Samos Monastery - A general guide
(Abadia Benedictina de San Julian y Santa Basilisa)
The monastery at Samos is best known for being on one of the many pilgrim's routes (the "way of St. James") to Santiago de Compostela cathedral, but it is a highly impressive and massive structure in its own right. It is also still active and additionally offers lodgings for those on religious retreats or connected with the pilgrimage.
Getting to Samos
Samos Monastery, although in Lugo province, is some what out of the way, and we decided to visit it after a day in Lugo city itself. The tourist office at Lugo told us it was a 30 or 40 minute drive away, but that really takes optimism to a new level. In reality Samos is a good hour and a quarter from Lugo on winding, but good quality roads and takes you through the town of "Sarria", itself over 35 km (40 minutes on these roads) from Lugo.
Left, a view showing part of Samos monastery in the late evening.
On our visit to Samos our planning was poor and we did not head for the monastery until around 6.30pm. As time passed by and our destination seemed no nearer, we both started to consider the decision to make this visit a poor one - especially since we had to head back to the "Ria de Muros e Noia" to reach our accommodation. The journey was however rewarded as the monastery suddenly appeared as we rounded a corner. In fact my attention was so diverted that I hit the road side curb in my distracted efforts to park up quickly.
A massive structure
The monastery is huge and constructed of large light coloured granite stone, precisely cut by masons from another age. The actual town of Samos, if you can call it that, has nothing but the monastery and a few bar to offer, but it is this religious icon that attracts visitors and rightly so.
Below, a shot a the famous church facade which forms part of the monastery at Samos.
The thing that impressed me most about the building was its shear scale, but the guides will direct you to the facade of Samos monastery's church (part of the same building) as well as the cloisters, which were unfortunately closed by the time of our arrival. If you wish to view the cloisters you need to be there during normal day time hours and there is a small charge of around one Euro.
The church facade is reached by walking around the main structure and then descending down some steps. It is only the church and cloisters that are open to the public, although you can circum navigate the entire campus on a foot path. There is also a river-come-stream that runs behind Samos monastery. The complete area is serene and picturesque.
Although is was after 8.00pm when we arrived, the area was still full of visitors and the way in which many were dressed suggested that they were undertaking the pilgrimage. There was also a coach load of German tourists, again confirming that this attraction is definately on the main tourist trail. Incidently there was no shortage of near-by bars from which you could buy a coffee and a snack. A short distance from the monastery we also noticed a statue of a pilgrim ("peregrine" in Spanish) and the pilgrimage route was also subtly supported by several occurrences of the "viera" (the clam shell that symbolizes the Santiago pilgrimage). One example of this was the "viera's" repeated inclusion in the design of the cast iron fence enclosing the monastery which you can see to the left.