• Get your Camino Frances Guidebook here.
  • For 2024 Pilgrims: €50,- donation = 1 year with no ads on the forum + 90% off any 2024 Guide. More here.
    (Discount code sent to you by Private Message after your donation)
  • ⚠️ Emergency contact in Spain - Dial 112 and AlertCops app. More on this here.

Search 69,459 Camino Questions

Cruz de Ferro

The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
The local mayor has been carrying out extensive landscaping works including the building of a substantial perimeter retaining wall around the Cruz. Funded by an American donor. The same mayor who approved the building of the controversial concrete road on Foncebadon's main street and radically altering its appearance. A number of groups have been protesting this work as being contrary to the spirit of the place and a breach of its protection under heritage laws.

 
Last edited:
Something about route change, moving the cross? Anyone here have details?
They want to have changes undone, namely the recently added stone border at the bottom of the pile of stones and the recently created paths / lawn between the stones and the chapel, see photos below showing what it currently looks like.

Ferro 1.jpg

Ferro 2.jpg
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
This is the article on the front page of El Correo Gallego today, and for the past few days,

https://www.elcorreogallego.es/sant...denuncian-alteracion-cruz-ferro-94987606.html (Google Chrome translates on the fly - otherwise use what you normally do to translate a Spanish web page to English)

The previous posts are all correct. But, the truly hurtful part is that, according to the article, the local authorities ordered all the stones and other memorial tributes carted away and buried. So, they got a shovel / bucket loader to do it a week or two ago.

So, right now. the pole is likely to be denuded of stones and memorials. If anyone has a current - like this week photo of this condition, please share it.

If you - like me - left one or more stones commemorating a lost loved one, or a burden left behind, today we are sad. While I believe this 'cleaning' has been done before. This time it was particularly egregious.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

Tom
 
Last edited:
But, the truly hurtful part is that, according to the article, the local authorities ordered all the stones and other memorial tributes carted away and buried. So, they got a shovel / bucket loader to do it a week or two ago.
My understanding is that this is a yearly occurrence under normal circumstances.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
The newest news is that the Leon administration has set a time limit of a few months for the local town administration of Santa Catalina de Somoza (who are responsible for the Cruz de Ferro area) to comply with what had initially been authorized. The newly built low stone wall is to be replaced by a dry stone wall; some windows (of the chapel?) are to be repainted in a different colour; there will be some technical change to the paths (use of wooden sleepers) and some other clean-up - if I understand correctly the workers had left some building material on the stone heap and some stones from the heap got pushed into the ditch during the building works.

Source: regional news media of Leon and the Bierzo, for example
https://www.bierzotv.com/patrimonio-autoriza-la-subsanacion-de-las-obras-en-la-cruz-de-ferro/
https://www.leonoticias.com/cultura...ion-entorno-cruz-ferro-20231128142522-nt.html
 
Last edited:
But, the truly hurtful part is that, according to the article, the local authorities ordered all the stones and other memorial tributes carted away and buried. So, they got a shovel / bucket loader to do it a week or two ago.

My understanding is that this is a yearly occurrence under normal circumstances.
That's my understanding too.
 
. The same mayor who approved the building of the controversial concrete road on Foncebadon's main street and radically altering its appearance.

Maybe he had it built to drive away Shirley MacLaine's packs of wild and savage dogs!

The first time I encountered the then-brand-new concrete road into Foncebadon I was appalled.... Yes, perhaps the locals (there can't have been too many of them back then, eh ?!?) benefited somehow, but my o my what a loss to the town's derelict and romantic Camino atmosphere!
 
Technical backpack for day trips with backpack cover and internal compartment for the hydration bladder. Ideal daypack for excursions where we need a medium capacity backpack. The back with Air Flow System creates large air channels that will keep our back as cool as possible.

€83,-
I think it looks much better and more inviting now. It looks like a true memorial and not a trash heap
I think it looked better when it was just a simple pile of stones at the base of a wooden post. Without any landscaping and parking spaces. Something you could almost pass by without noticing. I preferred it when the wooden post was not used as a convenient hanging or nailing point for whatever garbage someone felt driven to leave as an undecipherable message to the rest of the world. Sadly those days seem to be long past.
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
In 2009 there was a muddy rutted street (Foncebadon) and a hippie like coffe shop/primitive albergue in a derelict building on the left side. Everything else was abandoned and unused.
I loved it.

The next couple of times it had a bit of repair...but still the atmosphere.
The first time I saw the concrete street and the commercial take over...I was greatly saddened.:-(

The disaster at the Cruz de Ferro is just one more reason why I avoid the CF and what it has morphed into.
 
Last edited:
In 2009 there was a muddy rutted street (Foncebadon) and a hippie like coffe shop/primitive albergue in a derelict building on the left side. Everything else was abandoned and unused.
I loved it.
It was very much like you describe on my first Camino in 2015. I thought it unique and quirky; a place time had forgotten. I had a fresh squeezed orange juice at the hippie shop sitting outside on a hand hewn wooden plank to the left side on a sunny day in early May.
Screenshot_20231129-101645~2.png

The hippie shop.
Screenshot_20231129-101651~2.png

A few renovations were underway in 2017 when I walked through again. (Notice the nice outdoor patio with new gray Galician Estella beer chairs.)
Screenshot_20231129-101729~2.png
 
@Camino Chrissy ...:cool: I had to kind of laugh at your first picure of the "hippie shop". I don't think that is even the same building. The original as I recall it was simply an old 2 story building with a simple sign nailed on wall. The stairs and porch were falling apart. The inside (coffee area) was one small rough room with two long rough tables. There was not a counter as such...the owner simply got you a cuppa and whatever they had from a table in the room.
There was a very rough looking staircase going up to what I think was the albergue. I did not look.

It was a very wet and raining day when we came by and the coffee area was full with many people sitting at the table and standing crowded around. Everyone was very happy to be out of the rain.
Great Camino atmosphere!
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
I wouldn’t mind some sort of clean up that removed the disgusting range of clothing I found in 2017 and also the half bottles of wine. Maybe pilgrims need to be a little more respectful when placing stones with small notes attached.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
I have brought small stones two times to leave with prayers and I appreciated seeing other tokens, especially laminated photos of deceased loved ones, often they were of young persons whose were lives cut off too soon. I agree some memorabilia is rather tacky, but I was able to look beyond them for those representing "matters of the heart".
 
I have posted previously what I found, especially in May 2017 - dirty underwear, a half drunk bottle of wine; and other stuff I will not mention.
I have an opinion,
Thankfully, in late April of 2017 I saw none of what you describe. All opinions are "good" as we each view our experiences as we "see" them, both physically and/or inwardly. I do not doubt your observations; what you saw was fact.
 
Thank you all for the current news and stories of the past. When I walked in 2013, Foncebadon was one of my favorite little villages. With it's dirt road and a rustic atmosphere that was purely Camino. I stayed at the donativo muni where we had a communal dinner and were invited to a make shift chapel, a small space behind a wall in the albergue. It was an amazing experience. The wind and rain howled through the night. Walking to Cruz de Ferro was enlightening and the view as the sun rose was spectacular.

When I returned in 2019, I too was appalled by the concrete road, the concrete box that surrounded the cross, you know the one in the middle of the road as you enter. The quant Camino village had turned into a concrete jungle, nearly unrecognizable. So much so, I didn't take any pictures as I past through. :-(

Also, I have viewed pictures on Instagram that the large way marker that sits in the middle of no where as you walk to O Cebriero now has a huge concrete slab surrounding it. This is also new since 2019. It sure can take away the magic and soul of the Camino.

I'm planning a return pilgrimage next year starting in SJPdP (skipping Sarria to SDC), I'm trying to prepare myself for all the changes I will encounter. In 2019, I noticed a lot of the way markers (some original) had been replaced and the route/trial had changed some too.

I pray for Peace along the Camino and for it's Spirit to find all those who seek it.

Buen Camino 😎

Foncebadon 2013
Santiago%202013%201st%20SIM%20Card%20360.jpegSantiago%202013%201st%20SIM%20Card%20364.jpegSantiago%202013%201st%20SIM%20Card%20363.jpegSantiago%202013%201st%20SIM%20Card%20362.jpegSantiago%202013%201st%20SIM%20Card%20366.jpeg
Cruz de Ferro 2013
Santiago%202013%201st%20SIM%20Card%20374.jpeg
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
I know it is considered a very special place to many. When I passed by, there were a several tour buses and it had a more circus environment with a swarm of people than a place for quiet thought. I walked quickly past without stopping. I had read a lot about it being a special place before my Camino, but I found many special places on the Camino without any tour buses nearby where I did my quiet contemplation and released my burdens.
 
I know it is considered a very special place to many. When I passed by, there were a several tour buses and it had a more circus environment with a swarm of people than a place for quiet thought. I walked quickly past without stopping. I had read a lot about it being a special place before my Camino, but I found many special places on the Camino without any tour buses nearby where I did my quiet contemplation and released my burdens.
I had the same experience last time I was there...
 
Get a spanish phone number with Airalo. eSim, so no physical SIM card. Easy to use app to add more funds if needed.
The custom (or if you prefer, tradition) of leaving stones and other tokens at Cruz de Ferro is a contentious topic, but the practice creates practical problems., the main problem being the simple accumulation of items left there. My guess is that well over a hundred thousand pilgrims walk past that cross every year and of those, several thousand will deposit something, most commonly a small stone. It would not take long for the cross to literally disappear under the pile of stones, yet the pile never seems to grow any bigger and it doesn´t take much rational thought to work out why that should be. Other tokens are less durable than stone but not biodegradable. What happens to these tokens and messages of plastic, nylon or glass or some other material? I happen to know, but I am not going to say it here but invite you, the reader to work it out. If anyone knows of a better solution, please say what it might be.
 
I have brought small stones two times to leave with prayers and I appreciated seeing other tokens, especially laminated photos of deceased loved ones, often they were of young persons whose were lives cut off too soon. I agree some memorabilia is rather tacky, but I was able to look beyond them for those representing "matters of the heart".
I agree, although I can also understand why some people don't - sort of. The spirit that these genuine memorials are left in is honest, and for me humbling. I spent much time looking at these, and reading the messages, not just at Cruz de Ferro but all along the Camino. It added to the gratitude I felt for just being alive and on the Camino. It can't in anyway be compared to people littering and being disrespectful.

It's obvious that all of these things will disappear one way or another, but it is the symbolic nature of the act of placing such an item of meaning at a point that for whatever reason has some meaning to that person. I left my stone there with the knowledge it won't be there for long, but it didn't make any difference to the moment and symbolic nature for me - after all we and everything are only passing through this world.

In terms of the then and now of Foncebadon and Cruz de Ferro it was my first time there in October, so I know nothing of the former days, but can certainly relate to peoples feeling of sadness when things change. Personally though I thought Foncebadon a very pleasant little village, and I also loved the Cruz de Ferro - in fact that day was one of my favourite days walking.
 
Down bag (90/10 duvet) of 700 fills with 180 g (6.34 ounces) of filling. Mummy-shaped structure, ideal when you are looking for lightness with great heating performance.

€149,-
That today’s Cruz de Ferro is described as ”looking like a heap of trash” is not as unique a comment as you may assume. Just google “Cruz de Ferro” and “basura” (the Spanish word for trash). I did and below are some of the photos that showed up in the search results.

So much talk about world heritage and tradition and restoring the site as it was before … before means of course before the recent works. How about before say 1990? For centuries the Cruz de Ferro site was virtually “untouched”. Nobody left notes and photos, or painted stones, or mementos, or toys, or other items there. Nobody brought a stone from home either, despite what you may read. It was, as described in an earlier comment in this thread, a simple pile of stones at the base of a wooden pole, “something you could almost pass by without noticing”. I certainly wish it would have been left as such.

1701334296245.jpeg
 
Last edited by a moderator:
The newest news is that the Leon administration has set a time limit of a few months for the local town administration of Santa Catalina de Somoza (who are responsible for the Cruz de Ferro area)
Just a little comment. According to the news is the Junta de Castilla y Leon ( Patrimonio) through its delegation in León who follows the works.
 
That today’s Cruz de Ferro is described as ”looking like a heap of trash” is not as unique a comment as [one] may assume.
And that people - pilgrims even and of the right kind 😶 - are pleased with the modest changes like the ones that had been approved by the appropriate Spanish authorities in October 2022 and were executed recently is also not such an isolated opinion as some may assume.

The mayor who commissioned the works and the regional / national administration who had approved them but failed to supervise how they were carried out and has now ordered a number of adaptations are not the only actors in this pseudo-drama. The initiator of it all is an American Camino pilgrim who loves the Camino just like so many others and has relocated to Molinesca to live there now. He donated a substantial amount of money for what he regarded as an improvement of this site that many label as a sacred site or a holy site. He had the best intentions.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
How about before say 1990?
I walked my first Camino using Elias Valiña's 1985 guide book in Spanish. I don't have my copy to hand as it is in storage in Wales and I am in an airport on Gran Canaria. As I recall Valiña mentions the Cruz very briefly in passing and mentions the custom of placing a stone at the foot of the cross. Nothing about bringing one from home, or the stones having any particular symbolism, or the place itself having any special religious, spiritual or mystical significance. The cult of the Cruz de Ferro as a uniquely important focal point for remembrance is a very recent phenomenon.
 
I have wondered why it is named Cruz de Ferro as that is Portuguese, surely it should be Cruz de Hierro? Anyone know? Was the hermit who Christianised what had been a pagan site Portuguese?

I also sometimes wonder why it is there ... I knew a Welsh sheep farmer who placed an old brass bed at the top of one of his large pasture fields to draw lightning (rather than losing another sheep) .. it is at the highest point .. iron cross, soaking wet pole in a storm, a pretty good conductor ... but only 300 metres or so away is the remains of the original mound of small stones left by passing Romans .... so maybe this leaving a small stone is an ancient, pre-Christian thing?

Humans do like to make shrines ... my personal feelings are that I really dislike all the things left there that when weathered over time look very tatty, to me it should stay as a depository for small stones.
 
Last edited:
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
My earlier post - thank you for the many 'likes' and 'Hearts' for this - has been deleted by a moderator as I questioned the motives of a comment that referred to the original tokens of love, prayer, blessings etc (treasured stones, teddies [for deceased children?] )as 'Trash'. I could simply have deleted any sentence (s) that caused 'offence' rather than my entire comment. I hope the same censorship has been applied to the offensive remark of 'Trash' (which may have offended many, many people around the world - certainly this pilgrim who has shed tears at that cross and seen many others doing so too), as has been applied to my entire comment - which obviously pleased many, many people from around the world. I also find recent treatment of this treasured focal point repugnant.
Ulteia et Suseia: Spirit and Truth.
Ralph Keith
Please do not put words in my mouth. I said it looked like a trash heap. I did not call the ”tokens” trash.
I also had likes and positive responses. All that proves is there is more than one opinion on this and not who is right.
My posts have been deleted to, I don‘t know why. Supposedly because your post was deleted “ so my argument doesn’t make sense “
 
Both terms are used. At times in the past El Bierzo was a Galego speaking region rather than Castellano.
The Galego was spoken only from Ponferrada to west. Cruz de Ferro is clearly in a Leonese speaking area ( in the past). In Leonese is Cruz de Fierru. Cruz de Ferro possibly comes from Galician workers walking to Castilla.
 
Not surprisingly, numerous comments are framed as facts about the Cruz de Ferro that are mere legend and myth.

Gaucelmo is believed to have erected the cross, Romans and Celts are said to have been involved this way or the other. Nothing is known or documented about the origin of both mound and cross.

Fact is that the pole is a telephone mast that was put up several years ago to replace an earlier oak mast, the cross is a recent replica of a post-medieval cross (presumed to date from the 17th century) and not much is known about either this heap of stones nor of a larger one nearby and archaeologists have not taken any interest whatsoever in either of them as far as I know.
 
A selection of Camino Jewellery
My posts have been deleted to, I don‘t know why.
This is standard practice. I have had some of my posts deleted by fellow mods, deleted some of theirs, even deleted some of my own. If the original post is deleted for whatever reason, we then have to delete all the responses, partly because these responses are meaningless without the original, and partly because the responses often contain all or part of the original offending post. So please don´t take it personally if we delete any of your posts.

The other issue is that threads often degenerate into a kind of verbal duel between two forum members. Probably the most important and difficult part of our role as moderators is to try and prevent this happening without at the same time stifling open debate.
 
Last edited by a moderator:
Knowing what that word means I think that is a little harsh, and hurtful perhaps to someone who reads it. I am personally very disapproving of the practice of leaving momentoes at Cruz de Ferro, but many of the people who do it, however misguidedly, are sincere and are doing something that has a deep, emotional meaning for them.
 
Another very recent photo from a different angle. Patches of vegetation can be seen on the mount of stones so I guess that these parts must not have been touched. I guess the ditch was not filled with stones before?

View attachment 160620
Source: https://www.elbierzodigital.com/la-...or-la-intervencion-en-la-cruz-de-ferro/535609

Now I have seen this photo - thanks Kathar1na - it is obvious that it is safety functional, to stop what is essentially debris moving on to the road - seems ok to me.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Knowing what that word means I think that is a little harsh, and hurtful perhaps to someone who reads it. I am personally very disapproving of the practice of leaving momentoes at Cruz de Ferro, but many of the people who do it, however misguidedly, are sincere and are doing something that has a deep, emotional meaning for them.
If I may reply? For a long time, the majority of guide books have all invited pilgrims to take a special token. The Film 'The Way' (and others) had a scene where they leave their personal tokens at the Cross. We're invited/reminded to do so by people all around the word when they know we plan a visit to the cross... and everything has been scooped-up and dumped in a ditch somewhere, with no respect for anything or anyone. What do people expect from us - a round of applause and expressions of gratitude? Saint James and the pilgrim routes are becoming the Holy Saints and Ways of Spanish Tourism! The choice was given to us all - you made your choice, which I respect. Our choice should be equally respected.
 
This is standard practice. I have had some of my posts deleted by fellow mods, deleted some of theirs, even deleted some of my own. If the original post is deleted for whatever reason, we then have to delete all the responses, partly because these responses are meaningless without the original, and partly because the responses often contain all or part of the original offending post. So please don´t take it personally if we delete any of your posts.
It is no problem and thank you for the explanation
 
I thought the rather recent practice of leaving a stone at the CdF was by way of divesting yourself of something? Once having parted with whatever it is, then its subsequent fate seems rather irrelevant.

Anyway - it all seems to be a bit of a confection so little need to go all ‘death of Diana’ about it changing. The majority of us pass through someone else’s land; it’s for those who live there to make the decisions IMHO.
 
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
Fact is that the pole is a telephone mast that was put up several years ago to replace an earlier oak mast, the cross is a recent replica of a post-medieval cross (presumed to date from the 17th century)
The museum in the Episcopal Palace in Astorga (the "Gaudi Palace") displays what it claims is the original Cruz de Ferro. Unfortunately, the museum display says very little about the item -- nothing of its history, its manufacture, not even when or how the museum acquired it.... Anyone knowledgeable enough to comment on this curious item? .... [Photo taken by me September 2021.]
 

Attachments

  • 1701353541850.png
    1701353541850.png
    1 MB · Views: 110
Last edited:
This seems to be the most detailed Spanish-language article about the protest :

https://astorgaredaccion.com/art/34...-el-patrimonio-mundial-del-camino-de-santiago

And a good photo of what it looked like :

812678978_237939427_1706x960.jpg

Another very recent photo from a different angle. Patches of vegetation can be seen on the mount of stones so I guess that these parts must not have been touched. I guess the ditch was not filled with stones before?

View attachment 160620
Source: https://www.elbierzodigital.com/la-...or-la-intervencion-en-la-cruz-de-ferro/535609
Frankly that just looks horrid.

The main road used to make a much broader detour around the mound, and this pic makes it easy to see how that tarmacking is ruining the site, not to mention those ugly wooden barrier structures on the other side.

I'm not personally unhappy about the landscaping work done near the chapel, but the continuing "work" on the mound is pretty much worse to worst IMO.
 
For a long time, the majority of guide books have all invited pilgrims to take a special token.
I find this hard to believe. I read a lot of books and guidebooks. So many, that I've started keeping a bibliography. The vast majority invite pilgrims to leave a stone rather than a special token. I'm not saying that no guidebook invites pilgrims to leave a special token. But I find it extremely hard to believe that the majority do so.

I can't speak to books in other languages, but my earliest English language guide book The Pilgrim Route to Compostela in Search of St James: A Practical Guide for Pilgrims and Walkers in Spain (published by Robertson McCarta in 1990) describes the Iron Cross on pp. 143-4 as "set in a cairn to which every Spanish pilgrim adds a stone." Nothing is mentioned about special tokens. I think my most recent guide book is Camino de Santiago: Sacred Sites, Historic Villages, Local Food and Wine by Beebe Bahrami published by Moon. Beebe says: "To this day, leaving a stone here is a significant rite of passage. The mound of stones below the cross is about 7 meters (23 feet) high and 30 meters (nearly 100 feet) in diameter, a testimony to how many people have come here and left a rock. Leaving a stone can be a powerful ritual, and you may want to take a few moments to think about what you want it to symbolize: gratitude, letting go, forgiveness, or some combination?". Still, nothing is mentioned about leaving any special token beyond a stone.
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
Cruz de Ferro had been a sentimental place for me on my first camino in 2013. On the second, I carried a stone for my grandson as he was sure he would then find it on his own Camino in June 2023. I knew that would be impossible at the foot of the cross so put it at the foot of a little oak tree nearby. Sure enough he found it and with obvious reverence climbed to the foot of the cross to place it with his wishes. He slowly circled the pole and surveyed the scene with concentrated intent. Then he just stood seemingly lost in thought. Finally, I asked if he was OK wondering if the emotion of our long Camino and the magic of the place had overtaken him. After all, he had been anticipating arriving for days, even reminding others on occasion to bring a rock. He looked at me a bit forlorn and whispered, “Do I have to leave MY rock here? I mean… It’s a bit…well….” He grimaced as he surveyed the trampled mementos. “I think maybe I should keep it safe awhile and bring it next time.” He cradled his beloved rock in his hands. I, (maybe for the first time now on my third Camino) took notice of the chaos of tattered remains of mementos, broken shards of stones and glass, faded pieces of matted paper, a tangle of flags, hats, photos,shirts, shells and cloth tied to the pole, and a film of grey rock dust covering everything. I glanced at the group of tourists loudly chatting while climbing in mass to the top. I suppose seeing fellow pilgrim’s special mementos in such disarray and being trampled underfoot was unnerving for a young pilgrim who had been walking since SJPP, reveling in the magic of each experience, his love of fellow pilgrims, and nature. I smiled at him and assured him he could keep his rock. His dilemma solved, he reached in his pocket, pulled out another rock he had picked up a few days earlier and wedged it in the pole. “It will be safe up here.” In his 10 year old view of life he had solved his puzzle of how to honor the pilgrim tradition while dropping his own beloved stone into the safety of his pack. Relieved, he then grabbed his poles and gleefully called over his shoulder, “Let’s go see if the knight is home!”…and he was! Magic restored!
 
and everything has been scooped-up and dumped in a ditch somewhere, with no respect for anything or anyone
I understand that for some people, the “unburdening” on Cruz de Ferro is a very meaningful cathartic moment. I think, though, that if you reflect on what one person’s meaningful moment translates into with hundreds of thousands of those moments, you can see that “scooping up and dumping” is really the only sensible way to deal with the accumulation of stones, stuffed animals, notes, ribbons, flags, and many other mementos. Take a look at @Kathar1na’s pictures in post 28. And as others have pointed out, this culling has been going on for years and years. It’s hard to imagine what Cruz de Ferro would look like if no one had ever removed anything.

I don’t understand the sentiment that just because the guide books and the movies tell us to do it, “our choice” to deposit things that are meaningful to us but look like trash to others is somehow the only thing that matters. That may not be how you intended to say it, but I don’t think that we as pilgrims have any claim to a louder voice in deciding how the camino develops.

I agree with those who dislike the new highly manicured layout, but I don’t think that the problem is with cleaning up the piles and piles. That has been going on for years, and will continue no matter how the cross is landscaped and plotted out.
 
If I may reply? For a long time, the majority of guide books have all invited pilgrims to take a special token. The Film 'The Way' (and others) had a scene where they leave their personal tokens at the Cross.
I've only ever heard of leaving a stone behind. I haven't read anything about depositing photos, scraps of paper, clothing, or flags.
The majority of us pass through someone else’s land; it’s for those who live there to make the decisions IMHO.
I agree.
 
A Treasure Trove Of Interesting Pilgrim Hacks! Learn & Share Your Own Too!
An interesting range of opinions here, reflecting both sides of the spectrum. It's not the first time that the subject of the cleanup of the area has come up (a quick search has come up with several here on the forum) although the landscaping is of course new. There is a huge wealth of information on a similar thread back in July of this year, where the proposed landscaping was first mentioned.

Change is not always easy to accept, no matter how good the intention. It's made worse when somebody's good intentions are so poorly carried out. Sad, that nobody thought to oversee the contractors work. Or, for that matter, thought to consult the local community before even starting. ( Unless I missed that?)

Although I have to say that some half decent toilets anywhere on the camino are of benefit! As I recall they were mentioned on the earlier thread as part of the plans - have they actually happened?

The fact that there even is a car park is rather sad - considering that the site is supposed to be of significance to Pilgrims on the Camino. Who generally walk/cycle. Although of course it may simply be that because the site is beside the road, and tourists are going to stop, for safety's sake they put in the car park.

The subject of the memorial items themselves can be equally if not more controversial.

Personally, any load that I carry in my heart cannot be laid to rest with the placement of some kind of momento. I wish that it were so.

However I appreciate that for some the laying of a momento at the Cruz de Ferro has significant meaning.

I just wish they would restrict it to a simple stone as was generally done until recent times. (Regardless as to when and why this first started.) Or, better yet, a prayer. Although that, of course, is very much individual.
A stone, whether it's of local origin or bought with you from home, is natural. Sadly, as well intentioned as they are, eventually all of the photos, poems, trinkets and teddy bears all degenerate and become simple pollution. Which I'm sure was certainly not the leavers intent.
And this is true not just of those items left at the Cruz de Ferro, but also of those left elsewhere on Camino - wether it be the Frances, the Inglés, or the Primitivo.

More valuable items are very quickly collected by the locals who visit 'regularly' precisely for that purpose.

As a recent and avid YouTube watcher - because many of them beat the heck out of the local TV, and are at the very least based on somebody's personal experience - from what I can see many people who do lay a stone actually do so because it's the 'done thing'. Some understand the significance - many do not. It's no wonder they clamber the pile of stones to take a selfie beside the cross - to them it's just another milestone.

If it was as @Bradypus said earlier, "simply a pile of stones at the base of a wooden post", they would probably simply pass on by. As would the tourist buses.....
 
Last edited:
i appreciate the passion that many pilgrims and tourist have for the Cruz de Ferro. From almost every book and movie, arrival is second to only the SdC cathedral (so it seems). I have only arrived early in morning and have not experienced the busses or cars and consider myself fortunate for the quiet and the opportunity to leave snowballs.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_0252.jpeg
    IMG_0252.jpeg
    132.1 KB · Views: 49
  • IMG_0310.jpeg
    IMG_0310.jpeg
    36.1 KB · Views: 51
Prepare for your next Camino on Santa Catalina Island, March 17-20
The Film 'The Way' (and others) had a scene where they leave their personal tokens at the Cross
I watched the scene again, even in slow motion so that I don‘t miss anything: the four pilgrims of the movie “The Way” who are the main actors do not leave personal tokens at the Cruz de Ferro site.

They are standing at the bottom of the stone heap. The camera shows how each of them pulls a large pebble out of their pockets and holds it in their hands. Martin Sheen and Deborah Kara Unger also hold a piece of paper from which they read a poem / prayer. Both are shown how they throw their pebble on the heap. They take their pieces of paper with them. And that is all.

Local volunteers beg people to leave nothing but stones. Only natural material, no plastic, no paper, no glass, no fabric and that also means no cuddly toys. It’s a site in nature with at times very strong winds and items get blown about or into the trees. Volunteers from local Camino associations and staff from the local street cleaning services frequently remove items that do not belong to the natural environment.
 
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
My "problem" with Cruz de Ferro (apart from the trash) is that it is not a pile of pilgrim stones at all. Most of the material consists of sizeable rocks - there is even an occasional lump of concrete and the odd brick. No pilgrim in their right mind deposited a stone weighing 20kg at the foot of the cross. If the huge number of these boulder-sized chunks of rock had not been put there (by machine?) in the first place, perhaps there would be no reason for a periodic removal of our small offerings.
Screenshot 2023-12-01 at 4.30.18 am.jpeg
 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
Perhaps a large crucible with some form of eternal flame? Then non-stone pilgrims who wish to leave other items could place them in the burning crucible to be turned into ash? Buddhists are known to do this burning thing.

Mind you, I can easily see such a thing being used for BBQing sausages ... ah, humans, an odd species.
 
€2,-/day will present your project to thousands of visitors each day. All interested in the Camino de Santiago.
Perhaps a large crucible with some form of eternal flame? Then non-stone pilgrims who wish to leave other items could place them in the burning crucible to be turned into ash? Buddhists are known to do this burning thing.
I love the smell of leather and vibram in the morning.

Mind you, I can easily see such a thing being used for BBQing sausages ... ah, humans, an odd species.
Sorry, but at my first reading I seriously thought you wrote "Mind you, I can easily see such a thing being used for BBQing sausages ... or humans, an odd species."
 
Last edited:
Be part of the Camino Cleanup team! Help us pick up litter from Ponferrada to Sarria.
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc
There always has been one, or at least a large open area on the opposite side of the road where cars and coaches could park.
You've not only taken my words out of context - even in the quote you have used there is a hyphen - you appear to have missed the point. I simply said that it was rather sad that there is one. Because the camino is for Pilgrims. Who are generally at least either on foot or on a Bicycle.

Or, if you prefer:
WHY?
Was it always a tourist attraction, even before the Camino was revitalized?

Or, like the baseball field, was the car park simply built on the basis of "build it and they will come" ?
 
I had always assumed that the large parking area had been created for the romeria and fiesta that the locals hold every year at the Cruz de Ferro. That’s also why they had erected the chapel at the Cruz de Ferro site in 1983.

There are plenty of participants, visitors and stalls at this event - and I guess that most of them don’t walk there.

A photo from 2012:
1701415232637.jpeg
 
I preferred it when the wooden post was not used as a convenient hanging or nailing point for whatever garbage someone felt driven to leave as an undecipherable message to the rest of the world. Sadly those days seem to be long past.
Below is a photo of what still looks like such a pristine Cruz de Ferro in 1993.

The Spanish pilgrim who took the photo writes of a tradition that he knows. It never made it into today’s global Cruz de Ferro narrative. He writes that, according to tradition, the pilgrim turns his or her back to the mound and throws a stone over his or her shoulder.

I myself learnt about this ritual when I happened to see a recent report about the Camino on Spanish TV.

Photo of Cruz de Ferro in 1993 with the previous pole made from oak. One can see in the photo that it is not as straight as the current telephone mast. It’s uneven and “wavy” for lack of a better word:
IMG_1527.jpeg
 
Last edited:
Very light, comfortable and compressible poncho. Specially designed for protection against water for any activity.

Our Atmospheric H30 poncho offers lightness and waterproofness. Easily compressible and made with our Waterproof fabric, its heat-sealed interior seams guarantee its waterproofness. Includes carrying bag.

€60,-
I had always assumed that the large parking area had been created for the romeria and fiesta that the locals hold every year at the Cruz de Ferro. That’s also why they had erected the chapel at the Cruz de Ferro site in 1983.

There are plenty of participants, visitors and stalls at this event - and I guess that most of them don’t walk there.

A photo from 2012:
View attachment 160672
Ahhh, now that makes sense. I was unaware of this festival I'll have to do some research.
Thanks, @Kathar1na !
 
An article from 2011 about the annual local pilgrimage and festival at the Cruz de Ferro says that more than 3500 visitors and participants were there during the day. One of the organisers is quoted as follows:

He also explained that they plan to do a series of works to better condition the area where this event takes place, which brings together more and more people, such as asphalting an area that is currently dirt to prevent dust from rising and the construction of public toilets. "We plan to do that because this romeria [local pilgrimage] is growing more and more," he said.
and also: “Many people arrived at the Cruz de Ferro early in the morning so that they could park without difficulties and avoid the caravans of coaches later on. There are apparently buses, free of charge, for regional visitors of this fiesta at the Cruz de Ferro.
Note that this was one year after the movie “The Way” of 2010. The Cruz de Ferro and the Camino had not yet gained the global attention that it enjoys - or suffers from - nowadays, a decade later.

Source: https://www.leonoticias.com/fronten...-De-La-Cruz-De-Ferro-Da-Cita-A-vn77147-vst208
 
Last edited:
Hola, I am another in the "leave only stone" camp at the base of Cruz de Ferro. In 2015 I left two - one for my late father who passed away when I was 16 and my step-father who had passed away on St James day that year. In 2017 I carried another for my still alive mother - she lasted a little over 5 years. I don't expect to re-visit (as a pilgrim).
May I respectfully ask all pilgrims on the Frances Camino just to leave a small stone, you can write a short message - date or loved ones name. Cheers
 
New Original Camino Gear Designed Especially with The Modern Peregrino In Mind!
Below is a photo of what still looks like such a pristine Cruz de Ferro in 1993.

The Spanish pilgrim who took the photo writes of a tradition that he knows. It never made it into today’s global Cruz de Ferro narrative. He writes that, according to tradition, the pilgrim turns his or her back to the mound and throws a stone over his or her shoulder.

I myself learnt about this ritual when I happened to see a recent report about the Camino on Spanish TV.

Photo of Cruz de Ferro in 1993 with the previous pole made from oak. One can see in the photo that it is not as straight as the current telephone mast. It’s uneven and “wavy” for lack of a better word:
View attachment 160673
Yes , that’s what I remember, I walked my first Camino before 2000 and it did look different that my post 2000 Caminos, it has become a county park instead of a memorial. When I went thru 4 year back it was spread with clothes, photos and wine bottles , not what I expect or want
 
Ideal pocket guides for during and after your Camino. Each weighs just 40g (1.4 oz).
I’d be interested to see early photos or paintings or postcards of the Cruz de Ferro but they don’t seem to exist - at least not online.

By chance, I came across a painting dated 1988. The chapel has already been erected but it is still without the pergola structure that was added later. The road looks like a dirt road - not yet the asphalt road of today.

IMG_1533.jpeg

Source: https://coleccion.abanca.com/artist/segundo-hevia-torres/
 
Transport luggage-passengers.
From airports to SJPP
Luggage from SJPP to Roncevalles
I've just read through a recent newsletter from the IRJ that I get from time to time. This one deals with a movie about the pilgrimage to Santiago and in particular about the Camino Frances that dates from 1951. It was initiated by Abbé Branthomme and supported by René de La Coste-Messelière who also appears in the movie itself. It was recently shown at an event in Santiago de Compostella and I would just love to see it.

According to the newsletter, the movie contains the only images preserved of the Codex Calixtinus before its restoration in 1965. The film shows in particular the image of the "Dream of Charlemagne", half torn but with a very precious piece of his crown still intact. I had not been aware of this. It sounds as if the CC was not in a great state of conservation at the time.

And also: At Foncebadon, they met the village doctor, who told them about the function of the cross he had just raised, which was very different from today's cross! This makes me even more curious to see earlier photos or paintings of the Cruz de Ferro although I now wonder whether this comment refers to the cross in the village or to the cross on the pass.

Has anyone seen this movie from 1951?
 
This makes me even more curious to see earlier photos or paintings of the Cruz de Ferro although I now wonder whether this comment refers to the cross in the village or to the cross on the pass.
Some just posted a 1952 photo of the Cruz de Ferro to a Facebook group protesting the recent redevelopment.

Screenshot_20231211_123153.jpg

 
Ideal sleeping bag liner whether we want to add a thermal plus to our bag, or if we want to use it alone to sleep in shelters or hostels. Thanks to its mummy shape, it adapts perfectly to our body.

€46,-
Some just posted a 1952 photo of the Cruz de Ferro to a Facebook group protesting the recent redevelopment.

View attachment 160961

Wow - how times have changed. Must have been so wild and rugged back then, much like a lot of Spain. As beautiful as I still found that section of the walk this year, I would dearly have loved to have seen it back then (minus the higher danger of pilgrim death/illness/robbery!).
 
Wow - how times have changed. Must have been so wild and rugged back then, much like a lot of Spain.
My memory of my first Camino in 1990 may not be 100% reliable with some details no doubt painted in through hindsight. But my recollection of the Cruz de Ferro on that first walk was that it was much closer to that 1952 image than it was to today's situation. Certainly a far more low-key affair. I have no memory of the Cruz being surrounded by trees at that time as it is today and I think the current pine plantations were probably in their infancy at the time. Foncebadon was still in ruins with only one occupied building and a single resident.
 
Some just posted a 1952 photo of the Cruz de Ferro to a Facebook group protesting the recent redevelopment.
View attachment 160961
https://www.facebook.com/groups/762737014624090/permalink/1405150733716045/
Thank you for spotting this 1952 photo of the Cruz de Ferro and for posting it here! This is the oldest photo I have seen so far. The site does indeed look like it is shown in the 1951 movie.

I posted a photo taken in the 1970s where two signs had been in place, one in Spanish and one in French. The French text says (translated): Iron Cross. Throw your pebble here. ☺️

The other photo below, with the sheep, must also be a pre-1990s photo I guess. The terrain surrounding it had not yet been flattened. Perhaps it was also before the (re?)forestation of the area but it is difficult to tell.

Cruz de Ferro.jpg
 
Last edited:
3rd Edition. More content, training & pack guides avoid common mistakes, bed bugs etc

Most read last week in this forum

Ok, so inspired by the "Has the Camino lost it's way" thread. What would people change to the current Camino (CF) to make it better in their own eyes/opinion whatever that may be (without breaking...
I have just seen a Facebook post from Foncebadon commenting on very heavy snow there. It looks as if the Camino route will be impassable for the moment.
Have you heard of Pena dos Corvos? It is supposed to be a high point (660m) before Portomarin. Google Maps can find four Penas dos Corvos on the north coast of Galicia, but not on the CF. A lot of...
How necessary is it to have reservations at Albergues on CF in September. Planning on starting around Sept 4th 2024
Hello fellow Pilgrims, I'm looking for some collective wisdom / advice please, from those who have more experience of the routes above than I do. I've walked a little in Spain before (Camino...
Since our earliest Caminos, Joe and I have stayed with the wonderful Benevente family at El Refugio Hosteria in Rabanal del Camino. Cristina and Antonio have always been so kind to us as...

❓How to ask a question

How to post a new question on the Camino Forum.

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Updates on YouTube

Camino Conversations

Most downloaded Resources

This site is run by Ivar at

in Santiago de Compostela.
This site participates in the Amazon Affiliate program, designed to provide a means for Ivar to earn fees by linking to Amazon
Official Camino Passport (Credential) | 2024 Camino Guides
Back
Top