The Ethnographic Collection of O Cebreiro

Discover a unique traditional collection at the entrance to Galicia on the Camino Francés.

By Regional Government of Galicia

O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

O Cebreiro is a village defined by its location, its history, its legends, and the greatness of its architecture, a highlight being its pallozas.

O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

This small population is based between the mythical sierras of Os Ancares and O Courel at an altitude of 4,250 feet (1,296 meters). It is the first collection of people at the entrance to Galicia on the Camino Francés.

Plan of O Cebreiro (2014)Regional Government of Galicia

The Pallozas of O Cebreiro

Four pallozas have been preserved in O Cebreiro. These are homes that possibly originated in the Late Middle Ages, which demonstrate how humans adapted to hostile conditions in the mountains.

Palloza in O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

The pallozas consist of an oval-shaped floor adapted to the terrain, low walls with little gaps where you can feel the cold …

Small palace in O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

… and a tall and thick rye straw roof, capable of supporting the weight of the snow and the force of the wind.

Interior of a palloza in O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Each palloza includes everything needed to be able to survive the winter without having to go outside. Their interior structure is very basic, with people and livestock living together in very close quarters.

Piornedo (2008)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia

The palloza is a type of dwelling that is characteristic of the mountains of Lugo, Asturias, and Leon, primarily in the mountains of Os Ancares. They fell into disuse in the second half of the 20th century. In the village of Piornedo, near O Cebreiro, you can visit a bigger and better preserved collection consisting of 17 pallozas.

Palloza in O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

The four pallozas in O Cebreiro have been transformed into an ethnographic museum that presents the traditional way of life of the region through the architecture, furniture, and tools used in daily life and for textile, agriculture, and farming work.

Palloza in O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Xan López Palloza

The Xan López palloza, based at the entrance of the village, is presented as a museum of daily life in the Lugo mountains.

Palloza in O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Quico Palloza

The Quico palloza, with an almost intact interior structure, offers a look into the area's economy.

Palloza in O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Galán Palloza

The Galán palloza, which stands out due to its covering, provides information on the palloza as a dwelling that has been efficiently adapted to the natural environment.

O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Campelo Palloza

Finally, the Campelo palloza has been reinstated as a storehouse and multi-purpose room.

Church of Santa María a Real do Cebreiro (9th Century)Regional Government of Galicia

Santa María la Real Sanctuary

The complex is situated on the border of the pre-Romantic sanctuary of Santa María la Real, linked to the Jacobean route. As a hospital and hostel, the building has offered help to pilgrims since its origins in the 9th century.

Church of Santa María a Real do Cebreiro (9th Century)Regional Government of Galicia

The church of this sanctuary is the burial site of Elías Valiña, a priest of the chapel and a great supporter of the Camino Francés. Valiña was the first volunteer who marked the way of the Jacobean route using yellow arrows, known across the world today.

O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Legend of the Miracle of Santo Grial

The importance of O Cebreiro on the Camino is linked to the legend of the miracle of Santo Grial. This story has its origins at the beginning of the 14th century and was spread widely in medieval Europe.

O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

According to the legend, a peasant from a nearby village traveled to O Cebreiro one day for mass when it was snowing heavily. The priest scolded him for having risked his life on the journey just to kneel down before a piece of bread and wine, but during the consecration, the wafer transformed into meat and the wine into blood. 

Church of Santa María Real de O Cebreiro. Holy miracle (2020)Original Source: Axencia Turismo de Galicia

News of the miracle spread so widely that it reached the Catholic rulers, Queen Isabella of Castile and King Ferdinand of Aragon, who visited O Cebreiro. On their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1486, they donated the reliquaries, which, along with the chalice, are exhibited in the church.

The miracle was well known in Germany thanks to the German pilgrims. It had such an impact that Richard Wagner himself, in his opera Parsifal, narrated the story of the decadence of the location in the mountains in the north of Spain where the grail is kept.

The Pilgrims' Road to Santiago as it passes through O Cebreiro (2020)Regional Government of Galicia

Now an unmissable milestone in the itinerary on the way to Santiago de Compostela, the village of O Cebreiro continues to attract pilgrims from all over the world today.

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