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Camino Portuguese

We didn't set out to walk the Camino Portuguese, having walked to Santiago from Roncevalles in 2001.  Our plan was to walk only in Portugal. But after 3 of the greatest days walking from Barcelos to Valenca, we could not help but continue to Santiago.  Some might say we were drawn.

Map of Camino Portuguese - Guimaraes to Santiago

We took a train from Lisbon, via Porto, to World Heritage listed Guimaraes.  Here we have our first taste of the delicious Vinho Verde of the Minho.  This is young wine, slightly sparkling and low in alcohol.  We also had our first experience of the huge meals of meat  common throughout northern Portugal.  Vegetarians need not apply.

Our Camino Portugese began in the medieval quarter of World Heritage listed Guimaraes

Igreja de Sao Francisco, Guimaraes

Church near Briteiros

From Guimaraes, we walked along the smaller roads to the Citania de Briteiros, ruins of a fortified hill town settled by the Celts around the 1st Century BC.   Very intriguing, worth a detour.

Citania (Celtic hill settlement ruins from 1st century BC) outside Briteiros
Well preserved foundations, linked by paved paths and a water distribution system - so exciting!

The old sauna at the Citania

An ancient cork tree stands in front of a re-constructed Celtic stone dwelling

An afternoon's walking along a main road, yet without traffic, brings us to the chapel of Bom Jesus do Monte and down the hill to Braga, city of churches.  Another big meal, decided to eat less tomorrow!

Tile fronted church at Sobreposta, outside Braga

Escadaria do Bom Jesus - many prilgrims make the journey up these steps every year...

... to reach the church of Bom Jesus do Monte, on a hill out of Braga

Se (Cathederal) in Braga The oldest in Portugal

Lovely apartment building in Braga featuring blue tiles and wrought iron


Next morning along a minor road to Prado (nice bridge) and a more major, ugly and busy road to Barcelos.  The Rooster of Barcelos is the national symbol of Portugal. Every gift shop sells them.

Medieval ponte at Prado

The octangonal Templo do Bom Jesus in Barcelos

At Barcelos we joined the Camino Portuguese.  Fantastic day of 40 kilometres following yellow arrows off the road, most enjoyable, to arrive in Ponte de Lima.

Church at Portela

A great day's walking along the Camino beneath the grape vines

Ancient stone coffins

The old lavanderia is still in use

Resting the tired feet at a small isolated chapel

Wayside pilgrim's shrine - note the hand painted blue tiles (azulejos)

According to legend, the Romans ran into a spot of trouble here at Ponte de Lima.  They believed the Lima River was the Rio Lethes, the river of oblivion, and that if they crossed it they would forget everything.  Only after the centurions' brave leader crossed and shouted back their names would the men proceed .

I think they just wanted to stay in Ponte de Lima.  It is so nice.  We spent an extra day walking along the Lima and 2 nights there.  The people are proud of their traditions, heritage, food, costume and dance.  We were lucky enough to see all this.  You can buy everything at the Monday market from food to clothes to wine making equipment to cattle and tractors, a huge affair.

The ponte of Ponte de Lima
The Romans believed that the Rio Lima was "the river of forgetfulness" -
if you crossed this river you would forget your home, family and friends

This is the original, northern, section of the bridge at Ponte de Lima constructed by the Romans The river changed course over the years

We spent an extra day walking along the banks of the river Lima - one of the most attractive places in Portugal

Old Roman foot bridge near Ponte de Lima

he famous market at Ponte de Lima - expect rain

Jeff checking out the produce at the early morning medieval market, Ponte de Lima

Traditional costumes at a parade at Ponte de Lima

A short day to Sao Roque, but a big climb.  Not much at Sao Roque, just a Roman milestone in almost perfect condition!  It was hollowed out and used as a sarcophagus.  Lying on its side protected the inscriptions.

The Camino

Pam resting beside an old water mill

The water mill
Note the horizontal wheel, speed adjusted by moving the flow of water along the wheel
Might be unique

Miliario - Roman Mile Stone

Beautiful estrada Romana

A ponte Romana

Traditional sheep herders still tend their flocks

Valenca next.  A quick look at the fort, overrun by Spanish tourists and over the Minho river to Tui in Spain.  The Romanesque cathedral of Santa María surrounded by medieval buildings might even challenge the splendour of the cathedral in Santiago.  Nothing open, nothing, as it was a festival day.

Well preserved Roman milestone at Valenca

Church at Valanca featuring the Camino scallop shell

Looking across the river to Tui in Spain from Valenca in Portugal

About breakfast time we stumbled across a small shop selling everything, including just-made tortilla.  Well you would have to have a big bit wouldn't you?  The payback was 3 hours of extremely ugly road walking.  Still we persevered and spent the night at the refugio in Redondela.  Here we saw our first other pilgrims, some heading south to Fatima.

This Roman bridge now has a wooden path for preservation

First of many stone corn storage (espigueiros) we saw in Spain and northern Portugal

Camino with the waymark to guide us
Lavanderia with Camino shell waymark

We spent a while admiring Pontesampaio, a beautiful village at the river mouth.  River teeming with big fish. Cruised on to Pontevedra.

Pontesampaio - nice day

Espigueiro at Pontesampaio

Jeff points to the water channel beside Roman road

We stopped for lunch beside the bridge at Caldas de Reis

Caldas de Reis - church

Long day next, 43 kilometres to Padron, but easy walking in nice surroundings.  It is believed that the stone boat which carried the body of St. James (Santiago) landed at Padron, and moored to a stone post (padron), which is still preserved in the village cathedral.  Unfortunately the cathedral was closed when we went for a look see.

Church outside Padron

Wayside cross

From Padron to Santiago de Compostela, about 20k, the Camino follows minor roads through hamlets and fields. Amazingly, only 5 kilometres from the Cathedral, we are still in the bush.  Soon we hit the outskirts to arrive at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.  So much written about it, what can I say?

After walking 270 kilometers, we reached the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella

Did lunch, got the tee-shirt and headed back to Tui by train for one more night in Spain.