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The Camino de Santiago's ancient secret

A simple bronze walking boot sits on a rock overlooking the immense vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. There is no plaque, but the message is manifest. This is the end of the road.


It is also ‘the end of the world’.


The snaking routes of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage convene at the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of north-west Spain’s Galicia region and the alleged burial site of St James. For more than 1,000 years, people have made their way along these paths to pay homage to the apostle, but for a small number of travellers who arrive in the hallowed city, the journey isn’t yet complete.

蜿蜒曲折的朝圣之路(Camino de Santiago)以圣地亞哥大教堂為終點,圣地亞哥德孔波斯特拉(Santiago de Compostela)是西班牙西北部加利西亞地區(Galicia)的首府,據稱是圣詹姆斯(St James)的埋葬地。一千多年來,人們在這條路上徒步朝圣,向使徒致敬,但是對于一小部分來到圣城的旅行者來說,這段旅程還沒有結束。

From the city’s main square, another, lesser-known path creeps west. The cathedral spires fade into the distance as the trail leaves the city and continues for 90km to the raging beast that is the Atlantic Ocean – and Cape Finisterre. Taken from the Latin words finis, meaning ‘end’, and terra meaning ‘Earth’, this windswept corner of Spain has a spiritual history stretching back more than four millennia.

從城市的中央廣場出發,沿著另一條鮮為人知的小路向西走,你會發現大教堂的尖頂逐漸消失在遠處。沿著這條遠離城市的小徑走90公里便能到達菲尼斯特雷角,那里大西洋如野獸般狂怒。菲尼斯特雷角的英文名為“Cape Finisterre”,源自拉丁語,意為“地球的盡頭”。這個被狂風吹拂的西班牙角落已有4000多年的文明史。

Geographically speaking, Cape Finisterre is of course not the end of the world – nor even the most westerly point of mainland Europe as is sometimes claimed (Cape Roca in Portugal holds this distinction). But Cape Finisterre is an area whose mythical pull has drawn travellers since the time of antiquity. Pilgrims were brought here by religion, by adventure or simply to stand at the edge of the then-known world and stare out at the Mare Tenebrosum, the Sea of Darkness.

從地理上講,菲尼斯特雷角當然不是世界的盡頭,甚至連歐洲大陸最西端也不是,歐洲大陸最西端為葡萄牙的羅卡角(Cape Roca)。但自古以來,菲尼斯特雷角的神秘氣質吸引了眾多游客。慕名前來的朝圣者出于宗教信仰,或是為了冒險,又或者僅僅是為了站在已知世界的邊緣,凝視黑暗之海——特內布羅姆海(Mare Tenebrosum)。

Since 1500, this stretch of coastline, forebodingly known to locals as Costa da Morte, or Coast of Death, has witnessed numerous major shipwrecks. The weather can be violently unpredictable, with merciless rocky outcrops to match. Spain’s worst ecological disaster began here on 13 November 2002, when the oil tanker Prestige was caught in a storm off the coast of Finisterre and sank a week later.

自1500年以來,這片海岸線見證了無數次重大的沉船事故,當地人稱它為死亡海岸(Costa da Morte)。海上的天氣難以預測,還有破壞性極強的暗礁。2002年11月13日,西班牙發生了史上最嚴重的生態災難,“普雷斯蒂奇號”(Prestige)油輪在菲尼斯特雷海岸遭遇風暴,并于一周后沉沒。

The small town of Fisterra sits above a south-facing promontory, Monte Facho, a gentle hill with commanding views around it. Fisterra is like many other towns on this stretch of coast; wrapped around a quaint fishing port with a long beach curling east, away from the ocean. In truth, it is far from the rip-roaring, ‘end-of-the world’ town you might imagine.

菲斯特拉小鎮(Fisterra)坐落在一個名為法霍山(Monte Facho)的海角上。法霍山是一座朝南的平緩山丘,四周景色怡人。和這片海岸上的許多城鎮一樣,它環繞著一個歷史悠遠的漁港,長長的海灘向東擴展,遠離大海。事實上,它可能與你想象中的那種喧囂的“世界末日”小鎮大不相同。

The Romans named those who lived here Gallaeci – Celts – because their light skin and fair hair resembled that of the tribes in Gaul – now France. The Gallaeci were animists, meaning they held strong beliefs that everything in the physical world, be it the sun, stars, rocks, trees or water, all possessed a spiritual entity. “There is a significance about rocks and water coming together, because they are of course both non-negotiable, and there’s a deep human emotion connected with these natural elements,” said Colin Jones, chairman of the Confraternity of St James, an organisation specialising in information on the Camino de Santiago. 紐約時報中英文網 http://www.gwbyzx.live

羅馬人稱小鎮居民為“加來西”(Gallaeci),即凱爾特人(Celts),因為他們淺色的皮膚和頭發就像高盧人(高盧既現在的法國)。加來西人相信“萬物有靈”,他們認為物質世界的一切,無論是太陽、星星、巖石、樹木還是水,都有靈魂。專門研究朝圣之路的圣詹姆斯協會(Confraternity of St James)主席瓊斯(Colin Jones)表示:“巖石和水共存是別有含義的,因為這兩者如此不相容。人類與這些自然元素有深厚的情感。” 

The densely forested Monte Facho, criss-crossed by small trails, rises to a height of nearly 240m. Its eastern face gently rolls down into the town, while the western flank plummets dramatically into the Atlantic Ocean. Nestled in the undergrowth on the eastern side, overlooking the harbour, lie the ruins of the San Guillermo Hermitage. It was at this same spot that the conquering Romans first set eyes on a simple stone temple built by the Gallaeci to honour the sun – the Ara Solis – consisting of four granite columns and a slender dome above, as described by Galician historian Benito Vicetto. Sadly, nothing remains today of the Ara Solis, which is believed to have been a place of pagan sun worship.

叢林密布的法霍山高240米,縱橫交錯的小路分布其中。山的東側緩緩與小鎮相連,而西側則急插入大西洋。小鎮坐落在東面的灌木叢中,俯瞰港口,圣吉列爾莫修道院(San Guillermo Hermitage)的廢墟坐落于此。正如加利西亞歷史學家維切托(Benito Vicetto)所描述的那樣,征服歐洲的羅馬人在這里第一次看到了加來西人為敬拜太陽而建造的一座簡單的石頭神廟——阿拉索利斯神廟(Ara Solis)。這座神廟由四根花崗巖柱子和一個細長的圓頂組成。遺憾的是,這座被認為是異教徒祭拜太陽的神廟已不復存在。

For the Romans, the Ara Solis, situated at what they considered the end of the known world and facing the setting sun each evening, must have been a captivating and enigmatic sight.


Word of the untamed land at the end of the world began to spread through the Roman Empire and beyond, and travellers began making their way to Cape Finisterre to see the site for themselves. It was described in Pliny the Elder’s Natural History written in 77 AD, and by Ptolemy in his Geographia in 150 AD, who initially used the names Nerium or Promunturium Celticum, meaning Celtic Promontory.

世界盡頭有片處女地的消息在羅馬帝國乃至更遠方傳播開來,旅行者們決定親自前往菲尼斯特雷一睹美景。老普林尼(Pliny the Elder)在公元77年的《自然史》(Natural History)中描述了這一現象,托勒密(Ptolemy)在公元150年所著的《地理學》(Geographia)中也描述了這一現象,并且第一次使用了Nerium或Promunturium Celticum一詞,意思是凱爾特海角。<-->紐約時報中英文網 http://www.gwbyzx.live<-->

The rise of Christianity, especially during the 3rd and 4th Centuries AD, would prove at odds with animist beliefs. St James himself was said to have demolished the Ara Solis. It’s a fanciful story, and unfortunately one that is impossible to substantiate. In the 7th or 8th Century, the hermitage was built by a medieval traveller on the same spot.


The earliest recorded pilgrim visit to Santiago de Compostela came in the 9th Century, and numbers began to increase dramatically during the Middle Ages as Christianity spread through the Iberian Peninsula. During this period, sites of great religious significance, such as the supposed resting place of St James, gained enormous popularity, as did the routes leading to them. There is much debate as to how many pilgrims continued on to see the sunset at the end of the Earth in medieval times, but by the mid-20th Century the path to Finisterre was all but forgotten. Only with the upsurge in popularity of the Camino de Santiago during the 1980s and ‘90s did people begin to appear in Finisterre again, drawn there by its mythical beauty.


The final few kilometres of the Finisterre section of the Camino de Santiago wind along the coast, ending at the lighthouse at Monte Facho’s southern tip where the bronze boot is. For those who have walked from St-Jean-Pied-de-Port in south-west France – the traditional beginning of the French Way, the Camino’s most popular route – these are the final steps of an 870km journey.


A symbolic distance marker showing 0.0km sits just north of the lighthouse, behind which lies a wide craggy area that descends almost like a natural amphitheatre before plunging off the edge. This is where pilgrims would burn an item of clothing as an act of re-birth. The practice is now banned, but a few scorched rocks remain. Instead, small pieces of clothing are sometimes tied to the bushes squeezed between the rocks.


If travellers from long ago did make their way to witness a sunset from the spot where the Ara Solis once stood, it’s likely that at the end of the day they pursued the climb to the summit of Monte Facho. Here, three rocky outcrops lie among a sea of thick, prickly plants. The furthest north is known as Piedras Santas, or Holy Stones, and is where, according to legend, the Virgin Mary is said to have rested after journeying to Finisterre to encourage St James in his apostolic duties.

如果歷史上的旅行者真的在阿拉索利斯神廟遺址看過日落的話,那他們很可能是在一天結束的時候開始攀登法霍山的頂峰。山頂上有三塊巖石從茂密多刺的植被中冒出頭來。最北那一塊被稱為“圣石”(Piedras Santas),據傳說,圣母瑪利亞(Virgin Mary)曾到菲尼斯特雷鼓勵圣詹姆斯履行使徒職責,并隨后在這塊石頭附近休息。

The view from the Piedras Santas is wild and spectacular. The cliffs drop dizzyingly to the Atlantic stretching out to the horizon. The Romans believed this area to be the gateway to the afterlife and where the sun went each night to die.


“There isn’t the same overwhelming amount of distractions as in other places,” said Carlota Traba, whose father was born in the lighthouse, “you simply sit with the rocks, the water and the sunset – that’s the magic”.


“You can’t go any further emotionally, spiritually and physically,” Jones added. This is the end of the road.




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