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Day 3 – Lugo again: Victor Lugorum

Tuesday 30 April 2024 – We got a lot more touristing done today than I had expected given the dire (or at least rainy) weather forecast by Accuweather. And, in truth, the prospects at the start of the day weren’t particularly appealing.

It seemed that seeking indoor touristing would be the way to go for the day, so we set out for the cathedral, through the rain.

En route, we stopped in at the central pharmacy, which was well-decorated in an art nouveau kind of way,

You can only really see the stained glass in this door from inside the shop, where it appears reversed. So I have flipped it left-to-right

and were reminded that Lugo is actually on various of the Camino de Santiago routes – the Primitivo and XIX.

I’m grumpy about visiting the cathedral. They charge €7.50 for entry and then won’t let you take photos. My feeling is that you can do one or the other. So I sneaked a couple of illicit photos anyway, yah boo, in both cathedral and cloisters.

There’s some lovely detail in the cloisters and some fine stained glass in the cathedral itself.

After this peremptory visit to the cathedral, we walked around in dampness that was gradually escalating from slight drizzle to proper rain, taking in some other nice corners of the city.

but the dampness became too oppressive, so we scurried off to the Café del Centro, where we’d noticed hot chocolate and churros advertised. And very nice they were too; we were amused to note that the café seemed to regard this as a normal breakfast.

The rain appeared to be easing as we left the café, so, rather than go back and skulk in our hotel room, we decided to take a walk out of the old city to a Roman bridge across the river, passing a couple of installations in the main square that we hadn’t really taken note of before

and passing some nice scenes as we went.

Delightfully, as we got to the river, the sun came out,

and showed the 7-arch Roman bridge off to its best advantage.

The walk to the river is quite steeply downhill, which meant that we got some practice for our forthcoming hiking as we worked our way back up to the city, up to and through the Parque Rosalía de Castro. This is named after a Galician poet and novelist, considered one of the most important figures of 19th-century Spanish literature and modern lyricism. Widely regarded as the greatest Galician cultural icon, she was a leading figure in the emergence of the literary Galician language. The route also involved climbing some 180 steps and 100 metres vertical, so constituted a nice preparatory workout for the day after tomorrow, which is when we take our first steps on the Camino Finisterre.

By this stage we felt we’d earned some lunch, so once again visited the Terrazza restaurant at our hotel. Although we weren’t much later than yesterday, the restaurant was very quiet, with only a couple of other tables occupied; a great contrast with yesterday’s buzz.  The food was just as good, though.

Having (slightly over-) indulged ourselves, we noted that the rain which had come on just as we arrived at the hotel had now eased, and so we went off for a post-prandial constitution in search of some final sights to take in. There were still a couple of churches to be visited, after all.

Having passed the “Monumento do Bimilenario”, the city’s nod to Y2K

(dubbed “The Millennium Falcon”, by Jane), our first stop was the church of the Convento de San Domingos, a very tranquil place.

I noticed that it featured an organ with horizontal pipes,

which appears to be A Thing in these parts – we’d noticed similar setups in the cathedrals of Burgos and León.

The other was the church of San Pedro,

which has some fine stained glass.

There remained but one other Thing To See, which is something we’d completely missed in our walks around because the last thing it looks like is a site of significant historic interest.

It is actually the Museo Universitario A Domus do Mitreo. “Domus”, as anyone old enough to have studied Latin at school knows, means “house”*, and this unlikely-looking building houses (sorry) a really interesting site – the remains of what must have once been a palatial residence that was also a Mithraeum, a temple dedicated to the cult of Mithras, a Roman mystery religion. It’s a very extensive site

with great archeological significance for the city. The site of the domus is important to the city, since it has allowed the documentation of archaeological remains from the entire history of Lugo, starting at the moment of its foundation, around 27BC, until the 20th century. The site is very well laid out with lots of detailed information on info boards and in videos and enabling one to get really very close to the original Roman stonework. Interestingly, when The Powers That Be of the time decided that the city needed a wall, they just went ahead and built it straight through one end of the place.

And that was about it for our wandering around Lugo – a very pleasant city with a significant Roman history. The morrow involves departing for Santiago de Compostela and (after an overnight stop to draw breath) the start in earnest of our proper peregrination to the coast. It will be interesting for us to find out how we get on with some serious walking; I hope it might also be interesting for you to come back to these pages to see how things went.


* Domus was also the name of a now-defunct chain of (originally co-operative-run) department stores in Sweden. This fact may be of use in some bizarre set of circumstances, such as when writing a blog about a Roman city in Spain.