Tag Archives: Camino del Norte

This Week in Pilgrimage: The Way (Movie) is Coming to Theatres

[O Cebreiro]

Photo of the Week
The gorgeous view from O Cebreiro when I was there in November 2008.
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This week … it’s been cold out, and I haven’t been walking much. You’d never guess I grew up in Winnipeg, which is renowned in Canada for its -40 degree weather.

The usual disclaimer: I’ve done the best I can to ensure accuracy, but a lot of this information comes from Spanish sites and my Spanish is a long way from perfect.

  • The Way, that Martin Sheen/Emilio Estevez movie that’s set on the Camino Francés, will be out in cinemas in the UK, Ireland and Malta on April 15, and in the USA on September 30. (via Little Green Tracs)
  • A new albergue has just opened on the Camino de Madrid in the Peña Sacra hermitage in Manzanares El Real. The hermitage is two kilometres from the city centre.
  • A national ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites) committee has expressed serious concern about the way Oviedo is failing to protect its heritage buildings. It seems that if the situation doesn’t improve, the Camino del Norte might fail to get UNESCO status as a World Heritage Site.
  • The restoration of the monastery at San Juan de Ortega will begin this summer. The monastery will be turned into a cultural centre and the pilgrims’ albergue will be improved. The work should be finished by 2013.
  • The sanctuary of the Virgin de la Barca in Muxía, has been deteriorating, at least partly because of sea water. However, it’s soon going to be restored at a cost of close to half a million euros. Another church in Muxía, the Moraime Church, also needs urgent restoration work, not for the building itself, but for its murals.
  • The City of Burgos plans to build a rest area for pilgrims. The project will include cleaning and providing lights for a pilgrim tunnel that passes under a railway line, a fountain with a place to wash feet, synthetic rubber pavement that will be nice for pilgrim feet, a bench, a table, a canopy for shade, and a bicycle parking area.
  • The new iPilgrim Podcast has two episodes out already. So far, it’s provided a lot of great basic Camino information, and its founders plan to cover a lot more ground.
  • An exhibition in Talavera, Spain, aims to bring the medieval Camino de Santiago to life.
  • The Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago en Ávila is running a writing contest. Participants write (fictional) letters on Camino-related subjects—in Spanish, of course.

Pilgrim Roads

Coming up: Wayne Emde on the 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan.

March is almost here, and I’m off to Spain in early April. I haven’t figured this out yet, but I might be scaling this blog back over the next month, as I have a bunch of things to do pre-Vía de la Plata.

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend, and I’ll leave you with a discussion on The Way (the movie).

Posted by Anna-Marie Krahn at 11:00 am
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This Week in Pilgrimage: A World Heritage Site in Danger?


Photo of the Week
Karin took this photo took this photo on the Camino Portugés in May 2008. She writes: 'We had so much rain! According to the newspapers on arriving in Santiago de Compotela, as much rain in that one month as the entire previous year! SO ... even the scarecrows wear raincoats! Or as we discovered, the rain in Spain does NOT fall mainly on the plain!'
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It’s been a great week in pilgrimage for me. I finally have almost all my plane tickets, got a wonderful sleeping bag and am almost committed to my boots.

But of course that’s not quite all that’s happened in the world of walking pilgrimages this week.

The usual disclaimer: I’ve done the best I can to ensure accuracy, but a lot of this information comes from Spanish sites and my Spanish is a long way from perfect.

Yesa Reservoir Update

The city council of Artieda, the Asociación Río Aragón Contra el Recrecimiento de Yesa (Aragón River Association Against the Regrowth of Yesa), and the organization Apudepa are planning to appeal the Tribunal Superior de Justicia de Aragón ruling that the regrowth of the Yesa dam is compatible with the preservation of the Camino Aragonés route of the Camino de Santiago.

If the ruling is upheld, then as I understand it, about twenty kilometres of the Camino Aragonés route will be changed, and I believe several heritage sites will be flooded, or interfered with in some other way.

It seems the ruling was justified on the grounds that the Camino no longer follows the exact route that the government of Aragón laid out in 1993, the year the route became a World Heritage Site.

The Asociación Río Aragón says that the judge was “bowing to political decisions.” The association is not mincing words. In a statement, it accuses Jaime Vicente, the Aragonese director general de Patrimonio, of putting (in my translation) “his political career ahead of the ethical commitments that should go along with a job like his.” It calls the Yesa reservoir “a systematic attack on the route of the Camino de Santiago.”

The Camino Francés as a World Heritage Site in Danger?

The Yesa reservoir discussion brings me to something I’ve been reluctant to discuss because I don’t understand all the nuances and don’t have time to investigate right now—but it keeps coming up in Yesa discussions.

In December 2011, more than eighty Camino associations signed the Manifesto de Santiago, which asks UNESCO to add the Camino Francés to its list of World Heritage in Danger. The Yesa reservoir is one of the reasons behind the request. It seems that for UNESCO, the Camino Aragonés is considered a branch of the Camino Francés.

Among other problems the organizations cite are the industrial zone that crosses the Camino at Coruña O Pino and the wind farm at Triacastela.

The request seems to be an attempt to shame the Spanish government into taking better care of the Camino de Santiago.

Pilgrimage Bits and Pieces

  • A dispute over the route of the Camino Sanabrés (which connects the Vía de la Plata directly with Santiago) is being settled. It seems there were two options out of San Cristovo de Cea: the original route went through the town of Piñor, while a variant led pilgrims to the Monastery of Oseira. During the Holy Year, an innkeeper from Piñor kept changing the signage so it only pointed to Piñor, leading to confused pilgrims who had intended to visit the monastery but instead found themselves in Piñor. It sounds like now the the Xunta de Galicia is going to way mark both routes. The official route will pass through Piñor, and the Monastery of Oseira can be visited by way of an 18-kilometre detour. Informational signs will explain the two routes.
  • For cycling pilgrims, Caminosantiago reports that the bike shop in Puente la Reina has closed due to the owner’s retirement, leaving no bike shops between Pamplona and Estella.
  • Caminosantiago also points out that there is an error in the basic map in the Spanish credenciales. The map shows the Vía de la Plata passing through Gerena and El Ronquillo, when in fact it doesn’t go through either of those towns.
  • There will be a three-day Catholic group pilgrimage to Chartres starting June 10, 2011 with a bus trip from England. Learn more or register on the Catholicism Pure and Simple blog. (via Rebekah Scott)
  • The Xunta de Galicia has recognized the Camino de Invierno/Camino del Sur (which connects the Camino Francés with the Camino Sanabrés) as being of cultural and historical interest. The Asociación Camiños a Santiago pola Ribeira Sacra is still working to make the route an official pilgrimage route. Its one hundred members are also trying to way mark the Camino de Invierno better, persuade municipalities to keep it clean, and promote it.
  • The refugio of Muslera, on the Camino del Norte, re-opened last Saturday.
  • The Ministry of Culture recently gave Castilla y León €45,000 for the “promotion and consolidation of the Vía de la Plata as a cultural itinerary.” The money will go toward various architectural and way marking projects.
  • Aragonese author Javier Sierra’s new thriller El ángel perdido mixes history and magic. One of the main characters is a woman who is working on restoring the Pórtico de la Gloria on the Santiago cathedral. The story soon leaves Santiago de Compostela, but the author picked Santiago as a setting because (if I understand this correctly) it’s a place people come to see beyond the here-and-now.
  • The Asociación Tradiciones Esquinas Añoranza of Los Monegros (this means something about nostalgic traditions—I wonder if it’s something like a Society for Creative Anachronism)—is organizing a pilgrim caravan with six to eight carriages and several riders. They will travel from Sariñena (near Zaragoza) to Santiago this coming July. They’ll be travelling with support vehicles, and it sounds like they’ll have to skip a few stages. The whole trip—including the purchase of carriages, shoeing of horses, food for people and animals, trailer rental costs, and more—Is going to cost around €25,800, so they’re getting sponsors, and will have advertising on the roofs of the carriages. (Which will rather spoil the medieval look of the thing, I would think. Oh, well.)
  • An ugly development of some kind near the Camino del Norte in Reicastro has been given the green light, but it will be lined with trees so as not to visually affect the Camino.
  • Organizers of a new project, Acogida Christiana en el Camino (ACC, or Christian Welcome on the Camino) will be holding a weekend conference, starting on February 18 in Ponferrada. The project aims to help interested hospitaleros give the welcome already offered to pilgrims “a spiritual dimension, and to [help bring pilgrims] to a real encounter with Jesus Christ.”
  • El País has a great “tour” of Santiago with wonderful bits of history and legend. You can get the gist of it using an internet translator.
  • I just learned that you can take tours of the Santiago cathedral roofs, where pilgrims used to burn their clothes after walking to Santiago. I’m definitely going to do that when I’m there.
  • The Spanish movie Finisterrae (directed by Sergio Caballero), about two ghosts who walk the Camino de Santiago, recently won the Tiger Award—the highest honour given at the Rotterdam International Film Festival.

Pilgrim Roads

Coming up next week: the history of early medieval Spain/al-Andalus as I currently understand it, with, of course, a focus on the development of the pilgrimage to Santiago and the factors affecting it.

If you missed my post on musician/composer Oliver Schroer and photographer Peter Coffman and the art they created out of their Camino, do check it out. I’ve loved the story since I first heard it several years ago on the radio, and was (and am!) so excited to have a chance to tell it myself.

Ultreïa to all, and to all a wonderful weekend!

Posted by Anna-Marie Krahn at 5:31 pm
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This Week in Pilgrimage: A New Italian Route?

[Cross at Carrión de los Condes]

Photo of the Week
I took this photo in Carrión de los Condes. As a photographer, I'd love to say I planned this, but I have to admit the symmetry of the birds is a total fluke.
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And today …

… the second instalment of my weekly pilgrimage summary. If I’ve missed anything of vital (or not so vital) importance, please don’t hesitate to comment.

The usual disclaimer: I’ve done the best I can to ensure accuracy, but a lot of this information comes from Spanish sites and my Spanish is, alas, far from perfect.

A Potential New Italian Pilgrimage Route: The Way of Saint Paul

A Way of Saint Paul, or Cammino di San Paolo, is almost under development in Syracuse, Italy. It will visit places the saint is said to have stopped, and finishes in Rome. The plan was apparently inspired by the Camino de Santiago and the Via Francigena, and aims for similar greatness.

I don’t know any Italian, and Google Translate is a bit unclear here, but important people have just signed a memorandum of agreement saying they’re really going to do this.

If you’re interested in Saint Paul, there’s also a Saint Paul Trail in Turkey.

Update: According to renegadepilgrim on the Camino forum, a number of walking pilgrimage routes have been and are being developed in Italy. I guess I’ll have to add a wander around Italy to my list of pilgrim goals.

The Camino del Norte Aims for World Heritage Status

Friends of the Camino associations in Basque Country, Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia are working together to get the Camino del Norte named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. To this end, they are apparently improving the physical path and the way marking, and above all, adding albergues. They have already taken the first steps by submitting a formal proposal to UNESCO, and hope to receive World Heritage status in 2012.

A year ago, there was some controversy about the idea of the Camino del Norte as a World Heritage Site.

The publication Cien razones para detenerse (One Hundred Reasons to Stop By) details some of the highlights of the route. It’s available as a PDF file (all Spanish), with some gorgeous photos that almost tempt me to abandon the Vía de la Plata and head for the Norte.

Camino Bits and Pieces

  • On Monday, the ETA (the organization that caused 800 deaths as it fought for an independent Basque homeland) announced a cease-fire. For more details, read the Time magazine story.
  • Valdeviejas, a hamlet on the Camino just outside Astorga, will bring its new Virgin Peregrina (Pilgrim Virgin) on her first procession when the Bishop of Astorga visits the town this Sunday. The statue (I think) will stay in the ermita del Ecce Homo, a common stop for pilgrims to Santiago. If you’re interested in the idea of la Peregrina, Robert Ward talks about it a bit in his book Virgin Trails: A Secular Pilgrimage, which includes a Camino journey.
  • Within less than a month, pilgrims on the Camino Aragonés passing through Huesca should be able to stay in its new Hospital de Peregrinos. The Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago has recorded more than 5,000 pilgrims passing through the city in the past three years.
  • Santiago de Compostela will have international flights again soon, as the difficulties with RyanAir seem to be sorted out. (Via Sil.)
  • The Xunta de Galicia is going to invest €153,000 in San Paio—a cluster of houses grouped around a church a bit before Lavacolla on the Camino Francés. One focus will be on eliminating negative “visual impacts” in the area of the church. The funding will also go toward cleaning up vegetation, installing a new awning (or possibly roof), building a new sidewalk, and installing benches and street lights. The aim is to make it nicer for pilgrims and the general public.
  • The first two buildings of the Ciudad de la Cultura de Galicia (City of Galician Culture) were recently inaugurated in Santiago de Compostela. An ABC article compares it to the Santiago Cathedral a lot: “If the Cathedral of Santiago is a centre of spiritual pilgrimage, the Ciudad de la Cultura … aspires to turn itself into a beacon of cultural pilgrimage” (my translation). Eventually, the Ciudad de la Cultura will be made up of six buildings.
  • A Spanish cooking site has published a history of food on the Camino. It’s quite interesting, and sort of readable with Google Translate. The conclusion? “The pilgrimage was never at odds with good food” (or possibly, “fine dining”).
  • The latest issue of Arqueología Navarra revealed new archaeological findings about pilgrim deaths on the Camino de Santiago in an article by Mercedes Unzu, Carmen Jusué and María García-Barberena. The authors seem to have been interested in the pilgrims that died (in my translation of their words), “without glory, without epitaphs, and without stories to immortalize them.” They found what appear to be pilgrim skeletons in churches and pilgrim cemeteries on the Camino Francés, some with whole or crumbled scallop shells, some with old silver English coins. One cemetery contained pottery sherds decorated with shells.
  • On January 28, Ángel Luis Barreda, ex-president of the Federación Española de Asociaciones de Amigos del Camino de Santiago (Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago) and current director of the Centro de Estudios y Documentación del Camino de Santiago (Centre for Studies and Documentation of the Camino de Santiago), is going to give a talk in Jaén. The title is El Camino de Santiago: Ayer y Hoy (The Camino de Santiago: Yesterday and Today). (Via The Camino Documentary.)
  • If you happen to be in Golden, Colorado on the evening of January 22, you should consider stopping by a pilgrim gathering. The event will include a screening of The Camino Documentary‘s 23-minute fundraising trailer, a Q&A with director Lydia Smith, and much more. It’s free and open to everyone. Learn more on the Facebook event page.
  • The Solitary Walker just completed a thoughtful ten-post series (heres the introduction) on the philosophy of walking.
  • If you feel the need to escape the medieval ambiance of downtown Santiago on May 7, L’Extraordinaire Uchronie 2011, a steampunk event, may be for you. According to the Wikipedia, “steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction that … involves an era or world where steam power is still widely used—usually the 19th century and often Victorian era Britain….” From what I understand, people at the event will be expected to make their own outfits that look like they come from a steampunk universe. It would definitely make a change from the Camino.
  • The Federación Española de Associationes de Amigos del Camino de Santiago has a beautiful map showing all the Camino routes in Spain. You can buy it, or just click on the smaller picture to see the details, and look at it, and dream….

Pilgrim Roads Photo of the Week

Since I like photos and I don’t seem to have anything appropriate for Friday’s roundup post, I’ve decided to post a random pilgrimage photo every Friday.

If you have a photo you’d like to see here, please get in touch. I’ll give you full credit, of course, and include a link to your website/blog if you have one.

I’ll soon set up a form so you can send an attachment. It’s not that I don’t trust you, gentle readers—I just don’t want to give out my e-mail address here because of past experiences with horrendous amounts of spam from e-mail harvesting bots.

What’s Coming Up on Pilgrim Roads

I just had a great conversation with James March, a teacher at Springfield High School in Oregon, USA, and Sabrina Ehler, one of his students, about their upcoming Camino journey. I’ll be writing about that for the week of January 24th.

This coming Monday, I’ll be posting an interview with SlowCamino blogger Robert Townshend, who figures he’s set a slow record by walking the Chemin du Puy in about 60 days—and not losing any weight in the process.

I’ll leave you with an excerpt from his blog:

At a large table of French and Swiss pilgrims, I distinguished myself by my short étapes and slow walking—naturellement—but also by pouring crème anglaise on my salad, in the belief that it was a substantial vinaigrette or sloppy mayonnaise. I was quick to cover my tracks by explaining it was an old Aussie way of eating salad.

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