Completing the extension of the Way of Saint James as far as Fisterra and Muxía is unquestionably one of the most profound experiences in the lifetime of any human being. . Contrary to popular belief, the origins of this route associated with the “Way of the Stars” date back many centuries to the Middle Ages, as documented in countless writings and oral testimonies that historiography has passed down from generation to generation.
Indeed, from the donation made by King Alphonse VII to the Monastery of San Julián de Moraime in 1119, where the records state, “ad victum et substentationem monachorum pauperum et hospitum peregrinorum advenientum”, to the founding of the Nuestra Señora del Rosario Pilgrims’ Hospital in Finisterre in 1479, the work of Alonso García, the numbers of pilgrims travelling from far and wide in order to discover this area has continued to grow.
There are numerous reasons behind an authentic social phenomenon which, shrouded in a cloak of mystery and set against the mists of time, is related to the ancient Finisterrae; a fascinating limbo gleaming in the darkness, exerting its legendary appeal in an invitation to discover its landscapes, its intoxicating legends and traditions that even today live on in the collective memory.
In addition to the well-documented influence the Way of Saint James has had on the rise and development of this Atlantic outpost, it is also true that since time immemorial, visitors have travelled here in search of answers to their very existence; questions that drove them to embark on a life-changing journey that would end – or perhaps recommence – in these remote lands.
To follow the Way from Santiago to Fisterra and Muxía is not merely to complete the final phase of a physical or material journey, weighed down by a heavy backpack filled with tattered clothing, treading the path with feet ravaged by long walks in all weathers and terrains. In fact, it is quite the contrary. Reaching this ancient site at the end of the world, guided by the magical light of the stars, holds a profound significance of a far more intimate, personal nature, much in the style of an aura in which the existential and the spiritual merge into one; a magnificent trail of light and peace that makes it unique and inscrutable.
Almost a thousand years of history – recorded in incunables, ancient books and scrolls – provide proof of the deeply-rooted pilgrimage tradition that has existed for centuries in our region, far removed from the centres of power, yet inextricably linked to the most sensitive, fervent and devout hearts.
The land, the sea, every bridge and church, every spring and stone cross are kept safe in the memory of time. As Castelao wrote in his work As cruces de pedra na Galiza (‘The Stone Crosses of Galicia’), “Where there is a stone cross there must have been a sin, and each cross is a prayer in stone and a pardon from Heaven. Observing these stone crosses will reveal a wealth of treasures”.
So, my spirited walkers, if some day you should decide to visit these wild and rugged landscapes, bathed in light and mystery, make sure you do so with a free spirit, alone and with a watchful eye, eager to discover not only what your weary gaze will see, but also that which lies within you, still waiting to be discovered.
This is your true treasure, your greatest reward! Cherish it with care, as it will light your path. Ultreia!