Friday, June 6, 2014

The most magical (and often most-overlooked) places on the Camino to Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Thanks especially to Shirley MacLaine, Paolo Coelho, and Martin Sheen, the Way, the Camino across northern Spain, is as popular today as it was in the Middle Ages. 

But unlike medieval pilgrims who were taking their time, modern pilgrims tend to miss some of the most magical sites on the Camino, walking right past them in a rush to their next bed or meal. 

The Camino emerged in the ninth century after a hermit discovered the tomb of Saint James the Greater, one of Jesus’ twelve disciples, on a hilltop in northwestern Spain. That hilltop, which was also an ancient Neolithic burial ground, later became known as Santiago de Compostela, the Camino’s destination. 

The Camino was medieval Europe’s great adventure for the devout and the restless alike, and a repository of sacred and mystical lore sourced as much from its Christian birth as from the pagans, Jews, and Muslims who also lived and built along it. They collectively left a chain of magical sites strung across the wild beauty of northern Spain. 

In the next several blog entries, I share what I feel are the most magical but most often overlooked sites. I’ll begin by going backwards, the Other Way, as I like to call it, at the Atlantic coast in Galicia at Finisterre…

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