XACOBEO 2021 AND THE JACOBEAN YEARS
The Compostela Holy Year is a moment of great importance for believers, and the highlight of everything the Camino de Santiago represents.
Its origins date back to the late Middle Ages, and since then, every year when 25 July (the feast of Saint James the Apostle) falls on a Sunday is considered to be a Compostela Holy Year. This only happens fourteen times every century.
Xacobeo 2021 encompasses the tremendous cultural, social and touristic dynamism generated by an event of such a magnitude. It is a great opportunity to define and spread the uplifting values of the Camino de Santiago, and also to promote its role in regenerating this land. It is noteworthy that the Año Xacobeo 2021 has been declared an event of exceptional public interest.
The Compostelian Jubilee Year lasts for twelve months, starting on 31 December, when the Holy Door opens, and continuing for the following twelve months. This period represents an opportunity for renewal and spiritual purification.
The Winter Way is the natural entrance to Galicia from the central plateau, an access already used by the Romans. It is thought that it could have been a winter alternative to the hard climb and the snowy heights of O Cebreiro.
Stretching for over 200 kilometres it crosses the four provinces of Galicia together with attractive, historical regions full of personality such as those of Valdeorras, Ribeira Sacra and Deza.The Winter Way is the natural entrance to Galicia from the central plateau, an access already used by the Romans. It is thought that it could have been a winter alternative to the hard climb and the snowy heights of O Cebreiro where the French Way enters Galicia, and also to avoid the frequent overflows of the rivers of the Valley of Valcarce.
It starts in Ponferrada, the entrance hall to Galicia, in the Bierzo region of Leon. Here the pilgrim makes a detour to the left instead of continuing straight ahead by the French Way. The Winter Way practically follows the natural course of the caudaloso River Sil through the Valdeorras region of Ourense. Then it runs through the south of the province of Lugo, continues through the region of Deza (Pontevedra), until it reaches Compostela. In total, somewhat less than 250 kilometres through the four provinces of Galicia.
Historians situate the origin of this route in the Roman epoch: a secondary road is documented and this started from the gold exploitations of Las Médulas towards the Via XVIII, which passed through the region of Valdeorras, where the gold was evacuated from. The Roman tunnel of Montefurado is today a proof of this.
The route was taken by different peoples throughout history. At the beginning of the XIX century it also served as an entrance for the invading troops of Napoleon. In 1883 the first railway line was built along it to communicate Galicia with the rest of the Peninsula.
The Winter Way is attractive for many reasons: it starts from Las Médulas, a World Heritage Site. It crosses regions such as that of Valdeorras or starts from the Ribeira Sacra, territories with excellent wines, often grown in unlikely landscapes, and zones where the Romanic style is seen in numerous Churches and Monasteries. In 2003, the Ribeira Sacra was incorporated by the Council of Europe into its Itineraries of Interest.
Here it is possible to visit the monumental heritage of Monforte de Lemos, and the wineries and traditional architecture of Chantada. It is also possible to climb to the top of the Lighthouse, from where the landscapes of four provinces of Galicia can be made out.
At Lalín it converges with the Vía de la Plata (Silver way) and they continue together to Compostela. In total, there are nine stages where the tranquillity of this alternative, scarcely used route is one of its main attractions.