Today is another long day, but well worth it! You begin with a short uphill walk through mainly wooded areas and farmland and arrive at the town of Carracedo. You can stop to grab a café con leche and a stamp at the friendly bar in town where they let pilgrims write messages or just their names on the walls and ceiling! After Carracedo, you still have several hours of unspoilt farmland and dense forests until you reach San Miguel de Valga, a quiet village with a pleasant 18th-century church.
Your next stop is Pontecesures, where you cross the bridge over River Ulla. Here you leave the province of Pontevedra and enter A Coruña, the province of Santiago de Compostela! Only a couple miles down the trail from Pontecesures is Padrón, the second most important town on the Camino de Santiago.
For Catholic pilgrims Padrón has a special significance, as this is where Santiago’s apostolic mission began and where he preached his first sermons attempting to convert the local pagans. Indeed, a much-overlooked fact is that Santiago arrived twice to Padrón by boat, once alive and once dead. In this manner, 1200 years of pilgrimages to Santiago cemented in Camino tradition has made the celebration of his death and his burial place in Santiago de Compostela the centre of the Santiago story. But it’s here, in Padrón (actually, in Iria Flavia to be more precise), where it all began.
The Church of Santiago in Padrón is of special religious significance, as it was built over the Pedrón, the original post that Santiago’s boat was moored to when he arrived to the shores of Galicia. This granite stone was most likely an old Roman milestone. The stone can now be found under the altar.
Another interesting feature in Padrón are the two statues that flank the riverside promenade that leads into town. Featured are Spain’s last Nobel Literature Prize laureate, Camilo José Cela, and one of the greatest poets in Spanish history, Rosalía de Castro.
Os pementos de Padrón, uns pican e outros non (Padrón peppers, some are hot and others are not). And that is exactly what can happen when you eat these addictive delicacies. The good news is that only one in every hundred is hot, at least that’s what the locals say.
Padrón peppers have been grown along the banks of the rivers Ulla and Sar in Padrón since the Jesuits introduced them 400 years ago, and have now become a signature dish, not only for the local region but for all of Galicia. The small peppers are usually served fried or roasted sprinkled with rock salt.