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Documentary references of the Portuguese Way:
The two best research works on the Camino de Santiago in Spain, that of Luciano Huidobro and his eight collaborators on the one hand and that of Luis Vázquez de Parga, José María Lacarra and Juan Uría on the other, allude, albeit far above, to the Jacobean pilgrimages from Portugal. Luciano Huidobro makes a review of the most illustrious characters that pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela from the country of mourning, especially kings. He appoints the pilgrimage of King Sancho II in 1244; that of the queen and devout Santa Isabel, canonized in 1625, who pilgrimage in 1326 and 1335; to King Don Manuel the Lucky, who left for Santiago in 1502; the journey of two Jesuit Fathers in 1543 from Coimbra; the pilgrimage of Francisco de Holland, Portuguese painter.
About the possible itineraries followed by these and other devout travelers, Luciano Huidobro writes in the fourth chapter of the third volume of his work Las Peregrinaciones Jacobeas: The least known route from Portugal to Santiago is the one that, reaching the Guardia and Tuy, crossed Pontevedra to kill in the Porta Traxeira of the city of the Apostle, known for being the Roman military route from Brácara to Asturica Augusta? After the Miño, they used to follow the old Roman roads to Redondela, and from it to reach Pontevedra by the Camiño Novo (paradoxically the oldest), to leave to Caldas and Padrón by La Santiña?. Huidobro also documents the presence of several pilgrim hospitals in the city of Pontevedra and cites the passing of pilgrims such as the Baron of Romisthal, Erich Lassota and Cosme de Médicis by this city.
In his research on the Portuguese pilgrimages he also refers to the route from Chaves that was later diverted to Zamora to continue through Sanabria and Ourense, where the itinerary of the Sanabrés Way or Mozarabic advances.
The story of Juan Bautista Confalonieri:
The library of the Vatican contains a manuscript of the travels that Italian priest Juan Bautista Confalonieri made between 1592 and 1597. The Jacobean interest in this manuscript is reflected in the pilgrimage on horseback made in the spring of 1594 from Lisbon to Santiago de Compostela. The Portuguese Way, written by Juan M. López Chaves and edited by Asociación Amigos de los Pazos. Confalonieri apparently followed the same itinerary as the German traveller Jerónimo Münzer did just a century earlier and that José García Mercadal reflected in his work Travels of foreigners through Spain and Portugal. The route described by Confalonieri from Lisbon to Santiago, mainly, and that of other authors, was the basis for the recovery and signalling of the current Central Portuguese Way .
The Portuguese Way today: the itinerary
From Lisbon to Santiago there are approximately 600 kilometers of pilgrimage that can be covered in 24 days at an average of 25 kilometers a day. From Porto the kilometers are reduced to 240 and it takes 10 days and from Tui it is 119 kilometers that can be carried out comfortably in 5 or 6 days. The Spanish section from Tui to Santiago de Compostela is the one that Eroski Consumer has traveled so far and the one that details in this pilgrimage guide.
The Central Portuguese Way starts from the capital of Lisboeta and goes back to the country of Luso from south to north, passing, among others, through the towns of Alverca do Ribatejo, Santarém, Golegã, Tomar, Alvaiázere, Rabaçal, Coimbra, Mealhada, Águeda, Porto, São Pedro de Rurates. Enter Spain by Tui and continue through O Porriño, Redondela, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis and Padrón until Santiago de Compostela.
Of all the Jacobean itineraries it is probably one of the least disparate. Although there is some annoying collado there is no O Cebreiro or Puerto del Palo that demands maximum effort. The Camino crosses the plain of the former Portuguese province of Ribatejo and enters the one of Beira Litoral, with a weaker profile, to continue through the natural regions of Douro Litoral and Minho. In Galicia the route advances parallel to the Rías Bajas de Vigo and Pontevedra but this maritime landscape remains veiled and almost hidden from the pilgrimage path.
The full road signs between Lisbon and Santiago, according to José Antonio de la Riera in the foreword of the Portuguese Way guide published by the Asociación Galega Amigos do Camiño de Santiago (AGACS), ended on May 14, 2006. It was the result of the effort, passion and joint work of the Galician Association with the tireless Alexandre dos Santos Rato and the Associations of Friends of the Camino de Portugal, such as those of Valença do Minho and Ponte de Lima. Although completed in 2006, the signalling tasks of the Galician section began in 1992 by AGACS and in 1993 they published a first guide. From Tui to Santiago there is no loss because, like the rest of the Jacobean itineraries, it is plagued by the typical jones with distance indicator of the Xunta de Galicia.
Pilgrim hostels on the Central Portuguese Way in late 2010 are uneven.
Between Lisbon and Porto there are no hostels for pilgrims as we know them in Spain and the pilgrim must stay in the barracks of the Bombeiros Voluntários, in Posadas de la Juventud or in parish houses. Reception in one or the other is in Lisbon, Alverca do Ribatejo, Vila Franca de Xira, Azambuja, Santarém, Golegã, Tomar, Alvaizere, Ansião, Zambujal, Coimbra, Mealhada, Águeda, Albergaria- A- Velha, Olisão Azrosa
Between Porto and Valença do Minho there are already hostels for municipal pilgrims or some religious order in many of the most common end stages. This is the case of Vilarinho, São Pedro de Rates, Barcelos, Ponte de Lima, Rubiães and Valença do Minho.
At the end of 2010 in the Spanish section there are 13 hostels that add up to about 440 places and whose information is detailed in the guide. Ten are public- of the Xunta and several municipal, two are private and another is owned by the Franciscan Community of Herbón and is managed by the Galega Amigos do Camiño Association of Santiago. Given the successful participation of this strange itinerary that no more private hostels have emerged. In years of greater affluence, such as 2010, plazas are short and temporary buildings are often set up to accommodate pilgrims.
Second most demanded itinerary after the French Way:
Statistics do not fool. Taking the data collected by the Pilgrim Reception Office of Santiago we see that the Portuguese Way is since 2004, when figures began to be taken, the second route of pilgrimage with the largest influx after the French Way. It is ahead of renowned itineraries such as the Northern Way, the Silver Way and the Primitive Way and only in 2010, until November 30, had travelled at least its last hundred kilometers no less than 32,848 pilgrims.
The Jacobean Pilgrimages, written in three volumes by Luciano Huidobro and Serna and several collaborators, first published in 1950 and 1951. The edition made by the Provincial Council of Burgos and Iberdrola on the occasion of the Holy Year of 1999 was consulted.
The pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, written in three volumes by Luis Vázquez de Parga, José María Lacarra and Juan Uría Ríu. A facsimile edited by the Department of Education and Culture of the Government of Navarra was consulted in collaboration with Iberdrola of the edition published in 1948 by the Superior Council of Scientific Research.
The Portuguese Way, written by Juan M. López Chaves Meléndez and edited by the Asociación Amigos de los Pazos. It collects in Spanish the journey from Lisbon to Santiago made by the priest Juan Bautista Confalonieri in 1594.
Camino Central Portuguese, edited in 2006 by Asociación Galega Amigos do Camiño de Santiago (AGACS) www.amigosdelcamino.com
The Camino de Santiago Portuguese, guide written by Paco Nadal and edited by El País Aguilar (Santillana Ediciones General, S.L). The 2007 edition has been consulted.