Portuguese Way along the coast
History of the Coastal Portuguese Way
When St. James the Greater’s tomb was discovered in the 9th century, crowds of pilgrims started to visit it in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Many different roads were used by these visitors from all over, who came along different routes. The most frequently used roads soon became well established, resulting in an unequalled cultural exchange of ideas.
Many pilgrims arrived in Portuguese ports and continued on foot or horseback, in order to fulfil the ritual of embracing the Apostle’s image. This led to the establishment of three routes from Portugal: the inland, central and coastal Portuguese Way.
Concentrating on the Coastal Portuguese Way, there are several references provided by experts on the pilgrims that used this road from Caminha to A Guarda. According to the late Hipólito de Sa, the Archbishop of Canterbury, St. Thomas Becket, stayed in Oia Monastery when he completed his pilgrimage from a monastery in Portugal to Santiago back in the 12th century. Some traditional writings even point to the coastline between Porto and Vigo as the origin of the use of the scallop shell as a Jacobean emblem, when a knight came out of the water covered in shells.
This route, which starts in the city of Porto, generally crosses the Miño River at two points, either Goian, in Tomiño, or A Guarda. It continues through O Rosal, Baiona, Nigrán, Vigo and Redondela, where it joins other roads and heads for Santiago.
Due to the route’s natural surroundings and abundant heritage, more and more pilgrims are enjoying this experience.