The Monastic Way or Portuguese Way along the Coast
The Monastic Way (Camino Monacal) is a coastal alternative of the Saint James Way from Portugal. It takes its name from the Monastery of Santa María de Oia, a Cistercian monastery which was founded in the 12th Century and declared Site of Cultural Interest in 1931.
The Cistercian monastery is the only one of this Order which was built so close to the sea. Throughout history, its strategic location has played a vital role in the defence of the coastline. Its predominance regarding Galicia and North Portugal obliged hundreds of pilgrims to pass through Oia monastery on their way to Santiago. Amongst them were important historical figures such as Thomas Becket, archbishop of Canterbury, who made the pilgrimage between 1167 and 1170; Don Manuel King of Portugal, the Count of Orgaz and many other members of the European nobility.
This variant of the Saint James Way starts south of the Portuguese city of Oporto and is one of the most spectacular routes. It is nearly 250 km long and passes through the North Coast Natural Park near Viana do Castelo, Foz do Minho in Caminha and follows the jagged coastline between A Guarda and Baiona.
Other highly important historical and archaeological sites can also be visited along the Saint James Way such as Monte de Santa Luzia, Santa Tegra and Castro A Cabeciña, to name a few.
The Monacal Way also passes through the cities of Oporto, Viana, Pontevedra and Vigo.
For pilgrims following this route Hostel Aguncheiro is a perfect stop to rest, as it is located at the ending point of one of the stages of the Camino.