One of the most breathtaking parts of walking or biking the Camino de Santiago is the small side trips you can take if you know where to look. Certainly the main routes to Santiago de Compostela are impressive, but along the Way, pilgims in Galicia can stop off at the village of Samos, for instance, to take in the beautiful sites and learn more about the historic monastery located there.
The walk into Samos is like stepping back in time – the quaint village roads and homes look like they are out of a historical movie. Located in the mountain valley in Galicia, every simple landscape is imposed on a mountainous background and beautiful rolling hills. The village itself is small, serving the larger institutions of the Monastery. There are a few places for tasty meals, but for the most part, the town is quite small, comprising around 200 people in the village proper. For a taste of sweet success upon arrival in Samos, have a bite of Samos speciality cake, baked according to a recipe passed down by monks for generations!
The Samos Monastery
The Benedictine monastery itself looks like an imposing fortress, but in modern times, only 8-10 monks still dwell inside it. The monastery is now a beautiful relic with its imposing murals and wall art. There have been monks in Samos since the sixth century, but the current building replaced an older one that was destroyed in a fire in 1536. Pay attention to the intricate stonework and the parapets on top of the towers; they represent neo-classical architecture and are relatively well-preserved, given that the building is so far from most modern influences of pollution.
At various times, the Monastery has produced prominent bishops, seven in all, and the most prominent one, Benito Jéronimo Feijoo, is commemorated in the Feijoo cloister, which is elaborately decorated in the classicist style. For a small glimpse into the Monastery’s past, find the Romanesque door from 1600’s that was rescued from a past church and maintained in the Monastery.
In the Monastery itself, there is an albergue, or accommodation, which is available for pilgrims along the Camino, acknowledging the many centuries of visitors who, for faith reasons or otherwise, passed through this simple town on their way to the church of St. James in Santiago. Visitors say that it is a more adventurous accommodation than some others, but a chance to sleep inside the monastery itself seems too interesting to pass up, even if monasteries, like castles and other ancient buildings, are a bit drafty.
One treat, if you and your pilgrimage group are interested, is the chance to spend evening vespers with the monks. The calming prayer service is a beautiful way to end a day exploring an ages-old tradition of faith and devotion in this picturesque setting.
Fitting a Trip to Samos Into Your Itinerary
Samos is technically off the main Camino path, though at this point a detour through Samos is a common option. For those who are planning a shorter camino walk, beginning in Sarria is typical, but usually meaning missing Samos and its beautiful Monastery. Another option for the pilgrims with limited time is to start in Samos itself, only a few kilometers extra over the more established Sarria start, which is just over a 100 kilometer walk to Santiago. Either way, those who journey on the Camino de Santiago get to see what makes Galicia so picturesque and often feel like they have seen everything from Modern Spain to 6th century Benedictine tradition, all in just a few days of travel.
Journeys along the Camino come in many forms, and emphasize many different aspects of the Way. Adventure Camino can customize your itinerary to include jewels like Samos no matter how long or short your itinerary is. To learn more, contact us.