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When did a Refugio become an Albergue?

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jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
Just curious, but interested to know.

On my first camino (2012) they were all known as “albergues”, but I often read books, articles, etc, published before 2012 that refer to them as “refugios”.

When, why, and how did “refugios” become “albergues”?
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
The transition was underway between my first 2 Caminos (1990 and 2002) Can't remember hearing the term 'albergue' on the first walk. Some of the early refugios were very basic and bore little resemblance to the later albergues. In the most extreme cases a concrete floor, four walls and access to cold water and a toilet but no shower. Or furniture. Definitely more of a 'shelter' than a 'hostel' :) As facilities improved a more exalted name might have seemed justified!
 
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Elle Bieling

Elle Bieling, PilgrimageTraveler
Camino(s) past & future
Inglés, '14 '17 Finisterre, '14 '17 '18 Primitivo, '15 '18 Portuguese, '17, '18 San Salvador, '18
So I must ask, in light of today, is there a difference between an albergue and a refúgio??
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
My first camino was 2001, most were called refugios.

By 2002, albergue was sneaking in the vocabulary.

By 2004 albergue was the word, and it has stuck.
 

janinedawn

JanineDawn
Camino(s) past & future
May-June 2019).
Just curious, but interested to know.

On my first camino (2012) they were all known as “albergues”, but I often read books, articles, etc, published before 2012 that refer to them as “refugios”.

When, why, and how did “refugios” become “albergues”?
I cannot speak to this question, but it urges one more important to me: Why are there tours on the Camino where people move en masse with tourist guides and carry lots of luggage that is transported for them? They reserve up the hostels and escape the primary experience of a pilgrimage. I do not understand using this model of travel on this kind of tour which is historically a "pilgrimage," a unique and solo experience, not the usual group travel tour.
My first and only walk was in May and I only walked 125 miles on that trip, with other things to attend to in southern Spain. I loved the walk and met up with 5 others with whom I became a loose walking group. We reserved ahead for rooms together and planned, therefore, distances to walk each day. It was a lovely group of compatible people. In particular I had prearranged to walk with a French Canadian woman I met online in Camino blogpost who turned out to be a gem of a person.
The trip was not what I imagined beforehand, but whatever is? I had thought about a fairly solo trip where I stayed longer periods at various stops and spent more time sketching and journaling my thoughts, helping to evolve the changes within, in response to the experience. Once one becomes a part of a group, one is part of an organism and tacitly (or not) conforms to the organism to make it most successful. And on the whole, it was that.
But I return to my question, when did the "tourist" group enter the scene, with stays in majorly comfortable inns, traveling en masse, enter the stage?
 

Felipe

Veteran Member
I think that in the Spanish recent usage "refugio" has become associated with mountains (as in "refugio alpino"). That is, a building that could be very, very basic (as the "refugio Izandorre", before Lepoeder, just a bare hut) or a more established, commercial establishment, but that is not properly a hotel. I have seen also "refugio" for stray animals (there is one in Vitoria, with dozens of cats...it was something worth to see).
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I can add some dates to this. On my first camino in 2000 they were still called refugios. I think “albergue” may have been starting to creep into the lexicon, but refugio was still the go-to term.
Back in the 1990s some of them were called refugios, and some of them were called albergues.

Though to some degree, the terms can in some circumstances be interchangeable for some of the resting places.

A refugio tends to be more bare-bones, whereas an albergue tends to be a more comfortable hostel-type place (though it's possible that for the Camino, a technical difference between the two might be mere size and number of beds available) -- so I think the change in terminology is a reflection of the fact that as time has gone on, the pilgrim lodgings have become more and more comfortable, and so the refugios have become albergues.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
historically a "pilgrimage," a unique and solo experience, not the usual group travel tour
erm, historically, pilgrims in fact tended to constitute large groups rather than travelling solo.

This was for reasons like mutual protection against such dangers as wolves and brigands, but also for such sundries as trying to negociate a "group rate" for fees to cross a toll bridge or hire a ferry crossing.

There has also been a long tradition of pilgrims going solo or in twos or threes of course, but it is mistaken to suppose that this were the only "proper" way of getting yourself to Compostela, even though it is the more "purist" manner of it.

Besides, I think you're trying to tar all of these groups with the same brush -- some of them, despite availing themselves of all comforts and mod cons, nevertheless do walk every single step of the Way to Santiago, exactly as one would hope them to be doing.

And again, it is mistaken to suppose that a pilgrim is "supposed" to go threadbare -- wealthy pilgrims in the Middle Ages would tend to stay in better lodgings and eat better food and dress more expensively as well, exactly the same.

The pilgrims who went deliberately threadbare, who existed too, did so for religious reasons of penitence and prayer and reparation for sins ; not because they were searching for some sort of dubious nostalgic "authenticity".
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I cannot speak to this question, but it urges one more important to me: Why are there tours on the Camino where people move en masse with tourist guides and carry lots of luggage that is transported for them?
Well, I think that's because we are a diverse lot, in a free society, where not everyone has to conform to a specific mode of behaviour and people are allowed to find happiness in their own way during their leisure time or annual time off from work. Maybe also because the concept of pilgrimage, and that includes the concept of Christian pilgrimage in Europe, is much wider than many imagine, both in the past and in the present. There's also this thing called "cultural route".

As to the question of this thread, there's an entry in Xacopedia about albergues that sheds light on why and when some of the accommodations available on the Camino Frances were once called refugio and later albergue, or rather albergue de peregrinos. The entry confirms what forum members say who had walked already some 20 years ago: albergue or albergue for pilgrims is a modern concept, born in the 1980s, that refers to the space where pilgrims spend the night who travel along the Camino de Santiago on foot, on horseback or by bicycle. The first pilgrim albergues emerged in Spain and France in the 1990s. They gradually replaced the refugios that were a much more modest type of facility - sometimes without even minimal functionality - and that served the first modern pilgrims in the 1970s and 1980s.

A pivotal year was the Holy Year 1993 when Spanish government organisations, in particular those in Galicia and in some towns along the Camino Frances, created a large network of albergues de peregrinos.

Nowadays of course there are not only albergues de peregrinos, there's a plethora of accommodations created by the private sector, ranging from private albergues (the majority of which are not exclusively for foot pilgrims but also for tourists) to casa rurales and hostals (hostal, not hostel) and small hotels. All of them are commercial enterprises.
 
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David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
I cannot speak to this question, but it urges one more important to me: Why are there tours on the Camino where people move en masse with tourist guides and carry lots of luggage that is transported for them? They reserve up the hostels and escape the primary experience of a pilgrimage. I do not understand using this model of travel on this kind of tour which is historically a "pilgrimage," a unique and solo experience, not the usual group travel tour.
My first thought when reading this was "This was written by someone who has never read The Canterbury Tales ." For those unfamiliar with the work, written by Geoffrey Chaucer about a pilgrimage just over 600 years ago, it follows a group on pilgrimage to the shrine of St. Thomas Becket in Canturbury. The group of pilgrims (who are riding to Canterbury, not walking and carrying their own luggage) tell each other stories in a sort of contest. Those stories are the "Canterbury Tales". Clearly, pilgrimages have not historically been exclusively "a unique and solo experience".

There are tours like that because that is how some people want to get themselves to Santiago de Compostela. Just as there is an airport there because that is how others want to get themselves there. I'm not saying that is the kind of Camino or pilgrim experience I want, but clearly it is what some are looking for and there are those willing to give it to them.
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Guacelmo in Rabanal is still called Refugio Guacelmo, not Albergues Guacelmo.
Interesting enough , here in Costa Rica an Albergue means a shelter for folks during very bad weather conditions, such as floods, landslides or also a severe earthquake or volcanic eruption.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Guacelmo in Rabanal is still called Refugio Guacelmo, not Albergues Guacelmo.
I think that Refugio Guacelmo was opened in 1991. Which must make it amongst the earliest refugios/albergues still in continuous use on the Frances. "Albergue" was not in common use in 1991. I suppose no one thought it worthwhile to change the name as fashions changed.
 

malingerer

Active Member
I think that Refugio Guacelmo was opened in 1991. Which must make it amongst the earliest refugios/albergues still in continuous use on the Frances. "Albergue" was not in common use in 1991. I suppose no one thought it worthwhile to change the name as fashions changed.
I think for what it is worth, and very much a personal belief, that this is the nub of the problem, if problem it be. Fashions change but pilgrimage does not. You can be alone in the midst of a crocodile of pilgrims stretching from horizon to horizon and it is totally immaterial as to what you wear or how you have got there. The Self travels alone using you as transport and it cares not whether that you are laying your head down on a rock or on a four poster bed! :) I still love the older word "Refugio" as that is what it meant to me back in 2004. An Albergue then meant more physical improvements, like the ones with swimming pools which had me gobsmacked the first time I encountered one :) Didja hear me complain? Nope! Like the cheap room I got in Burgos one year. Bare walls, bare light bulb. Grim! But then after seeing the Cathedral and having something to eat, when I returned to that room I realised it had what I needed; a bed, a chair, shared toilet and bathroom and the little old lady who owned the place had a nice smile! I slept soundly and went on my way the following day. I never cared much what the place was described as, it had fulfilled its function and I was content with that.
Walk soft

stay safe

Vaya con Dios,

The Malingerer.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Is Gaucelmo the refugio with the legendary teatime? That looks more albergue than refugio to me. ;)

Gaucelmo.png
 

Romannoa

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Future June 2020
Here is the translation for refuge, I always though that it was the same refugios or albergues Screenshot_20190826-065550_Google.jpg
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 Francés, Le Puy / Francés (parts), 2018 Norte (Biarritz), Francés, 2019 Portuguese (Lisbon)
Refugio to me sounds a lot more basic. Like a roof over your head but don't count on much more. Back in the days this was the case too. The German yellow guidebook says that the Rabanal Refugio was one of the first on the Camino to have the incredible luxury of hot running water... only in the late 90s! My, how things change :)
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Is Gaucelmo the refugio with the legendary teatime? That looks more albergue than refugio to me. ;)

View attachment 63902
That’s because some kind pilgrim or one of the hospitaleros (wardens they are called at Guacelmo) had the inspiration to bake something delicious 😋. The kitchen facilities at Guacelmo is one of the best!
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Refugio to me sounds a lot more basic. Like a roof over your head but don't count on much more. Back in the days this was the case too. The German yellow guidebook says that the Rabanal Refugio was one of the first on the Camino to have the incredible luxury of hot running water... only in the late 90s! My, how things change :)
Most had running water of some sort in the early 90s -- but Rabanal was one of the only ones before O Cebreiro to have it hot.

But quite a few of the Albergues (for instance) set up in Galicia for the Holy Year 1993 were quite a bit more comfortable then than they are now after the degradations of time ...

Then again you did also get to sleep on the odd dirt floor in a converted animal barn with just a haphazard low pressure cold water shower head behind a thin plastic curtain for your modesty ... :p
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Then again you did also get to sleep on the odd dirt floor in a converted animal barn with just a haphazard low pressure cold water shower head behind a thin plastic curtain for your modesty ... :p
Not even that occasionally. In one place there was a shower room with three or four shower heads but no doors or partitions - not even a door between the showers and the dorm. Midway through having my shower a young Spanish woman walked in, greeted me politely, hung the towel she had been wearing on a hook and started to wash herself too. Something of a surprise...
 

H Richards

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2017 Francés, Le Puy / Francés (parts), 2018 Norte (Biarritz), Francés, 2019 Portuguese (Lisbon)
Most had running water of some sort in the early 90s -- but Rabanal was one of the only ones before O Cebreiro to have it hot.

But quite a few of the Albergues (for instance) set up in Galicia for the Holy Year 1993 were quite a bit more comfortable then than they are now after the degradations of time ...

Then again you did also get to sleep on the odd dirt floor in a converted animal barn with just a haphazard low pressure cold water shower head behind a thin plastic curtain for your modesty ... :p
Haha now it makes more sense how Shirley McClaine said she had reporters intruding on her showers to take photos.

I wonder if we're due another round of modernisations ready for 2021?
 

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