Camino de Santiago Wine Fountain - Gastro Obscura
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Camino de Santiago Wine Fountain

Pilgrims trekking across Spain can stop for free wine at the Monasterio de Irache.

Clocking in at nearly 500 miles, the Camino de Santiago, or The Way of St. James, is one of the world’s more famous long-distance treks. This primitive path was created for those making the medieval pilgrimage to see the remains of St. James the Apostle in the city of Santiago de Compostela. Created during the 9th century, this path now sees thousands of modern-day pilgrims traversing the width of Spain, with many taking 30 or more days to complete the historic trail.

As you trek through the Navarra region, an area renown for its local wine, you will come across one of the many quirky sites of the Camino: the wine fountain. The small Navarra town of Ayegui is home to the Monasterio de Irache and its attached winery, the Bodegas de Irache, which was established in 1891. The wine fountain was created in order to provide motivation for fatigued followers of St. James.

Walk up to the gated fountain, and you’ll see pilgrims filling scallop shells (which are consistent symbols along the path; many pilgrims will carry or wear the shells as they complete their journey) and water bottles with the blessed wine from the monastery. The chilled red wine is light and refreshing, but it’s strongly alcoholic. Tired or dehydrated trekkers should exercise caution and take just a sip.

While you can visit the wine museum, the monastery, and the winery themselves, the wine fountain is reserved for those following The Way. Unless you intend on lacing up your boots, simply observing this unconventional Camino site is best.

Need to Know

There are several different routes one can take to finish the Camino de Santiago. The 500-mile-long trek mentioned above is known as the Camino Frances and is the most popular route.

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