Villafranca del Bierzo has earnt its name from French Benedictine monks from Cluny monastery who settled here in the 11th century. And very excitingly, after Villafranca del Bierzo, we entered Galacia! In Galacia, the majority of people earn a living through agriculture and wine. Santiago is the capital city of the region. Due to economic depression a number of Galicians emigrated to South America. It’s well known as the most beautiful part of the Camino Frances.
The Magician and I were walking VERY SLOWLY today, subdued at first because the first part of the day was flat, except the final walk up hill. But very excitingly the Magician and I passed the stone telling us we were entering Galacia! My Brother and an AWESOME Swiss friend tried to convince us to stop earlier and stay in an Albergue they’d found. They were bouncing round the small hill top town talking about the Albergue owner having a party because it was his birthday. But the Magician was keen to see his Camino Brother and we had a deadline to keep to because of our flights we had to keep walking till we reached O Cebreiro. But we had to keep walking, as we were on a schedule now.
In O Cebreiro there is one of the oldest refuges on the Camino, and also the Santa Maria la Real (which is the oldest church). This was maintained by a small group of Benedictine monks. Under orders of King Alfonso VI in 1072, a monastery was also built. Here the Santo Milagro miracle happened in around 1300, when a monk fought his way one stormy night to the mass in O Cebreiro. At the moment the monk thought to himself ‘What an idiot to suffer such a storm, only to see a piece of bread and a bit of wine’ this was transformed into real flesh and blood.
I would say the Camino France is no where near as beautiful as the Compostelle starting in the Le Puy en Valey. However, O Cebreiro is nestled at the top of a hill, the small village has cobbled streets looking out across the mountain place and felt simply magical. Here I felt more connected to the Camino watching the sunset over the rolling Galacian hills, than I’d felt at the Cruz de Ferro.