THE FRENCH WAY TO SANTIAGO IN GALICIA


O Cebreiro to Santiago de Compostela

After leaving Villafranca del Bierzo, the traveller is in Galicia. When they had left Piedrafita Pass behind, the pilgrims considered themselves to be at the gates of their destination. Shortly after leaving the pass behind, the traveller reaches O'Cebreiro where he finds a series of pallozas -primitive living quarters like the one found in the castros, the fortified villages of the Celts- as well as a beautiful pre-romanesque church of the 9c and 10c.

The same road that brought the traveller to this point follows the Pilgrims' Way through Liñares, Hospital da Condesa and Padornelo as far as El Alto do Poio, Fonfría del Camino, Biduedo and Triacastela are the last stops along the eleventh stage of the Codex of Calixtus. The next one began at the Monastery of Samos, one of the most famous cultural centres at the start of the Middle Ages.

Sarria, with a fortress in ruins above, has a main street -Calle Mayor- full of reminders of the Way, The Church of Santiago -Romanesque and Gothic-, the Hospital of San Antonio and the Convent of the Mercedarians are the most outstanding features among the traces left by the pilgrimages. The Churches of Barbadelo and Paradela (both Romanesque) also deserve a visit before one reaches Portomarín. The (also Romanesque) churches of San Pedro and San Nicolás as well as a pazo, a Galician country house, are the most important buildings of this otustanding stopping place on the Pilgrims' Way to Santiago.

From here it is advisable to take the C-535 as far as the regional road leading to Lugo. After another 10 km (6 mi.), the C-547 branches off to the left and takes the traveller directly to Santiago. 15 km further along, there is Palas do Rei, which is full of splendid Romanesque buildings and is the end of the 12th and last stage in the Codex. At Melide a visit should include the Church of Santa María, the church of the former Hospital of Sancti Spiritus and the portal of the Church of San Pedro. Arzúa is the next important village. It also has a former hospital next to the Church of La Magdalena. Lavacolla, the site of today's airport, is mentioned in Picaud's Guide as the Lavamentula where the pilgrims used to clean themselves before entering the city of the apostle