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what does "o cebreiro" mean?


New Member
i am just home from walking this incredible pilgrimage and am wondering if anyone knows if there is an english translation of "o cebreiro", or is it just a name? i was enchanted by it...
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all names derive from something, though there's not always agreement on what :)

I looked this up a few years back, and came across a variety of possibilities, tho no-one seems to know for sure. Wikipedia quotes the most commonly given one, from 'cebro' ('zebro' in Castilian), the European Ass, now extinct, but probably still around in the area in medieval times. The meat was much sought after, so o cebreiro might have been someone particularly skilled in hunting them, or simply someone in charge of a domesticated herd. The Spanish page gives other placenames that may come from this word.

Others say it's from 'cabreiro', a goatherd, also plausible, and yet others from 'acebo', the holly. Take your pick.


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Some writers dismiss O Cebreiro as being 'touristy' but, in spite of its heritage status, it has a very special place in the re-animation of the modern camino.
In 1959 Don Elias Valina Sampedro was appointed parish priest of O Cebreiro parish which included a tiny village of 9 residents. It was in a destitute state and was threatened with extinction. D. Elias described it as a pile of rubble with the church of St Mary, the ancient inn and pilgrim hospital being little more than a dunghill! In 1972, thanks to D. Elias' energy and commitment, it was declared a Historical Monument.
D. Elias then concentrated all of his energies on the restoration and reanimation of the camino. In 1967 he wrote his doctoral thesis on - The Road of St James: A Historical and Legal Study. He directed the - Artistic Inventory of Lugo and its Province- six large volumes of an exhaustive description of all the monuments and items that could have any value. In 1971 he wrote the book ‘Caminos a Compostela’ and said "In the 1970’s there survived only a remote memory of the Jacobean pilgrimage." (In 1972 only 6 pilgrims were awarded the Compostela.)
D. Elias’s guide was published in 1982 and at a gathering in Santiago in 1985 he was entrusted with the co-ordination of all the resources for the camino. “Refugios” were established and he was the first to mark the way with yellow arrows (with paint begged from the roads department).
In 1989, the year of the Pope’s visit (and sadly, also the year D Elias passed away) 5,760 compostelas were issued. You can see a bust of D. Elias, as well as dozens of commemorative plaques in the churchyard at O Cebreiro.


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New Member
I must just say that I loved this town! When we entered, there were bagpipe music playing, and it was just an amazing atmosphere - and not at all as crowded as people said it would be - this was in Oct 2008. Definitely one of the towns I remember. Especially refreshing after the climb getting to it!
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Active Member
One of the most intriguing places on the camino is O cebreiro. Always feels mystic (misty as well)
The other place that made a great impact on me was El Acebo.

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