8 June 2011
We´re embarking on a slightly shorter walk today, so we´ve indulged in an extra half-hour of sleep. The road today was flat with a few rolling hills, but the walk itself was only 14 km - much less than some of our previous days! Even starting at 7:30, we crossed the medieval Furelos bridge into Melide before noon. Our albergue wasn´t even open yet, so the group took the opportunity to explore the surrounding area and refill on coffee.
Dr. Gyug treated us to a communal lunch of pulpo (octopus) and, after a brief siesta, we were off to tour the city. Melide is a 10th-century town built primarily around agriculture and tourism from the Camino. It started out as a somewhat smaller settlement, but in the early 14th century petitioned the then-archbishop for permission to construct fortifications and collect taxes, thereby securing legitimate defensible town status. All was well for almost two centuries, until the local protectors got into a power struggle with the new archbishop. Fighting and riots broke out and the walls around Melide were destroyed; the Church´s response to the uprising was that the town was forbidden from constructing any more fortresses.
It was a shame that the only vestige of the city´s earlier appearance was really in the bridge that greeted us when we entered Melide´s outskirts, but the stones from the original walls were used in constructing the convent of Sancti Spiritus, which we were able to see. Seeking further testaments of the area´s history, we visited the nearby Museo da Terra de Melide and encountered a host of archaeological and artistic treasures from Melide and its surrounding regions from throughout the centuries. Our last stop was the Capela de San Roque, which is the modern structure rebuilt from two medieval churches. The front portal is particularly compelling, being the granite original from the 10th/11th centuries.
A 34 km walk looms before us tomorrow, but it will be our last stop before Santiago! It´s hard to believe that we´re so close to our destination after all we´ve been through thus far, but we´re crossing our fingers for an amazing (and dry!) last couple of days.