O Cebreiro is a small village on the Camino de Santiago. Located at an altitude of 1,300 meters, you can enjoy spectacular views from here. It is also a great starting location for the Camino as it’s an ideal distance from Santiago at 160km (100 miles) away. It also means that you avoid the long climb up to O Cebreiro and therefore can just enjoy the route and views on the way downhill from here. But this picturesque place also has much to offer in terms of history and architecture making it a real highlight of the Camino.
O Cebreiro – The gateway to Galicia
O Cebreiro is the gateway to the region of Galicia on the Camino de Santiago. From here, you are walking in the last province on the way to Santiago de Compostela. They speak Galego here so you might hear the locals talking in a language similar to Spanish but with some significant differences.
This unique village has Celtic origins and a 1,500 year old history. The pallozas, traditional stone houses, are still reminiscent of days gone by. They were in operation until the 1960s.
And on top of that, the allegedly oldest church on the whole Camino Frances is here .
The so-called pallozas are round or oval stone houses that can only be found in this area of Galicia. They were built 1,500 years ago and thus their origin goes back to the times before the Romans.
The residents of O Cebreiro lived in Pallozas until the 1960s.
Today, nine pallozas are still preserved in O Cebreiro and four of them form the Ethnographic Museum. They are characterized by their reed roof, their round shape and their thick stone walls. The pallozas were divided into three rooms: a heated kitchen and utility room, a bedroom and a stable. Despite their modest size, they housed up to twelve people and livestock.
The museum is normally open in the summer from Tuesday to Saturday afternoon. Admission is free.
Santa María la Real – the oldest church on the Camino Frances
Dating from 836, the pre-Romanesque Santa María la Real is the oldest church on the entire Camino Frances. Inside are relics that testify to a regional miracle from the 12th century.
At that time, a devout farmer had struggled through a snow storm so as not to miss mass. The priest who was preparing the sacrament mocked the man. Then the host was transformed into the actual body of Christ and soaked the cloth with blood.
Queixo do Cebreiro – a regional specialty
The Queixo do Cebreiro is a delicious cow’s milk cheese, the production of which is protected as a regional specialty by a European seal. Due to the harsh winters and the mountainous landscape, the area is more suitable for livestock farming than for agriculture.
The history of the regional product is closely linked to the Camino de Santiago: it was monks who began to make cebreiro for passing pilgrims.
Typical of the cream cheese is its unusual shape, which is reminiscent of a mushroom or a chef’s hat. The aroma is mild and slightly acidic. No artificial flavors or preservatives are used in its production. In April, there is even a festival in honor of the cheese.