In the TV series O final do Camiño ("The end of the Way"), the landscapes in Silleda evoke a medieval Compostela, the setting of the Battle of Uclés (Cuenca) and even the Moroccan Rif Valley. The Galician International Fair, located in this town of the Deza region, has also been used as a set to evoke 12th-century Toledo and Seville. Furthermore, on the small screen, the Monastery of Santa María de Aciveiro, in Forcarei, becomes the Palace of Châlons, in France, and it will also house the Council of Husillos (Palencia), at which the bishop of Compostela, Diego Peláez, was deposed as a result of his supporting the King of Galicia over Alphonso VI of León.
The province of Pontevedra is, along with the cast of actors and actresses, the protagonist of O final do Camiño, produced by TVE and TVG, which tells the adventures of three brothers and their relationships with various historic figures. The backdrop of the plot is the construction of the Cathedral of Santiago, in the late 11th century. The cast includes well-known Spanish actors such as Javier Rey, Cristina Castaño, Guillermo Barrientos or Begoña Maestre, and the Rías Baixas destination provides the setting for the story, defined by Maestre as a sort of "Game of Thrones, filled with love and adventure".
The filming locations
The filming equipment was installed in various spots in Silleda, Lalín, A Estrada, Vila de Cruces and Forcarei. The Galician International Fair travelled ten centuries back in time and became Compostela at the time the Cathedral was built, with its market, its blacksmiths and its characters in period dress.
Besides, these facilities, covering 428,000 square metres (over 4,607,000 square feet), and including seven pavilions, a conference room and a concert hall, were the place where the actors and actresses learnt how to use the sword, and where the horse-riding training took place. Indoor sets were also built there to evoke medieval Toledo under the Muslim rule, and Seville at the time of Al-Andalus.
In the series, the sepulchre of the apostle Santiago was placed in the Church of San Pedro de Ansemil (Silleda), dating back to the 9th and 10th centuries, which used to be a residence for Benedictine nuns. The temple has two chapels: a Romanesque chapel, featuring a basilica floor plan with three naves; and a Gothic chapel, dedicated to Santa Ana and known as Capela Señorial dos Deza ("Noble Chapel of the Deza family"), which actually houses the sarcophagus of the knight Diego Gómez de Deza, from 1341.
The old monastery is contemporary to San Lourenzo de Carboeiro (Silleda), which, in the series, becomes the Cathedral of Santiago. This building in Deza, whose style is Romanesque transitioning to Gothic, is one of the most representative examples of medieval Galician art, and it was in fact influenced by the style used by Master Mateo when he built the monumental temple of Compostela that marks the end of the Jacobean pilgrimage. The origin of the monastery of Silleda dates back to the year 936, under the royal protection of Ramiro I of Leon. The church, with a Latin-cross floor plan and four naves, was built in the 12th century and it was one of the most avant-garde buildings of its time. The façade, whose main theme is the elders from the Book of Revelations, boasts 23 sculptures.
This is not the first time that the monastery of Carboeiro has been used as a set. Some scenes of the film Cotolay were shot there in 1965; in 1973, Flor de Santidad de Valle-Inclán; in 1995, La ley de la frontera; and, in 2006, Quart, based on Arturo Pérez-Reverte's novel The Seville Communion. That is also where Enrique Iglesias filmed the music video for his song "Noche y día", which got over 123 million viewings on YouTube.
Another monastery, called Santa María de Aciveiro (Forcarei), takes us to the Palace of Châlons and to the Council of the Catholic Church, of the kingdoms of Leon and Castile, which took place in Husillos (Palencia) in 1088. The building is actually a Cistercian medieval monastery, founded in 1135 under the reign of Alphonso VII of Leon, and it was the backbone of economic and social life in Terra de Montes until it was secularised due to the desamortización of 1842, a process by which some of the Church's properties were expropriated. It has been classified as a Historic-Artistic Monument.
In O final do Camiño, the wetland known as Brañas de Xestoso, in Silleda (although they also stretch out into the municipalities of A Estrada and Forcarei), provide the setting for the Battle of Uclés, between Alphonso VI's Christian troops and Ali Ibn Yusuf's Almoravids, where the army of the King of Leon would be defeated.
The Brañas cover a natural space of great value, amounting to 1,077 hectares, which is part of the Natura 2000 network and which has been classified as a Site of Community Importance and a Special Protection Area for Birds. This enormous space is a hill range with slight slopes and plains between the basins of the rivers Ulla and Umia. Two of its major attractions are the ermida (a small chapel) of San Sebastián and the pond known as Lagoa Sacra.
The waterfall of the River Férveda in Escuadro (Silleda), which is part of the Brañas, also provided a setting for O final do Camiño, in this case evoking the surrounding areas of Compostela. This beautiful waterfall is 17 metres (approximately 55.8 feet) high. The surrounding fragas feature a wide variety of trees, including hollies, oaks, chestnut trees, willows, alders and ashes.
Silleda also moves to a different continent in the series, becoming the Rif (Morocco), in this case by means of the quarry of Rosende. In the same municipality, the river beach of Cira takes viewers to 1st-century Compostela, when the body of the apostle Santiago was found. This natural space is located in the spot where the rivers Ulla and Deza converge, and it has been classified as a Site of Community Importance. Not only is it stunningly beautiful, but it is also the perfect place for bathing in the summer, and it features services such as tables in the shade, an outdoor fitness park and a parking area.
Another setting that has undergone a transformation in the series is the Pazo de Donfreán (Lalín), evoking the settlement of Catoira and the Way of Santiago itself. The pazo is a noble manor located in the parish of Catasós, built in the Baroque style in the middle of the 18th century. The building, with a U-shaped floor plan, is made up of three sections that are joined together. The parish of Donfreán used to belong to the Taboada family, in 1625 it went to the Gómez Oxea de Albán family, and later, due to family conflicts, to the Montenegro family.
The parish of Saídres (in Silleda) simulates the woods of Compostela, and Patanín (Santeles, A Estrada) also moves back to the 12th century to show us the ways leading to Compostela.
The plot and the characters in O final do Camiño are fictional, but the landscapes are very real and they are in As Rías Baixas. The best way to get to know them is by visiting them. There is a lot to see.