Day 6: Arzua to Santiago de Compostela

Monte de Gozo This is the last hill that must be traversed before Compostela and so is named Mount Joy. From this hill you can catch your first glimpse of Compostela’s towers. Pilgrim’s traditionally race up the 5km slope from Lavacolla with the first member of the group to reach the summit earns the right to call himself “king”.

At the Santiago de Compostela Pilgrim’s Reception Office pilgrims who have come to the city on foot, by bicycle or on horseback to the tomb of St. James are welcomed. The Pilgrim’s Reception Office is run by the Cathedral of Santiago, in the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela, and this is where the final stamp of the Cathedral of Santiago is placed on your pilgrim’s credentials and where the traditional pilgrimage certificate is issued, called the “Compostela”.
Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos This hostal was funded by King Fernando and Isabel after their visit in 1486. Construction began in 1501 and while under construction in 1509 it opened to traveling pilgrims. In 1526 King Carlos V acquired the property in front of the hostal, closing an open sewer and demolishing buildings in order to leave an open view from the plaza. The hostal has served as a hospice, infirmary, and orphanage. A torno (similar to a lazy susan) was on the outside wall and was provided to facilitate the receipt of infant bastard children. The Franco government in the 20th century made this hostal the jewel of their parador (tourist hotels in historic buildings) network across Spain. The original charter of this hostal entitled visiting pilgrims to 3 days of free food and lodging. The gargoyles on this building were sculpted as an afterthought and not much funding was provided for their construction. Some of the gargoyles show the sculptor’s sense of humor, check out the sixth one from the right.

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