert de Chartres, retouched by the hand of Calistus or some other personage ; some of the writings of Augustine, Ambrose, Jerome, and, we are told, of Bede, per totuni annum legenda. The second contains " The Miracles of the Apostles" ; the third gives an account of the translation of St. James from Jerusalem to Spain ; the fourth, " How Charlemagne brought Spain under the yoke of Christ " ; and the fifth, various writings.

 

According to the written testimony of Pope Calistus I., the most wonderful cures were effected at the shrine of St. James. " The sick come and are cured, the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the dumb speak, the possessed are set free, the sad find consolation, and, what is more important, the prayers of the faithful reach to heaven, the heavy weight of sins is removed, the chains of sin are broken, thither come all the nations of the earth," and here follows a list of some eighty tribes and nations. These pilgrims travelled across Europe in companies, and in companies they placed themselves beside the sepulchre, the Italians on this side, the Germans on that, as the case might be ; every one holding a wax taper is his hand, there they remained to worship the whole night long, and the light from the innumerable tapers made the night like day. Some sang to the accompaniment of the cithara, others to that of the lyre, some to the timbrel, others the flute, others to the fife, others to the trumpet, others to the harp, others to the viola, others to the British and Welsh harp and crouth, others to the psaltery, and others to many other musical instruments. Some weep for their sins, some read psalms, and some give alms to the priests. There does not exist a language or a dialect that is not heard in that cathedral. If any one enters sad, he goes out happy ; there is celebrated one continuous festival, people come and go, but the service is not interrupted by day or by night. The doors of the sacred edifice are never closed, lamps and tapers fill it at midnight with the splendour of midday. Thither all wend their way, rich and poor, prince and peasant, governor and abbot. Some travel at their own expense ; others depend upon charity. Some come with chains for the mortification of their flesh ; others, like the Greeks, with the sign of the cross in their hands. Some carry in their hands iron and lead for the building of the basilica of the Apostle. Many whom the Apostle has delivered from prison carry with them their manacles and the bolts of their prison doors, and do penance for their sins.

 

"The many thousands of miracles," says Calistus, " that were worked daily through the intercession of the Apostle, in the happy city of his glorious tomb increased the legions of pilgrims, who carried back with them to the utmost confines of the world the name of Compostela !". "And how the highways of Asia and Europe must have resounded in those days," cries Sanchez, " with hymns of praise sung by the pious pilgrims to St. James ! " Every nation had its own special hymns, a mixture of Latin and the local idiom. One of the most beautiful of these compositions was, according to Fita, that sung by the Flemmings, " que es de lo mas selecto de la poesia del siglo XII" In each verse the name of St. James appears in a different case of the Latin declension.

 

As we have seen, special roads were built in Italy, France, and Spain to facilitate the pilgrimages. Bridges were thrown across ravines and rivers ; inns and monasteries sprang up at the chief halting-places, such as St. Marks at Leon and the monastery of Roncevalles, and in the lonely and dangerous places where they were most needed. The fame of St. James impressed even Rome. In the beginning of the tenth century. Pope John X (915-928) sent a priest named Zanelo to Santiago to find out if it was really true that so many pilgrims went there and so many miracles were wrought. Book II. of the Codex of Calistus 11 tells of many wondrous miracles.

 

The most glorious days of the pilgrimages were those in which Diego Gelmirez was archbishop. It is difficult for the uninitiated to see why the tomb of St. James should have been considered to be the most glorious of all the saints' tombs in the world ; but so it was, according to St. Buenaventura. There constantly occurred such frightful crushes and stampedes in the fourteen gateways leading to the sacred edifice, that a great many accidents happened even to the members of the best-regulated pilgrim bands, and free fights ensuing, complaints went up even to the Pope at Rome! For very often the prelate of Compostela was absent from his post, and there was no other to take his place.

 

There is still preserved among the ancient constitutions of the cathedral a description of the ceremonies prescribed in connection with the pilgrims, and carried out by Archbishop Juan Arias 1282, 1266. The custodian of the altar and a priest standing erect with rods in their hands called up the bands of pilgrims in turn according to their nationality and in their own language, and told them to group themselves round the priest who was to hand them the indulgences they had gained by their pilgrimages. Each pilgrim received a sharp rap from the rod as he passed. As soon as divine worship was over (that is, the portion which they attended), the pilgrims proceeded to lay their offerings before the altar, and then went to venerate the chain. Sanchez thinks this was the chain by which the Jews secured their prisoners. After the chain came the crown, the hat, the staff, the knife, and the stone. It seems that even the hatchet with which St. James was beheaded lay upon the altar when Baron de Rozmilal made his pilgrimage in 1465. The staff is the only one of these sacred relics that has survived to our day.

 

Most of the pilgrims, after they had done with Santiago, went on to Padron to see the spot where the Holy Body had been landed by the Disciples. But there was a great deal to be done in Santiago. Money-changers sat with little heaps of coin close to the entrance of the church, and did a lively business with the foreigners. Scallop-shells had to be purchased, for the pilgrim who returned home without his shell would not get his friends to believe he had got as far as Santiago. This shell, the pecten Veneris or ostra Jacobea (Linn.), was called in Galician concha  Jacobea (the shell of St. James). It received the first of these names because it resembled in its form the comb employed by the ancients, and Aphrodite was supposed to comb her hair with one of these shells when rising from the sea. It is the common convex bivalve so familiar to English eyes, white inside, and the fish of which somewhat resembles an oyster, though it is less delicate in flavour and odour. This sacred shell was offered for sale to the pilgrims in all sizes, and made of many different materials : there were shells in black jet, in porcelain, in silver, in copper and in brass, in tin and lead. Traders called los conchiarii, concheiros, or latoncros, sold shells, images of the Apostle, crosses, medals, and other objects de religion to the pilgrims. The insignia of St. James consisted chiefly in the metal scallop-shells which the pilgrims attached to their robes and broad-brimmed pilgrim's hats. Villa-Amil, quoting Lopez Ferreiro tells us that in virtue of an edict of Gregory ix about 1228, in answer to a petition from the Archbishop and Corporation, the manufacture of these shells in any place except Compostela was strictly prohibited. In 1224 anyone found falsifying them was threatened with the anathema of Pope Alexander iv., and in 1266 Pope Clement iv. went even so far as to publish an edict excommunicating those pilgrims who purchased or wore any other shells than those manufactured in Compostela. Alfonso x., also, in 1260 forbade the pilgrims to wear any insignia of St. James that had not been manufactured on the spot, because by so doing they caused the Cathedral of Santiago to suffer loss both in honour and revenue. Later on, in 1581, confiscation of the article and a fine were imposed on those who dared to falsify the insignia of the Apostle or gilded them with saffron that would not wear. The inns of the town of Santiago at which the pilgrims put up had the sacred sign of the scallop-shells over the central porch. Many of these, now turned into private houses, may still be seen by the traveller. " But how," the reader will ask, " did the scallop-shell come to be chosen as the chief emblem of St. James ? "

 

Next, perhaps, to the scallop-shells in popularity among the pilgrims were the images of St. James, also manufactured for them at Santiago, a favourite material being black jet (azabache). Dr. Fernando Keller, an antiquarian of Zurich, published in 1868 a description of two jet figures of St. James found in Switzerland, near the chapel for leprous pilgrims at Einsiedeln ; and a similar one found in Scotland has been described by a Scotch antiquary as the signaculum of a pilgrim to Santiago, blessed at the shrine before it was carried away. The poorer pilgrims who could not afford a jet image contented themselves with a pewter one. But Villa-Amil says there is plenty of evidence that the sale of the images had nothing to do with the Cathedral, and that the workers in jet were in the habit of besieging the pilgrims and worrying them into the purchase of their images. A few years ago, according to Villa-Amil, not a single specimen of the ancient Santiago jet-worker's art was known (except to a few persons) to be in existence. Yet the confraternity of jet-workers flourished up to the close of the sixteenth century. They are mentioned in a curious notice in a memorial dated August 8, 1570, which Villa-Amil gives at length. In the Ordinances of the Confraternity there are some interesting technical details, such, for instance, as the statement that jet from the Asturias was preferred to Portuguese jet " because it took the straw," i.e. had the power of attraction. With regard to the jet images — the bearded image of St. James, with pilgrim's hat, robe, and staff, usually had two smaller images kneeling on either side of it, but sometimes there was only one. On the upturned brim of his hat there is the conventional shell, and in his left hand he holds an open book. A rosary is suspended from his girdle. He is usually barefooted and barelegged. From the hook of his staff is suspended the leathern bag which was part of every pilgrim's staff. The kneeling figures are attired in pilgrim's garb, also with rosaries. The figure of St. James is never more than seven inches high. The more ancient ones bear traces of gilding. Examples are to be seen in the Kirker Museum at Rome, in the British Museum, in the Museum at Perugia, in the Cluny Museum, and in many other places. Mr. Joseph Anderson, according to Villa-Amil, was long under the impression that the only piece of jet workmanship in the United Kingdom was the little figure of St. James in the Museum of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. A very rare and interesting specimen is the one of which Senor Villa-Amil has kindly presented me with an illustration, and which is in the possession of Guillermo de Osma.

 

The jet-workers (azabacheros) gave their name to the street in which they carried on their trade, which led up to the principal entrance of the cathedral, the fabade of which is still known as la Azahacheria.

 

Sehor Villa-Amil has devoted a most interesting chapter to the subject of the Santiago money-changers. He is convinced that there is absolutely no foundation for the popular fallacy which attributed to these money - changers the functions of a noble corporation, and wrapped them in a romantic halo, as though they were something like " Knights of the Round Table." It is not true that, while they spent their days in changing the pilgrims' money, they guarded by night the sepulchre of St. James. On the contrary, it is now quite certain that, according to the earliest mention that has been found of them, their position was neither a high nor a remarkably honourable one. They are mentioned in reference to a statute passed in the year 1133 to prevent

them from using false weights. And Mauro Castella Ferrer, in his History of St. James, informs us that a man who had been a money-changer, or the master of such, was prohibited from wearing the garb of St. James ! Far from being looked upon as honourable knights, men of this trade were constantly being upbraided all through the Middle Ages for the abuses of which they were the originators. This was the case not only in Santiago, but all over Spain. One charge against them was that they knowingly received and circulated coins that they knew to be worthless.

 

The Confraternity of Money-Changers of Santiago was in existence in the middle of the fifteenth century — for in 1450 Juan II. conceded to them certain privileges. Money-changers, silversmiths, and jet-workers represented the most important industries in Santiago in the Middle Ages, and all these were established in quarters close to the Cathedral. The money-changers, according to Aimerico, carried on their trade in the Azabacheria in company with the jet-workers. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries these money-hangers were no longer simple money-changers seated on the ground with heaps of coin piled around them ; they had risen to the rank of respectable bankers, and many of them were men of considerable standing and wealth. Villa-Amil thinks that Francisco Trevino, whose tomb and effigy may still be seen in the capilla del Salvador of the cathedral, and who was secretary to Archbishop Fonseca in the sixteenth century, was one of these money-changers.

 

Among the saints who came as pilgrims to Santiago are the great names of St. Frances from Italy and St. Bridget from Ireland, Warlike princes journeyed thither that they might obtain the protection of the Apostle against the enemies they were to meet in the field of battle. Philip 11. visited the sepulchre of St. James before embarking with the Armada for the British coast. Among the queenly pilgrims to Santiago were Isabel, queen of Portugal, and Catherine of Aragon, the unhappy wife of our Henry viii. The Cid and the Gran Capitan both came to Santiago. William x., Count of Portiers and Duke of Aquitaine, expired in 1137 in the nave of the Cathedral while joining in the Divine service. Louis vii. of France came here on his return with the French army from the Second Crusade. It was thought a blessed thing to die on the road to or from Santiago. In the thirteenth century, Juan de Briena, King of Jerusalem and Emperor of Constantinople, was among the pilgrims. The Franciscan monk William de Rubruquis, who was sent by Louis ix. to convert the Mongols of Siberia, found among the Tartars a Nestorian monk who intended to make a pilgrimage to St. James of Galicia. Queen Matilda, the daughter of Henry i. of England and wife of the Emperor Henry v. of Germany, on returning to her old home as a widow in 1124, carried with her the bones of one of the hands of St. James. Contemporary annalists regarded this as an irreparable loss to the Kingdom.

 

Pilgrims continued to flock to Galicia in thousands up to and throughout the sixteenth century.

 

In the year 1550 the first edition of a book entitled Descripcion del Reyno de Galicia was printed at Mondoñedo. Its author was Francisco Molina, a native of Malaga and a canon of the Cathedral of Mondoñedo. There is a copy of the first edition in the library of Santiago University. This is one of the most curious and at the same time most valuable of all the old works upon Galicia that are still extant. This "Description of the Kingdom of Galicia" is written in verse, with explanatory footnotes on every page. Here we read that of all the cathedrals of the world that of Santiago was the most visited. " It is venerated by all nations," says the writer, " especially by the Slavs. A Slav who makes a pilgrimage to Santiago is, on his return to his native country, considered free from all his sins and escapes many of the annoyances to which the others (who had not been to Santiago) are subjected. Every year we see, on the 1st of May, processions of Slavs with offerings, with thick and long wax candles. Having shown themselves to their friends at home, they return the next year, in May, till they have been three times, and on the occasion of the third procession they wear three crowns. They then return to Esclavonia, where they henceforth enjoy great liberty." This is certainly very like the journey of Mohammedans to Mecca ! " The number of pilgrims is a marvellous thing ! " exclaims Molina. " The only other cathedrals where there is a concourse of pilgrims anything like that at Santiago are St. Peter's at Rome and St. John's at Ephesus. More pilgrims come to Santiago than to these two, especially in Jubilee year (every seven years) ; but since Luther arose with his dangerous views, the number of German, French, English and Bohemian pilgrims has somewhat decreased." Molina owns that the people who take the least part in these pilgrimages are the Spaniards, " perhaps because they are contented to know that they have the Cathedral and relics of St. James in their own land, or perhaps because they prefer seeing foreign lands to travelling in their own country."

 

Molina tells his readers that the relics are shown to the pilgrims on certain days of the week by a man specially appointed for the purpose on account of his linguistic talents. He is called lenguagero (linguist). The head of the glorious Apostle is carried round the Cathedral on all feast days in solemn procession. " One of the relics is a drop of milk from the breast of the Virgin in a vase as fresh and perfect as if of to-day. There is also a precious lock of her hair, and a thorn from Christ's crown which turns the colour of blood every Good Friday."

 

"St. James brought nine disciples with him to Spain," writes Molina. We will leave his account of the great hospital erected for the pilgrims till another chapter. He devotes many pages to a careful description of the arms of the great families of Galicia, and with them of the arms of St. James. " The reason why the pilgrims wear a scallop-shell as the insignum of St. James," he explains, " is that a certain nobleman, who wished to accompany the body of the Apostle to Galicia, not finding a passage in the ship, entered the sea on horse- back, and thus reached Galicia. As he came out of the water it was found that his body and that of his horse were covered with scallop-shells. And now, the pilgrim who does not bring scallop-shells back with him is not believed to have been to Santiago at all."

 

The crowding of the pilgrims to Mass was so great in the early years of the seventeenth century, that the priest, after administering the Holy Communion in the Chapel of the King of France, administered it in the nave, in the transept, in the cloisters, and even in the large square which is now called Plaza de los Literarios, but which was then called the La Quintana. All these places were tightly packed with pilgrims. As late as the year 1706, altars were temporarily erected in the cloister for the priest to say Mass. In 1794, D. Miguel Ferro, Architect of the Cathedral, wrote : " The crowd of pilgrims on the great feast days is so large, that only two-thirds of them can get into the Cathedral, apart from the families who live in the town." " Since then,"wrote Sanchez in 1888, " the revolutions which inaugurated the present epoch, and the spirit of religious indifference which has unfortunately affected modern minds, have influenced the decadence of pilgrimages to Santiago ; they are now only the shadow of what they were. . . . To-day, nevertheless, we feel the fervour and enthusiasm of bygone days is once more growing. . . . With the discovery of the Sacred Relics of the Apostle, Santiago appears at certain epochs to recover her former appearance. Never shall we forget the 29th of June 1883, on which, staff in hand, and on foot, and chanting hymns, there arrived at the sacred portal of the Cathedral a company of Augustine friars, who had been unjustly forced to leave France, their mother country. Shortly after their arrival we witnessed that of another band of pilgrims, composed of students from the Catholic University of Paris, and most of whom belonged to the noblest families of France."

 

It has been seen that the portals of the Cathedral were kept open day and night for the convenience of the pilgrims ; those who had been unable to receive shelter in the over-crowded inns often passed entire nights within the precincts of the Cathedral, sleeping on the stones of the cloister and even in the Cathedral itself, using the galleries as if the sacred edifice had been an inn. If we may trust Quintela Naya, it was not till the thirteenth century that the making up of beds in the Cathedral was forbidden. In order that the atmosphere of the edifice might be purified for the relays of pilgrims, recourse was had to incense-burning, and there eventually came into use, history cannot tell us when, the wonderful botafumeiro, or giant censer, which is to this very day one of the glories of the Cathedral.

 

There seems to be no trace of the use of incense in Christian worship during the first three centuries. St. Clement of Alexandria (AD 192) said, when contrasting the Christian service with pagan rites, " the truly holy altar is the just soul, and its perfume is holy prayer." Only when great crowds of unwashed pilgrims began to make the air of the churches intolerable was the use of incense, as a disinfectant, introduced into Divine Service. Its use as a part of the ritual dates from about the end of the fifth century. It is supposed that all the side chapels of Santiago Cathedral had at first their own incense-burners, but that when the pilgrims took to sleeping round the altar and in the gallery which encircles the nave and transept, these being found insufficient to purify the air of the entire building, their place was taken by a huge silver casket filled with incense and suspended by iron chains and by ropes and pulleys from the triangle of the cupola. This great incensario was solemnly swung the whole length of the nave backwards and forwards above the heads of the pilgrims.

 

Whether the botafumeiro, which may still be seen to swing in Santiago Cathedral is the original one which was in use there in the thirteenth century, is not known. Señor Villa-Amil was not able for many years to find any earlier allusion to this one than a passage discovered by Zepedano in Oscea's Historia del glorioso Apostol Santiago (1615), which says that in 1602 an order was given for the old beams from which the great incense-burner was suspended to be replaced by new ones, and new pulleys to be provided from the Biscay ironworks. The censer is described as resembling a great silver cauldron, into which were put from four to six pounds of perfume, and which, suspended by a long rope, was swung to and fro by five or six men during the principal festivals so as to fumigate the entire edifice. Recently, with the help of Señor Lopez Ferreiro, a passage dating from the fourteenth century has been found, in the Codex of Calixtus 11., where the great annual festival in honour of St. James is described. It runs thus : " Nunc decoretur cum Capite beati Jacobi alphei mire magnitudinis in testis argenti deaurati cum multis et magnis lapidibus pretiosis in testis et maxime cum magno turibulo argenteo, a sumitate ecclesie et funibus suspensum per rotas currendo a portale septentrionali usque a portali meridiano pleno carbonibus incensis cum ture feriendo in utraque parte sumitatis ecclesie, estante antistite in pontificale cum tota procesine ut supra." With regard to the form of the incenseburner here mentioned, Villa-Amil says that it was fashioned like a turret, because in a Bull of Nicholas v., which was dispatched from Rome on September 27, 1447, there is promulgated a sentence of excommunication against the person who should steal from the Cathedral of Santiago " quoddam jocale argenteum in modum bastitie artificis ingenio fabricatum, valoris mille ducatorum vel circa."

 

In yet another passage in an old volume in the Library of Seville Cathedral, Señor Villa-Amil has found the following : " In the year 1499 the Infanta Catarina was about to be married to the Prince of Wales, the son and heir of the king of England, and she, the daughter of King Fernando and Queen Isabella, before she embarked at Coruña (it was the Jubilee year), attended Mass in the Cathedral at Santiago, which was so full that it seemed as if it would be impossible, without the greatest difficulty, to get another person into the transept. A censer swung above the people as large as a great cauldron, suspended by very thick iron chains. It was filled with live charcoal, upon which had been heaped incense and other perfumes. And it swung so far as to reach almost from one door of the transept to the other. Suddenly, while it was swinging, the chains upon which it was swinging broke with a sound like the report of a gun, and, without dropping a single ash, the censer swung out of the door of the Cathedral, where it was smashed to atoms, and dispersed all its red-hot coals without any one being hurt."

 

Villa-Amir s article was published in 1889. His book, from which I have translated the above incident, was not published until May 1907, but the story appears to have been handed down from generation to generation among the townspeople of Santiago ; it was related to me by a Santiago shopkeeper in February 1907. " Once," he said solemnly, " in ages past, the rope by which the censer was swinging broke, and the censer flew out of the window over the gate of the Platerias, right over to the fountain." "And killed a lady," put in his son, who was listening. " No ; it did not hurt any one," said the shopkeeper, shaking his head. " It was before my time and before my father's time — but it can't happen again, for ever since that day the master carpenter of the Cathedral is always present to watch. He is one of those who pull the rope, and it is he who stops the censer at the conclusion of the ceremony."

 

It was on February 2, 1907, that I had the good fortune to assist at the celebration of Candlemas, one of the four principal festivals of the year, at Santiago Cathedral ; and on that occasion the " king of censers," as Victor Hugo called it in his poem, swung before my admiring eyes. The service began at 9.30. The Archbishop with his red cap (for he is now a Cardinal) and ermine cape, presided. Standing in the transept close to the choir in the midst of a large congregation, all standing or kneeling, I saw two men come forward bearing " the largest incense-burner in the world " suspended by its chains to a horizontal pole. They placed it on the pavement, exactly under the central cupola, from the triangle of which hung the two ends of a rope worked by a pulley. The chains of the great silver censer were now attached to one end of the rope, while seven strong men clutched the other end, and, pulling it, caused the cauldron to rise in the air above our heads till it was about ten feet from the ground. Then it began to swing gently. Every eye was fixed on it, and there was for a moment the perfect silence of universal expectation, but only for a moment, for then the silver tones of a couple of clarions (chirimias) fell upon our ears. At length the great censer, as if taking courage at the sound of the music, swung boldly out across the transept. It swung higher and higher, and the clear voice of the silver-voiced clarions sounded more and more triumphant. At last it swung so high that I thought it must turn a somersault, and pour its glowing charcoal upon our upturned faces. We saw its perforated top filled with tongue-like flames fanned by the wind. And, in the midst of it all, the sight of those hundreds of eager, upturned faces. What a study ! When Borrow visited Galicia he heard of " the mighty censers, which are at times swung so high by machinery as to smite the vaulted roof of the Cathedral," but he did not have the privilege of assisting at one of those extraordinary ceremonies. " It is one of the things to see," said a professor of the University to whom I mentioned it. " It is one of the sights of Santiago." I do not know for how long the censer swung above our heads, covering at each gigantic swing the whole length of the transept, — perhaps ten minutes, perhaps fifteen, — but at last it began to swing more gently and to rise less high, and then it gradually subsided till it ceased swinging altogether. While the five men were detaching it from its rope the congregation began to press into the central nave, where a large ring had been formed by the priests. Here the ecclesiastical musicians had taken their stand, and here they gave us a (violins and 'cellos) repertoire of church music, to which the congregation listened with rapture. The two clarionets or chirimias are only heard while the censer swings. It is their sacred privilege to accompany its flight, and give by their clear tones the final touch to one of the most dramatic scenes ever witnessed in a Christian church. It reminded me of the moment when I saw the aged Pope Leo x. carried to his throne in St. Peter's at Rome (on the occasion of his Jubilee), while clarion music imitated the singing of angels in the great cupola of Michael Angelo.

 

Señor Villa- Amil has discovered that Sergius i. (687-701) provided a censer, according to the biography of this pope quoted by Anastasius the librarian : " Thyniia- materium aureum columnis, . . . quod suspendit arte eandtim imaginum S. Petri, in quo incensum et odor suavitaUs festis diebus missarum solemnia celehrantur otnnipofenti Deo opulentius mittitur." Villa- Amil believes, with Ferreiro, that of this class of suspended censers that of Santiago was probably one of the first. For many years the swinging censer of Santiago was thought to be the only example of the kind, but Señor Benito Alonso has published the following paragraph, which he recently discovered among the Proceedings of the Corporation of Orense, by Inocencio Portabales : " On December 21, 1503, the Corporation of Orense appointed Juan Diaz, a citizen of the town, to the office of administrating and swinging the censer (botafumeiro) , which was provided with ropes and enormous cords. It was swung in the transept of the Cathedral suspended from the roof of the lantern on Christmas Day, at Easter, Pentecost, Ascension, Corpus, St. John the Baptist's Day, St. Peter's Day, etc."  It is clear, then, that in the Cathedral of Orense, as well as in that of Santiago, there was a swinging censer in use during the Middle Ages.

 

But to return to the pilgrims : the roads of Christendom were so crowded with them that Dante exclaims —

" Mira mira ecco il Barone Per cui laggiu si visita Galizia."

 

"At the marriage of our Edward I, in 1254, with Leonora, sister of Alfonso el Sabio, a special bodyguard for English pilgrims was demanded ; but they came in such numbers that the French took alarm, and when Enrique 11 was enabled by the aid of France to dethrone Don Pedro, he was compelled to prevent any English whatever from entering Spain without the French king's permission. The capture of Santiago by John of Gaunt increased the difficulties. . . . Rymer mentions 916 licences granted to English in 1428, and 2460 in 1434. In the Middle Ages the duty of a pilgrimage to Compostela was absolutely necessary in many cases to take up an inheritance."

 

Lopez Ferreiro tells us in his great work on Santiago Cathedral that the English had both a hospital and a church for the use of their pilgrims near Cebrero in the province of Lugo. Pope Alexander III mentions it in his Bull conferring upon them all the privileges of Santiago. English pilgrims used to come by sea for a long time, but when they became masters of Aquitaine most of them came by land. Henry II sent ambassadors to Ferdinand ii. with a message that for some time he had been intending to visit the Cathedral of Santiago, and asking him to provide a safe escort for his ambassadors. Pilgrims from England were kindly received at the Gallegan monasteries, which they passed on their way from the coast, especially at Sobrado, of which the picturesque ruins are still standing.

 

CHAPTER VIII : THE CATHEDRAL OF SANTIAGO

 

The original church — Compared with St. Sernin of Toulouse — A great resemblance — Notable differences — The respective architects — The monks of Cluny — Two master builders — The cupola — The naves — Street's description — Seven gates — The Puerta de los Platerias — Sculptured figures — Defects of the age — Street's admiration — The windows — The horseshoe arch — Sculpture and statuary — The dramatic sentiment — The clock tower — The deep-toned bell — The Puerta Santa — The Quintana — The Azabacheria — The Obradoiro — The Italian staircase — The cloister

 

THE central point both of archaeological and of architectural interest in Galicia is, without a doubt, the beautiful cathedral of Santiago. Tradition tells us that this majestic edifice covers the spot where the body of St. James was discovered by the guiding light of a star, in the year 812. The original church erected there having been destroyed, the first stone of the present one was thought until recently to have been laid by Alphonso vi, king of Castille and Leon, on July 11th, 1078, because, on a jamb of the Puerta de los Platerias there is an inscription to the effect that the work was done in the year 1116 of the Spanish era. There is nothing, however, to show whether that date refers to the commencement or to the conclusion of the facade. The Codex of Calixtus 11. (Bk. v.) gives this date as that of its commencement ; but it also gives the length of time which elapsed between the beginning of the work and the death of Alfonso I. of Aragon as fifty-nine years, and between the beginning of the work and the death of our Henry I as seventy-two years — and again, between that date and the death of Louis vi. of France as seventy-three years. The building must then have been begun in 1074 or 1075. Another indication of this is the fact that in the writings of St. Fagildo the work is spoken of on August 17th, 1077, as already begun. The exact date of the building of this cathedral is of considerable interest to students of architecture, because, when once it is proved that it was begun before the French cathedral of S. Sernin of Toulouse, the repeated assertion that the cathedral of Santiago is a copy of that of St. Sernin will no longer hold good.

 

It cannot be denied that the two cathedrals in question bear a strong resemblance to one another. Nevertheless, their plan of construction is far from being identical. Both have the form of a Latin cross, but St. Sernin has five naves, Santiago only three. The proportions of the Spanish edifice are more harmonious than are those of the French one. The naves of St. Sernin are too long in proportion to the length of her transept. The transepts of the two cathedrals are very much alike ; each has one wide central nave, and a surrounding collateral one. St. Sernin has two small apsechapels opening on the southern side of each arm of the transept, and Santiago must have originally had the same, though only one exists to-day. The principal nave in each case is headed by a semicircular apse fringed with five apse chapels. Fernandez Casanova, after careful and minute study of both edifices, has pointed out two other radical differences, beside that of the number of naves, and the disproportionately long naves of St. Sernin. Firstly, the cathedral of Santiago has its two lofty central naves entirely surrounded by a collateral one without any interruption, whereas that of St. Sernin has two distinct collateral naves on either side of the principal nave ; but these verge into one on reaching the transept, with a result that is far less symmetrical : secondly, the spaces into which the collateral naves of St. Sernin are divided are square, while in the case of Santiago cathedral they are rectangular. Then, too, the towers of Santiago are placed to the north and south of the west front, not to the west of it, as is the case with that of St. Sernin. Besides, according to the description given by Americus in the Codex of Cahxtus II, the cathedral of Santiago could originally boast of no less than nine towers, and traces of some of them are still discernible in spite of the countless alterations and mutilations to which the building has fallen a victim.

 

In the construction of the triforium galleries of these respective cathedrals there is also a notable difference : in that of Santiago one uninterrupted gallery runs round the whole edifice. Ascending by the broad tower staircase, I was able to pass round the inner side of the outer walls of the entire building. The galleries of St. Sernin only surround the body of the church. Both cathedrals have their central naves covered with barrel vaults sand their side naves with quadripartite ones. Beside the differences I have pointed out, there are also many Miñor ones, which will be found conscientiously described by Fernandez Casanova.

 

The cathedral of Santiago is constructed of sparkling grey granite ; that of St. Sernin is of brick and mortar. Not only the cathedral, but practically the whole town of Santiago, is built, like Aberdeen, of granite, that material being exceedingly abundant in Galicia. Travellers used in former times to complain of the sombre look of the houses on that account. But now almost every dwelling is well whitewashed, and presents, with its green shutters, quite a cheerful appearance. And the grey cathedral itself lights up beautifully under the golden rays of the afternoon sun. Many a time have I seen its sparkling stones resembling rather burnished bronze than sombre grey granite.

 

Lopez Ferreiro points out that one of the singularities of the cathedral of Santiago is the length of its transept, which is almost as long as the body of the edifice. And well I remember how, on entering for the first time, I for a moment mistook the wide and lofty transept for the central nave. In the whole of Europe there are only five other cathedrals which share this peculiarity — Pisa, Salisbury, Conques, St. Sernin of Toulouse, and St. Petronius of Bologna. Ferreiro firmly believes that the cathedral of St. Sernin is a copy of that of Santiago. This writer has also drawn attention to the ingenious and original form of the buttresses  which surround the body of the cathedral. They are all joined together and strengthened by arches ; they thus form, as it were, one great buttress. There seem to be only two other examples of this — that of Poictiers and that of Celles (Belgium).

 

It is not known who were the respective architects of the cathedrals of St. Sernin and Santiago, so that when French writers claim for their country the honour of having produced both these works of art, they have no real foundation to go upon. Still one cannot deny that they have an appearance of great probability on their side, especially when we find that Dalmatius, the bishop of Compostela under whose guidance so much of the work was carried on, had himself issued from the cloisters of Cluny. It was the monks of Cluny who designed the beautiful porch (narthex) of the church of Vezelay which is permeated with the Greco-Roman art of Syria. In 1150 they constructed the capitular chapel of the same edifice, of which the sculpture is so remarkably Byzantine, and, as we shall see, there is a strong Byzantine element in the design and sculpture of the Cathedral of Santiago. But then Byzantine influence made itself felt in Spain as far back as the first century of the Christian Era, through commercial intercourse with the Mediterranean. In the eighth century, too, Spain was filled with Byzantine Christians fleeing from the Iconoclast persecution. 

 

When we consider how far the monks of Cluny travelled and how wide was their influence upon the architecture of other countries besides their own, including England, it would not be surprising to find that after crossing the Pyrenees they had found their way even to Galicia, and left traces of their influence in the architecture of that province. Nevertheless, feeling on this disputed point runs very high between Frenchman and Spaniard, and the latter is leaving no stone unturned in his efforts to prove that the Cathedral of Santiago owes less to foreign artists than the French have hitherto claimed.

 

The Cathedral of Santiago was built just at the period when the architecture of Europe was beginning to change from Romanesque to Gothic ; it belongs, therefore, to a period of transition. Enough of the original structure remains for it to rank as the chief monument of the Romanesque style in Spain and one of the most famous cathedrals of that architecture in the world. The importance of the pilgrimages to the tomb of St. James in the eleventh century created a demand for a great cathedral. Begun, as we have seen, about the year 1074, it was completed in 1128. Lamperez describes it as being more noble, more magnificent, and more perfect than either of those so nearly resembling it in the south of France. " Was it a copy of these ? " he asks, " or was it the pattern from which they were taken ? " " But where," he adds, " if the Cathedral of Santiago was the original model, where, in Spain, are the edifices — the attempts at perfection — which must have preceded and led up to it ? "  

 

In the Historia Compostelana we read that the cathedral was set on fire in 1170, and Ferreiro says that in 1878, when excavations were made within the precincts of the building, traces of fire were certainly found. He takes this as an indication that the Moors must have used fire in their attempts to destroy the cathedral. Aimerico  says that in spite of the fire the structure was completed in 1122. He remarks enthusiastically that every one who ascends to the gallery, even if he be sad at heart, must become joyful in contemplating from thence the beauty of the cathedral. In those days it was much better lighted than it is at present, for the upper windows had not been closed up, and the light of heaven streamed in on every side. Clearly its present gloom, though not unpleasing, was never intended by the architect. The names of two master-builders who superintended the building have been preserved — Bernardo and Rotberto : the latter had fifty masons to work under him, and the former is characterised by Aimerico as mirabilis magister. I have already described the eagerness with which pilgrims of all ranks, ages, and sexes assisted the workmen. In the year 1124 two canons of Santiago were engaged in collecting money for the completion of the cathedral in places as far away as Sicily and Apulia. Money continued to flow in from all parts of Spain. " After St. James's body had been removed to Santiago," writes Ford, " riches poured in, especially the corn-rent, said to have been granted in 846 by Ramiro, to repay Santiago's services at Clavijo, where he (the Apostle) killed single-handed 60,000 Moors — more or less. This grant was a bushel of corn from every acre in Spain, and was called el voto and el morion, the votive offering of the quantity which St. James's spacious helmet contained. . . . This corn-rent, estimated at £200,000 a year, used to be collected by agents. . . . This tax was abolished in 1835."

 

Where the cupola now rises over the centre of the cross which the building forms there once stood one of the original nine towers : it was destroyed in 1384. The cupola is Gothic and polygonal in form, and should have eight elegantly pointed Gothic windows, separated from one another by Byzantine columns, but, according to Fernandez Sanchez, some architect of the seventeenth century substituted ugly rectangular windows here and there, while he blocked up some of the old ones, and so firmly were they closed that it was found impossible to restore them to their original form when the restoration of the edifice was put in hand towards the end of the nineteenth century. This cupola, according to Sanchez, is the first piece of work put in by the later generations who subsequently did so much to ruin the harmonious unity, the exquisite symmetry of the original cathedral.

 

The naves of this cathedral are, as Ford noticed more than fifty years ago, narrow in proportion to their height and length — the height of the central nave being a little more than seventy feet. " The light and elegant piers contrast with the enormous thickness of the outer walls." For my own part, I know of no cathedral whose interior proportions are so simple in their perfection and so restful to the eye. Street describes them in these words : " Engaged columns run up from the floor to the vault, and carry transverse ribs or arches below the great waggon-vault. The triforium opens to the nave with a round arch subdivided with two arches carried on a detached shaft." The gloom-filled side naves are still lined with confessional boxes dedicated to various saints, where pilgrims of every nationality can find a priest who understands something of their language.

 

This cathedral once had seven gates, most of them open day and night to pilgrims. Aimerico gives all their names : the Porta-Santa is the only one remaining. There are three facades which merit our careful attention. Let us leave for awhile the beauties of the interior and devote ourselves now to those of the exterior. The edifice is built on ground by no means level, hence the necessity for the handsome flight of steps that lead to the Puerta de las Platerias which constitutes the southern facade of the cathedral, and is thus named because it faces the Street of the Silversmiths. This facade is of extreme interest for many reasons. To begin with, it is the oldest part of the cathedral, and the only one of the original facades that has been preserved, the only one left to give us a true idea of what the exterior must have been like in the days of its pristine beauty. This facade is decorated with no less than a hundred sculptured figures, most of them of white marble. The sculpture of the facade itself is remarkable. In most countries where granite abounds sculpture is coarse and rude, but here the reverse is the case, in spite of the fact that it is the work of the eleventh century. All the statues are semi-relief, the white marble being encrusted as it were upon the granite walls. Although these statues exhibit some of the defects of their age, — rigidity of limb, unnatural posture, and other faults, — yet they are indisputably an example of the best sculpture of the last quarter of the eleventh century. Upon the tunics of some of the statues Ferreiro has noted a suspicion of the corded fringe seen upon statues of the ancient Romans.

 

Street could not speak too highly of the beauties of this facade. He wrote: " The detail of the front is of great interest, inasmuch as it is clearly by another and an earlier workman than that of the western porch. There are three shafts in each jamb of the doors, whereof the outer are of marble, the rest of stone. These marble shafts are carved with extreme delicacy, with a series of figures in niches, the niches having round arches, which rest upon columns separating the figures. The work is so characteristic as to deserve illustration. It is executed almost everywhere with that admirable delicacy so conspicuous in early Romanesque sculpture. The other shafts are twisted in very bold fashion. . . . Figures on either side support the ends of the lintels of the doors, but the tympana and the wall above for some feet are covered with pieces of sculpture evidently taken down and re-fixed where they are now seen. They are arranged, in short, like the casts of the Crystal Palace, as if the wall were part of a museum. One of the stones of the tympanum of the eastern door has the ' Crowning with Thorns ' and the ' Scourging,' and on the other stones above are portions of a ' Descent into Hades,' in which asses with wings are kneeling to our Lord. Asses and other beasts are carved elsewhere, and altogether the work has a rude barbaric splendour characteristic of its age."

 

Street was also much struck with the windows above the double entrance of this facade, and he wrote : " Their shafts and archivolts are richly twisted and carved, and the cusping of the inner arch is of a rare kind. It consists of five complete foils, so that the points of the lower cusp rest on the capital, and, to a certain extent, the effect of a horseshoe arch is produced. This might be hastily assumed to be a feature borrowed from the Moors ; but the curious fact is that this very rare form of cusping is seen in many, if not most, of the churches of the Auvergnal type . . . and it must be regarded here, therefore, as another proof of the foreign origin of most of the work of Santiago rather than of any Moorish influence." This allusion to the horseshoe arch is of particular interest in connection with the remarks we have already made upon that form of architecture in a previous chapter. Fernandez Casanova and Lopez Ferreiro would describe the form of the arches of this facade as Byzantine, and argue that such a form has existed in Spain since the sixth century.

 

The statues of this facade — the birds, the flowers, and the beasts — are all part of a mystic and profound symbolism. Ferreiro calls them a compendium in stone of Divine Revelation, remarking that they offer sufficient material to fill a book ; he then quotes a different text of Scripture to explain each figure. In the space between the figures of Christ and St. James are sculptured vertically the letters — A N F REX - meaning King Alfonso vi, in whose reign this portico was constructed.

 

In this portico, as Ferreiro rightly observes, we must distinguish the sculpture from the statuary. The former is rich and varied and its execution and composition are above praise, especially as seen in the sculpture of the capitals. But the age of iconography was only just dawning, and the statues show a sad want of proportion and are too monotonously alike to be really lifelike. The dramatic sentiment is here interpreted by means of contortions of the limbs and exaggerated facial movement. Yet among these hundred figures there are at least two statues that stand out as far superior and more lifelike than any of the others — namely, those of Christ and of Abraham, whose faces are very beautiful, and might take their place even beside those of the Portico de Gloria, with which we shall occupy ourselves later on.

The tympana of this facade exhibit certain peculiarities which may be said to be specialities of Gallegan architecture. In other schools the tympanum is divided into two parts, but here it is not divided. The tympanum of each gate rests upon the heads of monsters sculptured with remarkable energy.

 

Standing with our backs to this facade, we have to our right the offices of the cathedral chapter and the treasury with its plateresque or filigree stone-work of the Renaissance style, and in the corner where the treasury runs into or joins the facade is the gigantic and much-talked-of Shell of St. James, which supports almost the entire weight of the wide treasury staircase, and is considered a marvel of engineering skill. Above the southern end of the treasury building rises one of the original towers, still in good preservation. It reminds one somewhat of a Japanese tower, and contrasts strangely with the more modern ones. There is a tradition among the townspeople that a lady left a large sum of money to be spent in honour of this tower. Priests in gorgeous mitres purchased with this money were to make annual processions beneath its shadow scattering the fumes of incense and chanting. There is a couplet composed by some local wag, which alludes to the mitres and incense somewhat mockingly.

 

On the other side of the Puerta de las Platerias rises the beautiful clock tower which was begun in the Gothic style in 1463. " We cannot understand," writes Sanchez, " how the architects of the seventeenth century could possibly prefer those great pointed windows (which they added) to the beautifully shaped Gothic ones of the lower part with their elegant columns and pilastres ! " Here were formerly hung the two great bells whose metal was presented by Louis XI. of France, and which were cast in Santiago in 1483. This was one of the first cathedrals to possess a clock tower, and its example was soon followed by Milan and Padua. The original clock was the work of a clever mechanic named Guillen. In 1522 he put up the first one, and ten years later he replaced it by one of better make. The machinery was most complicated and curious. This remarkable clock, according to Lopez Ferreiro, struck not only the hours, but also the days, the months, the movable feast days, the course of the sun, and even the changes of the moon ! The last was at the special command of Cardinal Maldonado. Guillen was also a skilled artist in ornamental metal work ; several specimens of his work are still preserved in the cathedral, including a candelabra, and the railings of the Capilla Mayo, which he made in conjunction with Pedro Flamenco between 1535 and 1540. The authorities granted him and his wife Constance a house in the town in 1467. Guillen's clock having been destroyed, another, manufactured in London, was put up in its place. The present clock was paid for by Archbishop Velez and constructed by Andreo Antelo, a skilled artist of Ferrol, in 1831. There is a long Latin inscription round the pedestal. The bell which strikes the hours is said to be one of the best in the world. It was hung towards the close of the eighteenth century ; Villa-Amil gives the date as 1779. Such is the richness and body of its tone that on calm days it can be heard in the surrounding valleys at a distance of seven miles. For three months I resided within a stone's throw of the cathedral, and never did I listen to the mellow and sonorous tones of that bell without experiencing a thrill of pleasure. Galicia's poetess, Rosalia de Castro, loved to hear it, and mentions it in one of her poems.

 

As we have seen, the only one of the seven minor entrances to the cathedral is the Puerta Santa, or, as it is sometimes called, la Puerta de los Perdones ; it opens upon the Plaza de los Literarios, to the west of the cathedral. This is the Jubilee door, and is only opened once in every seven years, on the occasions when the feast of Santiago falls upon a Sunday ; the archbishop himself performs the ceremony. The Jubilee is celebrated in accordance with the privilege conceded by Calixtus 11. in the year 1122. The Puerta Santa, of which the original sculpture has disappeared, is now adorned with twenty-four Byzantine statues, whose inscriptions have gone : there are twelve of these in twelve niches on either side, which have been utilised from the debris of the older parts. Above the door is a large statue of St. James in pilgrim's garb with staff in hand ; and on either side of him, also in niches but some three sizes smaller, are the two disciples who were buried with him. On the tympanum of the inner door are inscribed the words : " Haec est Domus Dei et porta Coeli." Every Jubilee year for many a century a choir of blind peasants has stood by this door and sung to those who entered the simple folk-songs of their native land.

 

Another entrance on the same side of the cathedral, and the one by which pilgrims have been wont to enter the sacred precincts from time immemorial, is called la Facade y Puerta del Reloj, or the facade and door of the clock. It is also called the Quintana ; because the square upon which it opens was once the Quintana de los Muertos, or the cemetery of the canons. This square is one of the finest in the town : its name was changed in honour of those brave students of the University who formed themselves into a battalion at the time of Napoleon's invasion, and fell fighting for the deliverance of their country. A white marble tablet on the fortress-like wall of the convent of San Payo, which forms the side of the square opposite to the cathedral, bears an inscription to their memory. Another side of the square is formed by a huge monastic pile — the convent of Antealtares — and on the south the handsome granite building with Doric columns now used as post and telegraph offices. Many a time have I stood in front of the post office, sometimes to take a photo of the cathedral, and sometimes to admire the winding granite balustrades upon the battlement-like towers and cupola which rise majestically behind the western front. This facade, with its four stout Doric columns, replaced the original Romanesque entrance towards the end of the seventeenth century. The heads of many of the statues on either side of the entrance have long since disappeared.

 

We now turn our steps northwards that we may examine the Facade of the Azabacheria, which faces to the north, and is so called because the street of the jet-workers leads up to it. Fernandez Sanchez describes this facade as " without a doubt the best of the modern works which surround the cathedral." It was planned by the celebrated Spanish architect Ventura Rodrigrez, and finished under the supervision of a local genius, Domingo Antonio Luis Montenegro, in 1758. It consists of two storeys : the lower one is of the Ionic order, the upper of the Doric. Each has four columns, while the lower one has a pillar in the centre, separating the two entrances and serving as a basement for a statue of Faith which is seen in the centre of the upper storey. The doors and windows have semicircular lintels of the pattern seen in hundreds of Italian churches of that period. Above these are the arms of the archbishops, medallions, and other military trophies. To crown all, there rises the figure of St. James in pilgrim garb, with a king kneeling on either side of him. Alas, indeed, that so ordinary and uninteresting a piece of work should have replaced a facade that must have rivalled that of the Platerias in its beauty and elegance !

 

There still remains one more facade for us to study —the western one, called the Facade of the Obradoira, after the workshops of the goldsmiths that were once situated in the building to the right. Here we have what may be called the grand entrance to the cathedral. Eighteenth-century Italian steps in two winding flights with stone balustrades lead up to the double doorway, behind which is concealed the crowning glory of Galicia, the world-famed Portico de Gloria. On either side rise the great twin steeples, the lower portions of which date from the eleventh century and were part of the original Romanesque towers. " The only peculiarity about them," wrote Street, "is the planning of the staircases. The steps are carried all round the steeples in the thickness of the walls, and the central space is made use of for a succession of small chambers one above the other. These staircases are unusually wide and good, and their mode of construction obviously very strong."

 

We stand in the centre of the chief square in the town, the Plaza de Alfonso xii., to study the workmanship of the facade of which the twin steeples seem to form a part. The general effect of the whole is really very fine, but we feel as we gaze upon this facade that, to say the least, it is monotonous even in its grandeur. Yet, for all that, we are now contemplating a piece of work which is universally acknowledged to be the most beautiful, the most sumptuous, the most truly magnificent example of the Churrigueresque style  of architecture in the whole of Spain. So monumental is it that in looking at it we fail to perceive the details. It is indeed " a perfect example of monumental exuberance." As we have remarked in the preceding chapter, the style of Churriguera is in reality a prolongation and exaggeration of the style which in Spain is called plateresque ; it is a decadent, a fin de siecle style even at its best, and we have a lurking sensation of sympathy with the traveller who wickedly designated the style of this facade as vile. However, as the work is unquestionably monumental, it is of interest to the student of Galicia to learn that its author was a native of that province, a Gallegan — Fernando de Casas y Novoa.

 

This facade is composed of three storeys, with columns of the mixed order and covered profusely with bas-relief twists and curls of granite, which do not show up at all clearly in any photograph that has come under my notice. Those, therefore, who wish to form a correct opinion of it should suspend their judgment until they have had an opportunity of examining the original.

 

The doors of this entrance to the cathedral are of cedar wood and studded with handsome bronze nails, with elaborate plates and knockers from the workshops of Cordova, so celebrated at the commencement of the seventeenth century. Below, on a level with the Plaza de Alfonso xii., is the entrance to the so-called Catedral Vieja, the little crypt-like chapel of which we shall have much to say in another chapter.

 

Let us now find our way to the cathedral cloister, which is described by Fernandez Sanchez as " a perfect example of the plateresque style," with its beautiful bas-reliefs, saints and busts, and the arms of Archbishop Fonseca, under whose auspices it was built at the same date as the neighbouring sacristy. The original cloister, erected by Gelmirez, was destroyed by fire towards the end of the eleventh century ; the present cloister was begun in 152 1 and finished fifty-nine years later. It is in the Renaissance style, and was designed by a Flemish architect ; above its arches, some of which are slightly pointed, the sloping roofs terminate with a lace-like border of elegant stone filigree work, and there are graceful pinnacles between the arches. The joins and angles of the Gothic vaulting of this cloister are groined with simple fan tracery which springs from its own capitals supported by the graceful and elegantly moulded pillars which divide the arches on the outer side and spring from the bas-relief border on the wall side. The graceful Renaissance windows in the walls give light to the neighbouring sacristy and other offices of the cathedral.

 

The inner walls of the cloister are decorated with bands of bas-relief sculpture in the purest Greco-Roman style of the Renaissance. The pavement is composed partly of tomb-stones of priests with interesting inscriptions and heraldic emblems. Standing in the patio of this cloister and looking to the south we get a fine view of the two steeple towers that rise behind the Churrigueresque facade.

 

CHAPTER IX : THE PORTICO DE GLORIA

 

A wonderful portico — The triple archway — Origin of Western Christian art — A system of symbols — "Bible of the Poor " — Mosaic gives place to statuary — A magnificent design — The focus of the world — The figure of Christ — The Four Evangelists — The four-and-twenty elders — Musical instruments — Jews and Gentiles — The Man Christ Jesus — The central pillar — The seated figure of St. James — The Stem of Jesse — Custom and superstition — Judith — The prophets — The bases of the pillars — Mateo represents

himself — Another superstition — "The saint with the curls " — The capitals — A lifelike effect — A great thought — Didron — The drapery — The portico at South Kensington — Colouring — Mateo's inscription — Mateo's birthplace

 

THE Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is celebrated all the world over for the exquisite beauty of its sculpture not only as regards its statuary but also for its ornamentation generally. Here at least the Cathedral of St. Sernin, or St. Saturnine, as it is sometimes called, does not attempt to compete with it : here it stands absolutely alone and unrivalled.

 

Facing due west, and concealed by the Churrigueresque facade, is the most wonderfully sculptured portico that human eye has yet seen. This portico, or narthex, was originally part of the exterior ; now it is part of the interior of the cathedral. It was once an open facade ; the pillars which supported its front on either side stood far apart, and pilgrims caught sight of its beauty even before they entered the building, and rain and wind as well as daylight and sunlight played freely upon the flesh-coloured and lifelike features of the sculptured saints. But in our day the brickwork of the modern facade so darkens the portico that even when the doors are flung open it is never seen at its best.

 

A triple archway gives entrance to the three naves of the cathedral ; the central arch fronts the principal nave, and the smaller arches (to the north and south), the two collateral naves, or, as some would call them, the side aisles. These three arches and their tympana are covered with statues which have been adapted to the architecture with such skill that at a little distance they appear to be carved out of the actual material of which the arches are composed. Examined closely, every statue, every ornament is a masterpiece of delicate sculpture. The whole is intended to represent the Christian Church — the entrance to the House of God, of which Christ is " the chief Corner-Stone."

 It is to the walls of the catacombs that we must turn for the origin of Western Christian art. In the West, as Didron has pointed out, the Christian painters limited themselves to a small cycle of subjects. Setting history and chronology a aside, they treated their subjects solely with reference to some hidden moral or devotional truth which they were known to signify. Thus the events recorded were represented by symbols. A system of such symbols was developed which illustrated the most salient points in the Christian faith. A hieratic cycle of subjects came into use, not necessarily for doctrinal purposes, but as expressive of religious facts.  In the days when few, even among the rich, could read, outside the monasteries, pictures and statues were the most potent medium by which the contents of the Bible could be explained to the general public. Even in our day pictures represent words to the illiterate Russian peasant ; when he goes to the neighbouring town to purchase an agricultural implement or a new coat, he enters such shops as have similar articles painted in brilliant colours above their respective doors, Gregory of Tours, writing towards the close of the sixth century, tells a pretty story of how Namatea, the aged widow of Namatius, bishop of Auvergne (a.d. 423), reads to the painter decorating the walls of the church she has raised over her husband's tomb the scenes he is to depict with his brush : " She used to sit with a book upon her knees reading thereout stories of the deeds of the men of old." One of the manuals so used was known as the " Bible of the Poor." Many legends drawn from pagan mythology were included in these manuals as types of events in the life of Christ. As Didron says, the iconography of the pagans dovetailed into that of the Christians

 

The architect of the Portico de Gloria drew his inspiration not from manuals, not from popular legends, but purely and simply from the Bible alone. " Protestants," says Ferreiro, '"accuse Catholics of not letting the people have the Bible, but Mateo, in the twelfth century, certainly knew it as well as any Reformer ever did, and what is more, he wished to put it before the eyes of the ignorant." Yes, the Portico de Gloria was begun in the twelfth century, twenty years earlier than the facade of Notre Dame de Paris. The facades of Rheims, Chartres, Amiens had not yet come into existence, and Italy still gave the preference to mosaic rather than to statuary, and, as Ferreiro adds, she had not yet grasped the way to adapt statuary to architecture. Even if Mateo had prepared himself by studying the two facades which were already in existence, Repoli and Vezelay, he must have felt dissatisfied with them.

 

The pervading idea in Christian art as seen in the sculpture of the primitive sarcophagi was the Fall and the Redemption. Every epoch had its own ideal : in the early ages of Christianity the martyrdom of the saints was the favourite subject; then followed a period when asceticism came into vogue ; and after the beginning of the thirteenth century the struggle against the temptations of the world, and especially against sensuality, became the principal topic. In the Portico de Gloria all these are represented. My first thought on seeing it was instinctively, " How did the architect manage to get that wealth of statuary into so small a space without giving the slightest impression of overcrowding, or in any way disturbing the grand architectural outlines of his magnificent design? " He not only succeeded in getting them in, he did more : he succeeded in producing a piece of work in which architecture and sculpture were interwoven and inseparable. M. Roulin, a French Benedictine, who studied this masterpiece from a printed plan (being unable to go and see the original), published a critical article on it, in which he stated that the archivolts of the lateral arches were overcrowded statues. When he looks at the real thing he will retract this statement.

 

The tympanum of the central arch has three, times the diameter of the side ones : its centre is occupied by a colossal figure of Christ with a crown and a cruciform nimbus, seated upon a throne with His feet upon two sculptured fern leaves curled like ostrich feathers. Christ serves as the centre towards which all the lines converge — " the focus of the whole world in the splendour of His glory. He attracts and absorbs everything, as the ocean absorbs the rivers. But Christ was also the Victim, the Scapegoat : there are marks on His hands. His feet, His side. He is the victim who has burst asunder the bars of Hell and has opened the gates of Heaven to all Believers." Mateo chiefly follows the words of St. Paul, but in the disposition of the figures on the tympanum he follows the description given in Rev. iv. and v. : —

"And there was a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald.

"And round about the throne were four-and-twenty seats: and upon the seats I saw four-and-twenty elders sitting, clothed in white raiment; and they had on their heads crowns of gold. . . .

"... The four beasts and four-and-twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of the saints.

"And they sung a new song, saying. Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof : for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."

 

The figure of Christ, as Ferreiro observes, is the only statue of hieratic form ; all the others are human to a remarkable degree. 3 The seated statue of Christ measures nearly live yards in height ; His arms are outspread, and He is raised six yards from the ground. His features are serene, with a broad forehead and somewhat protruding eyes and thin lips. His beard reaches to His shoulders. The throne is a Roman curule, the faldesterium of the Middle Ages. It was a rule among the Greeks that the larger the statue the more they must sacrifice detail to important points, and Mateo followed this rule most strictly. Much detail is left out altogether in this statue of Christ.

 

Grouped round the throne are the Four Evangehsts writing (On the respective animals that accompanied each: John, a ; youth with an eagle ; Luke with a bull ; Mark with a lion, whose front paws rest upon his knee ; Matthew, a beardless young man, writes on his knee. St. Luke writes: " Facit in Diebus Herodis." Some of the words on the open page of John's book are also still readable : " Initium Sancti evangelii secundum Joannem." These evangelists represent the interpreters of the Word. In the base of the pediment there are four angels on either side carrying trophies of the Passion. One, kneeling, presents the column to which Christ was bound ; two others carry the cross ; a third bears the crown of thorns ; a fourth, four keys ; a fifth, Pilate's sentence (on a scroll) ; a ; sixth, a pitcher; a seventh, the leathern thongs; an eighth, the cane and sponge with a scroll which is now illegible. The feet of these angels rest upon clumps of sculptured foliage.

 

The four-and-twenty elders are placed like a fringe round the inner side of the arch ; the tympanum describes a perfect : semi-circle. Each has a stringed instrument and a little vessel, and each has a kind of ducal crown upon his head. The crowns were gilded originally, and their tunics were white bordered with gold. Some of them have short mantles fastened on the left shoulder. All are seated on a kind of Oriental divan, and are conversing together two and two, like people at an entertainment whose thoughts are engrossed in what they are saying and who are careless of what others are doing. Their musical instruments are a study in themselves : some think they are copied from the instruments that were used by the troubadours and other minstrels of the day, but Dr. Eladio Oviedo, who has made a special study of the subject, believes they are intended to represent the musical instruments of the Old Testament. They all have three strings, though there are five screws ; some of them resemble the violins of our day. " Strange," says Ferreiro, " that there is not a viola among them, especially as there is a viola in the hands of King David on the Puerta de Los Platerias. Perhaps it is because, a bow being needed, it would be difficult to get it in."

 

A crowd of little human figures take the space round the figure of Christ. All are crowned, and most of them are carrying books or scrolls, but all have their eyes fixed upon Christ. These represent the citizens of the Holy City, of Isaiah, who have been redeemed by Christ ; or the Ten Thousand times ten thousand, who are singing a new song. Their crowns are symbols of glory.

 

On either extreme of the tympanum are two angels, lifting in their arms and presenting to Christ each a little naked figure representing a human soul, which holds in its little hands its " title clear to mansions in the skies." The faces of the angels are full of tender and passionate sympathy. Those to the left are bringing in the Jews, those to the right the Gentiles, an illustration of the words, " And He shall give His angels charge concerning thee." The number of figures on the Gentile side is double that on the side of the Jews, according to Isaiah's prophecy that the barren woman should have more children than she who had a husband. The archivolt or face of this marvellous arch is decorated with exquisitely sculptured foliage, which forms a graceful background to the heads of the four-and-twenty elders.

 

The lateral arch to the right has also a statue of Christ, but a very small one, on the keystone of its archivolt. In His left hand he holds a sealed book representing Eternal Truth. Eve is seen to His right and Adam to His left ; then in the next semi-circle come Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Judah on the right, and Moses, Aaron, Samuel, and David on the left. A thick and exuberant foliage partially conceals these figures ; the upper band of sculpture in this arch also appears, at the first glance, to represent nothing more than a semi-circle of foliage behind a tore or large round moulding such as is commonly used in the bases of columns. Looking more closely, however, and with the aid of an opera-glass, we clearly distinguish the arms and heads of little naked human beings at intervals between the foliage peeping over the tore, with their legs and feet on the lower side of it. Lopez Ferreiro and Eladio Oviedo believe that the tore represents the old Jewish Divorce Law, and the figures — the Jews who are still bound by it (they nearly all hold scrolls in their hands stretched over the tore) — Bills of Divorce ; the thick foliage represents sin. The Jews are being rescued, two and two, naked (so that no sin may remain on them), by tender angels. The first angel, with a cloth, bears them in his arms, and the second hands them still naked into the Christian Church (which is represented by the tympanum of the central arch already described).

 

The sculpture on the side arch to the south is supposed by the above-quoted authorities to represent the conversion of the Gentile or pagan world, as that to the north represents that of the Jews. The keystone of the southern arch is occupied by two busts — the upper, with a beard, represents " the man Christ Jesus," and the lower, a beardless youth, also Christ, but this time " the God-Christ." To the right of these busts are sculptured horizontally four angels, bearing little human figures, round which they have wrapped their flowing mantles, towards Paradise (i.e. the central arch). To the left, also placed horizontally, are four hideous demons — the nearest one to the keystone of the lower archivolt is crouching down, and has the limbs of two little human beings hanging from his jaws; the second, with the feet of an ox, is also maltreating human beings ; the third, who has claws instead of feet, has four little figures suspended from his neck ; the fourth, with human feet, is munching human beings, two at a time. These demons, in the opinion of Lopez Ferreiro, represent not devils but violence, cruelty, rapine, and gluttony. Serpents are seen entwining some of the little figures ; they are the passions which tyrannise over the unconverted.

 

As I have said, Lopez Ferreiro was the first writer to interpret the symbolism of the Portico de Gloria in this way. The fact that four angels blowing trumpets are sculptured at the four corners of the narthex led some critics to believe that the whole was nothing more nor less than the hackneyed theme of the Last Judgment ; they took the beardless bust of Christ to represent St. Michael, though they were obliged to admit that his scales were not visible. Some have thought that the monsters represented purgatory, but this is not likely, as purgatory was not represented either in painting or sculpture until the fifteenth century, except metaphorically (which it was from the earliest times). Roulin strongly opposes the interpretation of Lopez Ferreiro, and remarks that the theme of the Portico de Gloria is well known to iconography, and that it is the same as that found in many other cathedrals. He is convinced that the angels carrying the instruments of the Passion, or of Christ showing His wounds, are never represented, except when the subject is the Last Judgment. With regard to the Jews behind the tore he remarks: "Il faut convenir que pareille representation est insolite," but adds that there are various ways in which it might be interpreted, one being Death and the Resurrection ; the tore would then be the emblem of death, and the green foliage that of the green pastures of Paradise. As for the beardless bust on the other arch representing Christ — a bust with neither beard nor nimbus is, in his opinion, a thing unheard of after the middle of the eleventh century ! The extension of the theme of the Last Judgment to three arches is, he owns, the point which distinguishes the Portico de Gloria of Santiago from analogous works, — he knows of no other such ; the whole subject is usually limited to the tympanum of one arch. He also points out that Lopez Ferreiro is mistaken in thinking that the Christ in the cathedral of Autun has wounded hands outstretched in blessing, and a bare breast showing a wound, — the arms of that statue are not raised, and the breast is covered, so that no wounds are seen.

 

A clustered pillar composed of six granite columns, with a richly carved capital, separates the two entrances beneath the tympanum of the central arch. This pillar rests its base on the back of the figure of a man lying on his stomach with head and shoulders raised above a scroll, the writing upon which has been effaced. His arms are extended over the backs of two lions with huge gaping jaws. Beneath the capital of this column is a large seated figure of St. James, the " Son of Thunder," the patron saint of Santiago di Compostela, and in fact the patron saint of the Spanish Peninsula. St. James, larger than life, is seated in an armchair, the feet of which are supported by two little lions. Round the saint's head is a nimbus studded with crystals and other stones, — very Byzantine in appearance, and supposed to be of much more recent date than the sculpture. St. James holds in his left hand a staff the handle of which is shaped like the letter T, and in his right he holds a parchment scroll on which we read " Misit me Dominus." The lions, and the chair in which St. James is seated, rest upon the beautifully carved capital of a slender marble  column, the whole fust, or shaft, of which is covered with delicate bas-reliefs illustrating the Stem of Jesse. The idea was first suggested by Jerome in the fourth century: in this representation of it there are seven human figures. Jesse lies at the foot, while out of the heart there grows a tree which wraps in its foliage the seated figure of King David, with his crown and musical instrument, and between his knees the stem passes ; above him is King Solomon, also enfolded in the leaves, and above King Solomon is seated the Virgin Mary, not concealed or shaded by any leaves, but rising out of the tree, as though she (who was believed to be born without sin) were its perfect flower. Above her delicate profile on the capital of the same marble column is sculptured a representation of the Holy Trinity. The Holy Spirit in the form of a dove is appearing from a cloud ; below is seated the Almighty with a mantle round His shoulders and a royal crown upon His head, pointing to His Divine Son, whose arms are extended on a cross. Four angels, two on either side, are engaged in adoration of the Holy Trinity. This way of representing the Trinity, according to Sanchez, is very ancient : it fell into disuse centuries ago, because the ignorant crowd used to mistake it for the Coronation of the Virgin.

 

For centuries poor women from all parts of Spain and Portugal have implicitly believed that by placing their right hand where the branches of the Tree of Jesse are thickest, and praying at the same time that God will grant them children, they will receive the desired end. At the spot where so many thousands of hands have been placed the marble is literally worn away, like the toe of St. Peter at Rome. Priests shake their heads at this superstition, but the women's faith is not shaken, and the custom continues to be practised.

 

The Tree of Jesse has often been used to represent the genealogy of Christ. Parker tells us that it was by no means an uncommon subject for sculpture, painting, and embroidery. At Dorchester Church, Oxfordshire, it is curiously formed in the stone-work of one of the chancel windows. At Christchurch, near Bournemouth, it is chiselled in stone on the reredos of the altar ; the figure of Jesse is here much larger than life size, and the whole thing is larger in proportion ; in this case the tree springs from the loins of Jesse, not from his heart, as at Santiago. The same subject is introduced in a painted window at Chartres ; also in one at Rouen.

 

In a line with the statue of St. James, and the same height from the ground, upon other sculptured columns with their backs to the great piers which support the arches of the narthex, are grouped the startlingly life-like figures of a number of evangelists and prophets, each of which deserves the most careful study. The names of most of them are indicated by the writing on their scrolls, or by some unmistakable token. St. Peter, for instance, holds the keys, and is the only one wearing pontifical dress ; he represents the Head of the Church. St. Paul holds a book, in which we can read the opening words of the Epistle to the Hebrews. St. James the Elder, again represented, holds a scroll on which we read, " Deus autem incrementum dedit in hac regione." St. John, the brother of St. James, is known by his sweet juvenile face, and by the eagle which supports him. He has the Apocalypse open at the page Vidi civitatem sanctam, etc., and appears to be reading it. There is some doubt as to who the four next to him are meant to represent ; after them, on the eastern side, comes St. John the Baptist holding in his hands the Agnus Dei. Next is the figure of a woman with a crown, whom some take for Queen Urraca, niece of Pope Calixtus ii., and others for Catherine of Leon. The most modem theory about this figure is that she is intended to represent Judith ; Judith's appearance among the prophets and evangelists in the Portico de Gloria is taken to be a proof that in the twelfth century the Book of Judith was included amongst the canonical books of the Old Testament. Dr. Eladio Oviedo tells me, moreover, that this belief is supported by many passages in the books of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth centuries. There is also a quotation from the Book of Judith in one of the poems of Prudentius, the Gallegan poet of the fourth century, of whom we have already spoken. Not having seen any of these passages, I am not myself competent to give an opinion on the matter. All the representations of Judith that I remember noticing in Italy and elsewhere represent Judith striding along with the head of Holophemes in one hand and a sword in the other, such, for instance, as the famous picture by Botticelli in Florence. Next in order comes another female figure wrapped in a mantle, who was long thought to represent " la sibille annoncatrice du Jugement dernier," but is now believed to be Queen Esther ; she carries a parchment scroll, but its words have been obliterated. The next is a bearded statue with a staff in tau, who has not been identified ; then follows another unknown statue. One of these is probably Ezekiel; and then we come to Jeremiah, whose name is on his scroll ; this prophet is communicating something of great interest to Daniel, who stands next him, a handsome young man who smiles as he listens with his eyes on the ground. Daniel's amused smile is so real that it is quite infectious, the spectator finds himself smiling too as he looks at him. According to Lopez Ferreiro, " Daniel cannot hide his joy at some news which Jeremiah has just imparted to him." At any rate, no traveller contemplating the Portico will ever have the least difficulty in finding out Daniel, as his broad smile is sufficient to mark him out amongst a thousand statues. For many decades there was a legend among the people of Santiago to the effect that he is laughing at the disproportionately fat figure of the crowned lady opposite (Judith), and such a hold did this idea take upon the mind of the crowd that at length the archbishop had that lady relieved of some of her corpulence by means of the sculptor's knife ; one can see that she has been trimmed a bit. Daniel's name is still visible on the scroll he carries.

 

Isaiah, standing next to Daniel, has a curious turban on his head ; he is the only one not bare-headed ; his name is also readable on his scroll. Moses, standing next to Isaiah (beneath the angel in the corner of the right entrance under the central arch), is dressed in a blue tunic with a gold mantle. He has a benign and venerable face, with parted hair and a long flowing beard. In his hands he holds the two Tables of Stone on which we can still decipher one word, " Honra." All these statues are above praise, not only as works of art, but as representative of the sculpture of their epoch. Their wonderful anatomy, the perfectly natural folds of their drapery, are marvellous when we consider the age in which they were executed. High up above the southern arch we see two unfinished and unsculptured stones, where the wings of the angels should be represented to match the one above the northern arch. This unfinished piece of work was pointed out to me by Dr. Eladio Oviedo. No other archaeologist seems to have noticed it. Did the sculptor die before his work was finished? we wonder. In former days the four angels with trumpets placed at the four angles of the rectangular portico were taken to be the four archangels sounding the trumpets of the Last Judgment, In the more modern interpretations they are celestial servants of the Great King, whose duty it is to show Him honour.

 

The bases of all the pillars supporting the Portico de Gloria rest upon groups of extraordinary animals, about the symbolism of which there has been much dispute. These creatures, which take the place of pedestals, have been thought by some to represent the vices which corrupt humanity, but surely if such were the case they would be more varied in type ! whereas one cluster is composed entirely of eagles and another of lions. Eagles are not found anywhere else in Galicia, but lions are quite common. The lion is used as an emblem of Justice, the eagle represents Faith. Lions at the entrance of a church, one on either side, are constantly met with in old Gallegan churches. The magistrate used to sit between them on one of the steps, and judge cases in the open air. It was quite public, and any one who liked might hear the whole proceedings. The Moors have a similar custom to this day. Many a time have I seen the judge with his white turban seated tailor-fashion between the columns of the white building on the Kashah hill at Tangier, to try cases in the open air, while a triple ring of Moorish spectators listened to his words. Those who considered the theme of the Portico de Gloria to be that of the Last Judgment believed that every one of the monsters on which its piers rest represented a different vice — Pride, avarice, sloth, envy, etc. By their crushed position, beneath the whole weight of the whole portico, they were supposed to represent the vices of man triumphed over by the Church of Christ. The fact that in Assyrian ruins we meet with strikingly similar monsters supporting the piers of ancient buildings has led some archaeologists to suppose that the idea of placing such creatures beneath this portico reached Galicia through Eastern channels.

 

Behind the central pillar of the portico and facing the altar is the figure of a man upon his knees with his hands together as if in prayer ; he is so placed as to appear as if supporting the weight of the whole pillar upon his back. This is Mateo, the architect, who evidently did not intend to be forgotten by those who came to admire his work. The face is supposed to be a true portrait. It is virile, with a good forehead clustered with crisp curls ; their granite locks show signs of wear. Here we see where another superstition has had its hold for centuries. Mothers have from time immemorial rested their babies' heads against that stone head, because " Mateo was a clever man, and baby must be clever too." In the language of Galicia, this figure of Mateo is sometimes called el santo dos croques, the saint with the curls (lit. "of the curls"). Mateo has represented himself as a humble supplicant whose eyes are directed towards the holy altar, and whose knees are bent in adoration. He is clad in a tunic with wide sleeves, probably the every-day garb of a Gallegan citizen of the twelfth century. Over the tunic he wears a mantle fastened at the neck with a broach. His right hand is laid upon his breast, as a sign of penitence, and in his left he holds a scroll, which is said to have originally shown the word Architectus.

 

One of the small shafts which ornament the pier supporting the right side of the central arch (the one exactly beneath the statue of Isaiah) is also of marble, like that on which is represented he stem of Jesse : it is banded with spiral and exquisite!], carved bas-relief. Here we at once recognise Abraham being stopped by the angel just as, knife in hand, he is about to offer up his son Isaac. Every atom of space has been utilised with consummate skill. Abraham is not easily dissuaded by the angel ; there is a hand-to-hand struggle, and a determined look on the face of the angel, who has actually grasped the blade of Abraham's outstretched knife. We note the wonderful play of muscle in this speaking bit of marble. It is better sculpture of the human form than anything to be found in French churches of the twelfth century. It reminds us of the most perfect of Pisan sculpture, but it IS of earlier date than any of the French or Pisan work. The moulding at the base of the shaft, like that of its fellows, is elliptic (oval), a sign, says Lopez Ferreiro. of the transition from the Roman-Byzantine style to the Gothic ; the elaborate moulding of the square pedestal or plinth beneath is also a sure sign of transition, for Greek and Roman pedestals were plain blocks of stone. We remember that the Early French style had in many instances plinths ornamented with fluting, or otherwise enriched.

 

One of the marble columns was evidently replaced, some hundreds of years ago, by another of inferior marble, which has stood the test of time very badly ; it is much worn, but its sculpture is very interesting. Here we see a real old tournament of the Middle Ages ; two knights clad in full chain armour, tunic and helmets entirely chain, and the latter decorated "with flowing plumes. The shields are splendid, and the anatomy of the fighting warriors worthy of Rubens. On this column we also discern some strange monsters such as we read of in " Geoffrey the Knight " when we were children.

 

All the capitals of the Portico de Gloria are covered with rich sculpture ; that above the seated figure of St. James is decorated with a representation of the Temptation in the Wilderness, to the north we see Satan tempting our Saviour to turn stone into bread, to the west we see Christ on the pinnacle of the temple, to the south is Satan showing Christ all the glories of the world, and holding in his hands a scroll with the words Haec omnia tibi daho, si cadens adoraveris me, and Christ holds His scroll with the words bade Satana ; on the fourth and eastern side, facing the interior of the cathedral, we see angels ministering unto Christ.

 

Lopez Ferreiro  has devoted a most interesting chapter to the execution of the work in the Portico de Gloria. He shows how Mateo, the architect, subordinated everything else to the one grand principle of unity ; thus following the supreme law in artistic production. We do not see anywhere in Greek or Roman sculpture, as Viollet le Duc has pointed out, a tympanum covered with statues the attitudes and size of which are adapted to its shape. The facade of Notre Dame de Paris has a tympanum crowded with statues, but there the tympanum is divided into four distinct parts ; that of Santiago is unbroken. But unity alone is not enough to constitute an aesthetic work of art ; variety is also needed in order to exclude monotony. In the Portico de Gloria there are hardly two figures to be found in the same attitude. Let us look at the four-and-twenty elders. Each of the old men has his feet in a different attitude ; he has his own way, too, of handling his musical instrument. Mateo had the art of making his statues look perfectly easy and natural even when represented in the most difficult postures. There is a look of spontaneity about the placement of their limbs. Ferreiro has noted the capricious manner in which the legs of the fifth old man are covered ; we feel instinctively that he has only just this minute crossed them, and that a moment ago he had them in quite another position ! We see the same variety in the flow or curl of the hair, in the shape and size of the beard. All bear witness to the zeal with which Mateo worked to produce a natural and lifelike effect, and to evade the least suspicion of convention or routine. We have seen how the artist of the Puerta de las Platerias attempted to do this, but in his day no one thought of attending to the position of a statue's feet. In the facade in question all the feet are arranged with the most rigorous symmetry.

 

No human being can remain with comfort in any one position for more than a given time ; for the sake of ease our posture is continually changing. Mateo must have studied every position possible to the human frame. But his genius shows itself still more distinctly in the heads of his statues, — each is a portrait taken from life, the features are all in harmony. As you contemplate them you feel that you can almost read the character of the person represented. With what diligence must this artist have sought out his models ; how peasants and tradesmen and nobles must have posed for him in turn. In the Portico de Gloria we see the very people who walked about the streets of Santiago while the work was being done.

 

Though the sculpture of the Middle Ages is in many respects inferior to that of the best period of ancient Greece (in actual form it is generally less perfect), it has in it a new element, it portrays, as Greek statuary never attempted to do, the intellectual element in the human being. The artists of the Middle Ages did not consider only of the exterior ; they tried to represent the thinking mind. Every one of Mateo's statues has " a mind of its own." As Lopez Ferreiro has put it, the statuary of the Greeks was the sister of poetry, that of the Middle Ages was the sister of psychology and philosophy.

 

The whole masterpiece of Mateo may be described as an attempt at the interpretation of one great thought, or rather, of a series of thoughts " toute une ordre d'idees," which " is Engaging the attention of all humanity." Lopez Ferreiro notes how daringly Mateo made his attempt to push his art into the road along which two centuries later it was carried by Italy's most celebrated artists.

 

The statues of the Portico de Gloria are most of them engaged in animated conversation ; each face wears an expression in accordance with the particular turn his conversation is taking, " yet each at the same time wears a look of repose, such as could only arise from a pure mind and a tranquil conscience." The whole, the combined effect of this astonishing piece of work, is powerfully dramatic ; a series of deeply interesting events is depicted ; each statue is a human being whose entire mind is concentrated upon these events ; on one face there is a look of wonder, on another a look of joy, on another a look of contentment. " The dramatic element," says the above-mentioned writer, " is introduced in exactly the right proportion. In Christian artists of greater note than Mateo — even in Nicolas of Pisa, there is something earthly, frivolous, profane ; but in Mateo all is serious, spiritual, without any loss of the human element. As we contemplate the Portico the figures almost seem to move, to sit, to talk. You seem to hear the murmur of their lips. The same discreet realism manifested in the heads is shown also in the limbs. The arms, the hands, and even the fingers seem to move with flexibility and delicacy." This writer goes on to point out that the heads of the apostles are rather large, and in accordance with the rule of the Greek monk Dionisius who laid it down as a law that the head must be as large as a tenth part of the whole statue. The heads of Mateo's apostles are equal to one-seventh part of the entire height, but the position of these statues must be remembered ; they are raised more than three yards from the ground, consequently the heads diminish in size and reach exactly the right proportions.

 

Didron has written much about the influence of the drama on iconography. He thinks that in the early Middle Ages as well as in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries the art of statuary may have gained much from Mystery and other plays of the time which had been pressed into the cause of religion. The " Mirror of Human Salvation " was the frame- work of the Divine Comedy, and of all the Mystery plays. " When examining as to what were the influences at work that aroused Italian art . . . from the death-sleep of Byzantine formalism, may we not," he asks, " attribute much of the inspiration of the thirteenth and following centuries to the drama ? " Mute and motionless stood the Christian drama, and its long lines of angels and saints and martyrs had for centuries looked out with their fixed gaze from the walls and domes of solemn basilicas, till at last a vivifying and invigorating influence was brought to bear upon them. Some large churches in France, such as Chartres, Rheims, Paris, Amiens, are adorned with no fewer than three or four thousand stone statues. In the Greek Church statues of every kind are strictly forbidden. The interior of the Greek churches of Russia are often covered with fresco paintings, but never do we find a single statue. St. John Damascenus in the eighth century spoke in defence of images : " Images speak, they are neither mute nor lifeless blocks, like the idols of the pagans. Images open the heart and awake the intellect, and in a marvellous and indescribable manner engage us to imitate the person they represent."  And Bishop Paulinus of Nola said : "A sculptured arch in the porch of a church, or an historical glass painting in the nave, presented the ignorant with a lesson, the believer with a sermon." We are tempted to hope that the Catholic Church in Spain may one day clear away from its sacred altars all the miserable, tawdry, and draggled objects that are called images, and confine itself to the glorious work of its inspired artists in glass and stone.

 

But to return to our Portico. The hang of the drapery, the pose of the limbs, have all been the subject of the minutest care and of the profoundest study. We do not here see ; garments flying, as though blown by a rough wind, as if "in a frenzy," as Taine remarked when he looked at some of the statues in St. Peter's at Rome. Every bit of drapery here falls naturally into place.

 

With the exception of the slender marble columns already described, the entire Portico de Gloria and its sculpture is of solid granite ; but the granite of the sculptures was not intended to show. The whole was most delicately coloured, capitals and fusts as well as statues. Time has carried away most of the colouring, but there is still enough left to give us some idea of what it was once like. The effect must have defied description. Christ's mantle was saffron, bordered with green and gold, the tunic beneath being also saffron coloured, and bordered with purple and gold. The four evangelists were also in yellow ; the dresses of the angels 'varied, some were pink, some blue, some white. Spanish painters have admired the soft blending of the colours both in the faces and in the garments of these statues. When our English architect, the above-quoted Street, had succeeded in getting a special commission sent out from England to take a plaster cast of the Portico de Gloria for South Kensington  he certainly deserved the gratitude of the English public, but the people of Santiago complained that a little of its beautiful colouring was taken off in the process. This colouring was not Moorish, as some have suggested, but Byzantine. There is a great similarity between the colouring of ancient Byzantine frescoes and icons and that of this Portico ; the flesh tints were brown almost to a chocolate shade. The face of Judith is flushed with quite a rosy tint, but that of one of the four and-twenty elders, the one to the left of the keystone of the arch, is still almost a chocolate colour, and several of the others indicate a similar colouring. The capitals of the marble pillars still show traces of a warm, rich red. The art of colouring stone in such a manner that the colours will remain intact for centuries is quite lost. It is one of the many lost arts. Possibly the architects of the seventeenth century feared that continued exposure might lead to deterioration of the sculpture, and for that reason closed it in.

 

On the inner side of the lintel of the central arch of the Portico is an inscription, which is believed to have been placed there by Maestro Mateo, the architect and sculptor to whom we owe this beautiful creation. It reads thus —" Anno ab Incarnatione Domini, MCLXXXVIII, Era MCCXXVI, die kalendarum Apriles, super liminaria prin- cipalium portalium — Ecclesiae Beati Jacobi sunt collocata per Magistrum Mathaeum, qui a fundamentis ipsorum portalium gessit magisterium." (In the year of the Incarnation of our Lord 1188, era 1226, on the calends of April, the lintels of the principal portico of the Cathedral of the Blessed St. James were put up by Master Matthew, who superintended the said work from its foundations.)

 

Perhaps this date, of which none have doubted the correctness, is the most astonishing part of the whole thing.

 

A masterpiece like the Portico de Gloria, dating a century, or even half a century, later would cause less surprise, but how it comes about that such a finished and perfect chef d'oeuvre could have been accomplished at so early a date and in such an out-of-the-way part of the civilised world — is a puzzle. Frenchmen ply their pens with vigour to prove that Master Matthew was a native of la belle France. Spaniards are equally energetic in their assertions that he was a native of Spain, and some even go so far as to say that he must have been a native of Galicia. " There is as yet nothing to prove that Mateo was not a Gallegan," writes Lopez Ferreiro. " He lived at Santiago, or at least in Galicia, from 1161 to 1217, to say the very least ; and it is thought that he was born and educated in Galicia. He was a layman, with a wife and children." — And as this writer is one of Spain's greatest living historians as well as a famous archaeologist, his opinion has weight. He tells us that from the end of the eleventh century there flourished in Santiago a school of artists for all branches of art — an institution which was the means of producing marvellous results. To begin with, it produced the cathedral itself, and at the same time it produced the most exquisite specimens of silver and copper workmanship. This school was enriched, in 1135, by Alfonso vii, with many privileges, which were also enjoyed by later generations of artists. There still exists a diploma given to Mateo by Ferdinand, King of Leon, on 23rd February 1168. This king, on the occasion of a royal pilgrimage to the sepulchre of St. James, granted Mateo a pension of 4200 pesetas (or francs) a year. It seems that Mateo started the work at once, and took twenty years to accomplish it ; during those twenty years the Gothic style of architecture had been slowly gaining ground. We see it in the elegant vaulting of the Portico and in its graceful groining.

 

The Historia Compostelana contains not a single allusion to the Portico de Gloria, which does not seem to have been even planned at the time that manuscript was written.

 

CHAPTER XVI : SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

 

A walled city — Beautiful views — A Casa de Huespedes — Chocolate — Partridges and trout — Bearing the cold — Rainy months — Damp in the air — The university — The medical college — The modern university building — Treasures of the library — The most ancient writing preserved in Spain — The reading-room — The natural history museum — Government of the university — Pharmacy— Cases of accidental poisoning — Unruly students — Cupula de las Animas — The Alameda — Santa Susana — The finest view of Santiago — A church of refuge — San Felix de Solovio — The Plaza de Alonso XII. — The Pepys of Galicia — A bull fight — Fountains — Water-carriers — A Gallegan wedding — The Carnival — A superfluity of chimneys — The nuns of San Payo — The Convent of Santa Clara — A private museum — Señor Cicerons' collection of coins — His valuable torques — The use of torques — The Dublin collection — Prehistoric gold jewellery — Iberian inscriptions

 

THE name of Santiago has been given to one of the judicial departments of the province of Coruña, which contains ninety-nine parishes, with a total population of nearly eighty-two thousand souls. The town of Santiago de Compostela has a population of about twenty-five thousand, just about half that of Coruña ; it is still the seat of an archbishopric and a university town ; it has never been without an archbishop since the year 1120. In the Middle Ages Santiago was a walled city, but the walls have almost entirely disappeared, and the houses now cover the hill and even spread down its steep slopes into the surrounding valley. As we have seen, the hill on which Santiago stands was covered with pine trees until the discovery of the Apostle's tomb in the ninth century, and the cathedral, built upon the spot where the tomb was found, is practically the centre and heart of the town, which, as far as its situation is concerned, might well be called the Perugia of Spain. All round it are beautiful valleys, covered, summer and winter alike, with verdant green ; and encircling the valleys are picturesque mountains, spurs of the Pyrenees, between whose peaks other vistas open out, so that on clear days the eye can travel as far as it will, over hill and dale, for many a mile. Like Perugia, Santiago has beautiful views on every side, and its air is mountain air.

 

Here automobiles have preceded railways, just as in Siberia railways have preceded roads. There is no railway between Coruña and Santiago, and until 1906 the only means of transport were hired carriages and a coach drawn by six horses. The coach does the journey in seven hours, but now there is a regular service of motor cars which take you there in less than four hours. The road, which passes through the little town of Ordenes, is good, and the scenery fine ; it is practically uphill all the way, for Coruña is on the sea-level, while Santiago is perched on a hill at a height of 500 feet, and surrounded by mountains. In winter Santiago is many degrees colder than Coruña, while in summer it is very much cooler. Although the days of pilgrimages to the sepulchre of St. James are practically over, the hotels and boarding-houses are always full of Spanish travellers during the summer months.

 

We stayed at a Casa de Huespedes which was famed for its liberal table and good cooking, and where some forty students from the university and a number of commercial travellers sat down to dinner every day. The mistress of the house superintended the cooking, while the master himself waited on the guests. Every one was well cared for, and all were satisfied. I never heard a complaint during the three months that I was there. I am sorry to say that the good lady died a short time after our departure, at the early age of forty-two.

 

For breakfast most of the guests took a small cup of boiling-hot chocolate, so thick that a spoon would stand up in it, and into this they dipped their bread or biscuit, finishing up with a glass of cold milk, which was always served with chocolate. A popular proverb referring to Santiago, says, " Where there are many canons, there is the best chocolate." And Santiago is indeed famous for its chocolate.

 

During the months of January and February we dined and supped, at least five days out of seven, upon plump partridges and delicately flavoured trout. Both were cooked in oil, and the fish was invariably served after the meat, according to the Spanish custom. Local red wine was liberally supplied with every meal, and olla podrida took the place of the partridges on Fridays. Butter we never saw, except on one occasion when we had asked for that luxury. We took care not to repeat the request.

 

There are no fireplaces in the houses of Santiago. Sometimes, when snow was falling and it was freezing hard, the students would gather round a charcoal brazier while waiting for their dinner, but most of us, fearing the headachy effects of charcoal fumes, kept away from them, contenting ourselves with foot warmers and double clothing. The amount of clothing one can bear in a stone house without a fire in the middle of January is wonderful. One lady told me she seldom went out in cold weather on account of the weight of her clothes. Spaniards bear cold very well, and I think they must be healthier than people who sit all the winter in heated rooms. The men are great smokers, and, as Ford remarked, more smoke issues from labial than from house chimneys.

 

January and February are rainy months as a rule, and as there is not much sun, the washerwomen do as little laundry work as possible till March, when they can spread their linen on the green hillsides and get it bleached to a spotless white by the strong sunshine. In early spring, mountain mists cover the town for days together, and at such times it is useless to hang anything out to dry, for the water refuses to evaporate. I tried for four days in succession to dry a hand towel, and found it damper on the fourth day than on the first, in spite of the fact that the sun shone brightly each day.

 

Santiago University draws students from all parts of Spain, but mostly from Galicia and the neighbouring provinces. The youths who come from Andalusia do little work and much talking. I found their gaiety quite entertaining, but a cynical Gallegan informed me that if you cut out their tongues there would be nothing left ! The Basque students are very quiet, sober, and plodding, and their general character is much more reliable than that of the southerners : they are the Scotch of Spain.

 

The present University was founded in 1582 by Archbishop Fonseca, but, before that date, the town possessed several important colleges, chiefly for the study of theology and letters, and these institutions produced many noted men. Murguia reminds us that the two Bernardos and Don Pedro Muñez, named the nigromantico for his great learning, were all educated at the Colegiata de Sar, and that the Estudo Viejo was the real beginning of the University ; it lacked only the Law Faculty. There are only three other universities in Spain that have a Faculty for Pharmacy, namely, Barcelona, Granada, and Madrid, The Faculties of Law and Medicine were not established at Santiago till the year 1648. In 1772, in consequence of reforms introduced in the reign of Charles in., the number of professors was raised to thirty-three, but this university has passed through many vicissitudes. Sanchez tells a woful tale of colleges opened and colleges closed. " A few years ago," he wrote, in 1885, " we had six Theological Faculties at Compostela, besides Philosophy, Letters, Sciences, Law, Medicine, and Pharmacy, but now, in spite of an imperative need for a fully-equipped centre of learning, our Faculties are reduced to three."

 

The priests' colleges wished at first to have the university under their control, but the lay professors objected, and there was a good deal of dispute, until at length the university shook itself free from the Church in 1769 ; its professors at that period were world-famed. Bedoza lectured there on Anatomy and Lorenzo Montes on Medicine

 

The Medical College of Fonseca, with its interesting Renaissance facade, was founded by Archbishop Fonseca in 1544, above the foundations of the house in which he was born. Its elegant Renaissance facade consists of two storeys with four handsome fluted columns ; between the columns are Gothic statues, resting on brackets, and tenipletes (miniature temples). Between the lower and upper columns are six beautifully sculptured Gothic statues in arched niches, and beneath the central window of the upper storey is an escutcheon with the armorial bearings of the Fonseca family. The two lowest statues on either side of the entrance represent the Virgin and Child, and St. Maurus the hermit. Sanchez tells us that until about the middle of the nineteenth century a lamp burned in front of the former, and poor pilgrims were wont to deposit before the two statues ears of com and other simple offerings. Passing through the doorway we find ourselves in a square vestibule with richly ribbed Gothic vaulting ; the door to our right leads to a pretty little college chapel, with lofty Gothic vaulting. The reredos behind the chief altar has its niches filled with sculptured statues, all of unpainted chestnut wood. It is a beautiful old college, with a very fine cloister much after the style of our Oxford and Cambridge colleges of the same date, but which has now, like the whole interior, a dirty, abandoned appearance. A long inscription, stating by whom and when the college was built, runs round the cornice between the two storeys of the cloister ; it begins on the western side, and concludes with the following hexameters : —

" Nunc magis atque magis Gallaecia fulget alumno,

Qui dedit hunc patriae tantum generosus honorem.

Sanctius ipse Lupus propria de stirpe creatus,

Ut musis gratum faceret, tenebrasque fulgaret,

Omnibus hoc breviter complevit amabile munus.

Quo populus merito, proceres et concio tota

Innumeras tanto grates pro lumine reddunt."

 

For many years the spacious dining-hall, with the handsome carved ceiling, was used as a dissecting-room, but now that branch of study is carried on elsewhere, and the medical students do most of their work at the Hospital Real. Yet in spite of the absolutely neglected appearance of this college, the porter informed me that three hundred students work there every day. Over the general staircase there is a ceiling covered with mudijar work (stalactite woodwork), the only example of its kind in Santiago. Behind the building are some picturesque but neglected Botanical Gardens for the use of the students.

 

The modern university building, which was designed by Jose Machado, is entirely of granite, and looks very important with its sculptured pediment supported by four Ionic columns, and its triple flight of steps. It has three storeys and a handsome marble staircase, and a central patio in which there stands a great two-faced clock, on a pedestal so tall that it can only be reached by a long ladder, and is therefore seldom wound up and not to be trusted. On the ground floor there are six spacious and well-lighted lecture halls, but the finest thing in the University is its splendid Library of more than seventy thousand printed volumes and some six hundred manuscripts, many of them " the sweepings of convents." The books are arranged in cases, with wire in place of glass, round a spacious reading-room that will accommodate a hundred readers. Over the entrance is written — " Deum domus alma silescit."

 

In glass cases, placed in the centre of the reading-room, are some highly-prized literary treasures ; among which I saw a beautifully preserved Commentary on Dante's Inferno, by Landino, published at Florence, and bearing the date 1485 ; also an illustrated volume pubhshed by Schectel and Hartmann at Nuremberg in 1493, and other fine specimens of early printing. I also saw and handled an illuminated Diurno or Book of Daily Prayer that had belonged to Ferdinand i., and bore the date 1055 ; in it I saw a miniature in which the copyist is presenting the book to the king and queen ; all the capitals are illuminated, and all different. There is also some eleventh century musical notation in it, ' the notes are represented by dots (pentagrammic) over the words, and without any lines. The book itself tells us that it was written by Pedro and painted by Fructuoso. In the opinion of M. Macius Ferotin, this Diurno is the most precious document in the university of Compostela ; its chronology, written in gold letters, fixes the chronology of the last three kings of Leon. Ferotin thinks that the lines in honour of King Bermudo iii. were dictated by the queen herself. Bermudo died in battle. Sanchez believed this treasure to have been among the " sweepings " of the monastery of San Martin Pinario. A beautifully bound volume of the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas, with an exquisitely stamped leather cover, was also shown to me. In another case I found what is said to be one of the oldest, if not the very oldest, specimens of handwriting in Spain — a bit of brown parchment about eight inches long and four deep, representing a bill of sale of a little village called Nogueira, near Lalin. The date on it is Era 826 (a.d. 788), and the language used is Latin : it is from the great monastery of Carboeiro, in the province of Pontevedra. Another document was shown to me bearing the date 1504, it was the last will and testament of Don Alfonso de Fonseca, the founder of the university. Another parchment bore the seal of Alfonso vii. ; this was a charter conferring certain privileges on a monastery. There were also two manuscript Bibles of the fifteenth century, written and illuminated by monks of the neighbouring convents ; the text was in Latin, the pages were like silk, and the colours wonderfully preserved.

 

The librarian, Señor B, took me into his private room, adjoining the Library, to see the flag that was carried by the Santiago students, who, to the number of twelve thousand, formed themselves together into a volunteer battalion, and fell defending Galicia against the troops of Napoleon in 1808. The student chosen by his companions as their leader, Don Jose Ramon Rodil, became in later years both Minister of War and President of the Ministerial Council. In honour of his services, his country raised him to the rank of a marquis. Aguiar, writing in 1836, waxed eloquent over the heroes of Santiago university. " The University of Santiago," he wrote, " has given us three Ministers for our Government, and four Generals for our Army, all from its battalion of student cadets who immortalised themselves in the defence of our country." On another wall was the portrait of Don Diego de Muros, and that of Filippo de Castro, a famous Gallegan sculptor of whom we shall have occasion to speak again later on. There was also a portrait of Emmanuel Bonaventurse Figueroa, who founded the Library, and left estates the revenues of which were to be employed in starting all his descendants in life : if men, they are entitled to a university education or a share in some business ; if women, to a dowry ! What a fine old fellow he must have been. I hear that his estates have increased in value, and the librarian told me that quite poor people keep unexpectedly turning up and claiming relationship — even a nephew seven times removed can claim his share. Another portrait was that of Archbishop Fonseca, whose Will I had seen in the glass case.

 

The Reading Room is divided into two by a passage, and one half of it is reserved for distinguished readers who might not care to sit among the general public ; the other is open to the students and to the public during the hours of daylight. The books round the walls are all arranged according to their size, in order to economise space ; each volume is numbered, and by means of a corresponding card it may be easily found by the attendant. The method is similar to that adopted by our Geographical Society, boxes of cards taking the place of catalogue volumes. A subject catalogue is in course of preparation, and Señor B is determined that no pains shall be spared to make the Library one of the most perfect of its kind. Underneath the Reading Room is another room of the same size, also lined with books; its ceiling and bookcases are decorated with the white-and-gold Louis XVI. decorations that once adorned the monastic library of San Martin Pinario, and many of its most precious; volumes have come from the same place ; others were bequeathed by private collectors.

 

Every department of this university is being energetically overhauled and rearranged, so that it may be quite up to date, but a melancholy mistake made by the architect in planning the Natural History Museum cannot, unfortunately, be rectified. Wishing to give plenty of room for the cases containing stuffed animals, birds, and such like, he built it in a square, with an open space reaching from the ground floor to the roof of the building, and covered the walls with glass cases which could be reached by two spiral iron staircases, and a gallery running round on a level with each floor. The result is that the glass cases not immediately on a level with the galleries are utterly useless, for they cannot be reached without the help of a long ladder and a climb to a dizzy height ! The student who could study specimens under these difficulties must be endowed with considerable nerve. To walk round the top gallery and look down was enough to make me feel giddy. I found Professor Varela, a naturalist newly arrived from Madrid, busy rearranging the specimens. He was a comparative stranger to Galicia, and had a hard task before him. I pitied him for having such a stupidly constructed museum, and wondered how he would eventually utilise all those inaccessible glass cases. Professor Varela showed me a valuable collection of the many kinds of wood to be found in Galicia, but lamented over the ridiculous mistake that had been made in polishing and varnishing each block, instead of leaving them in their natural state. He also attracted my attention to an interesting collection of skulls from Mindanao, the largest of the Philippine Islands, which he was engaged in measuring. He had already discovered that they belonged to two distinct races : his measuring instrument was a simple compass, which he preferred to any of the recent inventions. He spoke of the wonderful influence that climate has upon the shape of the human skull, and of the short time it had taken for the skulls of Anglo-Saxons of North America to become quite different from that of the Anglo-Saxons in Britain. Professor Varela hopes eventually to devote a large section of his museum to local specimens.

 

The University of Santiago is under the management of a Rector and a General Secretary, assisted by thirty-eight professors and from forty to fifty assistant professors, all of whom have taken their Doctor's degree at Madrid. In all the larger town there are Institutos or Grammar Schools, which take boys at the age of ten and prepare them for the university, which they enter at the age of seventeen. The official course lasts six years, but it is not obligatory. Those who pass the examination at the end of their six years become Licenciados, they then have to put in a year at the Madrid university if they wish to obtain their Doctor's degree. The Academic year begins about October gth, and ends about May 20th, this is called the Calendario. The vacations, including Sundays, Feast Days, and local Holidays, cover seventy days of the year. The Law Faculty has its own library of legal literature quite separate from the general library.

 

As I have said, Santiago is one of the four Spanish universities which have a Faculty for pharmacy. In Spain, all chemists, until 1907, had to be university men, and no man, however thoroughly he might have studied his subject, was allowed to open a chemist's shop and dispense medicines if he had not passed through the university. This arrangement had deplorable results, for chemists' assistants and druggists who wished to open chemists' shops on their own account took to bribing university men to allow their names to be put up above the shops. In such cases, if any one was accidentally poisoned through a mistake on the part of the dispenser, the university chemist whose name was over the shop had to bear all the responsibility. At length the Spanish public became alarmed at the idea that the men who dispensed for them would get off scot-free no matter how many people they poisoned, and as the result of a general agitation the Government issued a proclamation on 7th April 1907, that, in future, chemists' assistants who had practised for a certain period, I think three years, should be eligible as candidates for a chemists' diploma. This reform was a most necessary and rational one, and all the university chemists rejoiced that they would no longer be liable when their assistants poisoned their customers by mistake ; but the silly young students looked at the matter from a different standpoint. Longing to find an excuse for a ' riot, they persuaded themselves that by allowing chemists' assistants to gain diplomas without having passed through the university the Government had grievously insulted that venerable institution. Accordingly, at eleven o'clock in the morning they poured forth into the streets of Santiago in unruly crowds, hooting and shouting and leaping in the air. Drawn to my window by their hissing and hooting, I saw some two hundred of them pass down in the street in the wildest state of excitement, while the townspeople watched them from their balconies and smiled at their folly.

 

Besides the important edifices to which I have devoted several of my earlier chapters, Santiago possesses a good many interesting churches, and is rich in convents for women, which also deserve a brief notice. The Capilla de Las Animas is a church dedicated to prayer for souls passing through purgatory ; it was built towards the end of the eighteenth century, and is in the Greco-Roman style. Four tall Doric columns support its pediment, which is crowned with a cross and a statue of an adoring angel on either side. But the most striking thing about this facade is the alto-relief group of souls wrapt in purgatorial flames above the entrance. The interior of this church is lined with remarkable alto-relief, life-size, brightly painted wooden figures in groups, representing the principal scenes connected with the Crucifixion. They are the work of Prado, a Gallegan sculptor. This church has always had immense attractions for pilgrims, both rich and poor. More masses are said there than in any church in the town except the Cathedral ; they begin at five in winter and at four in summer. Close to the church is the Plaza de Cervantes, with a bust of the author of Don Quixote on a column above a fountain from which hundreds of women and girls come to fill their buckets every morning. To the east is the little church of San Benito, now considered to be the oldest in Santiago, which has recently been restored under the auspices of a clever archaeologist.

 

Santiago has a pleasant Alameda lined with four rows of camellias and many fine trees. Here a band plays on fine afternoons, and here the ladies of the town, who seldom appear in the streets before four in the afternoon, may be seen sauntering under enormous hats, I had been three weeks in Santiago before I saw a woman in a hat, for the ladies who go to early Mass always appeared in black mantillas, and the poor women wore handkerchiefs. The Alameda winds round a hill planted with oak trees, in the centre of which stands a tiny church, Santa Susana. The original edifice was built by Gelmirez in 1105, and bore the name of Santo Sepulcro until the remains of Santa Susana were brought to Santiago from Braga three years later, Santa Susana is one of the patron saints of Santiago. Sanchez states that the present portico of the church is the one built by Gelmirez, and that some of the arches also date from his day ; but as it was always closed when I tried to enter it I can give no opinion. The finest view obtainable of Santiago and its Cathedral is from this Alameda, and no visitor should miss it.

 

Another little church that interested me was that of Santa Maria Salome, in the Rua Nueva, named after the Mother of St. James the Greater, As Sanchez has remarked, " its portico attracts the attention of intelligent persons " ; it is a quaint, Romanesque portico, of which the central arch is Gothic, covering a part of the footway and forming a useful shelter to foot passengers on a rainy day. The arch above the entrance to the church is semicircular, and supported on two columns with richly sculptured capitals. The statue of the Virgin seated on a throne, with a crown on her head and the Child Jesus in her arms, is also worthy of attention. Just above it is a row of remarkable corbels. On either side of the entrance there are two quaint statues, one is the angel Gabriel, and the other the Virgin receiving his message. In one of the triangles of the arch is the inscription Iglesia reservada para rejugio. At one time all the churches of Santiago were churches of refuge, but in the eighteenth century an outcry was raised because they harboured too many criminals, and the result was that eventually only the church of Maria Salome was allowed to be used as a refuge. In the present day the whole custom has been quite done away with. The church dates from the twelfth, and its portico from the end of the fifteenth century.

 

Another small church of considerable antiquity is that of San Felix de Solovio, or, as the Gallegans call it, San Fins de Lovio. Sanchez thought this edifice older than San Benito ; in fact he speaks of it as the oldest church in Santiago. The truth is that it was built on the ruins of an older church of the same name, which had been reduced to ashes by Almanzor and his followers. The present edifice has a graceful entrance, with four Byzantine columns supporting its two arches, the interior of which is in the shape of a horse-shoe, while the outer one is semicircular and decorated with diminutive arches also of the horse-shoe form ; the whole being a curious mixture of the Romanesque and the Arabic styles. In the church, in a niche in the southern nave, is a sculptured group representing the Adoration of the Magi, which, like the entrance, dates from the twelfth century ; it is quite Byzantine. The whole building underwent restoration at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

 

I have already alluded to the fine Square called Plaza de Alonso XII., of which the facade of the Hospital Real and the Churrigueresque facade of the cathedral form two sides. Its other two sides are formed by the handsome Consistorio, which faces the Cathedral, and the facade of the Colegio de San Jeronimo. This last-named building dates from the first or second decade of the sixteenth century, and its striking facade is a mixture of the Romanesque and the Graeco-Roman styles. At present the principal entrance is in the Calle del Franco, not far from that of the adjoining Colegio de Fonseca, and it is used as a normal school for boys, but it was formerly a college for poor students. An inscription on the southern wall of the Doric cloister tells us that in the year 1652 the ancient college of San Geronimo (St. Jerome) was moved to this building. That was at the time when the monks of San Martin Pinario were buying up the buildings round their monastery in order that the latter might be enlarged.

 

When Philip II was negotiating with England for the hand of our Queen Mary, he awaited in Santiago the return of his ambassadors, and was entertained at the Hospital Real in the suite of rooms set apart for the reception of royalty. A curious account of Philip's visit has just come to light in the pages of a diary kept by a village priest of that period. The document was accidentally discovered in a country rectory and handed to Dr. Eladio Oviedo, who, it is to be hoped, will shortly publish it, with valuable annotations. The writer, Amaro Gonzalez, was a cura of Carril, in Galicia, and his entries in his diary remind us of those of Pepys. "In the year of our Lord fifteen hundred and fifty-four," he writes, " on the twenty-second of June, King Philip entered the city of Santiago. ..." and he goes on to tell how on the following day the whole company attended Mass in the Cathedral, and how, after dinner, they were entertained by a bull fight in the Plaza de Alonso XII, the King watching from one of the lower windows of the Hospital. Three days later the Royal party embarked at Coruña and set sail for England with a great fleet.  In an earlier entry he tells how " a corsair coming from England, under the command of Drake, did much damage," which he says he cannot attempt to describe. " Drake came with seventy ships, I believe he wants to intercept the king's ships that are coming with gold from America." And later on he writes: "An Armada is being fitted out against Lutheran England and against that Lutheran Isabel" (our good Queen Bess!). The word he uses is too insulting to be translated. In another place he describes a very hard winter, followed by a remarkably cold summer, " so cold that in the hottest days of the year it was too cold to walk to church," He adds naively that all the things he writes about happened in his own days, and, as it were, before his very eyes, and that he writes them down because (unlike Pepys) he thinks their perusal will give pleasure to those who come after him, and he begs the Rectors who succeed him to continue the diary, " because, as wise men have pointed out, written records keep the memory of the past fresh before us, and connect the days that are gone with the actual present." In the year 1586 he records the arrival at the little town of Rianjo of an Irish bishop, " a man of about forty-five years of age, good looking, and very devout, he came, on behalf of the Archbishop, to confirm and visit in his name, because the Archbishop of Santiago, Don Alonso Velazquez, had renounced his office on account of illness. The bishop confirmed many in these parts, both young and old ; his name was Don Tomas (Thomas), he had fled from his Irish bishopric, in company with many others, through fear of the Lutherans."

 

Santiago is particularly rich in fountains ; we might almost say there is one at the end of every street, and as there is no other water supply, all the water used in the houses has to be fetched in buckets on the heads of women employed for the purpose. My hostess, having a large household, kept a servant whose whole duty consisted in fetching water from the fountain ; during the winter she fetched about fifty buckets a day, but in hot summer weather she often fetches as many as seventy. The grace and ease with which these handsome girls balanced their buckets upon their heads, without the aid of their hands, called forth my unceasing admiration throughout my stay in Galicia. I never tired of watching them as they passed along the narrow, uneven, and badly paved streets, with their rapid and swinging gait ; it was an art they had learned in their babyhood. Women going and coming from the market make use of their heads, where their husbands and brothers would of their shoulders. If a girl has the smallest parcel to carry, up it goes to her head, and her hands are left free. It would be difficult for me to say what movables I have not seen upon the head of a Gallegan woman. I have seen there every object imaginable, from a table to a child's coffin. When a fire breaks out in a Gallegan town, the women water-carriers are among the first on the scene. There was a fire at Pontevedra a few days before my arrival there, and it was entirely due to the energy and spirit of the water-carriers that half of the burning house was saved, and the fire prevented from spreading ; these girls, as my friends who looked on afterwards related to me, not only fetched water in their buckets, but poured it on the flames like veritable firemen.

 

In February a party of well-to-do Gallegan peasants came to stay for a few days at our Casa de Huespedes, in order that a wedding, which was to take place between their two families, might be celebrated in the Cathedral. The wedding took place on a Sunday, and I gladly accepted an invitation to be present at the ceremony. The whole party walked to the church, the streets in that part being too narrow for carriages. The bride, who wore her hair in a simple plait down her back, as is customary in Galicia, was neatly dressed in black, with a simple blue silk handkerchief over her head ; her sisters wore coloured dresses and blue handkerchiefs. It is the custom throughout Spain for women of the better classes to wear black on most important occasions, secular as well as religious, but among the upper classes a bride is usually dressed in white as in other European countries. The bridegroom had on a neat black suit and brown shoes. It was a very simple ceremony, performed in a small side chapel. When the priest had asked the consent, first of the woman and then of the man, the couple exchanged rings. As the bridegroom handed his ring to the bride the priest passed him a tray on which were piled thirteen  silver dollars, and motioned to him to hand that also to the bride. The priest then told the bride to wrap the coins in her handkerchief and put them in her pocket, which she did. The whole service was much shorter than it is with us. After it was over the wedding party joined in the Mass which was being said in one of the larger chapels, and then returned to partake of the wedding breakfast.

 

During the carnival a band of musicians paraded the town in garments of many colours, decked out with streaming ribbons ; and in spite of pelting rain a large crowd of men, women, and children followed them, mostly under umbrellas. People came in from all the neighbouring villages, and among them were peasants wearing straw hats and capes, capas de junco, which I have described elsewhere as very like those that are worn by Japanese peasants who work during rainy weather in the rice-fields.

 

My windows looked out upon the high and sombre wall which enclosed the women's convent of San Payo. Curious to see beyond that wall, I ascended into the attics and looked down upon it from the highest window in the house, but even then I could see nothing but the garden wall, a foot and a half in breadth. San Payo was originally a monastery founded by King Castro on the occasion of his pilgrimage to the tomb of St. James in 813, and dedicated to St. Peter. As it faced the altar of the cathedral it received the name of San Pedro de Autealtares. Its first inmates were the holy Abbot Ildefrede and his monks, to whom had been entrusted the care of the Apostle's sepulchre. St. Pedro de Mozonzo was its Abbot between 974 and 988, and for several centuries after that its abbots and monks were honoured and respected all over Galicia. The present building dates from the last years of the seventeenth century ; its church was consecrated in the year 1707. Sanchez devotes pages to a description of the interior of this edifice, and of the marble ara supposed to have stood upon the original sepulchre of St. James, but the convent itself, which now encloses women, interested me far more. From the attic window I had noted its superfluity of chimneys, and I afterwards learned that when the building became a nunnery it was inhabited by nuns from rich families, and that each had her own servant and her own kitchen, until the archbishop, looking into the matter, decided that one kitchen ought to be enough for them all, and that the nuns ought to wait upon themselves. I was allowed to enter the great door, and ascend the broad flight of steps to the wooden window where visitors are allowed on certain days to speak with, but not to see, the nuns, and on the landing I met the priest whose duty it was to minister to their spiritual wants. After a little conversation, I asked him how the nuns who had grown old in the convent managed without servants. He smiled at my question, and replied that the younger nuns waited on the older ones and did the housework for them. " But," I persisted, " they must all grow old in time ? " To which he answered that new ones were continually entering the convent and taking the place of the old ones. Only three men ever enter those doors, the priest, the sacristan of the conventual church, and the carpenter who nails the dead nuns into their coffins and carries them out. There is a legend among the townspeople to the effect that, a long time ago, one of the more youthful of the nuns, getting heartily tired of her life of seclusion within those gloomy walls, let herself down, by a rope made of twisted sheets, from one of the windows into the Quintana, or what is now the Plaza de los Literarios, intending to escape with a lover who had won her heart before she had taken the veil ; but she inadvertently hung herself, and remained suspended till her corpse was discovered the following day. I often thought of that story when I looked up at those high, prison-like windows, and also of the report that there must be rats in the disused kitchens " as large as men." At six o'clock every evening I used to hear the bells of St. Payo (or Pelayo) summoning the nuns to Mass, and so close they sounded it seemed almost as if they were pealing for me as well,

 

Santiago is rich in fortress-like convents for women. On the road to Coruña, in a street of the same name, is situated the convent of Santa Clara, founded in 1260 by Queen Violante, the wife of Alfonso el Sabio (the royal trovador), but its present construction only dates from the latter years of the sixteenth century, and the facade of its church is the work of the eighteenth century, and extremely ugly. In this church there is an elegant Gothic pulpit, which attracts the attention of visitors, and the tomb of the Abbess Isabel of Granada, who is reputed to have been a granddaughter of the Moorish warrior Boabdil, the last Mohammedan king of Granada. There is another theory to the effect that she was a grand-daughter of Abul Hasan Ali, whose son Naser (her father) entered the Catholic Church, and received the baptismal name of Juan de Granada.

 

Opposite the convent of Santa Clara is the convent of (barefooted) Carmelite Nuns, established in the eighteenth century ; it has a large church called La Virgen del Carmen. Close by is the Hospital de San Roque, established in 1577 for the treatment of venereal diseases ; it has attached to it a modern penitentiary. The hospital was rebuilt in 1818 with funds bequeathed for the purpose by a wealthy merchant of Villagarcia. Patients come to this hospital from all parts of the province.

 

Santiago possesses a very small Archaeological Museum in the Sociedad Economica, or School of Art, which is a modern building in the street of San Clements, facing the Alameda. Here are stored some old statues thought to have once decorated the original facades of the cathedral, one of which represents King David, and is brightly coloured. Here also is preserved the great statue of Minerva, which once stood above the columns of the university facade.

 

Remembering the valuable and interesting private museums I had discovered in some of the remotest of the Russian towns, I inquired if there were no private collections in Santiago. " Yes, we have one," was the reply, "it is in the house of Señor Ricardo Blanco Ciceron " ; and through the kindness of Señor Cabeza Leon I soon received an invitation from Señor Ciceron to inspect the treasures which he had gathered together during some forty years. Señor Ciceron is a wealthy Santiago merchant, his comfortable house is filled with antique furniture and other ohjets d'art, but besides these he has a couple of rooms filled with curios of every description and of every period of Galicia's history. Here I saw some fine specimens of Roman mosaic, Roman pottery, and Roman metal work. I was struck with a beautifully preserved glass vase, which had been discovered in a brick-tomb three feet beneath the surface of the ground, by railway navvies, near Astorga. But the real value of this museum lies in the collections of ancient coins, and the collection of torques. Among the coins I saw a great many Phoenician, and a still larger number of Visigothic coins (very small, and as thin as wafers). numismatologists tell us it is an ascertained fact that the Carthaginians did not begin to mint for themselves until three or four years later than their Greek neighbours. Dr. Macdonald remarks that among the ancients themselves there was a difference of opinion as to where the first coins were struck. Herodotus thought that the Lydians were the first people to strike and use gold and silver coins. There seems to be no proof that they were in circulation earlier than 700 b.c. Before the introduction of a metallic standard the universal unit of value was the ox, and it is the opinion of some students that when the primitive system of currency was superseded by a metallic one, a picture of the article that had formerly served as money was very naturally impressed upon the coins. There have been found in Galicia a number of coins with an ox or other animal represented.

 

Among the Celtiberic coins I noticed one on which was depicted a man on a galloping horse ; on its reverse was the head of a man wearing a helmet. There were also a goodly number of Roman coins from the time of Augustus to that of Nero. All these had been coined at Rome, but we have already seen that several of the Roman colonies in Galicia were permitted to strike their own money until about the middle of the first century a.d., when the privilege was withdrawn both from Gaul and Spain.

 

It seems very probable that long before coins were current in Galicia the natives used their jewellery as money. Señor Ciceron is the happy possessor of the finest collection of golden torques in existence, and every one of these was dug up in Galicia. Their great weight, and the purity of their metal, indicate that they were used for more purposes than that of ornament alone.

 

There are eleven torques in Señor Ciceron's unique collection, and eight of them are of gold. That gentleman assured me that he might have had many more had the little shepherd boys who stumble across them in the neighbouring hills better understood their value. Some think that these torques date from the days of the ancient Iberians, and that they were worn as necklaces by the chiefs of tribes. But their great weight and their enormous size make me somewhat doubtful of this theory. Some of them have been pronounced by Señor Villa- Amil to be very like the Gallo-Roman specimens in the Louvre collection. Those in the Dublin Museum are much thinner, and altogether less massive. The two in the Kunsthistorisches Museum at Vienna are yoke-shaped, they are laid one inside the other ; both are silver bordered. It is curious that the ancient Irish should have had torques of gold so similar to those that are now being found in Galicia. Joyce tells us that in a legend in the Book of Leinster, Credrie, the great artificer, was drowned while , bringing golden ore from Spain ; and a poem in the same book speaks of " torques of gold from foreign lands."

 

Geraldus reported in the thirteenth century that the Irish were too idle to work their own gold mines. "Even gold, of which they require large quantities, and which they desire so eagerly as to indicate their Spanish origin, is brought hither by merchants."  Tores or Muntorcs (neck-torques) seem to have been much in vogue with the ancient Irish ; they were often mentioned in their literature. Joyce describes them thus : " The torque was formed of a single square or triangular bar of gold, from which the metal had been hollowed out along the flat sides, so as to leave four or three ribbons along the corners, after which it was twisted into a spiral shape, something like a screw with four or three threads. There is one in the museum only half made, having three leaves or ribbons the whole length untwisted. ..." This writer says of those in the Dublin Museum, that some are barely the size of the neck, others so large that when worn they extended over the breast almost to the shoulders, and he reminds his readers that the Dying Gladiator has a torque round his neck (a fact first noticed, he says, by Robert Ball, LL.D.).

 

In various documents of the Middle Ages, preserved in the archives of Santiago, mention is made of certain gifts made by Royal personages to the Cathedral under the name of limace or lunace. These objects were usually of gold, and of great value ; sometimes they were studded with pearls and precious stones. Señor Villa-Amil pointed this out to me when I was in Madrid in the spring of 1907, and said that possibly these objects, of which all trace seems to have disappeared, were nothing more nor less than torques. Now I find that besides their torques the Irish had golden crescents, or neck-circlets, which they called mimices, and Mr. Joyce says that the word seems to have applied to almost every kind of neck ornament ; he describes three main types, and gives illustrations of them, adding that Sir W. Wilde thought some of them must have been diadems, to be worn on the head. The definition of the word torque given by Chambers is " a necklace of metal rings interlaced," and there is no doubt that the word is derived from the Latin torqueo, to twist. Some of those in Señor Ciceron's collection are like thick cord twisted into a rope, but others are not twisted at all. Señor Villa-Amil has recently been engaged in writing a very full and learned description of all the torque collections in Spain, and he begins with the remark that Señor Ciceron's collection, taken together with those of the late Señor Arteago, his own, and those of the Archaeological and Historical Museums of Madrid, would form the finest collection of torques in the world. Many of the objects labelled as torques in the museums ' are not torques. Señor Villa-Amil has seen eight gold ones in the museum at Toulouse, but not one of them can be compared to those he has mentioned ; they look more like work of Louis XIV. 's time.

 

Besides his torques, Señor Ciceron has a most valuable collection of prehistoric gold jewellery, amongst which I saw a deep neckband of solid gold, some gold beads on a gold thread, a spiral ring, and a wide bracelet which has no join in it, and must have been hammered out of a solid lump of the precious metal ; experts who have examined it say that is the only way in which it could have been made. Another curious object was a necklace formed of hand-made gold fillets, which Señor Ciceron had bought of some peasants who had found it in the sand of the River Sil, which has been known to contain grains of gold since the days of Strabo. Señor Ciceron informed me that he had recently received letters both from England and America asking if he would be willing to sell his unique collection, and although he had no intention of parting with his treasures at the time of my visit, I think it is more than likely that the torques, at least, will eventually find their way to the United States.

 

Amongst other things I saw in this museum were some gold signet rings with Iberian characters, two very ancient bronze statues, a Mercury ; a Hercules excavated in Galicia ; and about twenty sharp bronze hatchets ; also a number of stone arrow-heads. Every age is represented in that little museum. I was shown Greek crosses ; Byzantine pictures ; some Limoges vessels (enamelled) of the sixteenth century; a splendid collection of French Imperial medals, and a watch made entirely of wood, from Lugo.

 

After we had seen everything indoors, Señor Ciceron took me out into his garden to see some statues that had formed part of one of the original fagades of the Cathedral. He had saved them from some rubbish heap, and used them to ornament his garden wall.

 

Note. — I have been obliged, from lack of space, to omit two chapters describing the monasteries of San Martin Pinario, San Lorenzo, San Francisco, and Santo Domingo — four remarkable relics of the Middle Ages which no visitor to Santiago should fail to see. — Author.

 

CHAPTER 8: PRACTICAL TIPS FOR THE CAMINO

 

 Take ear plugs. You’ll certainly need them!

 

http://www.peterrobins.co.uk/walking/blisters.html   Tips on blisters

 

www.santiago-compostela.net - Tips, packing lists, pictures.

 

From the CSJ page

 

Planning your pilgrimage: some practical tips

 

See also our FAQs page, the Getting There and Back section of our Links page, and the Pilgrimage to Santiago discussion forum.

 

To get up to speed on what's going on in and around Santiago (including a Google News feed on all pilgrimage-related topics), visit the home page of the Pilgrimage to Santiago site. You may also like to keep an eye on this Spanish-language website for up-to-the minute developments on the camino.

 

What about insurance ?

 

EU citizens should carry an E111 form (currently being replaced by the European Health Insurance Card - EHIC; the E111 will not be issued after 31 August 2005), which entitles you to basic healthcare in all members states.  Medical care in Spain is free at the point of delivery (and good care is taken of pilgrims).  In France you have to pay up front, then reclaim what you have spent from the DHSS. The E111/EHIC card does not cover the cost of emergency repatriation - and though you'd be very unlucky to need it, you should consider taking out private medical insurance.

 

Unlike the E111, which was issued over the counter at Post Offices, the EHIC is sent by post, so be sure to allow longer. For more information about the EHIC: www.dh.gov.uk/travellers

Non-EU citizens should certainly take out private medical cover.

 

How about keeping in touch ?

 

A BT Chargecard makes phoning home at regular intervals extremely simple, and that's enough for many, who positively welcome their escape from more sophisticated methods of communication, and dislike the ever more intrusive mobile phone. 

 

Any more help available?

We are pleased to put members in touch with others who have made the pilgrimage. We (CSJ) organise a series of  Practical Pilgrim Days in different parts of the UK each spring: for this year's dates and places, see our programme. Our office and library are located in London SE1, just south of Southwark Bridge. Please contact us (How to find us) if you have any questions not covered on this website.

 

From Follow the Camino page

What to bring

 Essentials

  • Luggage - the baggage allowance is one item (maximum 20kg) per person
  • Daypack (15-20l)
  • Good walking shoes with ankle support
  • Plenty of spare pairs of socks - hiking socks for walks and regular socks for evenings
  • Appropriate pants for hiking, i.e. not jeans
  • Light shoes (for evening)
  • Long pants for hiking
  • T-shirts or short-sleeved shirts
  • Long sleeved shirt
  • Polar fleece
  • Underwear (thermal)
  • Warm hat and sun hat
  • Sunglasses
  • Toiletries - toothbrush, toothpaste, soap etc
  • Water bottle
  • Extra clothing for cold sensitive
  • Sun cream (preferably sweat/water resistant and of a high factor)
  • Plastic bags

 

Some common medicines like:

  • Plasters
  • Blister plasters
  • Aspirin/Paracetamol for headaches or other pain
  • Antihistamine tablets
  • Throat lozenges
  • Anti-inflammatory cream

 

Some optional Extras:

  • Extra underwear
  • Flashlight with extra batteries & bulb
  • Extra socks, extra T-shirts
  • Camera equipment
  • Binoculars
  • Collapsible plastic bucket or bowl for laundry
  • Some general antibiotics
  • Moist sealed mini paper towels
  • Powdered drink mix
  • Chocolate or candy bars
  • Needle and thread
  • Safety pins
  • Rip-stop nylon tape
  • Dental floss
  • Ace Bandage
  • Reading material
  • Walking stick or walking poles
  • Non-breakable glasses (if you wear breakable)
  • Small musical instruments like harmonicas
  • Playing cards…

 

 

From Sarajan

 

Walking the Camino can be gruelling. In some places you can walk fast and comfortably, and in some other places the going may be quite slow, especially on the routes that are less travelled than the French Route. Good shoes, well broken in, are essential. The path can be rough and muddy. Although some people do attempt to walk in sneakers or sandals, they quickly come to regret it. In our most recent experience walking the Portuguese Route, we found that newer high tech walking socks and liners, with "ventilated" hiking boots, were quite comfortable. We also used something called BodyGlide on our feet to help prevent chafing and rubbing. We did not have a single blister, but we did walk short daily stages (up to 10 miles), while some people will cover as much as 45km (30 miles), which we would not recommend. A wide brimmed hat and sunscreen are also essential, as are emergency raingear, first aid and blister kits, and plenty of water. A good walking stick is very helpful, especially on rougher or steep stretches, and it does help shoo away the occasional errant dog. Beyond that, needless to say, you want to carry as little as possible. See the links below for other recommendations, packing lists, and tales of the road.

 

Credentials and certificates

 

Qualifying pilgrims can receive an official "Compostela" bearing their name upon arriving in Santiago. To qualify for the Compostela, you must walk the last 100km or bicycle the last 200km of one of the recognized Caminos. You must also indicate whether you did the Camino for religious, spiritual, cultural or other reasons. To prove that you met the requirements, you must have a Pilgrim's Credential, which must have been stamped along the way (two stamps a day starting in 2004) at churches, police stations, pilgrim's refuges, or other way stations, which are sometimes bars or stores in smaller villages.

 

The Pilgrim's Credential is best obtained in advance (see below). However, you should be able to obtain one at one of the usual starting points, but you may find out that things are not as organized as they could be in that regard. For example, when we started out on the much less frequented Portuguese route, we went to the cathedral of Tui. The priest who was there did not recognize the Credential we had obtained in advance from the Friends of the Camino (which is more common on the French Route). Instead, he sold us a fresh official Credential for a very small fee. The Pilgrim's Credential is also required if you plan to stay in the free pilgrim's refuges along the way.

 

Staying along the way

 

Should you go on your own, there are free pilgrim's refuges along the way for pilgrims carrying the proper credential. They operate strictly on a first come basis. They vary considerably in amenities and friendliness. They have at least one common dormitory, with some washing facilities and sometimes cooking facilities.

 

Alternatives to the refuges include hotels and Casas Rurales (rural lodgings); however those are often several kilometers off the path. It is sometimes possible to arrange to be picked up on the path, and then dropped off to continue from the same point the next day. Sometimes this can only be arranged with a taxi. This pick up and drop off method typically requires advanced reservations. A cell phone and some fluency in Spanish are also needed.

 

APPENDIX 9 : RELEVANT ASSOCIATIONS

 

 Asociación de amigos del Camino Portugués a Santiago.
Rúa Alta, nº 10. (36002)
Pontevedra.
http://caminoportugues.iespana.es/caminoportugues/

Esta agrupación que lleva desde el año 1993 trabajando para fomentar el uso del camino portugués parece que no lo tiene fácil. En su web nos proponen distintas opciones de hospedaje (camping, hotel o albergue) pero solo desde Tui hasta Santiago…y el resto? Tal vez se pueda encontrar algo más de información en el libro que venden en su web titulado “De Oporto a Santiago”, pero está claro que por Portugal, con ese título, poco andaremos…y yo que pensaba que el camino portugués se recorría el país vecino!!!

 

 The American Pilgrims on the Camino association web site has some useful information, but is still very much a work in progress. Most of the members of this association have done some or part of one of the routes to Santiago. The older American Association of Friends of the Road to Santiago, which had been providing information, credentials, and a forum for several years, became inactive as of Fall 2004; it has merged with the American Pilgrims on the Camino.

 

The Santiago Today web site, which was started in October 2004, has an active forum, FAQs and news.

 

The Confraternity of St James (London, UK) has a website with practical advice about the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

 

www.xacobeo.es - Official Galicia Tourist Office site for the Santiago pilgrimage. Some good introductory information, but site can be frustrating to navigate and much of the information is pretty but lightweight. This site has webcams which require download of a viewer.

 

Official web site of the see of Santiago de Compostela - Lots of good info for pilgrims, especially about the religious aspects of the pilgrimage, of course. In Spanish only.

 

http://www.google.es/search?q=Asociaci%C3%B3n+de+Amigos+del+Camino+del+Norte+de+Portugal+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a

 

 

From CSJ

 

http://www.caminhoportuguesdesantiago.com/EN/caminho.php   

The web site of the Association of the Amigos of the Camhino Português.  The useful parts of the guide are in Portuguese and English. The web site refers to the Guide published by the Amigos with strip maps and a description of the route. The stages recommended are long and the information on accommodation is incomplete. There is a good gallery of photographs.

 

http://www.amigosdelcamino.com/php/upload/GUIA_ESPANOLreduc.pdf  

Another Guide to the route published by the Galician Amigos Association in Gallego and Spanish. There are quite useful maps of the stages of the route

 

www.turgalicia.es 

Go to: publications – Mapas de Galicia – Mapas Camiños de Santiago for a map of the routes in Galicia

Go to: publications – and then Aloxamentos 2008 for a list of registered hotels and hostales – the index covers the main points on the route

 

 

APPENDIX 10 : RELEVANT WEB PAGES

 

Search result

http://www.google.es/search?q=Asociaci%C3%B3n+de+Amigos+del+Camino+del+Norte+de+Portugal+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8&aq=t&rls=org.mozilla:en-GB:official&client=firefox-a

 

1. Page of the Confraternity of St James (CSJ)

 

http://www.csj.org.uk/route-camino-portugues.htm

 

Overview, including:-

 

Waymarking. As of late October 2004, yellow arrows are fresh and plentiful from the Cathedral at Porto to the Portuguese border, thanks to the efforts of the Associacão dos Amigos do Caminho Portugues de Santiago.  Sometimes these marks are accompanied by blue amms pointing towards Porto, indicating the route from Santiago to Porto and thence Fatima.  Around Barcelos and to the north of Tui, red and white marks of the GR11-E9 impact on the camino. The familiar yellow arrows showing the route through Galicia are supplemented with granite pillars giving the distance to Santiago.

 

Terrain. The camino heads north from Porto following the Atlantic coastal ship and, as several rias are crossed, presents an interesting if undulating journey.  Country districts comprise of mixed farms and smallholdings interspersed with pine and eucalyptus forests.  As the camino follows the obvious transport corridor connecting Porto - Valenca - Tui - Pontevedra - Santiago - Lugo -A Coruña, it inevitably makes contact with national roads.  The current route has been realigned to minimise contact with major roads but often joins these roads at the entrance and exit of cities and towns.

 

Distinctive features. The Camino Portugués is now defined and well marked; generally following secondary and minor roads with relaxing sections along farm tracks and through forests.  Major roadworks are still encountered and these are usually marked showing the required diversion.  When using roads be aware of traffic and use the indicated strip between the road and the (usual) drainage ditch. This coastal area is a popular holiday area and can become crowded in summer with associated pressure on services and accommodation.

 

And . . .

 

Frequently Asked Questions [Only some]

 

Do also visit our Planning your Pilgrimage page, and the Pilgrimage to Santiago site, where you will find up-to-the minute news from Santiago and about the pilgrimage in general, and a fertile discussion forum, where there are discussion threads on general pilgrimage topics, and others devoted to the individual routes.
 

When should I go ?

 

The pilgrimage season is from March (Easter) until October, with the pleasantest weather in  May, June and September. The summer months can be extremely hot, especially on the meseta, the high and very exposed plain between Burgos and León on the Camino francés, and on the more southerly sections of the Via de la Plata.

 

What is the weather like?

See: http://www.xacobeo.es and - for a truly formidable array of weather information covering most of Europe, though especially Spain - http://groups.msn.com/ElCaminoSantiago/weather.msnw: as its designer says modestly: you can't change the weather, but you can dress accordingly.

 

What is the path like?

 

All the routes are varied, from footpath to metalled highway.  Some of the footpaths are gravelled, some remain deep mud, some are strewn with boulders. Some road stretches remain (though local authorities along the Camino francés have recently made big efforts to create separate pilgrim footpaths alongside the highway).

 

The standard waymarks on all the Spanish routes are yellow arrows, painted on walls, trees, telegraph poles and rocks. They are generally plentiful, and it's hard to get lost.  


Is there a minimum distance ?

 

To qualify for the Compostela, walkers and pilgrims on horseback must have covered (without a support vehicle) at least the last 100 km, and cyclists the last 200 km. For a fuller statement of the requirements made by the Cathedral authorities, click here.

 

(A certificado is available for those who arrive at Santiago as pilgrims, but not meeting the Cathedral's requirements for the compostela.)

 

What about dangerous dogs?

 

This is less of a problem than it used to be, especially on the Camino Francés, where the local dogs are by now entirely used to seeing pilgrims pass. But in France generally, and on the other Spanish routes, where dogs are generally kept to protect farms and flocks, it is as well to be wary. This is one of the best reasons for carrying a stick, and showing it (not raising it in a threatening manner, which will only make matters worse) to an unfriendly dog is usually quite enough to keep it at bay. Some pilgrims carry an ultrasonic dog repeller (enter this term into a search engine to find suppliers).

 

(We strongly advise you NOT to take your own dog with you: see under Accommodation, above.)


What is the Pilgrim Record or credencial?

 

The Pilgrim Record (credencial in Spanish) is a certificate of bona fide pilgrim status, and is required for access to the refugios along all the routes in Spain.  It is stamped at the beginning, and daily at churches, refugios, town halls (Ayuntamiento),bars etc along the way. Pilgrims present the completed card at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago, fill in a questionnaire about why they have made the pilgrimage and may then qualify for a Compostela certificate.

The Confraternity issues Pilgrim Records free to members - but NOT to non-members. To find out more, go to our How and where to get a credencial page.

 

Pilgrim records/credenciales are made available only to walkers, cyclists, and pilgrims on horseback who are travelling without vehicular backup.

 

Tell me more about the Pilgrim Record and about the Compostela.


What books and maps do I need ?

 

The Confraternity's Pilgrim Guides are revised annually and have the best information available on routes, accommodation, distances etc. All are available through our Bookshop. Updates, prepared between editions, are now held on this site: click here.

Alison Raju's guides to the le Puy route, the Camino Francés, and the Via de la Plata are probably the best.  They, and others, are available through our Bookshop.

 

William Melczer's book "The Pilgrim's Guide" is good for historical background. For full details, and other essential books, see our select Bibliography.

 

As for maps, you won't really need them on the Camino francés, since the yellow arrows are so plentiful, and the strip-maps in the Spanish guides (eg the one by Millan Bravo Lozano) are quite adequate.  In any case, Spanish maps tend to be well behind the current pace of EU-financed road-building.

 

For sets of maps available online, follow these links:

http://groups.msn.com/ElCaminoSantiago/downloads.msnw

http://groups.msn.com/ElCaminoSantiago/spainmaps.msnw

http://groups.msn.com/ElCaminoSantiago/flashmaps.msnw

 

The city maps are likely to most useful, since they are hard to obtain elsewhere, and it's a great help in orientating yourself in a strange town to have a map before you struggle along to the Tourist Office!

 

Can I get help with transporting my luggage?

 

Bear in mind that if you make use of a support vehicle you may have difficulty in gaining access to some refugios, and/or in obtaining your compostela at the end.  

 

And these:-

 

Infrequently-asked Questions [Some]

 

"I want to walk the Camino from west to east"

 

The first thing you should bear in mind is that the Camino is conceived of, nowadays,  as a one-directional pilgrimage, despite the fact that the earlier pilgrims had to return home the way they came.  The first consequence is that, yes, the signs are placed so as to be read from east to west, not the other way.  This isn't just a matter of the way they point, but of where they are placed.  They are placed so as to be seen when you are heading west, and yes, it's quite easy to get lost going the other way.  I remember going back a little way to collect a straggling companion, and reaching a point where three paths branched off: clearly I had come down one of them, but couldn't for the life of me remember which.  The westward route was duly marked, but since the route up to the junction, from the west, was clear, there was no need for waymarks for quite a way before the junction: so no amount of scouting up each of the possibilities in turn would necessarily have got me right.  And while you tell yourself you'll turn back in 5 minutes if you don't find a waymark, do you in fact do so ?

 

It's true that such difficulties aren't common, and often enough there'll be someone to put you right.  Pilgrims going the "proper" way will of course help, but they tend to come in batches (because everyone stays in the same places, and leave within say an hour of each other, you get a squad of pilgrims crossing the countryside, and then very few until the same time next day).  Equally, the experience of people walking back is that they are exasperated by the number of times locals tell them they're going in the wrong direction !


Which was that guide with the separate strip-maps ?

 

The book you are thinking of is The Practical Guide for Pilgrims by Millan Bravo Lozano, published by Everest.

We do not stock it, but you can order it by mail order from www.stanfords.co.uk

We do now however stock Elias Valiña's book of handdrawn maps, which although a little out of date, are quite a good guide.  Go to the Books from Other Publishers section of our Bookshop.


"Can I get my luggage carried for me ?"

 

Be careful with the notion of having your luggage carried for you. I've no doubt you could have taxis carry your bags for you from place to place, but the point is that the refugios are exclusively for people travelling under their own steam. This means either walking or cycling, and carrying their own luggage.  People with support vehicles - and I think your proposal would be regarded as having a support vehicle, even if it's a different one each day - are expected to stay in hotels.  Moreover, you might well find that the cathedral makes difficulties over the issue of your compostela document.  This may not matter to you, but the fact that you are joining the CSJ suggests that you intend to apply for our Pilgrim Passport, which a) gives you (provided you are indeed travelling under your own steam) access to the refugios, and b) proves to the cathedral authorities, when you arrive - and they do look closely at the stamps which you are supposed to get each day - that you have made the pilgrimage the "authentic" way.

 

I know this seems tough, but the point is that most pilgrims do carry their own stuff, and there have been abuses in the past: people with support vehicles have had the driver go on ahead, and reserve beds in the next refugio, so that those who deserve them least get the beds, while those who deserve them more arrive later and find all the beds taken -  moreover by people who have arrived fresher than them !

 

Staying in the refugios, at least some of the time, is definitely part of the experience; and most people value the compostela certificate at the end.  If, in the light of what I've said, you decide to eschew the refugios, and ask for the certificado instead of the compostela, it won't make you any less of a pilgrim (since it's your own private motivation that counts and which no-one else can judge): you just need to be aware that those along the route providing the infrastructure are forced by sheer pressure of numbers to discriminate.

 

Have a look at the kit list we include on our "Planning your Pilgrimage" page.  I think you'll be surprised at how little you really need, and how light you can make your rucksack.  Don't ignore the value of training beforehand either: build up the distance to harden your feet and legs (blisters are NOT an essential part of the experience), and then add weight in your rucksack until you can comfortably carry something like the final weight for 12-15 miles in a day.

 

 2. Page of the Amigos del camino portugues a Santiago

 

http://caminoportugues.iespana.es/index1.htm

 

Deals with each of the Spanish stages, in Spanish.

 

3. Eroski Consumers page

 

http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/los-caminos-de-santiago/portugues/

 

Relates to all routes

 

4. Site of unknown sponsorship.

 

http://www.elcaminoasantiago.com/caminos/portugues/portugues.htm

 

Looks pretty comprehensive, with some practical advice that needs to be checked.

 

5. Follow the Camino

 

http://www.followthecamino.com/caminos/portugues.html

http://www.followthecamino.com/santiago-de-compostela/camino-portugues-section-5.html

http://www.followthecamino.com/santiago-de-compostela/camino-portugues-section-4.html

 

Commercial walks.  In English. Useful in showing what’s do-able

 

6. Page of the Amigos del camino de Madrid

 

http://www.demadridalcamino.org/2008/08/19/el-camino-portugues-desde-oporto/

 

From Oporto

 

7. Camino de Santiago

 

http://www.caminodesantiago.me/board/el-camino-portugues/

 

FAQs and Forum

 

8. Pilgrimage to Santiago

 

www.pilgrimage-to-santiago.com  

 

Same as 7

 

9. Santiago-Compostela.net

 

http://www.santiago-compostela.net/portugues/index_cp_en.html

 

Sponsored by the Xunta de Galicia and the Spanish Tourist Office

 

Seems comprehensive (in English), including Top tips and packing lists, to be checked.

 

10. Mundi Camino

 

http://www.mundicamino.com/  

 

“With much information and graphic profiles”. Describes each stage, but only from Tui!

 

APPENDIX 11: RELEVANT BLOGS

 

1.

http://blog.xacobeo.es/os-caminos/the-portuguese-way/langswitch_lang/en/

 

Home page available in English

Deals with the Tui.Santiago stretch only. So relevant for the 2nd weekers. Basic description.

 

Links into Camino-wide stuff

Has personal stories/vodeos, such as pulpo in Ponters

Under these headings

Doesn’t seem to be confined to the Portugal route

 

Peregrinos, Lugares del Camino, Gastronomia, A lo largo del Camino, Cultura

 

2.

http://www.elcaminoasantiago.com/caminos/portugues/portugues.htm

 

Home page available in English

Only in Galicia

Seems of limited, even nil, value

 

3.

http://caminoportugues.iespana.es/index1.htm

 

Deals with each of the Spanish stages, in Spanish. Incl. accomm. See below.

Needs to be revisited to see what the links offer, other than accomm.

 

4.

http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/los-caminos-de-santiago/portugues/

 

Has a map starting in Lisboa but the info seems to relate to Spanish leg.

Accomm details covers all the Spanish routes but seems to say nothing about the Porto route

 

5.

http://www.caminodesantiago.me.uk A very personal UK site about the Camino.

 

6.http://www.notesfromspain.com/2009/04/29/epifania-guest-blogger-hollis-duncan/

 

7.

http://blog.xacobeo.es/category/spirituality/langswitch_lang/es/

 

8.

http://pilgrimagetoheresy.blogspot.com/2009/11/bit-more-necessary-history-bear-with-me.html

start in Oporto

 

9.

http://pilgrimagetoheresy.blogspot.com/2009_07_01_archive.html

 

 

APPENDIX 12 :  GUIDES

 

Portuguese way: Guides/ Commentaries

 

The Camino Portugués
John Walker. CSJ, London, 2009. 64 pp. (Pilgrim Guides to Spain #5).

A description of the 245 km route from Oporto to Santiago, with sketch maps and accommodation details

New Edition

This guide is now available on-line. You can download it here in return for a donation. Or you can order a printed copy from us by adding it to your shopping basket in the usual way.

 
Price: £4.00

 

A Pilgrim's Guide to the Camino Portugues: The Portuguese Way of St. James Porto to Santiago de Compostela (Paperback)

John Brierley (Author)

5.0 out of 5 stars 

 

http://www.findhornpress.com/camino-3/a-pilgrim-s-guide-to-the-camino-portugues-234.html
 

Santiago-Compostela.net. This is about as good a general guide as you will find.

 

APPENDIX 13 : MAP SOURCES

 

For those who wish to download maps for each stage these are available here:

http://www.amigosdelcamino.com/php/upload/GUIA_ESPANOLreduc.pdf    or

http://www.caminhoportuguesdesantiago.com/EN/mapa_website.php  Go to Days of the Way

Many pilgrims like to know when they will be walking uphill and how high they will be going, others prefer a surprise. If

you wish details of the elevations you will encounter along the route print out this helpful summary provided by the Amigos

who run the albergue at Rates:

 

http://alberguerates.com.sapo.pt/Files/Perfis.pdf

 

http://maps.google.es/maps/mpl?moduleurl=http://www.svmapplets.com/sv/caminosantiago&utm_campaign=es&utm_medium=ha&utm_source=es-ha-emea-es-sk-mp&utm_term=camino%20santiago

 

APPENDIX 14: THE WEATHER

 

Weather and when to go. Northern Portugal and Galicia are bordered by the Atlantic Ocean resulting in a changeable maritime climate.  Westerly winds ensure a generous rainfall, hence the references to 'Green Portugal and Green Spain'.  During periods of low pressure, rainfall can be heavy and prolonged and walkers should be adequately prepared.  Spring is a rewarding time to experience cool weather and fresh growth, whilst early autumn is regarded as being fairly dry and settled.  Summer can be hot with periods of high humidity and facilities are usually crowded during the peak holiday months.

 

The pilgrimage season is from March (Easter) until October, with the pleasantest weather in  May, June and September. The summer months can be extremely hot, especially on the meseta, the high and very exposed plain between Burgos and León on the Camino francés, and on the more southerly sections of the Via de la Plata.

 

See: http://www.xacobeo.es and - for a truly formidable array of weather information covering most of Europe, though especially Spain - http://groups.msn.com/ElCaminoSantiago/weather.msnw: as its designer says modestly: you can't change the weather, but you can dress accordingly.

 

 

APPENDIX 15 : THE WINES OF GALICIA

 

WHITE WINES

 

You can get ‘young white wines’ from as little as 65 cents a bottle in the supermarkets. Whether you’d want to is another question.

 

Restricting ourselves to decent wines, there are 3 white varieties produced in Galicia:-

 

Albariño

 

This is the premium white wine of Galicia. And, indeed, of Spain. Grown in two areas in the Pontevedra province – O Salnés, north of Pontevedra city, and O Rosál, down near the Miño river. Here's a typical (recent) article on it:-   http://www.fwbusinesspress.com/display.php?id=12893

 

At its best, it’s excellent but there’s a lot of dubious stuff sold by the glass in bars. And while it’s normally a sound idea to ask for the house Albariño in a restaurant, this isn’t always the case.

 

Until recently, retail prices didn’t reflect the fact that bumper annual harvests had led to progressive reductions in the price of the grapes. It was hard to find a bottle of Albariño below 8 euros or so in the supermarkets.

 

Thanks perhaps to the recession, it’s now possible to find it at 4 euros or even less. Quality, of course, reduces with price. And the cheapest bottle could well be rubbish.

 

There are dozens of brands and opinions naturally differ as to which are the best. My personal favourite is the well-regarded Terras Gauda, from the O Rosál area. Unusually, this is only 90% Albariño grape. As of July 2010, this was costing around 11 euros in the supermarkets. Restaurant prices will be 25-100% more than this.

 

Martin Codax is a well regarded cooperative, selling a decent wine under this name. Less expensive.

 

Ribeiro

 

This is grown up in the hills, near the city of Ourense. The capital of the wine-growing region is Ribadavia, where there’s (naturally) an annual wine festival.

 

This is a very palatable wine, with the best brands comparing favourably with good Albariños, but at much lower prices.

 

Bottles of Ribeiro can be had for as little as 2 euros in the supermarkets but it’s advisable to spend at least 4 euros for a decent bottle. The best sell for closer to 8 euros. Though you can, if you want, pay 25 euros or more (Cepa Vieja).

 

Personal favourites:-

 

Viña Mein – around 10 euros plus. But better than most Albariños of this price      

    http://www.vinamein.com/sala_prensa/libros/spanish_monuments.pdf

 

Viña Costeiro – around 5 euros. Everyday drinking.

 

A net search will throw up any number of articles but here’s a recent one, just as an example:-

http://www.bostonherald.com/entertainment/food_dining/food/view/20100630this_summer_sip_white_ribeiro_wine_from_spain/

 

Godello

 

Grown up in the mountains between Ourense and Lugo.

 

I’m not very familiar with this wine so will refrain from any citations.

 

RED WINES

 

Although you can get cheap country wines (vino del país) such as Barrantes, these are best avoided. Unless you just want to be photographed in a bar sipping a purple concoction from a white bowl.

 

The same applies to the wine selling for under one euro a bottle in the supermarkets.

 

There’s really only one red variety produced in Galicia. This is made from the cabernet franc grape – sister to cabernet sauvignon – which was introduced here by the Romans a couple of thousand years ago. Generically, the wine is known as Mencia. A couple of web sites:-

http://www.spanishpropertyworld.com/spanish_wine_mencia.htm

 

http://www.snooth.com/varietal/mencia/

 

It’s grown up in the mountains around Ponferrada (Bierzo) and Ourense (Ribera Sacra and Valdeorras).

 

More recently, the bodega offerings have greatly improved as a result of the involvement of wine-producers from France and Cataluña. Prices have not risen to reflect this, meaning that the better wines offer much greater value for money than many Riojas.

 

Without getting into the nonsense often written about wines, I will say this is a big, fruity wine, ideal for meats and, especially, casseroles and stews.

 

Prices in the supermarkets range from 2 euros a bottle to 8 or more.

 

A well-regarded Mencia from Ribera Sacra is Amandi, retailing at about 5.50.

 

A bodega I'm happy with is that of Joaquin Rebolledo, which offers both Mencia and Godello wines from the Valdeorras region. Prices from 5 to 8 euros. See their offerings here:-

http://www.vinogallego.com/vinos/valdeorras/bodegas-joaquin-rebolledo.html

 

 

Needless to say, there's a FaceBook page for Galician wines, in Spanish:-

http://www.facebook.com/vinogallego

 

 

 

APPENDIX 16 : ADVICE FOR THOSE ARRANGING A PILGRIMS´ GROUP

 

Preparation is vital.

 

Try to make sure everyone is aware of all the practical advice.

 

But don’t assume everyone will read everything you send.

 

And don’t assume they will all take any notice of it, even if they do.

 

Expect some drop-outs

 

If using hotels, confirm the reservations at least once before you arrive.

 

Try not to clash with school half-term, or anything that will complicate flight arrangements

 

3 star hotels differ, at least along the Galician coast. Some deserve only 2 stars, some 4 or even 5

 

See the text of this memoir for an alternative final kilometre or two into the centre of Santiago, avoiding the suburbs and the N550/Avenida de Rosalia de Castro

 

In Spain (and maybe Portugal) places tend to close on Mondays. Certainly museums and possibly most restaurants.

 

On the more popular routes there will be companies offering luggage-moving services. On the less popular, you may have to use a taxi firm.

 

Looking back, I think we benefited from the two days we had together in Tui before setting off. This, I’m sure, served to give the group its initial cohesion and camaraderie. And was, in itself, a very enjoyable sight-seeing way to start the walk.