Written by Mikayla Journee
Photos by Ben & Mikayla Journee
Because the Camino de Santiago is a Catholic pilgrimage after all, and there would be no Camino without them. We went to a few catholic masses during the Camino - some were beautiful and moving, and others were flat and sometimes soulless. There were always the same few figures in the pews - pilgrims like us in their sportswear, and older Spanish women in shoulder padded blazers, with hair worn short or pulled back at the nape of the neck. That was about it. Towns that seemed to have barely any economy aside from the handful of pilgrims that come through each day would still have overwhelmingly adorned and gilt churches. And even when the 'flocks' were small, the churches were still the heart of the towns. I'm not going to examine the Catholic church, and I definitely don't mean to define the Camino by its churches - because it's so much more than that - but these sites remain super important for the Camino as it's known today, and many were absolutely beautiful.
This tiny, beautifully restored, 12th century church of the Church of Saint Michael in El Acebo, which is too small for Google Maps! The roving padre gives mass here very rarely and usually has only one devotee come (the total population of the town is only 40). We took a visit with the albergue hospitaleros well past dark (and after we'd all done the dishes from the shared meal).
The central dome of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela contains the pulley mechanism to swing the famous Botafumeiro. It was created by the goldsmith Jose Losada in 1851. It's the largest in the world, weighs 80kg, is 1.6m high and takes 8 men to pull!