Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Routes in Portugal
Permanent Delegation of Portugal to UNESCO
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The cultural property called Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal stands as the Portuguese contribution to the most famous pilgrimage of Western Europe, benefiting from physical vicinity to Compostela and from the extensive road network of the peninsular Northwest.The impact of the discovery of the Apostle's tomb in Compostela (which occurred in the decade of 20 of the 9th century) preceded the independence of Portugal; the oldest record in national territory dates from probably 862 (less than half a century after the above-mentioned discovery), year in which was consecrated the Church of Santiago, in the village Castelo de Neiva, Viana do Castelo municipality. Throughout the Middle Ages, the Portuguese Routes were sought by domestic and foreign Jacobean pilgrims who left numerous records and reports, and an extensive and original documentary heritage is still kept, mainly referring pious legacies for the construction of public buildings to assist the pilgrims. This is the case of S. Gonçalo de Amarante, renowned builder of the medieval bridge over the river Tamega, whose legend stands alongside with those of Santo Domingo
de la Calzada or San Juan de Ortega (along the French Routes, already inscribed on the World Heritage List).
If the north of Portugal still preserves many of the old pilgrimage routes (predominantly to the North of the River Douro), the south of the country has a structural presence of the Order of Santiago, a most important thirteenth century body that accomplished the conquest of the Alentejo and the Algarve, and managed the largest part of those territories in the following centuries. The concentration of features allusive to the worship of Santiago truly testifies the national dimension of the Apostle’s cult (thus combining the pilgrimage heritage from the North to the conquering and reformer impulse of the South). The importance of the Order of Santiago in the Portuguese history is attested by the preservation of the Honorary Order of Sant'Iago de Espada awarded by the President of the Republic and intended to distinguish scientific, literary and artistic merit, but whose Grand - Collar (highest insignia) aims to distinguish former heads of state.
There are 4 established Routes and the current proposal includes two others, extending the already established routes to the South, thus conferring national consistency to these itineraries. All these routes have a solid historical basis and the marking of the paths respects the authenticity of the pilgrimage routes and/or the worship of Santiago in Portugal. Excluded from this proposal is the small north-eastern stretch of the Silver Route, a variant itinerary which does not have the structural nature of the above. Overall, this road network extends for about 2066 km.
1. Portuguese Central Route: extends for c. 634 km between Lisbon and Santiago de Compostela (of which 569 km in Portuguese territory). It is the structuring itinerary, which begins in Lisbon where the parish church of Santiago is located (this parish was already documented in 1160), the Cathedral (which has a medieval pilgrimage dimension corroborated by the cult of St. Vincent), the Ancient Art National Museum (the largest repository of art dedicated to Santiago in the country that hosts reference objects such as the altarpiece of the Life and Order of Santiago), the Monastery of the Hieronymites, already inscribed in the Wold Heritage List, often associated with King Manuel I (1469-1521) and the pilgrimage he undertook to Compostela in 1502. The main stages of this route include Coimbra (where the tomb and the treasure of the Portuguese Saint Queen Isabel of Aragon (1271-1336) are located - respectively in Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Nova and the National Museum Machado de Castro), Porto (main starting point of the present Portuguese pilgrims’ route and the city that still preserves important testimonies to the cult of Santiago in its Cathedral or in its most modest church of St. Crispin and St. Crispiniano, former Palmeiros’ hospital) and Barcelos (whose archaeological museum hosts the Cruzeiro do Senhor Galo whose legend is identical to that of Santo Domingo de la Calzada). The Portuguese Central Route also includes the path through Valença do Minho, main crossing point to Tui, in Spain, where many hostels and hospitals have been made available since the Middle Ages.
2. Portuguese coastal Route: with an extension of c.142 km, this route is a branch of the Portuguese Central Route, either from Porto or from S. Pedro de Rates. Along this Route there are abundant evidences of the Santiago cult and the passage of the pilgrims in the maritime towns in the North of Portugal. The municipality of Matosinhos is one of the most significant cases, especially the stone boat legend that evokes an event occurring at the same time the boat with the body of Santiago passed off the coast towards Galicia. Vila do Conde and especially Viana do Castelo were important landmarks for pilgrims, remaining, in the latter city, the Old Hospital, aimed at pelegrijs e rromeus que vãa.o e veem pera Santiago (pilgrims and routefarers that come and go to Santiago (evidence from 1459). The crossing to Galicia can be undertaken by boat in Caminha and Vila Nova de Cerveira or by land, crossing the bridge in Valença do Minho, there joining the Portuguese Central Route.
3. Portuguese Interior Route to Santiago: extending for 307 km (160 km of which in Portuguese territory), this route starting in Viseu meets at the border with Verín in Galicia, and is divided into 10 stages. It is the Compostela Pilgrimage Route that includes the largest component of natural landscape, along with some major heritage references: in Viseu, the National Museum of Grão Vasco includes the altarpiece dedicated to Santiago, coming from the Church of Santiago de Cassurrães, and ultimate work by the Manueline-Renaissance painter (Grão) Vasco Fernandes; the historic centre of Lamego; the medieval bridge of Oura; and the urban centre of Chaves, the last stop before Galicia and therefore a land of important medieval hostels.
4.Torres Route: Starting from Salamanca, 343 km of this Route are travelled in Portuguese territory. Its importance is comparable to the Portuguese Central Route, since in this route are included three cities with several relevant testimonies of the cult of Santiago: Amarante (the bridge and monastery are devoted to São Gonçalo, legendary benefactor of the Pilgrims’ Route), Guimarães (where the first hospital for pilgrims was built as early as the 10th century) and Braga (whose Romanesque cathedral intended to constitute itself as a rival pilgrimage centre to Compostela, in the 11th century). This route joins the Portuguese Central Route in Ponte de Lima and owes its name to the route travelled between 1732 and 1734 by Diego Torres, professor at the University of Salamanca in exile in Portugal during those years.
5. Portuguese Eastern Route: over 535 km, between Tavira and Trancoso, where it joins the Torres route, this itinerary illustrates different dimensions of the cult of Santiago in the country’s south and east. The route starts in Tavira, representative city for the Order of Santiago which retains the tomb of Paio Peres Correia (c.1205-1275) - the most important medieval Master of the Order. The route includes Mértola (one of the three capitals of the Order of Santiago in Portugal), Beja (whose church of Santiago was elevated to cathedral) and Évora (where the hero of the city‘s Reconquest, Gerald the Fearless, was represented with Santiago’s scallop shells and where there is also the church of Santiago). The route then continues to Alto Alentejo and Beira Baixa, where significant devotion elements to the Apostle remain, as for example the Church of Santiago de Belmonte (housing the tomb of Brazil’s discoverer, Pedro Álvares Cabral (c. 1467-1520). Trancoso is an important village for pilgrims, whose oldest stage of the castle (10th century) was mentioned in a 960 document, by which a famous noble woman donated this and other properties to the monastery of Guimarães pro remedio animo nostre captiuos et pilgrims et Monasteria (for the salvation of our captive souls and pilgrims and monasteries).
6. Eastern part of the Silver Route: along the 82 km between Quintanilha and Segirei this route is a variant of the Silver Route and, as a secondary itinerary, may not be considered among the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal, even though the area retains ample cult testimonies to Santiago and of the old pilgrimage routes.
Justification of Outstanding Universal Value
The Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal are being travelled by pilgrims since the ninth century and are an important part of the road network of the Iberian Peninsula, which has largely contributed to the European identity, based on medieval mobility and exchange in several areas - from art to literature, from popular religiosity to pilgrims’ assistance, from ethnography and archaeology to sociology.
The Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal include significant heritage properties, some of which are already inscribed in the World Heritage List. Moreover there are important masterpieces related to the cult of Santiago that help explain the importance of the Portuguese Route:
Saint Queen Isabel Treasury in the Machado de Castro National Museum: Isabel of Aragon was a Jacobean pilgrim on two separate occasions - 1325 and 1335. In Compostela, she bestowed the Cathedral with two major images (St. Gabriel and Our Lady) which are now in the Museo Catedralicio of Santiago de Compostela. She was buried in the Monastery of Santa Clara-a-Velha, in a stately tomb whose recumbent effigy is decorated with the scallop shell’s bag and the typical pilgrims’ staff. In Machado de Castro National Museum, part of the Queen’s treasure on display is associated to her pilgrim status: four pieces of the fourteenth century, in silver, including a reliquary for the Holy Cross and one Our Lady with the Child also designed as a reliquary. Coimbra occupies a renowned place in the history of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal because it was where, as per the Silense history (mid-twelfth century), the appearance of Knight Santiago was first reported, as a mythical warrior leading the Christian military hosts against the Muslims, linked to the conquest of the city by Ferdinand I, the Great (1064).
Altarpiece of Santiago Matamouros in the Church of Santiago do Cacém – the most important fourteenth-century work related to the cult of Santiago, was probably commissioned either by the Order of Santiago, after regaining the hold of the areas of Santiago do Cacém (Setúbal), or by sponsorship of the Byzantine princess Vataça of Lascaris, lady of the entourage of Isabel of Aragon. It is a gothic art masterpiece, representing Santiago as a Christian knight, wielding the flag of the Order of Santiago.
The Hieronymites Monastery and the itinerary of King Manuel I in his pilgrimage to Compostela – King Manuel I was also a pilgrim of Santiago de Compostela and his itinerary is known – his pilgrimage started in Lisbon and continued to Santarém, Tomar, Coimbra, Porto, Braga and Valença. The ultimate achievement of the Manueline architecture cycle, the Hieronymites Monastery, keeps an image of Santiago in the mythical genealogy of Portugal represented in the South Portal that opened to the beach and the port, a symbolic place of departure and arrival of the caravels and carracks of the Portuguese Discoveries.
The "pilgrimage" model of Braga Cathedral - at the end of the eleventh century, the Cathedral of Braga sought to stand on equal terms with Santiago de Compostela as a religious centre, a status for which the cult of relics was an essential part. The project, promoted by Bishop Peter (1071-1092), foresaw a pilgrimage model with ambulatory private chapels adorned with holy relics from saints of important veneration in the peninsular Northwest. This Romanesque cathedral project was never finished and part of the relics were stolen by Diego Gelmírez, Bishop of Compostela, but there are still important archaeological remains of that time and of that ambition.
Depiction of Gerald the Fearless as Santiago, in Évora Regional Museum –Évora was reconquered in 1165 by Knight Geraldo Geraldes, nicknamed the Fearless. In the fourteenth century, when the famous warrior was already the symbol of the city, local art portrayed him on horseback, trampling two enemies of the Catholic faith, the shield decorated with scallop shells. This was the official image of the conqueror of this World Heritage property during the Middle Ages, associating the knight’s image to that of Santiago as a mythical and superhuman champion of the Portuguese armies during the Reconquest.
Altarpiece of the Life and the Order of Santiago in the National Museum of Ancient Art, Lisbon – originating from Palmela, capital of the Order of Santiago in the transition to the sixteenth century, this altarpiece is the most complete work of art illustrating the association of the Order of Santiago with the legend of the Apostle, as well as a masterpiece of Portuguese painting from the early XVI century. Although four boards are missing, the altarpiece evokes both the mythical journey from Santiago to Galicia and the key moments of the establishment of the Order of Santiago, this altarpiece thus being an artistic landmark of Santiago’s cult worldwide.
S. Gonçalo de Amarante and the bridge builders in the Route of Santiago –similar to St. Domingo de la Calzada or S. Juan de Ortega (heritage units of the French Route and therefore already listed), S. Goncalo was a saint that the legend associated with the construction of the bridge in Amarante, in the early thirteenth century, for the benefit of pilgrims crossing the town. Bridge, monastery and holy tomb are essential elements of the Jacobean cult in Portugal and give full meaning to the passage of the Codex Calixtinus, which advised to visit the holy figures resting in tombs along the route, thereby forming active steps of the pilgrimage.
Palmela, first and last capital of the Order of Santiago in Portugal – Santiago’s church in Palmela was converted into a museum where some of the country’s most important statues of Santiago are exhibited. The castle was the seat of the Order of Santiago in the twelfth century and, again, from the fifteenth century onwards. Some archaeological objects of the Order are kept in this museum, originating from one of the friars’ first cemetery, from where a spatharios’ knight crest in the shape of a scallop shell was rescued. The Pousada de Palmela has adapted the facilities of the former convent of the spatharios’ friars.
The former Hospital of Palmeiros in Porto - In the historic centre of Porto, a World Heritage property, the former hospital of Palmeiros, documented since 1307, illustrates the nursing dimension that pilgrims could find in the city. Until the early twentieth century a chapel dedicated to Santiago existed in Porto’s cathedral, from where originates a wooden image of Flemish influence carved in the early sixteenth century, which is one of the most impressive representations of the Apostle, in Portugal. In June 2015, Porto became the third location from where more pilgrims departed to their journey, immediately after Sarria and Saint Jean Pied-de-Port.
Senhor Galo Cross in Barcelos – the cross, sculpted in the fourteenth or seventeenth century, depicts a legend similar to the one by St. Domingo de la Calzada, about the misadventures of pilgrims in hostile environment. Originally it was placed at the access to Barcelos’ bridge on the Portuguese Northwest routes towards Galicia. Nowadays it is kept in the Archaeological Museum and it is one of the symbols of the village identity and of the pilgrimage routes to Compostela.
S. Pedro de Rates, legendary disciple of Santiago – the legendary first bishop of Braga (S. Pedro de Rates) and patron of one of the most important Benedictine monasteries of the early Portuguese history, would have been a disciple of Santiago during the evangelization of the Iberian Peninsula. This legend was decisive to encourage the claims of Braga to bear the Metropolitan diocese of the Hespanhas status, as challenger to Compostela. This quarrel lasted throughout the Middle Ages and represented a priority of the national religious identity against Galicia.
Ourique myth in royal Basilica of Castro Verde – the tile lining of Castro Verde Basilica evokes one of the most interesting dimensions of the cult of Santiago: the association of the mythical Knight Santiago with the Battle of Ourique (1139), founder moment of the kingdom of Portugal, fought by King Afonso Henriques against the armies of five Moorish kings, and its date (25 July) curiously coincides with the day of Santiago. Lining the walls of the Basilica, the tiles illustrate the impact of the cult of Santiago on the sustainability of Portugal as an independent kingdom, in a work of art intended to depict the country’s birth myth during the reign of King João V (1689-1750), at a time when Portugal definitely overcame a period of Spanish domain.
Criterion (ii): At all times it is possible to find traces of the exchange of influences on the landscape created along the pilgrimage routes. From Braga Cathedral’s pilgrimage model, intended to copy both the French cathedrals’ where the French Route started and the Compostela Cathedral, to the Baroque tile linings produced from engravings mainly from northern Europe, several works inspired by Santiago’s cult display those artistic exchanges. The medieval bridge building activity is also a technological component of foremost importance because it was the construction of bridges in Barcelos, Ponte de Lima, Amarante, Coimbra and in many other places, that fostered the stabilization of routes and the resulting territorial organization and hierarchy. In terms of urban planning, it is important to note that many churches consecrated to Santiago were built along the Route (such as Santarém or Guimarães), to attract pilgrims and inspire them to visit those temples. Currently, the identified Routes are a structural axis for the creation of specific landscapes, where more discreet devotional elements such as shrines, chapels, fountains, rest and information areas proliferate.
Criterion (iii): The medieval Western civilization is long gone and the knowledge we have of it is fragmentary. There are multiple points of contact between the current pilgrimage motivations and the Middle Ages’, since both are based on a more or less temporary dispossession, on both physical and inner journeys, on long walks without aid or support vehicles. The act of pilgrimage, so misunderstood over the years, was a feature of the Middle Ages that today is renewed with other virtues and conditions. Pilgrimages to Compostela are therefore an ancient cultural and civilizational tradition that is still practised today.
Criterion (iv): Along the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal, and also partly due to this pilgrimage route or the impact the cult to Santiago had, and continues to have, symbolic monuments were built in almost every town. The churches dedicated to Santiago and the artistic elements inventoried bear witness of the devotion to Santiago as one of the most important and structural dimensions of the national religious landscape (187 parishes are still dedicated to Santiago). From the pre-Romanesque era to the present day, all periods of history have left their testimony on the Portuguese Route and, broadly, in Santiago’s cult itself.
Criterion (vi): The Portuguese pilgrimage routes towards Compostela are materially associated to the belief that the tomb of the Apostle Santiago is in Galicia, this being the very reason for the most important pilgrimage of medieval Europe. The Portuguese Route is also associated with memorable events (Saint Queen Isabel, King Manuel and many others’ pilgrimages), works of art and national symbolic architecture (Saint Queen Isabel tomb in Coimbra, Braga Cathedral, the Hieronymites Monastery, the Monastery of S. Pedro de Rates, the Castle and Palace of Palmela, the Castro Verde Basilica), truly testify the Portuguese historical and artistic heritage.
Statements of authenticity and/or integrity
The identification and characterization of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal is based on two major groups of information sources: the written sources and the archaeological and artistic records. The former consist of a large set of medieval documentation that evokes the Route and pious buildings for devotion and to accommodate the pilgrims. Special mention should be made to the famous pilgrimages’ reports from St. Queen Isabel (sec. XIV), King Manuel I (1502) and Giovanni Battista Confalonieri (the most complete listing of the Route from Lisbon to Santiago, written in 1594). The latter describes the numerous artistic and archaeological evidences that identify the pilgrimage routes and the progression of the Apostle Santiago cult in Portugal. All heritage associated with the cult of Santiago and the pilgrimage routes is considered one of the most important chapters in Portuguese history, starting with the construction of the Santiago Church in Castelo de Neiva (862) and the first mention to the Guimarães’ pilgrims hospital (951).
The authenticity of the Route is thus witnessed by crossing these two sources of information, eventually complemented by intangible heritage that endures in the collective imagination of some regions, such as legends and popular sayings, passed along from generation to generation, that left so many traces in, for example, Tras-os-Montes, or in chronicles from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.It is truly the authenticity and the historical impact of Santiago’s cult and the pilgrimage routes that still nowadays lie beneath the spirit of some locations: in the Monastery of Leça do Balio a recent festivity evoked the assistance that this monument provided to pilgrims over time; there are still 187 Portuguese parishes whose patron saint is Santiago; it is not possible to understand the importance of Ponte de Lima bridge, a landmark of the village, without the pilgrimage component; the figure of St. Peter of Rates is ubiquitous in the neighbourhood of Rates, in its monastery and in the Portuguese Romanesque art; Amarante owes its historical significance to the medieval bridge, legendarily built by a devotee of Santiago and for the benefit of pilgrims. These are just some examples among many others that could be cited.
Comparison with other similar properties
The Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal have an increasing number of pilgrims, due to its authenticity and historical symbolism. The Routes encompass iconic heritage elements, many of which generated from the pilgrimage dimension of the locations, or in connection with pilgrims or the cult of relics. The antiquity of the Portuguese Route, particularly to the north of River Douro, does not differ from the French Route or the North Iberian routes, recently inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The Routes of Santiago de Compostela in Portugal are an important part of the Jacobean pilgrimage network already inscribed on the World Heritage List:
- French Route – Listed as a World Heritage Site in 1993, the French Route is the main route travelled by pilgrims, which at present hosts over 70% of those who complete their pilgrimage. It starts at the French border with Navarra and the historical justification of the over 700Kms to Compostela is based on the constant movement of pilgrims, which has contributed to enhance the heritage components, such as in Santo Domingo de la Calzada and San Juan de la Peña. It was also along this Route that the kings of Navarre and La Rioja first benefited the Jacobean pilgrimage routes, during the eleventh century.
- Primitive Route – Extending for 311 Kms, this route is one of the most important medieval routes of the Iberian Peninsula, connecting the old capital of the Asturian kingdom, Oviedo, to the sanctuary of Compostela. It was during the days of the Asturian kings that the legendary discovery of the Apostle's tomb happened. The importance that Alfonso II granted to this discovery (ordering the building of a monastery to regulate the worship of Santiago) largely contributed to the integration of Galicia in the kingdom of Asturias thus forming a historic union that gave body to the Reconquest itself.
- North Coastal Route – This 936 Kms itinerary is a sum of routes open over several periods, from the proto-historic times to modern days.
- Internal Route in the Basque Country and La Rioja – Running along c. 196 Kms, this itinerary connects the two longer routes already inscribed on the World Heritage List: The North Coastal Route and the French Route. It is one of several Routes that pilgrims chose over the centuries to cross the rocky territory of northern Spain and find the flatter areas of the Castilla y León plateau.
- Liebana Route – with merely 55kms, this route aims to include the famous Liebana Monastery in the intricate Jacobean pilgrimage network, due to the celebrated text Dei Verbum by the famous Beatus of Liébana, in the eighth century, in which the Apostle Santiago became known as heavenly patron of Hispania. Over time, many pilgrims em route to Compostela visited the shrine which, even today, is seen as one of the several visiting points sought by pilgrims on their multiple paths in northern Spain.
Just as the Routes of Northern Spain, recently declared World Heritage, the Portuguese Routes are at the origin of the Jacobean cult and are directly associated to the influence that the alleged discovery of the Apostle's tomb had in the Middle Ages. It is in Castelo de Neiva (Portuguese Coastal Route) that the earliest reference to a church dedicated to Santiago was recorded. The construction of the bridge in Amarante (Torres Route) is related to the Caminho de Santiago builders’ saints. And many other important sites of outstanding universal value along the Portuguese Routes have already been identified. The intercultural dialogue provided by the passage of pilgrims (but also the art works, literary references, oral tradition relating to the pilgrimage dimension of locations) is the source of some of the most important Portuguese buildings and sites constructed between the Middle Ages and the present days, and awards the Routes of Santiago a cultural unity unified by history, landscape and geography.