Post Conference Journey
The Portuguese Way to the Heart of Galicia
Along the Camino of Santiago de Compostela
June 8-13 or 14, 2023
The Camino of Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route began in the 9th century when the tomb of St. James was ‘discovered’; it is now the most traversed sacred path in Europe. A UNESCO World Heritage site since 1993, the Camino today is seen by many as a spiritual and cultural itinerary rather than as a religious undertaking. The lesser known Portuguese section of the Camino, which we will be following, traces much of the ancient Roman route that connected Olissipo (Lisbon) and Bracara Augusta (Braga).
We begin our journey along the Portuguese Way with an optional walk of five miles out of Tomar (a coach will be available for anyone who prefers it). We then ride together to Coimbra, Portugal’s first capital. We’ll have lunch and a walking tour of many of its historic sites including its university, the fifth oldest in the world, founded in 1290.
We next travel to the beautiful Douro valley which has produced its famous wines for more than 2,000 years. We’ll spend the night here and explore this region in the morning before traveling to Porto, Portugal’s second largest city, known for its evocative atmosphere and historic architecture. We will take a walking tour and meet with the author of The Last Kabbalist of Lisbon, a moving tale of Jewish culture and its survival in the Iberian Peninsula.
The next morning we drive to the northern city of Braga. Founded in 16 BC, when it was known as Bracara Augusta, this small city exudes two thousand years of history. Our day there includes a visit to the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Braga, an architectural complex integrating sacred buildings with a long stairway and a lovely park. We will then enjoy a walking tour of the city’s many ancient sites before dinner.
The following day we leave for Valencia, a city that borders Galicia, Spain. Mentioned by the classical writers Strabo and Ptolemy, it was one of the capitals of the seven provinces of the former Kingdom of Galicia. Its fortress dates to the 12th century and played an important role in the emergence of Portugal as a kingdom after the Muslim era of Andalusia. We now have our second opportunity to walk a section of the Camino as we cross the border into Spain by foot or bus. We will arrive in Galicia in northwest Spain, a Celtic sea kingdom for centuries and a region with a unique quality of sea, mountains and forest that is profoundly different from the rest of the country.
Once in Spain, we head for the charming nearby city of Pontevedra, situated at the mouth of the Lerez river, and known internationally as one of the most livable in Europe. After a walking tour and personal time to enjoy the ambience of the city, we will attend an evening Queimada Gallega, a Galician ritual of great importance in honoring the elements of earth, water, air and fire. Through this long tradition, the people of Pontevedra and Galicia sought purification of the body and soul and the attraction of good spirits to their communities.
The next day we travel to the legendary Santiago de Compostela, one of the most important pilgrimage destinations in the world and a place with deep spiritual associations dating from long before Catholicism. Its cathedral, one of the great works of Romanesque architecture, was consecrated in 1211 and contains the tomb of the Apostle James. While in Santiago, we’ll have time for individual exploration of this iconic medieval city.
Some participants may choose to leave the Quest after a night in Santiago. The rest will go west to Finisterra, a small town 100 kilometers away on the wild coast near the tip of the Galician Peninsula that has long been considered the true end of the Camino. There we will hold our concluding circle, meditate on the vast Atlantic Ocean that surrounds us, and integrate our inner experience of the Quest before spending the night and returning to Santiago the following morning.
*Schedule subject to change”
For more information, please contact Andrea Lomanto at firstname.lastname@example.org
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