The Camino Finisterre, a lovely extension to your Camino de Santiago, takes only an additional three to four days, to complete the pilgrimage to the medieval "end of the world." This ancient medieval pilgrimage route, a total of 88 kilometers, was often taken after completing the Way of St. James and a visit to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Because Finisterre was considered to be the end of the known world in the Middle Ages, it held special spiritual and physical significance. And this significance seems to survive to this day...
"Sometimes we are called to dance on the wild edges of our lives and discover something new, or we have a sense that our lives have grown too small so we need to confront our fears of what is unknown, we need to welcome in strangeness to crack open unfamiliar parts of ourselves and of God." ~ Christine Valters Paintner, on Pilgrimage
After having completed my Camino Inglés, (This is Elle writing ~ Rich was unable to do this pilgrimage), it seemed only natural to extend my pilgrimage onward via the traditional medieval pilgrimage route from Santiago de Compostela to Cabo Finisterre (Cape Finisterre).
As in the time of the medieval pilgrims, my desire for this part of the journey was part curiosity, part adventure and yes, part spiritual. I felt that I would pay homage by walking in the footsteps of those of another time, another place and and another more mysterious faith.
By taking this extension of the Camino Finisterre, perhaps I would dance on my own wild edges and discover something new!
The dialect of this Northwestern Spanish region or Galicia is called Gallego, which confuses us, because Finisterre, or "Land's End" becomes Fisterra in the local dialect. So similar, yet so different! Whichever proper name you use, Finisterre in Spanish, or Fisterra in Gallego, you will be understood.
To add even more mystery and drama to Cabo Finisterre, when you arrive at the End of the World, you arrive on a coastline that is rocky and treacherous, and is known in Gallego as the Costa da Morte, or the Coast of Death. The northwestern coast of Spain, from Finisterre to Muxía is totally exposed to the violent Atlantic ocean. When you see the Costa da Morte coastline, as shown in the photo below, you can understand why so many sailors have perished in the storms that prevail here.
Cabo Finisterre itself, is a wild and unusual place, full of evidence of the modern day pilgrim's rituals at the End of the World and the end of their Camino. This place is most sacred and unlike any other place that I have visited. It is traditional to burn one's clothes, discard worn boots, build crosses in gratitude and watch the sunset over the dramatic Atlantic coastline.
The goal of the Camino Finisterre, is the lighthouse or faro, shown in the photo, below. If you have gotten your Credential stamped on the pilgrimage along the way, you can get another Compostela here, in the lighthouse, documenting your Camino Finisterre.
The map below, from Gronze.com shows the many ways to Santiago and the Finisterre Way is colored purple. You can see it is quite short in comparison to most of the other Caminos.
Here is the Gronze map of the overall mileage on the Camino Finisterre and the Camino to Muxía. You have two options to finish your Camino to the End of the World, either to Finisterre or Muxía. The total to Finisterre is 88 kilometers, to Muxía is 82. You can see that Muxía is a little shorter, by 6 kilometers, but it is truly a matter of preference which end of the world you prefer. So, why not try both?
It was fun when we came to Hospital, and the place in the road, below, where the Camino forks and you have to make a choice!
For me, personally, I had to go to Finisterre, the "classic" end of the world from the Middle Ages. However, it only adds a day to your Camino, if you go to Muxía as well as Finisterre. Plus, the walk to Muxía from Finisterre along the Costa da Morte is absolutely gorgeous.
Trust me, you will not regret seeing the most legend-ridden Muxía, where St. James' body is said to have actually arrived by boat to Galicia in a miraculous fashion, set adrift from Rome where he was beheaded.
Muxía is also the final leg of the Camino de Santiago in the movie, "The Way," and in my experience was a more intimate place than Finisterre, and less touristy. However, it truly is a matter of preference and you will not know your preference if you don't see both. I advise you to take the extra day or two if you are able, to see both.
Many pilgrims are walking to Muxía, some starting from Santiago who then go on to Finisterre, and others from Finisterre where they have walked first. The choice is yours, which direction you wish to travel.
Below is the stunning coastline at the point in Muxía and its lighthouse, just beyond the famous Nosa Señora da Barca shrine.
I do hope you chose to continue your Camino de Santiago onward to the End of the World as the medieval pilgrims chose to do so many years ago. May you dance around your wild edges to find a bit more of yourself and give tribute to your personal pilgrimage.
To continue on with me and my personal pilgrimage, go to Day One on the Camino Finisterre to see how mine went!
May you burn that which no longer serves you on the rocks at Cabo Finisterre. May you build your cross of gratitude and discard your old boots as you watch the sun set on your Camino Finisterre and it's amazing lessons learned.
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