During the pandemic, the confinement and the difficulties in travelling from other countries or in moving around Spanish territory made the Camino inaccessible, but, in addition, the restrictions made many of the main traditions and rituals of the pilgrimage to Compostela impossible: hospitality, community dinners… And also the traditional welcome that the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos – a five-star hotel in the Paradores de Turismo network – offers to the first ten pilgrims who arrive in Santiago each day.

Fortunately the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos has resumed its tradition and we wish to remind people of it and spread the news among all pilgrims. The tradition is as follows: the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos offers a free meal to the first ten pilgrims who arrive in Compostela. To enjoy this gift, pilgrims pass through the Pilgrim Reception Office, which is in charge of certifying that they are the first ten arrivals that morning. The Pilgrim’s Office grants pilgrims tickets or supporting documents with which they can access the meal, served in one of the restaurants of the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos at 1:00 p.m.

Why is there such a tradition in one of the most luxurious hotels in the city? The reason is clear and very weighty: the origin of the building. The current hotel-parador was built in the first decades of the 16th century as a hospital for pilgrims, becoming one of the most important ones in Christendom. In it the pilgrims found shelter, food and health care for three days.

The construction of  this hospital for pilgrims was paid for by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando. With this foundation, the kings wanted to thank the Apostle for his military triumphs, particularly the recent capture of the city of Granada (1492) for which, previously, they had asked Santiago for help by doing pilgrimage and staying in the city in prayer for several days.