Stage 5. Caldas de Reis-Pontecesures
It is time to get back on the Way, now that we are so close to our destination. We are in Caldas de Reis, a thermal town with magnificent landscapes, and on our way through the old town we will find the Church of San Thomas Becket, who went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela around the year 1167 and made a stop here..
An important element of the religious heritage in Caldas de Reis is the Church of Santa María, which dates back to the first half of the 12th century. It is formed by a nave with a Romanesque rectangular apse, and two chapels were added later on: the Chapel of San Diego and the Chapel of O Carme. Another major temple is the Church of Santo André de Cesar, which still preserves its Romanesque apse.
In this town we can find two spas that are very close to each other, and they are both worth a visit: Balneario Acuña, an example of Galician architecture from the early 20th century; and Balneario Dávila, with an exceptional bamboo plantation. The traditional use of hot springs, with healing properties, dates back to Roman times. The fountain of As Burgas, ornamented with a lion head that the hot water comes out of, is another point of interest.
The patron saint of Caldas de Reis is San Roque, and during his festivity, celebrated on the 16th August, the town is home to cultural activities, concerts and processions. As far as cuisine is concerned, the most appreciated products include flour derivatives, such as corn bread, and especially the roscón, a ring-shaped cake made with eggs, flour, butter and sugar. Apart from that, the Caldas region offers excellent wines, as it is part of the Designation of Origin Rías Baixas, just like other territories that we have set foot in, on our journey from the border.
After leaving the town, our path will take us close to the River Bermaña, which washes the region of Caldas along with the Umia, on our way to Carracedo. In this parish, we can highlight the Church of Santa Mariña, right next to the Jacobean route, featuring a façade with a semicircular arch and a triangular pediment that harbours the image of a saint.
Later, we will walk through the small villages of Casal de Eirigo and O Pino, and we will go through the dense woods on Albor Mountain, which are close to old mills such as San Gago, A Insua or Nabal. We are now in the municipality of Valga, where we will pass by the Church of San Miguel, built in the Neoclassical style, and dating back to the 18th century.
Our route will guide us through the rural populated centres of Cimadevila and Fontenlo, all the way to the small village of Condide, in the municipality of Pontecesures. We will make a stop on our journey at the Church of San Xulián, built at the order of archbishop Xelmírez. This church has a Romanesque origin and one of its major features is the bell tower.
When we arrive at Pontecesures we will have covered all fifteen municipalities that the Portuguese Way goes through within the province of Pontevedra: it starts off along the coast, from A Guarda, through Vigo, to the capital of the province; and then continues inland.
A significant construction in Pontecesures is O Alfolí, a Baroque-style building from the 18th century that served the purposes of a salt, tobacco and sulphur warehouse. The inside was destroyed in a fire 26 years ago, but the façade and the Bourbon coat of arms have been preserved. Other interesting buildings include the Romanesque Chapel of San Xulián and the bridge that was built in the 1st century, which would later undergo several alterations. The most important one was executed under the direction of Master Mateo in the 12th century. This ten-arched bridge will take us across the River Ulla to the town of Padrón, in the province of A Coruña.
The cruceiros (stone crosses) are another major attraction in Pontecesures. The one in Carreiras, from the middle of the 18th century, features an image of the Queen of the Angels, the patron saint of this small village, and the one in San Xulián, from the 14th century, used to belong to the Chapel of San Lázaro, which no longer exists.
The River Ulla, which is the third-longest river in Galicia after the Miño and the Sil, is part of the Ulla-Deza river system, a Site of Community Importance that also encompasses the rivers Bermaña, Valga and Sar, and flows into the ría (coastal inlet) of Arousa.
After crossing the bridge over the River Ulla we will be a little over 25 kilometres (approximately 15.5 miles) away from our destination in Santiago de Compostela. The first stop will be Padrón, which is the town where, according to the Jacobean legend, the disciples disembarked with the body of the apostle Santiago in the 1st century.
This is where we say goodbye after walking by your side on a journey filled with breathtaking sea landscapes and natural settings, beautiful historic areas, culture and heritage, among a wide variety of other features. After this unforgettable experience, it is time to regain your strength to complete the last stage of the journey.
Have a nice end of the Way!