Known as the Via da Prata, in the Galician section, we should really call it, the southeastern or Mozarabic way, being an extension of the Roman road of the same name, Via da Prata, which linked Emerita Augusta (Mérida) with Asturica Augusta (Astorga), crossing from south to north the western peninsula. This road was laid out in the Christian era by making use of existing paths as befits the practical spirit of the Romans.
In the early Middle Ages this route was kept alive, first in the Visigoth era and then under Islamic rule. The term Vía da Prata, derives precisely from the original Arabic etymological sense ‘Bal’atta’ that Muslims appointed to the wide, solid and cobbled road that headed to the Christian north. The name Via da Prata does not refer to anything related to the trade in precious metals.
In the late Middle Ages, it was re - Christianised by the Mozarabic Andalusís who pilgrimaged to Santiago with greater ease after the conquest of Sevilla and Córdoba by Ferdinand III. From 1250 it was used by pilgrims from Andalucia and Extremadura. Some continued to Astorga, connecting with the Camiño Francés and others took the detour at Puebla de Sanabria-A-Cea Gudiña-Laza/Verín-Ourense- Dozón-Silleda-A Bandeira-Ponte Ulla-Santiago, this being the reason why some people call it the Camiño Sanabrés.
- A Bandeira
We leave Prado in Lalín council, by a stretch of road, the old N-525, and head to the River Deza, which gives name to the region, on a beautiful path between native trees from which we can see a 19th century bridge and a railway viaduct which links Santiago to Zamora. Right at this location is Taboada Railway Station. Then we cross the river at a beautiful medieval bridge called Ponte Taboada, built on the site of an earlier wooden one, and called "pons tabulata" name which was later given to this place and its parish. The antiquity of this emblematic civil construction is vouched for by a curious inscription on a nearby rock that reads, “laboraberunt ista pontem era DCCCL fuit perfecta pridie kalendas aprilis” and indicates it was built in 912. On this leg, with its primitive paved road, there is a simple drinking water fountain, called fontiñas, and we can find real scallop shells marking the way. We are now in Silleda council.
Note: Before the village of Prado, in the hamlet of A Laxe, there is a pilgrim’s hostel which was opened on January 13th, 2004 with 30 places, belonging to Lalín council.
As we cross the river Deza by the medieval Bridge we enter Silleda council.
Once again we come on to the N525 road and come across a beautiful ensemble comprising of a unique diamond fluted pedestal stone cross, an anthropoid sarcophagus and the striking Taboada parish church (12th century but much renovated), where Santiago the patron Saint is worshiped and illustrations of which can be found in the altarpiece inside the church and in the atrium area with a monument to the apostle. Legend has it that tradition calls for pilgrims to bang their heads on the front door. Once this is done, the rest area awaits, it has a very interesting monument dedicated to the anonymous pilgrim, work of Silleda council and designed by local painter, Francisco Alén, all at the foot of a cool fountain which is greatly appreciated. From the rest area and going back a few yards, chito 44.327 km, we climb up a wide path known locally as the camino real that will lead us, first to the Silleda industrial park - area 33 which has a Civil Protection post should you require assistance, including the stamping of Compostelas, and then to an ancient oak wood and mycological paradise, the most beautiful in all Galicia. It’s the Carballeira do Pazo de Trasfontao (Pazo de Trasfontao Oak Grove), a palatial plot of the18th century, which has a dovecote, ornate chapel and a curious sundial with oriented faces. We leave the stately and beautiful Pazo and its environs and the surrounding period houses and after passing a stretch of old roadway and another oak wood, we arrive at Silleda, capital of the municipality of the same name. From the rest area, you can also take the N-525 road, but you would have missed one of the most beautiful and memorable legs of the Via da Prata.
In A Laxe (Bendoiro) Hostel. 30 Places.
Rural Guesthouse "A Posta da Prata" right on the Camiño, just past the beautiful medieval Taboada Bridge (10th century)
We enter this town, capital of the municipality of the same name, of 2,500 inhabitants, with all kinds of amenities, famous for having a major trade fair that holds international exhibitions and their famous biscuits called Melindres. It welcomes us offering, for a short break, a cosy park next to the church with comfortable benches under a beautiful pergola that finishes in an attractive fountain where we can fill our water - bottles.
After passing in front of the Town Hall, a noble building with ample balcony and 19th century bell tower, where we can get information and have our credentials stamped, on leaving the town we continue along the path which branches off to the left and passes through the villages of Foxo de Deza, former municipal capital with a medieval street lined by beautiful historic buildings of the 18th and 19th centuries, Margaride and Chapa, to the village of A Bandeira.
In the hamlet of Chapa we can enjoy evocative scenery, passing through another medieval bridge of the 10th century. Just before the overpass we recommend a break in a rest area known as "O Muíño de Covián". After passing the viaduct over the motorway to Santiago, we continus to the town of A Bandeira, the second most important conurbation in the council.
Hostel in A Bandeira Campsite. Street of Louráz (36 plazas)
Town Hall: 986 580 000. In Silleda on the actual Camiño.
Hotel Residencia Ramos.
Pensión do Campo.
A Bandeira is another town in the council that historically and traditionally, always gives lodging to pilgrims and has all kinds of services for that necessity. It is famous for its markets which are held on the 14th and 29th of each month and especially the Festa da Empanada, Pie Festival, (August), which is declared a Festival of Gastronomic interest.
D. Jose Espiño Matos, the priest of this town, an authority on the Camiño who has a number of publications to his name, kindly attends all requests.
We leave A Bandeira by the road and then turn right, just when we have 33 km. remaining to reach the Holy Door, to take a path that runs between fields. We pass Vilariño, Piñeiro and later San Martíño de Dornelas, which has a beautiful Romanesque church with a circular apse, that testifies to its antiquity. Almost at its feet, is a fountain that will help us to regain our strength.
Now the landscape begins to change hues and at chito 26.762 km we leave this charming and hospitable municipality to enter into A Estrada council. Here the meadows, pine and oak woods give way to eucalyptus trees until you come to San Miguel de Castro with its lush hydrangeas forming hedges and where we stop briefly at the shrine of Santiago. A sharp drop on tarmac track leads us to the hermitage of Gundián, in the middle of a beautiful meadow with a fountain that invites us to rest. There are about 3km left to Puente Ulla along a tarmac track, which we approach via the old bridge.
Shelter in Sports Hall.
Hostal Conde Rey
Hostal Conde Rey.
Places of interest to see on the Camino:
- Medieval Taboada Bridge. 10th century. Latin inscription on rock.
- Santiago de Taboada Church. Located on the Camiño, in the parish of Taboada, open all day with a tour guide. Drinking water.
- “Carballeira do Pazo”. On the Camiño, after the Industrial Park Area 33.
- Trasfontao Pazo. 18th century. On the Camiño.
- Pedrosas Municipal Park. In Silleda. Rest Area, 100 meters to the left of the Camiño. Drinking Water. Health Park.
- Covián Mill Rest Area.(Largest in the council). Situated on the Camiño, a few metres from the Medieval bridge over the River Toxa.
- San Martiño church.12th century. On the Camiño.
Interesting places to visit around Silleda
- Benedictine Carboeiro Monestary. 12th century. Built by students of Mestre Mateo, creator of the Pórtico dla Gloria.
- Toxa Waterfall One of the highest in Galicia.
- The Marian Spiritual Centre of Our Lady of A Saleta. The 1st, centre in Spain, in Siador.
Sanctuary of the Forsaken in Abades.
Viewing platforms of the Serra do Candán and San Sebastián Mount. Protected areas in the Natura 2000 network.