Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Spain: Santiago
March 26 - April 2, 2024

Santiago de Compostela, SpainWave after wave of pilgrims have entered the Holy City of Santiago every year since the 10th Century. From early on the pilgrimages to Santiago became the most outstanding and profound religious experience and cultural phenomenon of the Middle Ages. Pilgrims followed different routes: the French Way, the Portuguese Way, the English Way, the Southeast Way (Via de la Plata), and Fistrerra-Muxia Way-- all leading to the shrine of St. James the Apostle at the magnificent cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Santiago de Compostela, SpainOur Easter experience of Santiago will be preceded by hikes of sections selected from some of these ancient pilgrimage routes. The hikes range from 3-6 miles and take us along trails weaving beside old stone fenced fields or rocky paths beside the Atlantic. This is Celtic Spain with rolling mists, green hills and its own language--Gallego. It is more akin to Celtic cousins in Ireland and Wales, than to its Spanish neighbors. Our week will include the colorful religious processions, pageantry and music of the Holy Week as it can only be experienced in Santiago-- an event made richer because of our own "pilgrimage" experience.

Santiago de Compostela, SpainSantiago, our base for the week and a UNESCO World Heritage City, is a maze of narrow cobbled streets in the city center. Definitely a city to be explored on foot, it is one of the most beautiful in Europe. In the province of Galicia, Santiago is a city of numerous churches, monasteries, beautiful squares and Europe's oldest hotel-the Hostal Tres Reyes Catolicos, originally a pilgrims' hospital, but is now one of the most exclusive of the Spanish Paradors. Located in northwest Spain only 30 km from the Atlantic the area has a mild temperature year-round and an abundance of fresh seafood.

"Europe was built by pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela."
- Goethe

  Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Day by Day Overview

Tuesday, March 26
Check in at Costa Vella Hotel in Santiago de Compostela.
Address: 17 Porta da Pena. Telephone: (011 34) 981 569530
Our first official meeting is a reception at 7:00PM in the group meeting room on the 1rst floor followed by dinner at 8:00PM at a local restaurant.

Wednesday, March 27
Guided tour of millennia old Cathedral of Saint James followed by a guided walk seeing the city of Santiago de Compostela. We meet our guide, Gabriela at the Cathedral at 9:30AM. Free afternoon.

Thursday, March 28 - Finesterre: the end of the Earth.
The bus will take us almost to "the end of the earth" today. For pilgrims walking the El Camino, Finesterre was the end of the pilgrimage where the pilgrim would pick up a shell on the beach proving that they had reached the end of the pilgrimage. We will walk the last part of the El Camino: Finesterre, the coast, the lighthouse. From here we go to Muxia where we visit the sanctuary of the "Virgen of the Boat"-originally a pre-Christian Celtic church but the current building is from the l600's. This part of Spain was resistant to conversion to Christianity but was converted in the 1100's. In addition to enjoying the beautiful coast we visit an enormous stone on the edge of the cliff which people walk under to cure their back pain, and learn about the disaster of the oil tanker, Prestige, that sank here in 2002. Leave hotel at 9:00AM.
Walking Distance - 5 to 6 miles.

Friday, March 29 - Santiago de Compostela: Good Friday. Free Day.
Santiago is number three of the holy cities of Europe - Jerusalem, Rome, Santiago de Compostella. Easter is one of the most important religious celebrations of the year. Today there will be processions of Good Friday, music, and events to call you to the street.

Saturday, March 30 - Lugo - Camino Primitivo
We take a bus this morning to Lugo-a UNESCO World Heritage Site - and walk for 2.5 km on the walls of the town then on out of town. Lugo, a 2,000 yr. old city dating from Roman times, is encircled by a wall-one of the most complete town walls in all of Europe--allowing us to witness life inside and outside the town. The main monuments are located inside the walls: the Cathedral with its Baroque Chapels and the "Virgen de los Ojos Grandes" (the Virgin of the big eyes). Today our walk will include part of the "Camino Primitivo". Leave hotel at 9:00AM.
Walking Distance: 5 to 6 miles.

Sunday, March 31 - Easter Sunday
Today there will be many celebrations of Easter. The mass at the Cathedral will be quite an event with the seldom used Botafumeiro (very large hanging incense holder) put into impressive use. (We are advised to arrive 1 hour early for mass to get a seat.)

Monday, April 1 - Valenca, Portugal - Tui - Camino Portuguese
We take an hour bus ride this morning southwest to Valenca, the border city of Portugal and Spain that dates to Roman times, a city in a strategic position to defend Portugal from Spain. We cross the Mino River-the border of these two countries- and walk to Tui, Spain-the opposing village to Valenca. Earlier pilgrims would have taken a boat across the Mino-Tui was considered the starting point of the Portuguese Way in Galicia. The walls of Tui were built during the reign of King Ferdinand and historically, the city had strong Celtic connections. The Cathedral is the city's most interesting monument. We will be walking another of the pilgrim routes today-the Camino Portuguese. Leave hotel at 9:00AM
Walking Distance: 5 to 6 miles.

Tuesday, April 2 - Departure.

This is our planned schedule, however there may be changes due to weather or to events celebrating this religious week. There are many activities available to chose from for your free time. Our walks are planned to be 4-6 miles. Temperatures should be about a high of 65 degrees and low of 44 degrees and small chance of rain.