Stage 33 – Portomarín – Palas De Rei
Total Distance – 24.8 km (13.9 miles)
Adjusted for Climb – 27.0 km (16.7 miles, accrued ascent 450 m = 2.2 km)
High Point: Sierra Ligonde at 720 m (2,362 feet)
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Please note that some names may be in Galician – you’ll now it when you see it.
My first thought when we left Portomarín was, “Where did all these people come from?” and then I remembered that we were within the last 100 kilometers of Santiago and it all fell into place. Still, the numbers of peregrinos on the road that morning was impressive. Immediately upon leaving we came upon a woodland and were soon paralleling the main road.
When we reached the village of Toxibó we came upon another hórreo strategically placed beside a lovely family home. It was the finest example I had seen of one up to that point. Sue and I had no idea what they were for and why they had that unique design. Later we were to learn that the pedestals that had rounded curves and the overhanging base of the hórreo were designed that way to keep out rodents and little animals. These intruders cannot climb up curved surfaces and this measure was enough to protect the meats that would be curing inside the hórreo or the grain stored there. The wooden slats on the sides of the hórreo insured that the structure was properly ventilated. In time we would see many, many more examples of these unique structures. In the meantime we had some walking to do and as you can see from the picture below Sue was completely recovered and had no problem climbing up some of the steep slopes we found in our way.
With the beautiful countryside as our constant companion we also encountered peregrinos that decided on taking a unique mode of transportation!
As we approached the area around the Sierra Ligonde we saw that the area was one of great beauty.
Midway in our stage we came upon a small chapel in Ventas de Narón. It was situated in a peaceful setting which belied the events of 820 AD when a bloody and cruel battle was fought here between Christian and Muslim armies with the Christian armies emerging victorious. Curiously, I saw no plaques that spoke of that fateful battle; all that I saw was a chapel and a plaque that spoke of the renovation of the chapel in 2004.
Our next stop was to be just beyond the village of Lameiros where a Cross or Cruceiro awaited us. Specifically it was the Cruceiro de Lameiros (1670) that we stopped to see. At the base of the cross you see symbols that represent the suffering and death of Jesus while at the top, where you would expect to see a crucified Christ, is a symbol of maternity. This particular juxtaposition of life and death while unexpected I found to be jarring. To me it was a shock because you see the Virgin Mary holding Jesus (whether it is a baby Jesus or the Jesus of the Cross I cannot tell) in a place one would never expect to see it but then you walk to the other side and then see the crucified Christ. Does it represent the Alpha and the Omega or the love of a mother for her son? Or both?
Four kilometers later we made another stop at the hamlet of Ligonde. Ligonde was a place full of historical significance during the medieval period and is actually two hamlets. The first is known as Ligonde Ligonde and is at the top of the hill. The first of the sites here that we saw was the ancient cementerio de peregrinos (pilgrim cemetery). It is located on an old farm named Leira da rúa and its presence would seem to indicate that somewhere near was a pilgrim hospital or hospice.
Next we saw the Casa de Carnero, founded by the powerful Ulloa family and as the sign below says, the place where Carlos V, on March 24 of 1520 stayed while on his way to be crowned Emperor. Felipe II, his son, also stayed here on May 20, 1554 while on his way to La Coruna sail to England to wed Mary Tudor. In the 16th century this house was given the right of asylum. This meant that anyone accused of a crime or fleeing justice was instantly “freed” upon crossing into the house.
A few meters from the Casa de Carnero is the Fuente del Peregrino albergue. It is an albergue that is run is by a British religious group. The building actually was a school built by the hamlet during the Republican period and we were very kindly greeted there with cold water and brightly painted signs that adorned the exterior walls.
Moving on we were so in amongst nature again.
Our final stretch into Palas de Rei was tranquil and uneventful.