A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Camino Forum Store


ALBERGUES/shipping containers

As we promised in a previous post, FREEHIGHWAY is going back to the camino to produce our next documentary about the albergues and hospitaleros in the camino.

One of the subjects well be looking at is the new idea from the Galician government to incorporate shipping containers to help pilgrims during the busiest time of the year ? (linked together to provide high strength, prefabricated steel modules that can be combined to create a wide variety of building shapes and adapted to suit most planning or end user needs.)

http://www.lavozdegalicia.es/albumes/ga ... 0665204748

The architect and director of the studio (arquitectos asociados)
Mr Rafael Otero Novio
who came up with the idea (http://www.aasantiago.com) will be interview by FREEHIGHWAY in August and We?d like to know what are your views, worries, etc about this new idea. You can post it here or contac us at

Jose Alvarez



Active Member
My opinion

For me, I'd sleep outside on the ground before sleeping in a shipping container.

Part of the magic of the Camino is the history, architecture, and culture which includes the wonderful old, and even run-down refugios where one finds rest.

The idea of sleeping in plastic or steel just doesn't 'feel' right to me. And then there is the consequence of having to LOOK at these things dotting the landscape.

I'm sad if this happens... almost as sad as I am to hear cell phones ringing along the trail. But then, I'm old...

I'm glad I'm doing my Camino before these "improvements" are made.
Sort of like speed bumps.... I think they'll just annoy me and take away the freedom of chance.

Sorry if this sounds too negative.
Just my honest feeling.


Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (May 2005), Norte (May 2006), Vezelay (2007).
Talking about pelgrims as "end users" and their needs ........... I doubt if any pelgrim will have the need to sleep in such a thing!
As Deborah said....fully agree with her.

I almost would say that we have to organize a "boycot" if such containers would be placed at the Camino...... :D

Paul...who likes the open air instaed of a container.


Active Member
I have to agree with Deborah, I guess I am old too.

Why destruct the scenery, a major part of the Camino is to discover this splendid part of Spain, full of history, renown for the beauty of what little is left in Europe of roman churches and abbeys and wonderful landscapes.

I am concerned this is going to be a black spot in the local scenery; it is not because Monte de Gozo has such a look that one should imitate it.

I am realizing this may assist poor Galicia in accomodating more "tourists"; why not invest in repairing old houses giving a second life to small villages, encourage local people to open B&B, creating green spaces for campers or other non destructive ways to facilitate the pilgrims's lodging ?

This is my opinion.



Active Member
Peter Robins said:
the existing albergues the Xunta has put up are hardly objects of great beauty. Are these containers really that much worse than, for example, what they did to Monte Gozo?
Oh Peter, to me this is like saying, "Well darn, my front tooth has a rotten spot on it.... I guess I may as well just let the rest of my teeth go black!"

I am hoping that Spain will maintain a sense of pride, culture, and beauty.
I would rather see them spend money on preserving their historic, old buildings than building these horrible storage bins for people to sleep in. I wish the Spanish government would step in and proclaim this area a historic treasure, realizing that THIS is why people travel here... not to attend a race of 850 km, but to SEE the history, the beauty.

My great great grandfather built houses from lava rock in Flores, Azores. He whitewashed them with his own special recipe of whitewash. They are simple and beautiful. They dotted the island. My family still owns four of them. Ten years ago, my Tio Alfredo, my great grandfather's 90 year old brother, decided to "modernize" two of these beautiful homes. He painted them a weird pink color with green trim and sanded the beautiful old woodwork until it was smooth, then painted it. I almost fainted when I saw them... what a gaudy mess. They looked like psychotic flamingos in a landscape that had been quitely beautiful, historic, and lovely just one year before. Now... they're just another ugly house on the landscape.

I pray this doesn't happen in Spain. I pray the Spanish people realize the jewels they have which only need polishing to shine instead of falling for the worthless plastic trinkets some money-hungry visitors bring as trade.

Thank you all for your coments, I personally think that I should be neutral on having any opinion till we interview Mr Rafael Otero Novio and find out more information about this subject. However, I?m getting a note of all your opinions and well put it through to him. I also must say that the documentary will be looking at other albergues, monasteries, new and old albergues in the camino and the opinion of the Hospitaleros (not only Spanish) about the pilgrims and what they have to say about their experence. Well stay a hold day in the albergue of ANFAS which is partly run by people with discapacities and find out how there are trained to overcome this disadvantage. There is more but I don?t want to write a book here.

Gracias a todos

Jose Alvarez

Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Ulysse said:
why not invest in repairing old houses giving a second life to small villages, encourage local people to open B&B
they will continue to do that. As Jose says, the idea is to use these containers for peak times; they're cheap, flexible, and can be assembled quickly as needed. Done well, they might even appeal to the groups of young people who are the main users during the peak times - better than traipsing off to the sports hall, as they have to do at present. Done badly, of course, they might well be pretty awful :-(

Peter Robins

Veteran Member
Donating Member
Deborah said:
I would rather see them spend money on preserving their historic, old buildings than building these horrible storage bins for people to sleep in.
yes, but where's the money coming from? Some may do it for love or be inspired by religious charity, but governments have to get the money either from the users (pilgrims) or from their taxpayers. If pilgrims are prepared to spend money on their overnight accommodation, then they can expect quality. If not, . . .
this must be a joke,

lets talk about ventilation. lets talk about the HEAT in a METAL box. Tell me, when its 30 degrees outside, what do you think the temperature will be inside? This looks like a good idea but it is impractical. Until someone actually sleeps in it and roasts the night away... then what if it rains and you want to shut the door. also, these shipping containers arent what i call inexpensive. me myself, i would rather sleep outside. How much would one charge for a place in a storage container? hmm, here in the united states you can sleep in a dumpster for free. they dont have a roof on them, but the do get hot enough to cook eggs on them.

good luck!


Active Member
I encourage everyone to go and look at the picture of that contraption, in the original article here, before you make up your mind wether this project is good far all (Galicians and pilgrims)


Now try to imagine that in the Galician landscape !

Maybe for the price of the retrofit of these containers one could renovate an old barn and turn into a clean refugio ? Who is to say that within a year or two one decides that these containers have to pay for themselves ? Next step will then be to cover them with advertisements of Tio Pepe, Coca Cola or Michelin tires; nice.

I guess I am too old to fully appreciate these metal cages with "all the comfort of home" in the landscape !


Active Member

It just seems that for the price of these containers, the government could sponser locals to accept boarders or as Ulysses said, to renovate old barns and buildings and save the culture and history of these places.

Also, they could seriously consider raising the prices of the refugios - even doubling the price, the refugios would still be very affordable and less than a hostel. Those who were serious about the pilgrimage would find the funds. Or they could require the refugio sleepers to help with the work. And I'm sure if there WERE some buildings that needed restoration, they'd have no shortage of volunteers (international) to help fix them up. I know that we'd be happy to help in exchange for a place to sleep and a bowl of soup. My Joe is a contractor... give him lumber and he can fix anything.

Here in the United States, there are people who give workshops in cob house building and people willingly pay to attend the workshops in which they learn to build a cob house from bottom to top! I'm sure there are similar groups in the EU. How about asking them to hold workshops along the Camino? I have no doubt you'd get people to join in and build a few refugios! You can build a cob house for $5000 that will last for a century! Not a lot of materials to ship in. They're built of the clay/sand you stand on and a little straw! The only other material you need is roofing. You could either use the traditional slate or thatch or truck in roofing!

A Google Search with "cob houses" will give you plenty to read about this method.

Let's talk more about something like THAT before you start shipping in ugly boxes to scar the landscape?
As we promised one year ago FREEHIGHWAY has finally finished a new documentary about hospitales and hospitaleros from El Camino de Santiago, the title is WELCOME. One of the issues about this documentary is the subject of shipping containers in the Way of St. James.

You can view the trailer in our website.



Jose Alvarez

OLDER threads on this topic

Most read today


Most read today

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 4 1.2%
  • February

    Votes: 3 0.9%
  • March

    Votes: 17 5.1%
  • April

    Votes: 58 17.3%
  • May

    Votes: 82 24.5%
  • June

    Votes: 27 8.1%
  • July

    Votes: 9 2.7%
  • August

    Votes: 2 0.6%
  • September

    Votes: 86 25.7%
  • October

    Votes: 40 11.9%
  • November

    Votes: 4 1.2%
  • December

    Votes: 3 0.9%