The existence of a supreme entity, sacred or divine has since primordial times led men to constantly search for places, which due to their mystic or symbolic character, made them feel closer to the divine or helped them to explain the unexplainable.
It is within the context of faith and constant search that during the Middle Ages the great pilgrimage routes to the Holy Land, Rome and nally Santiago appeared. During the period travellers used and took advantage of the old Roman roads to visit the tombs of the Saints. During these long journeys, people would regain physical and spiritual energy in the monasteries, hospitals and albergues.
In the region of Viana do Castelo the route of an ancient roman road has remained unaltered until present day. The route of the modern “royal road” was traced over medieval roads which in turn were built over Roman roads. The itinerary leads pilgrims to pass by churches and chapels devoted to the Saint Apostle as is the case with the church in Castelo de Neiva, the parish church in Vila Nova de Anha and the chapel devoted to Santiago in Viana as well as shrines devoted to S. Roque in Viana do Castelo and in A fe. If in the churches and chapels pilgrims can pray, in the monasteries of S. Romão do Neiva and S. João de Cabanas in A fe, they may sleep and eat. Other places that provide assistance to pilgrims in Viana do Castelo is the old hospital, built to provide free assistance to those who were travelling or returning from Santiago.
Still today throughout the whole extension of the Camino there are symbolic representation of popular piety, post Council of Trent whether these be stone crosses, stations of the cross, or wall shrines built to remind pilgrims and travellers of the souls of those who have departed, praying for guidance, why not, until Santiago...