With no more tan 7000 inhabitants Melide overflows vitality. The arrival to this town, considered the geographical centre of Galicia, will open you the doors to streets with a wide range of shops and continuous flow of people, especially during summer months. Dynamism is one of the distinctive features of this village, that witnesses the union between the oldest path and the most travelled one, that is the Primitive and Portuguese way, that go hand in hand here and continue together through the same route until the final goal: Santiago de Compostela.
Melide history is closely linked with the Camino. You’ll discover it in tiny doses without having to divert much from your itinerary, through the monuments spread around the path on his passage through this town. Those arriving from the French Path will found the peculiar village of Leboreiro (hare mountain in its original meaning) located 5 kilometres from Melide old town. There used to be a pilgrim hospital there and today only remains two shields belonging to the noble house of the Ulloa family. Don’t miss the peculiar cabaceiro, a big circular granary made with sticks, one of the most photographed elements on the Camino on its way to Melide.
From there you’ll son arrive to Furelos, a small village located near the river, which preserves part of its medieval structure and that can boast about having one of the civilian architectural jewels of he Camino; a bridge of four arches built in the 12th century. From this spot you’ll see the town of Melide that you’ll reach in les than 15 minutes. The chapel of San Roque will receive you with its beautiful Romanesque façade. Observe it within a couple of minutes and do the same with the image of the 10 euros banknote. They’re identical!! A rumour saying that the small church of Melide was the one appearing on those banknotes circulated for a while. Obviously this is not true, but we can ensure without fear of mistake that this chapel perfectly represents the characteristics of Romanesque art. But it still has a unique feature due to its connection with the Jacobean route; the pilgrim shells that lie hidden on the façade. We challenge you to find these!
Right next you can admire the oldest stone cross (cruceiro) in Galicia, dated from XIV century. On its front is represented Christ sitting showing its stigmata and on the backside the Calvary. However, popular tradition says that the anonymous author of this work of art was seeking to depict Christ dancing a muiñeira, the traditional Galician dance. What do you think?
If you spend the night in Melide we recommend you to visit the historical Praza do Convento where you’ll also find the regional museum. You can enjoy the afternoon with a great gastronomic plan including octopus (pulpo) that we have already mentioned in another post dedicated to it, as well as the excellent local pastries. Melide stands out for having three typical pastries based on traditional recipes that have passed down through generations. The most renowned is the melindre, which has been dedicated a fair of Galician tourist interest each May since 24 years. During this fair you’ll also see the other two pastries, the almendrado and rico. This last one is the most unique of the three, as it’s only made in Melide and you can’t find it in any other place. It’s especially tough, so be careful with your teeth!
You’ll doubtlessly leave Melide loaded with energy till your next stop on the Camino, Arzúa, after tasting all these delicacies; It’s a very short and easy stage (14 kms) that your body will thank after completing a huge part of the Camino. Anyway know that at this point the distance isn’t measured in kilometres but in excitement and enthusiasm with the upcoming arrival to the plaza do Obradoiro.
The church of Santa María will bid farewell at your exit of Melide, this national monument keeps one of the few Romanesque altar of Galicia that is home to valuable Renaissance paintings. Already in the lands of Arzúa you’ll pass through the small town of A Castañeda, where the lime furnaces used for the construction of Santiago cathedral were once located. Soon after you’ll cross Ribadiso, a beautiful town located in a valley full of traditional stone houses facing the river, in which many pilgrims take a dip during summer months before confronting the hardest part of this stage: 2 kilometres of ascent until arriving to Arzúa.