The town of Sarria is another of these places strongly united to St James tradition. Its origin, past and present can only be explained in the French Path context, within which it has a privileged location: situated 111 kilometres from Santiago, it’s the first valid point on the Galician territory to start the pilgrimage on foot, as the minimum distance to earn the Compostela must be at least 100 kilometres. This explains why so many pilgrims choose this town from Lugo to start their walk.
Sarria was founded by King Alfonso IX at the end of the 12th century. Divine plan or irony of life the town became the deathbed of the monarch. In fact he suffered an insurmountable illness during a pilgrimage to Santiago Apóstol grave to thank the Reconquest of Mérida city. During these years of cultural and artistic splendour sheltered by the Camino de Santiago eleven monasteries were built in the region of Sarria. Among them, one of the most noted and a must-see today, is the Magdalena monastery, which rose at the beginning of the 13th Century as a hospital to take care of the ills and fatigue of the pilgrims. The service network for the walkers was completed by the San Antón hospital and the leprosarium of San Lázaro, which chapel is still in place and has named one of the most known quarters in Sarria.
The quarter of San Lázaro has its own personality. With almost 200 years of history it has always been the cradle of merchants and the centre of exchanges and business. From this tradition still remain the fairs that are held in the town every 6, 20 and 27 of each month; a bunch of colours, sounds and tastes that we highly recommend you to experience if you can. Also a stroll through a Rúa do Porvir is as much recommended, as you’ll find one of the distinguishing marks of Sarria: the antiques shops. In this town with a little bit more than 13.000 inhabitants are gathered the majority of collectors from Galicia, which even makes it a national point of reference for buying and selling antiques. So much so that during the last seventeen years Sarria has hosted the last weekend of March the Feira de San Lázaro, an exhibition dedicated to antiques, restoration and collecting.
The architectural and cultural heritage of Sarria is really long-winded but if this town boasts about something it’s about its medieval fortified tower, the only heir and well-preserved vestige of a huge fortress destroyed in 1.467 by the uprising of Os Irmandiños. This was the name given in Galicia to one of the biggest social revolts in Europe, which started to put an end to the privileges of the nobility and the affronts to the peasantry. With its 15 meters high, the fortified tower becomes a great viewpoint over the valley of Sarria and a good way to spy your stage to Portomarín.
23 kilometres with a medium difficulty level wait for you. Luckily a good rest is guaranteed as Sarria offers a wide range of accommodations. With the muscles free of tension and the excitement of a new stage, you’ll leave behind the town centre through a pronounced slope that will lead you to the beautiful bridge of Áspera. From this point starts the hardest climb until Barbadelo, where you should visit the church, built in 976 and declared a National Monument. The path continues on a road surface in good condition crossing streams and meadows descending constantly towards the banks of the River Miño, the most important river in Galicia. The path leads to the road from where you’ll have the first views over the Belesar reservoir. A few meters away you’ll find the centre of Portomarín, end of stage and a nice place we have a lot to tell you about.