Based in Spain since 2006

Arca to Santiago de Compostela

Arzúa - Arca

Day 12

Accommodations: Santiago de Compostela (B)

Walking: 20 km / 12 mi

What a big day, today you walk from Arca to Santiago de Compostela! The first town on the route is Lavacolla, a pleasant village with remnants of its rural and historic past. Aymeriac Picaud describes how medieval pilgrims would perform their ablutions in Lavacolla before entering the holy city of Santiago. This practice involves pilgrims washing themselves completely, something they probably hadn’t done in several weeks. Though you, on the other hand, will have had plenty of opportunities to stay clean, the village appears to have received its current name from the union of two words: lava (wash) and colla (genitals). This explanation has been debated and other more profane (and less fun) etymological explanations have been hypothesized, such as: field at the bottom of the hill. Let’s stick to the classic and fun explanation!  

The Camino continues to the Monte do Gozo (the Mount of Joy), the hill overlooking Santiago and a perfect photo opportunity. In the past you would have caught your first glimpse of the cathedral here and been overcome with joy. However, modern day Monte de Gozo is very different. Instead, as you walk over the hill the first thing you will see is a large monument commemorating John Paul II’s papacy and the holy year of 1993. The city of Santiago is no longer visible. In fact, your first view of the cathedral won’t be until Rúa de San Pedro, almost in the historic quarter of the city.   

The last 3.5 kilometers (just over 2 miles) to the Cathedral winds through the city, which can be a bit of a shock after days of rambling through the peaceful countryside. You can no longer rely on the omnipresent yellow arrow painted on rocks and trees to guide you. However, the second half of the walk in the city goes through the older quarters and historic district, which have not changed much in over 150 years.  

After a week of traveling you have finally arrived at your destination: the Cathedral. Be sure to visit the Pilgrims’ Office if you wish to receive your Compostela Certificate. Your Fresco Tours maps will provide advice on where to eat, shop, and visit while you explore the city before your local guided tour of the Cathedral tomorrow.

Elevation Profile for the Arca to Santiago de Compostela stage on the Camino de Santiago
Elevation Profile for the Arca to Santiago de Compostela stage on the Camino de Santiago

Santiago de Compostela & its Cathedral