The Cruz de Hierro, Cruz de Ferro in Galician, is one of the most symbolic and magical points of interest of the Camino de Santiago. It is located at the highest point of the Camino Francés, in the province of León, between the towns of Maragatos de Foncebadón and Manjarín at 1520 meters above sea level.
The Cruz de Hierro is a 5-meter-high mast with a cross at the top and a stone base that pilgrims have left behind for centuries. It is a ritual that thousands of pilgrims do, but not all of them do it with the same goal.
Next, we are going to see what are the different purposes that pilgrims lead to leave the stone at the foot of the Cruz de Hierro.
1.- To show gratitude
Some pilgrims do it to thank their arrival there after having left hundreds of hard kilometres behind. Also, they ask for help to continue their Camino without problems and reach Santiago.
2.- Leave bad things behind
Others pilgrims carry a stone to the Cross to represent their burden. The stone and the burden are left there, leaving the pilgrim lighter to continue the journey that lies ahead.
Last but not least, there are pilgrims who lay down the stone to make faith-based petitions. Many do it for themselves and others with a solidarity component.
Although it is not known with certainty what has been the origin of this ritual of depositing the stone at the foot of the cross, there are several theories.
In ancient cultures it was very common to make offerings in symbolic spaces on the roads.
For this reason, it is possible that these rituals were adopted over the years by different people, including the pilgrims who were heading to Santiago.
Nowadays, there are thousands of pilgrims who deposit a stone at the foot of the Cruz de Hierro. Many of them bring the stone from their place of origin and others collect it on the Camino.
All this makes the Cruz de hierro a place full of feelings and emotions, which unites thousands of pilgrims every year on their way to Santiago.
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