Gateway to the Way of St. James in Galicia, is a village located in the Galician Massif, where the mountains of Leon, Asturias and Lugo seem one, in full Ancares Lucenses, at 1300m altitude and making natural border between Castilla and Leon and Galicia. The history of O Cebreiro could begin even before the Romans, being able to be a settlement of people dedicated to the shepherding. But when it begins to be documented about it is after the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle with the foundation in the place of a hostelry-sanctuary in the ninth century, going its history intrinsically linked to him. Alfonso VI, king of León, donated this inn to the Order of the Cluny of the Abbey of San Giraldo de Aurillac in the year 1072 and it was from then on that O Cebreiro acquired greater relevance. During the Middle Ages, O Cebreiro became one of the most important towns in the region, as it was the object of numerous privileges and donations from the kings.
The Catholic Monarchs also passed through the village when in the year 1486 they made a pilgrimage to the city of the Saint, and in their reform of the religious orders and not wanting any dependence on a foreign order in their lands, they link the monastery together with the hospice and the hospital, to the Benedictine Congregation of Valladolid, thus beginning a new journey in the history of O Cebreiro which becomes a priory. But these kings also filled it with privileges and favours that added to those it already had from previous kings make it stand out both materially and spiritually. O Cebreiro maintained its importance until the 16th century, when the decline of the priory began. O Cebreiro was also a very punished area during the War of Independence, and with the Disentailment of Mendizábal in the 19th century and the consequent departure of the monks from the monastery, its decline was total. In 1963 the restoration of the historic-artistic complex was proposed and today it is a beautiful place and a village that rightly mentions its title of Monumental Complex.
O Cebreiro is a small town all unique sample of the rural and medieval architecture of Galicia, in which the true protagonists are the pallozas, typical houses of the Galician East, the Asturian West and the Leonese Northwest. They are circular constructions, where men and animals shared the same space without hardly windows to conserve better the heat and that are inspired in the mythical houses of the Celtic villages, and even pre-Roman. The pallozas of each zone are different from each other, those of O Cebreiro take their flattened form of the summits that surround it, with their roofs of rye straw that simultaneously to protect of the inclemencies of the time allowed that the smoke of the home, located in the center of the housing, went out easily to the outside. One of these pallozas is fitted out and houses the Ethnological Museum. The whole village revolves around the Sanctuary of Santa María la Real, which guards the Holy Grail, and which presides over the day-to-day life of its inhabitants and receives an immense multitude of visitors and pilgrims. Next to the church a statue remembers Elías Valiña, its parish priest and promoter of the Jacobean route. O Cebreiro also captures by the magic of its landscape of immense green meadows and surrounded by eroded mountains with centuries of history and spectacular views.
O Cebreiro celebrates the feast of the Holy Miracle and the Virgin do Cebreiro on 8 and 9 September.
According to popular tradition, Queen Isabella the Catholic wanted to take the relics of O Cebreiro so that they could be better worshipped, and the royal entourage departed with such a precious merchandise. When they arrived at Pereje, the horses stopped. Strange and expectant, the retinue, seeing that it was impossible to make them continue, left the reins of the horses free, which, resuming the march, and turning around, returned again to the doors of the church of Santa María de O Cebreiro. Faced with this fact, the Catholic Monarchs ordered that the Holy Relics continue forever in O Cebreiro.
The chalice of the miracle that took place in the church of O Cebreiro is represented in the centre of the coat of arms of the Autonomous Community of Galicia. O Cebreiro seems to mean mount of wild horses.
Elías Valiña, parish priest of O Cebreiro, is said to have been the first to make the Jacobean marks with yellow paint and one day the Civil Guard approached him and asked him why he painted those yellow arrows to which Elias, as if he were a fortune teller, replied "I am preparing the great invasion".
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The LU-633 road connects O Cebreiro with the nearby Pedrafita do Cebreiro on the A-6 dual carriageway, specifically we will find the detour towards the town of O Cebreiro following the route of the old N-VI as it passes through Pedrafita do Cebreiro. This same road LU-633, but for its other slope, follows the course of the Way of Saint James uniting O Cebreiro with Triacastela, Samos or Sarria among other localities.
There are several bus service lines that connect Piedrafita do Cebreiro with Lugo and Ponferrada every day of the week at different times. From Piedrafita do Cebreiro to O Cebreiro, the distance is covered by taxi services.
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8:05 h.28 km.