For hundreds of years, millions of Pilgrims from all over the world, irrelevant of their beliefs and culture, have practiced the ritual of carrying a stone symbolically representing any physical, spiritual, or emotional baggage they no longer wish to have in their lives and casting off their burdens at this spot.
If you plan on walking the 800km Camino de Santiago, according to custom, you should carry a small rock or stone from your home, that either has a meaningful significance, or one that you can attach such significance to.
You are to carry this burden with you until you reach one of the most iconic stops on the Camino. Sitting at 1,500 above sea level, and the highest point that pilgrims climb, is Cruz de Ferro (Iron Cross), a sacred place of spiritual significance.
Leaving Foncebadón at least an hour before sunrise, there is a steady climb to the top of Mount Irago to witness the dawn of a new day. As you round the last corner, still in darkness, the sheer scale of the now-famous mound of stones is quite staggering. It stands 15 metres across and 8 metres high with an oak pole in the centre, and an iron cross embedded on top.
As with many legends along the Camino there are several stories surrounding Cruz de Ferro that pre-date Christianity. It is thought it was a place of ritual for ancient Celts and the Romans are thought to have used the site as an alter to Mercury, the god of travel.
Whatever the origins, and whatever your beliefs, it’s somehow a perfect spot to unburden yourself like the millions of peregrinos who came before you.