Virxe Da Barca Sanctuary
finisterre: the end of the earth
Once believed to be the furthest point west on the Iberian coast, Finisterre was aptly named “the end of the Earth”.
Finisterre is also the place that marks an end for some pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago (or Way of St James) who can walk on for another couple hundred kilometres after arriving in Santiago de Compostela.
We actually had no desire to go to Finisterre when we initially embarked on the walk. But once we started walking, we felt like it was somewhere we had to visit. And then it didn’t seem so straight forward on how we would get there.
The options for us were:
(1) to walk it: unfortunately (or fortunately) we didn’t have the time for that.
(2) to catch the local bus: this was our plan A until we met a fellow pilgrim (about 3 days from finishing) who warned us that he did that the previous year, and it was almost 3 hours on the local bus and then an additional several kilometres of walking. And this was just to get there. So add the same amount of time to come back.
(3) to hire a car and drive there ourselves: there were too many logistical things about this one, so we benched this as a possibility.
(4) to book a day trip tour on a bus or minivan in Santiago de Compostela: this was the most enticing option. And the one we settled for when it came down to decide.
The day we went to Finisterre, the sun was shining brightly and the skies were blue. Upon arriving, often as with popular tourist spots, there is an array of visitors. Yet Finisterre had a different feel to it – it was peaceful somehow. It was calm and it actually felt like we had read the last page of an incredible book. It was closure for us, standing at the end of the Earth and looking out to the horizon.
As we stare out, we can see why during the Roman time, it was thought this was the end of the known world, standing right there… the Earth looks flat and we see nothing beyond.. it’s just water as far as the eye can see.
Muxia is also another place that pilgrims can walk onwards to from Santiago if they choose. Here stands a church, Virxe Da Barca Sanctuary, which on December 25, 2013 was destroyed by fire after being struck by lightning. We were told that on the Orthodox Christmas (January 7, 2014), huge, powerful waves swept through and knocked over the church. Suspicious or freakish, either way, it was unlucky for this building built right on the edge of the surf. Since then, restoration has been underway and we were able to see the outside of what once was.
One of the highlights of this part is the healing rock. It is said to have healing powers. Crawl through the hole nine times and it is said to heal a sore back. Lucky we weren’t there for any curing. So why were we even there?
There really is no better way to end an epic journey, other than to visit the end of the Earth.
Happy Wednesday everyone!
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