Magical Landscapes: Spain, north of the plain

11 06 2014

A view from the backseat of a car of the landscape in the plains of the far north of Castile and León. The photograph was taken on a road trip around the north of Spain in late October 2011. The region is where some of the well-trodden pilgrim pathways of El Camino de Santiago  – the UNESCO World Heritage listed ancient pilgrimage routes of the Way of St. James, passes through, taking pilgrims on journey that is blessed with some truly magical landscapes as well as places en route that are a joy to discover.

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The pilgrimage, which dates back to 9th century A.D. sees pilgrims walking hundreds of kilometres (some routes do involve distances of as much as a thousand kilometres) along several routes leading to the sacred destination of Santiago de Compostela in the far northwest of Spain, the shortest of which is just over a hundred kilometres to venerate St. James (Santiago in Spanish) the Great – one of the twelve apostles. It is in a crypt in the city’s cathedral, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, that what is believed to be the relics of the saint, is housed.





The magic of O Cebreiro

11 10 2013

It was late on an autumn day at the tail end of a road trip with three friends which took me across the length of the varied landscapes of northern Spain that I found myself marvelling at this magical sight. The sight was of the gorgeous purple and orange hues painting the evening sky over the mountain top hamlet of O Cebreiro in Galicia in the far northwest of Spain.

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The village is one which on its own is a magical place – it is where in an stone church set amongst narrow cobblestone streets, stone village houses and thatch-roofed pallozas, a miraculous holy grail is kept. The village, located midway between the León and the the pilgrimage destination of Santiago de Compostela, lies along the French route of El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James, a medieval pilgrimage route and comes at the end of a steep climb and is place to rest and reflect for many pilgrims.

The pilgrimage route, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage list, can involve pilgrims walking along entire lengths of several routes, some with starting points in the south of France over distances that typically are in excess of 700 kilometres.

The routes have long been a source of fascination to me – and I hope to have the opportunity to walk at least part of it one day.