Santo Domingo de las Calzada is an ancient pilgrim town that, on the surface, looks much the same as other Camino de Santiago towns. By Stage 9 of the Brierley guidebook you have undoubtedly seen your fair share of them. But surprises await the pilgrim here. Mainly, the poultry:
How so? Well, it seems that a miracle is involved. The story is located at the town’s official website:
Legend tells of a German Pilgrim called Hugonell who was walking to Santiago with his parents, when they decided to rest at an inn in Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The owner of the inn´s daughter immediately fell in love with him; however her feelings were not reciprocated, so the girl, angered, placed a silver cup into his luggage and accused the boy of theft. Thieves at that time were punished by hanging, and this was the fate of Hugonell. His parents, saddened by his death continued the pilgrimage, and upon arriving in Santiago de Compostela, began their return journey to visit the grave of their dead son. When they arrived in Santo Domingo however, they found their son still hanging in the gallows but, miraculously alive. Hugonell, excited, said to them: “Santo Domingo brought back me to life, please go to the Mayor´s house and ask him to take me down”.
Quickly, the parents arrived at the Mayor´s house and told him of the miracle. The incredulous Mayor, who was preparing to have dinner with friends, responded: “That boy is as alive as these two roast chickens we are about to eat,” and suddenly, the chickens came to life, sprouted feathers and beaks and began to crow, and so, to this day there is a saying about the town which goes: “Santo Domingo of the Way, where the roosters crow after being roasted”.
And so it is that a cock and several hens are kept to remind the town of the miracle. There is a place for them in the cathedral (which, sadly, I did not photograph) and the rest of the time they live in the above cage at the Spanish Confraternity’s albergue called Casa del Santo. The birds are shuttled back and forth from place to place, with all due recognition and care, I am certain.
The other thing of note here is the bell tower, which stands across the street from the cathedral for some mysterious but unknown reason. You can see a lovely view of the city from up there.
Back at the albergue, I found myself washing my trail clothes next to an exasperated Italian man. “How does one do this?” he asked, flinging water and soap everywhere. I directed him toward the wash brush, and together we cleaned our clothing as it began to sprinkle.
All in all, a memorable day on the Camino!
If you’ve missed any of these photos, feel free to backtrack over here.