The camino spiritual route, a variant of the Camino Portugues, starts in Pontevedra, Spain and runs through the beautiful region of O Salnés. The camino spiritual route is a nice alternative for hikers who want to enjoy not only beautiful landscapes, but also local history. Pilgrims can even travel by sea to recreate the journey of the remains of the apostle James. A unique experience!
In this blog we explain more about the origins of the Camino Spiritual route and what things you should not miss if you decide to walk the Spiritual route. The spiritual route has countless sights: from spectacular nature trails to historic mills, monasteries, vineyards, beaches and even the only sea river Via Crucis in the world.
Pontevedra: starting point of the Spiritual route
The spiritual route is an alternative to the Camino Portugues. Pontevedra is the starting point of this pilgrimage route that extends to Padrón in three day stages. In Padrón, the spiritual route reconnects with the Camino Portugues.
If you walk the Camino Portugues from Porto you will have to decide in advance which route you will take: the inland route, which runs through Galicia and in Spain via Tui and towns such as O Porriño and Redondela to Pontevedra; or along the coast: which enters Spain in A Guarda and runs through beautiful towns along the coast until Pontevedra.
After Pontevedra you can again make a choice. Most choose the traditional route of the Camino Portugues: to Santiago via Caldas de Reis and Padrón. Another option is the Camino Spiritual route, which crosses unique places such as Combarro, Ribadumia and Vilanova de Arousa.
The Spiritual route consists of three stages, after Pontevedra, which we explain in more detail below.
Monasteries, granaries, mills and crosses
The first stage of the camino spiritual route runs from Pontevedra to Armenteira. A stage of approximately 20 km. The starting point is the church of La Peregrina, patron saint of the city and the Camino Portugues. The camino spiritual route starts after crossing the Burgo Bridge, about 3 km after Pontevedra, where you take the exit to the left. This junction, and also the camino espiritual route as a whole, is very well signposted. So you can’t miss it…
During the first stage of the camino espiritual route, you will pass through Poio, where you can admire the Benedictine monastery. Near this monastery you can see one of the largest granaries in Galicia: the Granary San Xoán de Poio, built at the end of the 18th century, 33.46 meters long and 123 meters wide.
But there are more to come. Be sure to take a break in Combarro, a paradise of horreos. In this beautiful fishing village you will have the opportunity to see more than 60 historic granaries, 30 of which are located on the banks of the Pontevedra Estuary. Very unique!
At the end of the stage (and a big climb!) you reach the Armenteira Monastery, where you can also spend the night. In Renaissance and Baroque style (16th-17th centuries), the Cistercian monastery retains its impressive Romanesque church from 1167. Every evening there is a service in the chapel, especially for pilgrims. We definitely recommend that you attend.
The stage from Armenteira to Vilanova de Arousa
The second stage of the camino espiritual route is breathtakingly beautiful. You walk along ‘Ruta da Pedra y da Auga’, a natural path that borders the Armenteira River.
Among the lush vegetation along the river you will see one of Galicia’s most remarkable architectural elements: the hydraulic mills. In the slightly more than 7 kilometers that this route lasts, you will see about 50 of them, many of which have been restored.
Between vineyards and rural areas, you will cross Ribadumia and Pontearnelas, until you reach your destination: the coastal town of Vilanova de Arousa. You can stop here to enjoy the beaches.
By boat to Pontecesures
The last stage of the spiritual route goes from Vilanova de Arousa to Padrón. One of the most special parts of the Camino de Santiago. In Vilanova de Arousa you get on the boat (pre-booking is necessary!) and then you follow the same route as the Jacobus body. From the port of Vilanova the boat sails through the Ría de Arousa. Along the way, see the only maritime Stations of the Cross in the world, consisting of 17 centuries-old cruises that mark this camino espiritual route. Very special!
In Pontecesures you leave the boat and the camino spiritual route rejoins the Camino Portugues. It is then about 25 km to Santiago Cathedral!
Have you become curious about the Camino Espiritual route after reading this blog? You can walk this Spiritual route between March and October. We are happy to help you. So please get in touch if you would like to know more.