The most known jacobean route, European Cultural Route and Cultural Heritage of Humanity, gives us an exciting experience of riding a horse for a week. From the village of O Cebreiro, of a prehistoric origin, we will pass throuth many places which will show us their most precious treasures.

We propose you a trip to share an exciting week, in group, by doing the French Way of Galicia on horseback. This one thousand-year-old route is the best known of the Way of Saint James.

It is a World Heritage and the First European Cultural Route. In 2004 it was awarded with the Prince of Asturias Prize for Concord. Our journey starts in O Cebreiro.

More information...
- Ethnographic museum of O Cebreiro. Teléfono: 982 369 025.
- Monastery of San Xulián de Samos. www.abadiadesamos.com
- Consello Regulador da D.O.P. Arzúa-Ulloa. www.arzua-ulloa.org
- Office for Pilgrims (Santiago). www.oficinadelperegrino.org
- Cathedral of Santiago. www.catedraldesantiago.es

Day 1

Meeting the participants and transfer to O Cebreiro
   

Experts evaluate our experience as riders

Organised horseback-riding trips are a good and original option for you to enjoy the French Route, the most wellknown of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago. We will leave the logistics required for taking care of the animals to the experts. They will also be responsible for providing a guide, all the necessary material and assistance along the way, accommodation, meals, transfers to the starting point and back to our destinations, support vehicles and luggage carrier necessary during the stages.

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The pilgrimage lasts seven days and includes six overnight stays. It is distributed in five horseback-riding stages lasting between six and seven hours each day. Visits to places of interest along The Way, or of historical, artistic, architectural or landscape significance are included. The horses can be Spanish, English or Arab breed, of a gentler or more spirited nature, depending on our preference and depending on our experience as riders, which will be evaluated by the experts.

In O Cebreiro we visit the typical pallozas

In the afternoon we reach O Cebreiro, a hamlet of prehistoric origin at an altitude of 1,300 meters between the mountain ranges of Os Ancares and O Courel, declared National Historic-artistic site. We will have time to explore this magical and ancient fairy tale-like village that is nestled in the middle of the mountains.
Here the pallozas pallozas, (traditional mountain dwellings) are preserved, living examples of man’s adaptation to the environment. Their thick thatched roofs can bear the weight of snow and the force of the mountain wind. And their low stone walls have small windows and the necessary doors to provide service to animals and people, who in the past all lived in under the same roof. One of them houses the Ethnographic Museum, which we can visit to see how people lived here for centuries and until quite recently. Others have been renovated and turned into charming inns for pilgrims to stay.

A reliquary donated by the Catholic Monarchs

During the tour we can also visit the Santa María A Real. Inside, it is the chapel of the Holy Miracle. A glass cabinet holds the “Holy Grial”, the chalice and paten, both Romanesque jewels, which are believed to have performed the Eucharistic miracle of the conversion of the consecrated bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. You will also see a reliquary donated by the Catholic Monarchs in which to keep the relics.

For dinner we recommend that you taste the local gastronomy, based on local products, both farmhouse poultry as sausages. For dessert tasting the traditional cheese of O Cebreiro, with Denomination of Origin, accompanied by honey from the area is a must.

Day 2

From O Cebreiro to Samos
  

We get up early in the morning and after a hearty breakfast we saddle our horses and hit the road.

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We pass through Liñares, ride uphill past the houses to the Romanesque church; at Alto de San Roque, where we find the statue of a pilgrim looking out over the landscape; the Hospital da Condesa, crossing its attractive cobbled path; and the Alto do Poio. These are all places of great beauty and scenic wealth.

We stop to have lunch in Triacastela

At around lunchtime we arrive in Triacastela, which also appeared as eleventh stage of The Way in the Calixtine Codex. It is a small village that lives from the pilgrimage tradition, and in the centre we can see where the pilgrims’ lodgings are located. We stop to have lunch and rest at an inn by the town’s exit.

Early in the afternoon we continue our journey following the route to Samos, which turns off along the environs of the river Sarria. We find several examples of popular architecture and landscapes that consist of indigenous oaks and soutos (areas with chestnuts), geographic features, and rivers. We reach San Cristovo and go down bordering the river Oribio, crossing two small bridges, while trotting among leafy chestnuts.

We reach Samos, where we can dine trout and eel

We pass several villages until we reach Samos, the end of this stage. We visit the Mozarabic chapel of the Cypress, declared a National Monument and that gets its name from the stout tree that stands next to it.

And we also visit the famous monastery of San Xulián de Samos, declared of Cultural Interest Site, which offers a hospice where we can relax, rest and get our strength back. Its enormous size and the variety of styles are surprising, both due to the fact that its construction lasted for many centuries.

At dinner we can taste the famous trout and eel from the rivers Oribio and Sarria.

Day 3

From Samos to Portomarín
   

From Sarria one can achieve the “Compostela”, a document of medieval origin that certifies having completed The Way

After breakfast we saddle our horses again and leave behind us the beautiful and fertile valley of Samos in order to reach one of the most important cities along The Way, Sarria. If it is early, along the Main Street we will see a mass of pilgrims, for those that come from previous stages meet with those who start the journey here. From Sarria pilgrims can already earn the “Compostela”, a medieval document that certifies having completed The Way, and which can only be obtained by claiming religious grounds. If the motivations are not religious, pilgrims get a different “Pilgrim’s certification”.

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We leave the village and go down to cross the beautiful bridge of A Áspera and then continue through an old oak grove until we reach Barbadelo, where we can visit the where we can visit the Romanesque church of Saint James, a National Monument. In the village we stop for lunch.

After a rest we continue riding while we pass different locations until we get to Ferreirós, the first village of Lugo’s Ribeira Sacra. The landscape is a mixture of typical hamlets with houses with slate roofs and meadows with cows grazing. Further on we get our first glimpse of the river Miño at the Belesar reservoir, which we cross over the bridge until we get to Portomarín, an important reference on The Way.

In Portomarín the Galician eel pie (empanada de anguila) and grape eau-de-vie are typical products

The former town of Portomarín was flooded when the reservoir was built, but first several buildings were transferred stone by stone, including the church of San Nicolao (formerly of San Xoán). It is special due to its structure, that resembles a fortress, and its rich exterior decoration. The ruins of the old town and of the old bridge can sometimes be seen when the level of the water is low. There are a number of lodges and inns in the town.

For dinner don’t forget that the eel empanada (Galician pie) and the almond cake, accompanied by the famous grape eau-de-vie from Portomarín are typical dishes.

Day 4

From Portomarín to Palas de Rei
  

Early in the morning, after a good breakfast, we set off on horseback and soon enter trails that run among masses of pines and oaks. We pass the villages of Castromaior, Ventas de Narón, A Previsa and Os Lameiros, where the chapel of San Marco is located, among century-old oak trees.

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We arrive at Ligonde, where Charles V and his son Philip II, The Way’s most distinguished pilgrims, spent the night back in the 16th century. Its hospital was of great importance, and today an ancient pilgrims’ cemetery and a large “Cruceiro”, the most representative stone cross on The Way, can still be seen.

In this village we will stop to have lunch; we can enjoy a Galician stew, a beef or lamb barbecue and a dessert made with the creamy cheese with Denomination of Origin Arzúa-Ulloa.

In Palas de Rei we visit the Pambre castle, the only fortress that withstood the attacks of the Irmandiños in the Middle Ages

In the afternoon, taking a deviation from The Way, we find the monastery of Vilar de Donas, very near Palas de Rei.

In Ligonde King Charles V
and his son Phillip II spent the night.
They were the most
distinguished pilgrims to travel
The Way in the 16th century

The “donas” were two noblewomen that sponsored its construction. They can be seen in the murals from the 14th century that hang in its interior. Around the temple we find the tombs of the knights of the Military Order of the Knights of Saint James, who were in charge of protecting The Way. Palas de Rei keeps many treasures and valuable Romanesque churches, stone manors and Pambre, the only fortress to withstand the attacks by the Irmandiños during in the Middle Ages.

We must then choose a place to have dinner from among the many restaurants and taverns in the town, making sure to taste an appetizer made with cheese with Denomination of Origin Arzúa-Ulloa, either farm fresh or cured.

The town has several hostels and a complete offer of accommodation.

Day 5

From Palas de Rei to Arzúa
  

We have breakfast and saddle our horses at the lower part of the villa of Palas de Rei, known as Campo dos Romeiros, next to its livestock unit, where the horses spend the night and where the famous livestock and agricultural products fairs are held.

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We leave the villa and pass through the lovely hamlets of Aldea de Riba and San Xulián, scored by streams and under the shade of old oak trees. We are crossing the lands that Emilia Pardo Bazán immortalized in her novel Los pazos de Ulloa.

Taking a deviation of several kilometres from The Way we cross the landscape of the basin of the river Pambre, with its castle; with the river bathing its foundations, and where water mills, wooden bridges and the riverbank vegetation can be found.

We reach Melide, famous for it octopus cooked á feira style á feira

Later, in the village of Leboreiro, we find the ideal place for a group photo next to a cabazo, a circular granary similar to a basket with thatched roof, and the medieval church of de Santa María.
Soon we arrive in Melide, crossing the medieval bridge of Furelos, one of the jewels of civil architecture on The Way. The village is famous for its octopus cooked in the traditional á feira style, which is worthy of its fame, and for this reason we must stop to taste it together with some rye bread.

In the parish of A Castañeda
in Arzúa we find the lime kilns
that were used for the construction

of the Cathedral of Santiago

We exit Melide, downhill, through streams and a eucalyptus grove. We arrive in A Castañeda, where the lime kilns for the construction of the Cathedral of Santiago, are located and which pilgrims fed with lime stones that they carried in their backpacks from the mountains of O Cebreiro and Triacastela.

We pass Ribadiso, a village where one of the loveliest pilgrim's hostel along The Way is located, consisting of restored cottages, a lareira (traditional Galician kitchen) in the dining room and a garden with a staircase that leads straight to the river Iso.

In Arzúa we find all kinds of services for pilgrims. Here we have dinner and spend the night.

Day 6

From Arzúa to Monte do Gozo
  

We leave Arzúa after breakfast, which can consist of delicious rosquillas (donuts), melindres (biscuits) and some of its famous cheese.

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We will also say farewell to the church of A Magdalena to a lovely plantain tree-lined boulevard and to the monuments in honour of the famous tetilla cheese. We cross leafy groves, passing through Salceda and Arca, in the municipality of O Pino.

We stop here to rest before tackling the final stretch up to A Lavacolla, where long ago pilgrims washed themselves in the river before entering Compostela.

where long ago pilgrims washed themselves in the river before entering Compostela. We have lunch and get ready to enter San Marcos and Monte do Gozo.

“You will see the wonders of The Way,
on route to the longed for Compostela
-¡Oh violet and golden hill!-, pilgrim,
on a plain, among slender poplars”
.
Antonio Machado

Monte do Gozo is a place of ineffable emotions. From this hilltop we get our first glimpse of towers of the cathedral. Since the Holy Year ‘93 the area has been redeveloped with lovely leisure areas and it also offers a wide range of services for pilgrims: hostels, restaurants, hotels, bars, a chapel and fountain. It is the perfect place to share all the anecdotes and experiences of the journey with colleagues and other pilgrims. And, of course, the high point of the day is a group photograph in front of the monument to Pilgrims, before having dinner and resting.

Day 7

We must enter the city of Santiago before 9:00 am
   

After breakfast we ride to the holy City of Santiago. The municipal regulations stipulate that the arrival of pilgrims on horseback must be before nine in the morning.

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We enter the majestic Praza do Obradoiro, square, surrounded by art made from stone. This is the moment for the last photo with the animals in front of the cathedral’s magnificent baroque façade, before the organisers take them away.

At the Pilgrim’s Office we are given the “Compostela”

We recommend that you then visit the Pilgrim's Office, very near the cathedral, in Rúa do Vilar, to get the final seal on the pilgrim credentials and the traditional pilgrimage certificate known as the “Compostela”, if we claim religious grounds. Otherwise we will only be granted the pilgrim’s certificate.

We take advantage of the opportunity to explore the cathedral façades before the Pilgrim's Mass, that is held in the temple at noon. Inside we can follow the tradition of embracing the Apostle, at the main altar; visit his relics that are kept in a carved silver urn in the crypt; and wonder at the masterpiece of Romanesque art, the Pórtico da Gloria. If your arrive on specified liturgical dates, then you may witness the unforgettable spectacle of the botafumeiro, a giant censer that hangs from the ceiling and swings from one end of the transept to the other, almost touching the vault, thanks to the strength and ability of eight experienced tiraboleiros (those in charge of swinging the censer)..

During the Pilgrim’s Mass
we can witness the spectacle,
of the botafumeiro (giant censer), swung by eight tiraboleiros

And, for lunch, Galicia’s best fish, meat and seafood

At lunchtime, Santiago offers the best of Galician gastronomy. In the nearby Rúa do Franco there is a display of the finest meat, fish and seafood kept in refrigerated showcases and in tanks at the entrance of the different restaurants.

In the afternoon we encourage you to explore until dinner time the cobbled streets of the old quarter, filled with monuments, museums, exhibit halls and wonderful urban parks that you’ll love. Santiago’s nightlife is also quite a revelation when the stones and buildings are caressed by the light from the streetlights, which immerse us in an unreal atmosphere.

Day 8

We see Santiago from the rooftop of the cathedral
  

After breakfast we suggest you take advantage of your last day in the city to discover Santiago from the unusual perspective of the rooftop of the cathedral.

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Then you can end your stay relaxing from the effort of the journey at an urban spa. Many of the spas offer thermal circuits specifically designed for pilgrims, to go back rested and recovered.

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