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The bell chimes of Galicia

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
If you're missing the sounds of the church bells along the Camino, I've got just the thing for you.

Xesús Álvarez Lozano, a folk musician cum bell ringer, has recorded the sounds of the bells in every town and village along the Camino Francés and Camino Primitivo within Galicia and uploaded them to a website called Badaladas.

In addition to the recordings, you'll also find lots of information (in Galego, Spanish and English) about the history of each bell, the smelters who forged them, and the inscriptions they carry. To me, the most fascinating part is the recordings of all the different chimes, with explanations of their meanings.

The ones you're probably most familiar with are the chimes used to call the congregation to mass, but there are many more. There's a chime to announce the local feast day procession, a chime to warn of fire, and a death knell that is rung when a member of the community has passed away (in fact there are two death knells -- one for men and another for women).

These are still used today as a means of communication, and Xesús Álvarez Lozano recounts how, while he was recording the chimes, on a number of occasions the local villagers approached him to ask who had died.

For those who understand Galego, here's an interview with Xesús broadcast on Radio Galega.

And here's the Badaladas website with all the chime recordings and the history of the bells. There's even an interactive map that shows where each bell is located.
 
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Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Not only Frances and Primitivo. They also speak about the bell in Padornelo that is on VdLP.
This is not Galicia yet but could be because they speak Galician.
Ah interesting, I hadn't noticed that! In the Radio Galega interview, I think they only mentioned the Francés and Primitivo, and on the map it looked like all the markers fell along those two routes.
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances: September - October 2016
Porto > Santiago - April 2018
Move to Astorga (2019)
Thank you for bringing this wonderful resource to our attention, Wendy. I'll visit your podcast and read up on the vegan challenge. We are living in Astorga now and loving it, but vegan here sounds hard to me. I have uttered the words "I could live on the bread," but I think I'd be hard pressed to stick to it too long without some chorizo.
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Thank you for bringing this wonderful resource to our attention, Wendy. I'll visit your podcast and read up on the vegan challenge. We are living in Astorga now and loving it, but vegan here sounds hard to me. I have uttered the words "I could live on the bread," but I think I'd be hard pressed to stick to it too long without some chorizo.
Thanks for the kind words and for checking out my content, @OLDBIKERIDER ! I imagine vegan options when dining out in Astorga are fairly limited, but in general they are improving all the time in Spain. I just checked my notes, and when I walked the Francés in 2017 I ate at a place there called La Taberna de Xema. They had some basic dishes like crema de verduras, patatas bravas and berza-repollo. I've also read that El Uno on the main square has a veggie burger.

I don't know if he's still there, but not far from Astorga was the stand of the very kind soul, David Vidal Figual, a real Camino institution. I remember being amazed at all the hard to find, healthy vegan foods he offered at his stand in the middle of nowhere. Soy yoghurt, tahini, peanut butter, vegemite, lots of different plant milks, and delicious fresh fruit!
 
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Thank you for bringing this wonderful resource to our attention, Wendy. I'll visit your podcast and read up on the vegan challenge. We are living in Astorga now and loving it, but vegan here sounds hard to me. I have uttered the words "I could live on the bread," but I think I'd be hard pressed to stick to it too long without some chorizo.
"Living in Astorga now...." How blessed you are! It's become my regular not-going-to-happen fantasy, retiring to a town somewhere on the Frances, sitting for hours in a ratty red plastic chair on a sunny plaza mayor, watching the peregrinos pass by...! And Astorga is one of the most attractive towns I can think of!

Your comment led me to snoop -- and I discovered your blog -- and it is maravilloso! Filled with good Camino stuff! Anyone on this Forum would enjoy it. You need to keep it current, and promote it somehow. And when I pass through Astorga for the 4th time, in September, (Deo volente!), perhaps you will let me buy you a nice vino tinto!?
 
Last edited:
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances: September - October 2016
Porto > Santiago - April 2018
Move to Astorga (2019)
"Living in Astorga now...." How blessed you are! It's become my regular not-going-to-happen fantasy, retiring to a town somewhere on the Frances, sitting for hours in a ratty red plastic chair on a sunny plaza mayor, watching the peregrinos pass by...! And Astorga is one of the most attractive towns I can think of!

Your comment led me to snoop -- and I discovered your blog -- and it is maravilloso! Filled with good Camino stuff! Anyone on this Forum would enjoy it. You need to keep it current, and promote it somehow. And when I pass through Astorga for the 4th time, in September, (Deo volente!), perhaps you will let me buy you a nice vino tinto!?
Thank you, Rev. It would be a pleasure to share time with you here in Astorga. September is a perfect time of year to be here.

As for keeping the blog up, I just don't ever 'get around to it' as I find that words are not my strength these days. But it will come around again and I look forward to Zoom being a word we once again use to describe the delightful path of travel of a nearby bird. Our second anniversary of arriving in Spain as residents is coming around and that may inspire me to write a series of 'lessons learned' posts. I am practicing writing such short pieces in Spanish now as part of my language learning process.

¡Buen Camino!
 
Year of past OR future Camino
Frances: September - October 2016
Porto > Santiago - April 2018
Move to Astorga (2019)
Thanks for the kind words and for checking out my content, @OLDBIKERIDER ! I imagine vegan options when dining out in Astorga are fairly limited, but in general they are improving all the time in Spain. I just checked my notes, and when I walked the Francés in 2017 I ate at a place there called La Taberna de Xema. They had some basic dishes like crema de verduras, patatas bravas and berza-repollo. I've also read that El Uno on the main square has a veggie burger.

I don't know if he's still there, but not far from Astorga was the stand of the very kind soul, David Vidal Figual, a real Camino institution. I remember being amazed at all the hard to find, healthy vegan foods he offered at his stand in the middle of nowhere. Soy yoghurt, tahini, peanut butter, vegemite, lots of different plant milks, and delicious fresh fruit!
Thank you Wendy for the reply.
I shared the Bells info with my FB Pilgrims in Place group. While we can hear the real thing daily I know my friends in other places miss that special part of life on the Way. Is David the one before you get to Astorga? I have never met him but heard about him from others. I'm sure he's not out these days but I hope he will return when pilgrims once again grace our daily lives.

Both of our kids are vegetarians and I once was also. There is a GREAT restaurant offering vegan menú del día as well as regional Spanish fare in nearby Castrillo del Polvazares, just a tiny bit off the main route. It is called Almacén Del Arriero (www.almacendelarriero.com) and the owners Fonsi and Andrea are most hospitable and multi-lingual. We have eaten and enjoyed the vegan menú many times even though we aren't vegan. Now I'm hungry for a meal there and all restaurant interior dining is closed for a time! He does have a deal to send refrigerated Cocido Maragato, the regional specialty (definitely NOT vegetarian), to addresses in Spain.

I am sorry to say that it appears that La Taberna de Xema is permanently closed. The pandemic has put so many places out of business.

Thank you again for your post, it was a highlight of my on-line day and I'm planning to listen to a place or two each day so it lasts longer.
 

Wendy Werneth

Pilgrim
Year of past OR future Camino
2020
Thank you Wendy for the reply.
I shared the Bells info with my FB Pilgrims in Place group. While we can hear the real thing daily I know my friends in other places miss that special part of life on the Way. Is David the one before you get to Astorga? I have never met him but heard about him from others. I'm sure he's not out these days but I hope he will return when pilgrims once again grace our daily lives.

Both of our kids are vegetarians and I once was also. There is a GREAT restaurant offering vegan menú del día as well as regional Spanish fare in nearby Castrillo del Polvazares, just a tiny bit off the main route. It is called Almacén Del Arriero (www.almacendelarriero.com) and the owners Fonsi and Andrea are most hospitable and multi-lingual. We have eaten and enjoyed the vegan menú many times even though we aren't vegan. Now I'm hungry for a meal there and all restaurant interior dining is closed for a time! He does have a deal to send refrigerated Cocido Maragato, the regional specialty (definitely NOT vegetarian), to addresses in Spain.

I am sorry to say that it appears that La Taberna de Xema is permanently closed. The pandemic has put so many places out of business.

Thank you again for your post, it was a highlight of my on-line day and I'm planning to listen to a place or two each day so it lasts longer.
Yes, that's the David I was referring to; the one before Astorga. When I met him in 2017 he was living out in the open in that spot where he sets up his stall, with just a hammock and a very basic roof shelter. I wonder where he is now.

I'm sorry to hear that La Taberna de Xema has closed. Sadly, there have been quite a few restaurant closures here in Portugal too.

So glad that you enjoyed the bells!
 

OZAJ

New Member
Year of past OR future Camino
Mozarabe/VdlP/Sanabres (2008) Norte (2009) Vezelay/Frances/Salvador/Primitivo (2010) etc.
Anybody think that Spanish church bells sound unmusical, flat, crap even? I was raised in a village in England where the local church bells were regularly played by campanologists. They sounded wonderful, but sadly people living close to the church objected to the volume and they are no longer played regularly.
 
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