Day 32 Arzua to Santiago de Compostela – 38.7km, 8 hours
Previous Day – Palas de Rei to Arzua
First Day – St Jean Pied de Port to Roncesvalles
While writing this guide I have tried to follow the stages of the first modern guidebook from 1984, however this is a very long day and if you walk this whole day to Santiago. You would likely drop in your accommodation and not move again, while your mind will want to get out and see Santiago, the cathedral, and other pilgrims you have met along the way.
Due to the distance most will stop after 33km at (1)Monte del Gozo, known as Mount of Joy, as this was the first place where it was once possible to view Santiago Cathedral. There is a huge hostel at Monte del Gozo with modern faculties. (2) Alternatively it can be much better to stop at Arca where there are lots of sleeping places in the large hostels – however this does mean missing the pilgrims’ mass which is at noon every day unless you start early and cover the 20km before noon.
As with the previous few days since Sarria there are lots of hamlets and villages along the way for food and water.
If you decide to walk to Monte del Gozo it will take about 7hrs at about 5km per hr, which is not slow, or about 8hs at 4km per hr – which is more like my usual hill walking pace when taking it easy. This is a hard day if you walk the whole day with an elevation gain / loss of nearly 700 meters each way over the day. Underfoot the path is easy.
It is noticeable over the last 100km and the closer you come to Santiago the importance of the historic monuments, churches, and architecture lessens, thereby raising the importance of Santiago de Compostela even more.
Calzada 6.2km cafe, the name of the hamlet refers to its location on the Roman and Pilgrim Roads.
Calle 2.2km cafe, water, again as the name says known only as part of the road.
Salceda 2.7km Bar, Cafe, Restaurant, Pharmacy
Albergue de Boni, on the N547, private, €10, 30 beds, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 618 965 907, Web: https://www.facebook.com/albergueboni, open unknown.
Albergue Pousada de Salceda, 300 metres off route, private, €12, 8 beds, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 981 502 767, Web: http://www.pousadadesalceda.com/ – open all year. Part of a tourist complex, but very nice, individual and twin rooms available in hotel complex at higher cost.
A Brea 2.3km
Albergue The Way, private, €12, 5 beds, W, @, Tel: 981 502 990, Web: http://theway.org.es/
Santa Irena 2.8km Cafe, water
Albergue Xunta, €6, 36 beds, W, D, Bike, Tel: 660 396 825, www.xacobeo.es, open all year
Albergue Santa Irene, private, €13, 15 beds, W, D, @, M, B, Bike, Tel: 981 511 000, open Easter to Nov inc
Albergue Rural Astrar, 700 meters off route, private, W, D, @, M, Bike, Tel: 608 092 820, Web: http://www.albergueruralastrar.com/, open all year.
The Chapel of Santa Irene dates from the 18th century and has a small Baroque retablo. Nearby the fountain has a statue of covered Saint Irene from 1692.
O Pedrouzo / Arca do Pino 3.2km, all services
Albergue Xunta de Arca do Pino, beside the road, €6, 120 beds, W, D, K, Bike, Tel: 660 396 826, www.xacobeo.es, open all year
Albergue Porta de Santiago, Avenida de Lugo, 11, private, €10, 86 beds, W, D, V, @, M, Bike, Tel: 981 511 103, Web: http://www.portadesantiago.com/, open Mar to Nov inc.
Albergue Otero, c/ de Forcarei, 2, private, €10, 36 beds, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 671 663 374, Web: http://www.albergueotero.com/, open Mar to Nov inc.
Albergue Edreira, Rúa da Fonte, 19, private, €10, 24 beds, W, D, @, V, Bike, Tel: 981 511 365, Web: http://www.albergue-edreira.com/, open Mar to Oct inc.
Albergue Turistico O Burgo, Avenida de Lugo, 47, private, €10, 24 beds, W, D, V, Bike, Tel: 630 404 138, open all year.
Albergue Cruceiro de Pedrouzo, 7 Avenida de la Iglesia, private, €10, 94 beds, W, D, V, M, B, @, Bike, Tel: 981 511 371, Web: http://www.alberguecruceirodepedrouzo.com/, open all year.
Albergue REM, private, €10, 40 beds, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 981 510 407, Web: http://www.alberguerem.com/, open all year.
This is a modern satellite town of Santiago and from this point on during the summer the path can be very busy especially in the morning. It is common for visitors to Santiago to travel by bus, taxi, or tours to join the last part of the Camino Frances and walk back into Santiago.
San Payo 6.6km, cafe
Here there is a small rectangular Church of San Payo de Sabugueira with a small plaque dated 1840. There was once a 12th century monastery on the site which belonged to the cathedral.
Lavacolla 2.3km cafe
Just after Lavacolla there is a river. This river is mentioned in Picaud’s pilgrim guide as follows:
“and there is a river called Lauamentula, because in a leafy spot along its course, two miles from Santiago, French pilgrims on their way to Santiago take off their clothes and, for the love of the Apostle, wash not only their private parts, but the dirt from their entire bodies.”
As well as being a hygienic necessity this was a pilgrim ritual to cleanse and purify themselves before reaching the cathedral.
Vilamaior 1km bar
Monte do Gozo 5.5km cafe, water, 1 hour to the cathedral
Albergue Xunta del Monto do Gozo, €6, 400 beds, W, D, K, M, B, Bike, Tel: 660 396 827, www.xacobeo.es, open all year
It is worth taking a minute or two here to think how you got here. What you accomplished, how far have you walked. This might be the last point of silence and peacefulness for the next few days.
Four miracles are associated with the Mount of Joy. The most well know is about a group of 30 pilgrims that set out from Alsace-Lorraine. Twenty nine of the thirty swore they would help each other along the route. One refused to take the oath. In Gascony one of the twenty nine fell ill and he was carried by horse for 15 days by his companions until he could go no further at Pyrenean Puerto de Ciza. He was abandoned here by all except the one who refused to take the oath.
After praying all night he tried to help the sick pilgrim across the pass, however that evening the sick pilgrim died on the freezing heights. A passing knight offered to help and took the dead pilgrim in his arms and the one who stayed on the back of his horse. The three of them rode all night and as dawn broke they found themselves on Monte do Gozo. The dead pilgrim was buried in Santiago and the friend finished his pilgrimage with the help of Santiago.
Santiago de Compostela 3.9km, all services, pilgrims office – http://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/
More about Santiago de Compostela here.
During the busy times of July and August it is advisable to book a hotel in advance, especially during any of the main Spanish public holidays of Easter, the Feast of St James on the 25th July, August 15th Assumption of Mary. All the albergues in Santiago de Compostela allow you to stay for multiple nights.
The pilgrims’ mass is each day at noon and during the summer will be busy. The best time to visit the cathedral is early in the morning.
Albergue Seminary Menor de Belvis, Avenida Quiroga Palacios, par, €12, 200 beds, W, D, K, @, Bike, Tel: 981 031 768, Web: http://www.alberguesdelcamino.com, open Mar to Oct inc.
Albergue De Peregrinos del Final del Camino, Rúa de Moscova, private, €8, 150 beds, W, D, V, @, Bike, http://www.fundacionperegrinacionasantiago.com, Tel: 981 587 324, open all year.
Albergue Santo Santiago, Rúa do Valiño, 3, private, €10, 40 beds, W, D, V, @, Bike, Tel: 657 402 403, Web: http://www.elsantosantiago.com, open all year.
Albergue O Fogar de Teodormiro, Plaza de Algalia de Arriba, 3, private, €18, 20 beds, W, D, V, K, Bike, Tel: 981 582 920, Web: http://www.fogarteodomiro.com, open all year.
Albergue Meiga Backpackers, c/ Baquiños, 67, private, €17, 20 beds, K, @, Bike, Tel: 981 570 846, Web: http://www.meiga-backpackers.es/, open Mar to Nov.
Albergue Mundoalbergue, c/ San Clemente, 26, private, €18, 34 beds, W, D, K, @, Bike, Tel: 981 588 625, Web: http://www.mundoalbergue.es, open all year.
Albergue La Salle, Tras Santa Clara, private, €19, 20 beds, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 682 158 011, Web: http://www.alberguelasalle.com, open Feb to Nov inc.
Hostel Roots & Boots, c/ Campo de Cruceiro do Galo, 7, private, €18, 20 beds, K, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 699 631 594, Web: http://www.rootsandboots.es, open all year.
Albergue Xunta San Lazaro, Rúa San Lázaro, €10, 80 beds, W, D, K, V, Bike, Tel: 981 571 488, open all year
Albergue The Last Stamp, 10 Rua Preguntorio, private, €15 to €20, 62 beds, W, D, V, @, Bike, Tel: 981 563 525, Web: http://www.thelaststamp.es/, open 22nd Feb to 22nd Dec.
Albergue Azabache, 15 Rua Acibecheria, private, €18, 20 beds, W, D, @, K, Tel: 981 071 254, Web: http://www.azabache-santiago.com/, open all year.
Albergue La Estrella de Santiago, 36 Rua Concheiros, private, €10, 24 beds, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 881 973 926, Web: http://www.laestrelladesantiago.es/, open all year.
Albergue Porta Real, 10 Calle Concheiros, private, €15, 24 beds, W, D, @, Bike, Tel: 633 610 114, Web: http://albergueportareal.es/, open all year.
Albergue La Estacion, 14 Rua de Xoana Nogueira, private, €12, 24 beds, W, D, @, V, Bike, Tel: 981 594 624, Web: http://www.alberguelaestacion.com/, open all year.
Albergue Acuario, 2 Estocolmo, private, €12 Jul, Aug and Easter – €10 rest of year, 60 beds, W, D, V, K, @, Bike, Tel: 981 575 428, Web: http://www.acuariosantiago.com/, open Mar to mid Dec inc.
I read an account of a pilgrim who walked in 1974, he was interviewed at length to certify his legitimacy as a walking pilgrim. Today it takes minutes to be given your Compostela certificate, though the queue can take hours in the summer. There are now also more than one type of certificate.
There is something very special about walking into Santiago whether you are religious or not. I believe now in the full experience and I am not religious; you just don’t know where it will take you, so I do my best not to be closed to spiritual matters – bear in mind once you have visited the cathedral, prayed, collected your certificate you undergo a transformation that happens to all pilgrims – you become a tourist.
Key: W = Washing, D = Drying, M = Menu, @ = Internet, K = Kitchen, B = Breakfast, V = Vending, Cred = Credential
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