The FISTERRA- MUXÍA way is the only route that starts in Santiago de Compostela and I would like to highly recommend this journey as a very enjoyable postscript to a successful Camino, much like dessert after a fine meal.
Some pilgrims think Santiago´s cathedral is the end of the way but pilgrimage is not over in Compostela. Since ancient times all travelers who came to this western corner of Europe felt the need to follow the sun and reach Finisterre, which means “ the end of the world”, in order to see the immensity of infinity and the sun sinking into the ocean. In this way, many pilgrims have decided to continue their pilgrimage to the coast, called Costa da Morte ( Death coast), where Finisterre and Muxía are located and they have made the last stretch of their journey, a route marked by the Milky Way.
To reach the coast and enjoy the ocean breeze on your face, you can choose the longer route to Finisterre or a shorter one to Muxía. There is a fork in the camino past Santiago where the walker can choose one destination or the other. A third option could be an additional day´s journey on to Muxía after reaching Finisterre. This path winds along the ocean and the scenery is spectacular.
You can get useful information about accommodation, stages and buses of these routes at the Pilgrim Office in Santiago or at any travel agency of the camino.
- Santiago-Muxía route
This route can be done in 3 long stages for 75 km from Santiago to Muxía but if you want a more relaxing hiking, you could do it in 4 days. This is a beautiful and lonely route with much trudging through eucalyptus wood. You can stop on the way at the pilgrim albergues in several villages as Negreira, Santa Mariña and Dumbría. After Chorente village when the path descends through pines and you finally glimpse the sea, all becomes magical. Simple being by the sea naturally encourages a contemplative, reflective state of mind, a relaxing way to end your pilgrimage.
Contrary to popular belief, it is actually Muxía (Cabo Touriñán) and not Finisterre that is the most westerly point of mainland Europe.
Muxía is a beautiful little town with stunning beaches. The most famous attraction of Muxía is an odd shaped stone that sits on an outcrop of rock sandwiched between the old church and the ocean. Pagan belief says the stone has healing powers if you simply stand or crouch beneath it.
The cape with the church is kind of magic. You can physically feel the energy of this place on the rocks in front of the open ocean. Share out at the ocean and just marvel at how far you have come! Besides, if you are keen on seafood, this is your paradise. You can eat fantastic and inexpensive seafood in this town. Something delicious could be what native call “percebes” (goose barnacles), which look quite obscene but really pleasing to the palate.
Close to Muxía, there is a Sanctuary dedicated to the Virgin Marie, which could be interesting for some pilgrims to visit. According to a legend, the Virgin Marie came to Muxía in a stone boat, to cheer up the Apostle Santiago as he preached the word of Jesus around the area. Once in Muxía, her boat made of stone crashed and broke into pieces. Those pieces are believed to be the rocks that surround the shrine that was bulit for her.
- Santiago-Finisterre route
Santiago-Finisterre route has 119 km and it can be done in 6 days. This route is also very peaceful and not crowded in summer time as it may be the camino Francés. Albergues and B&B are cosy and hospitaleros are often pretty kind and helpful. You should know that you are only entitled to stay at the official albergue of Finisterre if you have walked the camino from Santiago. Therefore, you will get another Compostela there, but if you arrive by bus, then there are other private accommodation you can stay at. Besides, the buses back from Finisterre and Muxía are fairly early, cheap and run on time.
Finisterre is a cape with a marvelous lighthouse. If it isn´t rainy, you could enjoy watching the sun vanishing in the immensity of the ocean sitting on a hill near the lighthouse. A traveler to Finisterre told me that a small pit was built next to the lighthouse for the ceremonial burning of some clothes worn on the camino – of course, socks are the favourite items to be burnt- and if the weather is fine, you could also have a nice picnic at the lighthouse and even walk around to the beach for a swim.
Both Santiago-Muxía and Santiago-Finisterre are just as well-marked as the other caminos (Francés, Primitivo, Portugués) so there is little chance of becoming lost. However, some walkers find the first day out of Santiago to Finisterre a little confusing so it´s a good idea to take a couple of days break in Santiago before lacing up the boots again. Furthermore, beware if you want to walk the camino back from Finisterre to Santiago. Pilgrims who have done it say it might become a nightmare since they often got lost when they tried to do it. It seems to be a nonsense but the shells and arrows are only designed to show the camino from Santiago to the coast and not on the other way back.
In short, Finisterre and Muxía pilgrims have started to follow some rituals for a long time and I would like you to know:
– Taking a bath in the beach of the Langosteira to purify the body and get rid of the dust of the Camino before reaching the end of your camino. (This beach is located 2 Km from Finisterre)
– Burning worn out clothes. This is a way of getting rid of the material things and it means starting a new life removing what you don´t need.
– See the sunset. Related to the death of the sun and its resurrection the next morning, like the resurrection of the pilgrim on their daily walk along the Camino.
BUEN CAMINO, AMIGOS