Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago (Latin: Peregrinatio Compostellana, "Pilgrimage of Compostela"; Galician: O Camiño de Santiago),[1] known in English as the Way of Saint James among other names,[2][3][4] is a network of pilgrims' ways or pilgrimages leading to the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great in the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where tradition has it that the remains of the saint are buried. Many follow its routes as a form of spiritual path or retreat for their spiritual growth. It is also popular with hiking and cycling enthusiasts and organized tour groups.

The French Way (Camino Francés) and the Routes of Northern Spain are the courses listed in the World Heritage List by UNESCO.

Camino de Santiago
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Ways of St. James in Europe
Map of the Way of St. James in Europe
CriteriaCultural: (ii)(iv)(vi)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official nameRoutes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain
Inscription1993 (17th Session)
Buffer zone16,286 ha (62.88 sq mi)
UNESCO World Heritage Site
Official nameRoutes of Santiago de Compostela in France
Inscription1998 (22nd Session)
Area97.21 ha (0.3753 sq mi)

Major Christian pilgrimage route

The Way of St. James was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during the Middle Ages, together with those to Rome and Jerusalem, and a pilgrimage route on which a plenary indulgence could be earned;[5] other major pilgrimage routes include the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimage to Jerusalem.

Legend holds that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain, where he was buried in what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. (The name Santiago is the local Galician evolution of Vulgar Latin Sancti Iacobi, "Saint James".)

The Way can take one of dozens of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Way of Saint James began at one's home and ended at the pilgrimage site. However, a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly travelled. However, the Black Death, the Protestant Reformation, and political unrest in 16th century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few hundred pilgrims per year registered in the pilgrim's office in Santiago. In October 1987, the route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe; it was also named one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites. Since the 1980s the route has attracted a growing number of modern-day international pilgrims.

Whenever St. James's Day (25 July) falls on a Sunday, the cathedral declares a Holy or Jubilee Year. Depending on leap years, Holy Years occur in 5-, 6-, and 11-year intervals. The most recent were 1982, 1993, 1999, 2004, and 2010. The next will be 2021, 2027, and 2032.[6]


Monument of the pilgrims, Burgos

The pilgrimage to Santiago has never ceased from the time of the discovery of St. James's remains in 812 AD, though there have been years of fewer pilgrims, particularly during European wars.

Pre-Christian history

The main pilgrimage route to Santiago follows an earlier Roman trade route, which continues to the Atlantic coast of Galicia, ending at Cape Finisterre. Although it is known today that Cape Finisterre, Spain's westernmost point, is not the westernmost point of Europe (Cabo da Roca in Portugal is farther west), the fact that the Romans called it Finisterrae (literally the end of the world or Land's End in Latin) indicates that they viewed it as such. At night, the Milky Way overhead seems to point the way, so the route acquired the nickname "Voie lactée" – the Milky Way in French.[7]

Scallop symbol

Vieira Camino de Santiago
St. James pilgrim accessories

The scallop shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Over the centuries the scallop shell has taken on a variety of meanings, metaphorical, practical, and mythical, even if its relevance may have actually derived from the desire of pilgrims to take home a souvenir.

Two versions of the most common myth about the origin of the symbol concern the death of Saint James, who was martyred by beheading in Jerusalem in 44 AD. According to Spanish legends, he had spent time preaching the gospel in Spain, but returned to Judaea upon seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary on the bank of the Ebro River.[8][9]

Version 1: After James's death, his disciples shipped his body to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. Off the coast of Spain, a heavy storm hit the ship, and the body was lost to the ocean. After some time, however, it washed ashore undamaged, covered in scallops.
Version 2: After James's death his body was transported by a ship piloted by an angel, back to the Iberian Peninsula to be buried in what is now Santiago. As the ship approached land, a wedding was taking place on shore. The young groom was on horseback, and on seeing the ship approaching, his horse got spooked, and horse and rider plunged into the sea. Through miraculous intervention, the horse and rider emerged from the water alive, covered in seashells.[4]:71
St. James the Moor Slayer (Carrión de los Condes).

From its connection to the Camino, the scallop shell came to represent pilgrimage, both to a specific shrine as well as heaven, recalling Hebrews 11:13, identifying that Christians "are pilgrims and strangers on the earth".[10]

As the symbol of the Camino de Santiago, the shell is seen very frequently along the trails. The shell is seen on posts and signs along the Camino in order to guide pilgrims along the way. The shell is even more commonly seen on the pilgrims themselves. Wearing a shell denotes that one is a traveler on the Camino de Santiago. Most pilgrims receive a shell at the beginning of their journey and either attach it to them by sewing it onto their clothes or wearing it around their neck or by simply keeping it in their backpack.[11]

The scallop shell also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl.

During the medieval period, the shell was proof of completion rather than a symbol worn during the pilgrimage.

The pilgrim's staff is a walking stick used by pilgrims to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela in Spain.[12] Generally, the stick has a hook on it so that something may be hung from it, and may have a crosspiece on it.[13]

Medieval route

Othem wall paintings 04
Saint James with his pilgrim's staff. The hat is typical, but he often wears his emblem, the scallop shell, on the front brim of the hat or elsewhere on his clothes (it may have been lost due to deterioration in this painting).

The earliest records of visits paid to the shrine dedicated to St. James at Santiago de Compostela date from the 9th century, in the time of the Kingdom of Asturias and Galicia. The pilgrimage to the shrine became the most renowned medieval pilgrimage, and it became customary for those who returned from Compostela to carry back with them a Galician scallop shell as proof of their completion of the journey. This practice gradually led to the scallop shell becoming the badge of a pilgrim.[14]

The earliest recorded pilgrims from beyond the Pyrenees visited the shrine in the middle of the 11th century, but it seems that it was not until a century later that large numbers of pilgrims from abroad were regularly journeying there. The earliest records of pilgrims that arrived from England belong to the period between 1092 and 1105. However, by the early 12th century the pilgrimage had become a highly organized affair.

One of the great proponents of the pilgrimage in the 12th century was Pope Callixtus II, who started the Compostelan Holy Years.[15] The official guide in those times was the Codex Calixtinus. Published around 1140, the 5th book of the Codex is still considered the definitive source for many modern guidebooks. Four pilgrimage routes listed in the Codex originate in France and converge at Puente la Reina. From there, a well-defined route crosses northern Spain, linking Burgos, Carrión de los Condes, Sahagún, León, Astorga, and Compostela.

The daily needs of pilgrims on their way to and from Compostela were met by a series of hospitals and contributed to the development of the idea itself, some Spanish towns still bearing the name, as Hospital de Órbigo. The hospitals were often staffed by Catholic orders and under royal protection. Donations were encouraged but many poorer pilgrims had few clothes and poor health often barely getting to the next hospital.

Romanesque architecture, a new genre of ecclesiastical architecture, was designed with massive archways to cope with huge crowds of the devout.[16] There was also the sale of the now-familiar paraphernalia of tourism, such as badges and souvenirs. Since the Christian symbol for James the Greater was the scallop shell, many pilgrims wore one as a sign to anyone on the road that they were a pilgrim. Pilgrims often prayed to Saint Roch whose numerous depictions with the Cross of St James can still be seen along the Way even today.

Jakobsweg - Pilger 1568 - Hurden IMG 5664
Way of St. James pilgrims (1568)

The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela was possible because of the protection and freedom provided by the Kingdom of France, where the majority of pilgrims originated. Enterprising French (including Gascons and other peoples not under the French crown) settled in towns along the pilgrimage routes, where their names appear in the archives. The pilgrims were tended by people like Domingo de la Calzada, who was later recognized as a saint.

Pilgrims walked the Way of St. James, often for months and sometime years at a time, to arrive at the great church in the main square of Compostela and pay homage to St. James. Many arrived with very little due to illness or robbery or both. Traditionally pilgrims lay their hands on the pillar just inside the doorway of the cathedral, and so many now have done this it has visibly worn away the stone.[17]

The popular Spanish name for the astronomical Milky Way is El Camino de Santiago. According to a common medieval legend, the Milky Way was formed from the dust raised by travelling pilgrims.[18] Another legend tells that when a hermit saw a bright star shining over a hillside near San Fiz de Solvio, he informed the bishop of Iria Flavia, who found a grave at the site with three bodies inside, one of which he asserted was Saint James. Subsequently the location was called "the field of the star" (Campus Stellae, corrupted to "Compostela").[19] Another origin myth mentioned in Book IV of the Book of Saint James relates how the saint appeared in a dream to Charlemagne, urging him to liberate his tomb from the Moors and showing him the direction to follow by the route of the Milky Way.

As penance

Saint-Guilhem-le-Desert fg09

The Church employed a system of rituals, known as penance, to atone for temporal punishment due to sins. According to this system, pilgrimages were a suitable form of expiation for some temporal punishment, and they could be used as acts of penance for those who were guilty of certain crimes. As noted in the Catholic Encyclopedia:[20]

In the registers of the Inquisition at Carcassone...we find the four following places noted as being the centres of the greater pilgrimages to be imposed as penances for the graver crimes: the tomb of the Apostles at Rome, the shrine of St. James at Compostella [sic], St. Thomas' body at Canterbury, and the relics of the Three Kings at Cologne.

There is still a tradition in Flanders of pardoning and releasing one prisoner every year[21] under the condition that, accompanied by a guard, the prisoner walks to Santiago wearing a heavy backpack.

Enlightenment Era

During the war of American Independence, John Adams was ordered by Congress to go to Paris to obtain funds for the cause. His ship started leaking and he disembarked with his two sons in Finisterre in 1779. From there he proceeded to follow the Way of St. James in the reverse direction of the pilgrims' route, in order to get to Paris overland. He did not stop to visit Santiago, which he later came to regret. In his autobiography, Adams described the customs and lodgings afforded to St. James's pilgrims in the 18th century and he recounted the legend as he learned it:[22]

I have always regretted that We could not find time to make a Pilgrimage to Saintiago de Compostella. We were informed, ... that the Original of this Shrine and Temple of St. Iago was this. A certain Shepherd saw a bright Light there in the night. Afterwards it was revealed to an Archbishop that St. James was buried there. This laid the Foundation of a Church, and they have built an Altar on the Spot where the Shepherd saw the Light. In the time of the Moors, the People made a Vow, that if the Moors should be driven from this Country, they would give a certain portion of the Income of their Lands to Saint James. The Moors were defeated and expelled and it was reported and believed, that Saint James was in the Battle and fought with a drawn Sword at the head of the Spanish Troops, on Horseback. The People, believing that they owed the Victory to the Saint, very cheerfully fulfilled their Vows by paying the Tribute. ...Upon the Supposition that this is the place of the Sepulchre of Saint James, there are great numbers of Pilgrims, who visit it, every Year, from France, Spain, Italy and other parts of Europe, many of them on foot.

Adams' great-grandson, the historian Henry Adams visited Leon, among other Spanish cities, during his trip through Europe as a youth, although he did not follow the entire pilgrimage route.[23] Another Enlightenment-era traveler on the pilgrimage route was the naturalist Alexander von Humboldt.

Modern-day pilgrimage

Muszla Jakuba
The modern symbol of the way

Although it is commonly believed that the pilgrimage to Santiago has continued without interruption since the Middle Ages, few modern pilgrimages antedate the 1957 publication of Irish Hispanist and traveler Walter Starkie's The Road to Santiago.[4] The revival of the pilgrimage was supported by the Spanish government of Francisco Franco, much inclined to promote Spain's Catholic history. "It has been only recently (1990s) that the pilgrimage to Santiago regained the popularity it had in the Middle Ages."[24]

Since then, hundreds of thousands (over 300,000 in 2017)[25] of Christian pilgrims and many others set out each year from their homes, or from popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey (for example, the British author and humorist Tim Moore). In addition to those undertaking a religious pilgrimage, many are hikers who walk the route for travel or sport. Also, many consider the experience a spiritual retreat from modern life.[26]


Caminho Costa Portugues Povoa Varzim
A marking in a boardwalk of the Portuguese coastal way: Coastal sands dunes of Póvoa de Varzim.

Here only a few routes are named. For a complete list of all the routes (traditional and less so), see: Camino de Santiago (route descriptions).

Poste Camino de Santiago
A post marking the way

The Camino Francés, or French Way, is the most popular. The Via Regia is the last portion of the (Camino Francés). Historically, because of the Codex Calixtinus, most pilgrims came from France: typically from Arles, Le Puy, Paris, and Vézelay; some from Saint Gilles. Cluny, site of the celebrated medieval abbey, was another important rallying point for pilgrims and, in 2002, it was integrated into the official European pilgrimage route linking Vézelay and Le Puy.

Most Spanish consider the French border in the Pyrenees the natural starting point. By far the most common starting point on the Camino Francés is Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, on the French side of the Pyrenees, with Roncesvalles on the Spanish side also being popular.[27] The distance from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela through León is about 800 km (500 mi).

The Camino Primitivo, or Original Way, is the oldest route to Santiago de Compostela, first taken in the 9th century and which begins in Oviedo.[28]

The Camino Portugués, or the Portuguese Way, is the second-most-popular route,[27] starting at the cathedral in Lisbon (for a total of about 610 km) or at the cathedral in Porto in the north of Portugal (for a total of about 227 km), and crossing into Galicia at Valença.[29]

The Camino del Norte, or the Northern Way, is also less traveled and starts in the Basque city of Irun on the border with France, or sometimes in San Sebastián. It is a less popular route because of its changes in elevation, whereas the Camino Frances is mostly flat. The route follows the coast along the Bay of Biscay until it nears Santiago. Though it does not pass through as many historic points of interest as the Camino Frances, it has cooler summer weather. The route is believed to have been first used by pilgrims to avoid traveling through the territories occupied by the Muslims in the Middle Ages.


Spain Leon - Santiago Shell
St. James's shell, a symbol of the route, on a wall in León, Spain
Navarrete pavement camino marker
A marker in the pavement indicates the route of the Way of St. James through Navarrete, La Rioja, Spain.

In Spain, France and Portugal, pilgrim's hostels with beds in dormitories provide overnight accommodation for pilgrims who hold a credencial (see below). In Spain this type of accommodation is called a refugio or albergue, both of which are similar to youth hostels or hostelries in the French system of gîtes d'étape.

Hostels may be run by the local parish, the local council, private owners or pilgrims' associations. Occasionally, these refugios are located in monasteries, such as the one run by monks in Samos, Spain, and the one in Santiago de Compostela.

The final hostel on the route is the famous Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos, which lies across the plaza from the Cathedral of Santiago de Campostela. It was originally constructed by Ferdinand and Isabel, the Catholic Monarchs. Today it is a luxury 5-star Parador hotel, which still provides free services to a limited number of pilgrims daily.

Credencial or pilgrim's passport

Pilgrim Passport2
St. James pilgrim passport stamps in Spain for the Camino Frances
Pilgrim Passport1
St. James pilgrim passport stamps in France on the Via Turonensis (Tours route) for the Chemin de St. Jacques de Compostelle. The World Heritage Sites of the Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France lists the major French towns with stamps.

Most pilgrims purchase and carry a document called the credencial, which gives access to overnight accommodation along the route. Also known as the "pilgrim's passport", the credencial is stamped with the official St. James stamp of each town or refugio at which the pilgrim has stayed. It provides pilgrims with a record of where they ate or slept and serves as proof to the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago that the journey was accomplished according to an official route and thus that the pilgrim qualifies to receive a compostela (certificate of completion of the pilgrimage).


The compostela is a certificate of accomplishment given to pilgrims on completing the Way. To earn the compostela one needs to walk a minimum of 100 km or cycle at least 200 km. In practice, for walkers, the closest convenient point to start is Sarria, as it has good bus and rail connections to other places in Spain. Pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela who have walked at least the last 100 km (62 mi), or cycled 200 km (120 mi) to get there (as indicated on their credencial), and who state that their motivation was at least partially religious, are eligible for the compostela from the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago.

The compostela has been indulgenced since the Early Middle Ages and remains so to this day, during Holy Years.[30] It reads:

CAPITULUM huius Almae Apostolicae et Metropolitanae Ecclesiae Compostellanae sigilli Altaris Beati Jacobi Apostoli custos, ut omnibus Fidelibus et Perigrinis ex toto terrarum Orbe, devotionis affectu vel voti causa, ad limina Apostoli Nostri Hispaniarum Patroni ac Tutelaris SANCTI JACOBI convenientibus, authenticas visitationis litteras expediat, omnibus et singulis praesentes inspecturis, notum facit : (Latin version of name of recipient)

Hoc sacratissimum Templum pietatis causa devote visitasse. In quorum fidem praesentes litteras, sigillo ejusdem Sanctae Ecclesiae munitas, ei confero.

Datum Compostellae die (day) mensis (month) anno Dei (year)

Canonicus Deputatus pro Peregrinis

English translation:

The CHAPTER of this holy apostolic and metropolitan Church of Compostela, guardian of the seal of the Altar of the blessed Apostle James, in order that it may provide authentic certificates of visitation to all the faithful and to pilgrims from all over the earth who come with devout affection or for the sake of a vow to the shrine of our Apostle St. James, the patron and protector of Spain, hereby makes known to each and all who shall inspect this present document that [Name]

has visited this most sacred temple for the sake of pious devotion. As a faithful witness of these things I confer upon him [or her] the present document, authenticated by the seal of the same Holy Church.

Given at Compostela on the [day] of the month of [month] in the year of the Lord [year].

Deputy Canon for Pilgrims

The simpler certificate of completion in Spanish for those with non-religious motivation reads:

La S.A.M.I. Catedral de Santiago de Compostela le expresa su bienvenida cordial a la Tumba Apostólica de Santiago el Mayor; y desea que el Santo Apóstol le conceda, con abundancia, las gracias de la Peregrinación.

English translation:

The Holy Apostolic Metropolitan Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela expresses its warm welcome to the Tomb of the Apostle St. James the Greater; and wishes that the holy Apostle may grant you, in abundance, the graces of the Pilgrimage.

The Pilgrim's Office gives more than 100,000 compostelas each year to pilgrims from more than 100 different countries. However, the requirements to earn a compostela ensure that not everyone who walks on the Camino receives one. The requirements for receiving a compostela are: 1) make the Pilgrimage for religious/spiritual reasons or at least have an attitude of search, 2) do the last 100 km on foot or horseback or the last 200 km by bicycle. 3) collect a certain number of stamps on a credencial.[31]

Pilgrim's Mass

Pilgrims finishing the Camino Since 1985 – present

Green bars are holy years

A Pilgrim's Mass is held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela each day at 12:00 and 19:30.[32] Pilgrims who received the compostela the day before have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass. The Botafumeiro, one of the largest censers in the world, is operated during certain Solemnities and on every Friday, except Good Friday, at 19:30.[33] Priests administer the Sacrament of Penance, or confession, in many languages. In the Holy Year of 2010 the Pilgrim's Mass was exceptionally held four times a day, at 10:00, 12:00, 18:00, and 19:30, catering for the greater number of pilgrims arriving in the Holy Year.[34]

As tourism

The Xunta de Galicia (Galicia's regional government) promotes the Way as a tourist activity, particularly in Holy Compostelan Years (when 25 July falls on a Sunday). Following the Xunta's investment and advertising campaign for the Holy Year of 1993, the number of pilgrims completing the route has been steadily rising. The next Holy Year will occur in 2021, 11 years after the last Holy Year of 2010. More than 272,000 pilgrims made the trip during the course of 2010.

Year Pilgrims
2018 327,378
2017 301,036
2016 277,915
2015 262,458
2014 237,886
2013 215,880
2012 192,488
2011 179,919
2010 272,7031
2009 145,877
2008 125,141
2007 114,026
2006 100,377
2005 93,924
2004 179,9441
2003 74,614
2002 68,952
2001 61,418
2000 55,004³
1999 154,6131
1998 30,126
1997 25,179
1996 23,218
1995 19,821
1994 15,863
1993 99,4361
1992 9,764
1991 7,274
1990 4,918
1989 5,760²
1988 3,501
1987 2,905
1986 1,801
1985 690
1 Holy Years (Xacobeo/Jacobeo)
2 4th World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela
3 Santiago named European Capital of Culture
Source: The archives of Santiago de Compostela.

In film and television


  • The pilgrimage is central to the plot of the film The Milky Way (1969), directed by surrealist Luis Buñuel. It is intended to critique the Catholic church, as the modern pilgrims encounter various manifestations of Catholic dogma and heresy.
  • The Naked Pilgrim (2003) documents the journey of art critic and journalist Brian Sewell to Santiago de Compostela for the UK's Channel Five. Travelling by car along the French route, he visited many towns and cities on the way including Paris, Chartres, Roncesvalles, Burgos, Leon and Frómista. Sewell, a lapsed Catholic, was moved by the stories of other pilgrims and by the sights he saw. The series climaxed with Sewell's emotional response to the Mass at Compostela.
  • The Way of St. James was the central feature of the film Saint Jacques... La Mecque (2005) directed by Coline Serreau.
  • In The Way (2010), written and directed by Emilio Estevez, Martin Sheen learns that his son (Estevez) has died early along the route and takes up the pilgrimage in order to complete it on the son's behalf. The film was presented at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2010[39][40] and premiered in Santiago in November 2010.
  • On his PBS travel Europe television series, Rick Steves covers Northern Spain and the Camino de Santiago in series 6.[41]
  • In 2013, Simon Reeve presented the "Pilgrimage" series on BBC2, in which he followed various pilgrimage routes across Europe, including the Camino de Santiago in episode 2.[42]

Selected literature

(Alphabetical by author's surname)

  • Anne Carson, "Kinds of Water" (1987). A prose poem that traces the narrator's journey, focusing on the philosophical questions it raises, especially with regards to the nature and desire of the pilgrim. The piece can be found in the anthology of Carson's essays, Plainwater (1995).
  • Paulo Coelho, The Pilgrimage (1987)
  • Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises (1926). Jake's journey from France to the fiesta of San Fermin is an undertaking of the pilgrimage of Santiago de Compostela.
  • Jack Hitt, Off the Road: A Modern-Day Walk Down the Pilgrim’s Route into Spain (1994)
  • Hape Kerkeling, I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago (2009), on his 2001 voyage. It is the best-selling German-language non-fiction book since Gods, Graves and Scholars (1949).
  • David Lodge, Therapy (1995)
  • Shirley MacLaine, The Camino: A Journey of the Spirit (2001)
  • James Michener, Iberia (1968), contains one chapter about the Camino de Santiago.
  • Cees Nooteboom, Roads to Santiago (1996, English edition)
  • Conrad Rudolph, Pilgrimage to the End of the World: The Road to Santiago de Compostela (2004)
  • Walter Starkie, The Road to Santiago (1957) John Murray, reprinted 2003.

See also


  1. ^ In other languages: Spanish: El Camino de Santiago; Portuguese: O Caminho de Santiago; French: Le chemin de Saint-Jacques; German: Der Jakobsweg; Italian: Il Cammino di san Giacomo.
  2. ^ Including "Saint James' Way", the "Road to Santiago", and the UNESCO designation, the "Routes of Santiago de Compostela".
  3. ^ "Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain". UNESCO.
  4. ^ a b c Starkie, Walter (1965) [1957]. The Roads to Santiago: Pilgrims of St. James. University of California Press.
  5. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Kent, William H. (1913). "Indulgences" . In Herbermann, Charles. Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton Company. This entry on indulgences suggests that the evolution of the doctrine came to include pilgrimage to shrines as a trend that developed from the 8th century A.D.: "Among other forms of commutation were pilgrimages to well-known shrines such as that at St. Albans in England or at Compostela in Spain. But the most important place of pilgrimage was Rome. According to Bede (674–735) the visitatio liminum, or visit to the tomb of the Apostles, was even then regarded as a good work of great efficacy (Hist. Eccl., IV, 23). At first the pilgrims came simply to venerate the relics of the Apostles and martyrs; but in course of time their chief purpose was to gain the indulgences granted by the pope and attached especially to the Stations."
  6. ^ "Holy Years at Santiago de Compostela". Archived from the original on 16 September 2014. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  7. ^ "Medieval footpath under the stars of the Milky Way Archived 17 December 2006 at the Wayback Machine". Telegraph Online.
  8. ^ Chadwick, Henry (1976), Priscillian of Avila, Oxford University Press
  9. ^ Fletcher, Richard A. (1984), Saint James's Catapult : The Life and Times of Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela, Oxford University Press
  10. ^ Kosloski, Philip. "How the scallop shell became a symbol of pilgrimage", Aleteia, July 2, 2017
  11. ^ "Camino de Santiago en Navarra". Government of Navarre. Retrieved 21 October 2013.
  12. ^ "Pilgrim's Way to Santiago: Curiosities". Navarre Tourist Board.
  13. ^ Pilgrim's or Palmer's Staff (fr. bourdon): this was used as a device in a coat of arms as early at least as Edward II's reign, as will be seen. The Staff and the Escallop shell (q.v.) were the badge of the pilgrim, and hence it is but natural it should find its way into the shields of those who had visited the Holy Land. The usual form of representation is figure 1, but in some the hook is wanting, and when this is the case it is scarcely distinguishable from a pastoral staff as borne by some of the monasteries: it is shown in figure 2. While, too, it is represented under different forms, it is blazoned as will be seen also, under different names, e.g. a pilgrim's crutch, a crutch-staff, &c., but there is no reason to suppose that the different names can be correlated with different figures. The crutch, perhaps, should be represented with the transverse piece on the top of the staff (like the letter T) instead of across it.
  14. ^ Waldron, Thomas (1979). "The Sign of the Scallop Shell". The Furrow. 30 (10): 646–649. JSTOR 27660823.
  15. ^ "Brief history: The Camino – past, present & future". Archived from the original on 1 March 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2014.
  16. ^ "Romanesque Architecture", Durham World Heritage Site
  17. ^ Davies, Bethan; Cole, Ben (2003). Walking the Camino de Santiago. Pili Pala Press. p. 179. ISBN 0-9731698-0-X.
  18. ^ Bignami, Giovanni F. (26 March 2004). "Visions of the Milky Way". Science. 303 (5666): 1979. doi:10.1126/science.1096275. JSTOR 3836327.
  19. ^ Aruna Vasadevan (5 November 2013). "Santiago de Compostela (La Coruña, Spain)". In Trudy Ring; Noelle Watson; Paul Schellinger. Southern Europe: International Dictionary of Historic Places. Taylor & Francis. pp. 621–624. ISBN 978-1-134-25965-6.
  20. ^ "Pilgrimages". New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, retrieved 1 December 2006.
  21. ^ "Huellas españolas en Flandes". Turismo de Bélgica. Archived from the original on 1 April 2012.
  22. ^ "John Adams autobiography, part 3, Peace, 1779–1780, sheet 10 of 18". Harvard University Press, 1961. August 2007.
  23. ^ Henry Adams, The Education of Henry Adams
  24. ^ Mitchell-Lanham, Jean (2015). The Lore of the Camino de Santiago: A Literary Pilgrimage. Two Harbors Press. p. xv. ISBN 978-1-63413-333-3.
  25. ^ Erimatica. "Estadística de peregrinos del Camino de Santiago a 2018". Camino de Santiago. Guía definitiva: etapas, albergues, rutas (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-07-25.
  26. ^ "The present-day pilgrimage". The Confraternity of Saint James. Archived from the original on 15 July 2006.
  27. ^ a b "Informe estadístico Año 2016" (PDF). Oficina del Peregrino de Santiago de Compostela. Retrieved 18 September 2017.
  28. ^ "Primitive Way-Camino de Santiago Primitivo". Retrieved 15 December 2015.
  29. ^ The Confraternity of Saint James. "The Camino Portugués". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  30. ^ "The Compostela". Confraternity of Saint James. Archived from the original on 29 January 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  31. ^ "The Compostela". Oficina del Peregrino de Santiago de Compostela.
  32. ^ "Masses Hours". Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  33. ^ "The Botafumiero". Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016.
  34. ^ "The Holy Year: When Does the Holy Year Take Place?". Catedral de Santiago de Compostela. Archived from the original on 16 August 2016. Retrieved 6 August 2016. It is Holy Year in Compostela when the 25th of July, Commemoration of the Martyrdom of Saint James, falls on a Sunday. 8 December 2015 – 20 November 2016, Pope Francis's Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, was also a Holy Year.
  35. ^ "Pilgrims by year according to the office of pilgrims at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela". Archived from the original on 1 January 2010.
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  39. ^ "The Way (2010)". IMDb. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
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  42. ^ "YouTube".

External links


Alcuéscar is a municipality located in the province of Cáceres, Extremadura, Spain. The town is on the Silver Route (the Via de la Plata) branch of the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage trail to the burial place of St. James the Apostle.

The most noticeable feature of the small town is a convent and affiliated care facility for the disabled. The convent and church have large gardens. The services are very beautiful, and include special blessings for travelers and pilgrims. The convent is known for its hospitality, running an albergue (pilgrim's shelter), including a donativo (donation suggested) meal. They are also one of the primary sources of pilgrim's shells for people walking this route of the Camino de Santiago, and their style of shells are distinctive.The church itself dates to the turn of the twentieth century, but has classical architecture, appearing to be a castle. Like an older castle, this building was mostly constructed by hand. This church has a proud place in history as a place of succor for the poor and starving during the Spanish depression, World War I, and under Franco's regime. The priest who served in Alcuéscar in that era is now Blessed, and is expected to be confirmed as a Saint in the near future.

Autovía A-12

The Autovía A-12 is a highway in Spain known as the Autovía del Camino de Santiago between Pamplona and Burgos.It follows the route of the N-111 passing via Logroño and Burgos where it becomes the Autovía A-231.

Autovía A-231

The Autovía A-231 (also known as Autovía del Camino de Santiago) is a local autovía in the community of Castile and León, Spain. It is 157 km (98 miles) long and runs from the Autovía A-66 at León to the Autovía BU-30 at Burgos, where it connects with the Autovía A-62 and the Autovía A-1. It was built between 1998 and 2003, and runs parallel to the Way of St. James (hence its name) and the N-120 road.

Camino Primitivo

The Primitive Way (Spanish: Camino Primitivo) is one of the paths of the Camino de Santiago. It begins in the old Asturian capital of Oviedo and runs west to Lugo and then south to Santiago de Compostela joining the more popular French Way in Melide for the last two hiking days. According to the Confraternity of St James, the Camino Primitivo is approximately 370 km (230 miles) in length.

Camino de Santiago (route descriptions)

The Camino de Santiago (Also known as the Way of St. James) extends from different countries of Europe, and even North Africa, on its way to Santiago de Compostela and Finisterre. The local authorities try to restore many of the ancient routes, even those used in a limited period, in the interest of tourism.

Here follows an overview of the main routes of the modern-day pilgrimage.


Candanchú is a ski resort situated near the town of Canfranc in the High Aragon of the western Pyrenees (province of Huesca, Spain). The name of the area is a corruption of "Camp d'Anjou" as this was originally the site of a military camp of the French Angevin dynasty. This is also located near the road on the historical Camino de Santiago. 32. The ski resort of Candanchú is located in the Aragonese Pyrenees. It is 1 km from Puerto del Somport the border with France. Neighbor Astún ski resrot, is located 27 km north of the city of Jaca. On the right bank of the river Arago, near the bridge of Santa Cristina, are the ruins of the Hospital of Santa Cristina of Somport, a hospice for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago.


Castrojeriz or Castrogeriz is a locality and municipality located in the province of Burgos, in the autonomous community of Castilla y León (Spain), the comarca of Odra-Pisuerga, the judicial district of Burgos, head of the town council of the same name and former head of the Castrojeriz judicial district.

It is a popular stop along the French Way of the Camino de Santiago or The Way of Saint James, which crosses the city longitudinally for more than 1,500 meters.

English Way

The English Way (Spanish: Camino Inglés) is one of the paths of the Camino de Santiago. It begins in the Galician port cities of Ferrol (118 km) or A Coruña (75 km) and runs south to Santiago de Compostela.

French Way

The French Way (Galician: Camiño francés, Spanish: Camino francés) is the most popular of the routes of the Way of St. James (Spanish: Camino de Santiago), the ancient pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain. It runs from Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port on the French side of the Pyrenees to Roncesvalles on the Spanish side and then another 780km on to Santiago de Compostela through the major cities of Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos and León. A typical walk on the Camino francés takes at least four weeks, allowing for one or two rest days on the way. Some travel the Camino on bicycle or on horseback.

Paths from the cities of Tours, Vézelay, and Le Puy-en-Velay meet at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. A fourth French route originates in Arles, in Provence, and crosses the French–Spanish frontier at a different point, between the Pyrenees towns of Somport and Canfranc. This fourth route follows the Aragonese Way and joins the French Way at Puente la Reina, south of Pamplona, in Navarre, about 700 kilometres from Santiago de Compostela.

In 2017 roughly 60% of pilgrims traveled to Santiago de Compostela via the French Way according to statistics gathered by the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago.

I'm Off Then

I'm Off Then: Losing and Finding Myself on the Camino de Santiago (German: Ich bin dann mal weg) is a book by German writer Hape Kerkeling written in 2006 and translated into English in 2009. It has sold over three million copies. It has also been translated into French, Italian, Dutch, Polish, Latvian, Spanish and Korean.

A film adaptation, directed by Julia von Heinz, with Devid Striesow and Martina Gedeck starring, was released on December 24, 2015.


Molinaseca is a village and municipality located in the region of El Bierzo (province of León, Castile and León, Spain) . According to the 2010 census (INE), the municipality has a population of 818 inhabitants. It is located on the French Way, the most popular path of the Camino de Santiago.

Moratinos, Palencia

Moratinos, is a town in Palencia, Spain which is located about 67 kilometers northwest of the capital of the province. It is best known to outsiders for "el castillo de Moratinos" (a.k.a. "Hobbiton"), an ages-old hill in the town center studded with family owned wine-storage caves.

As of 2002, Moratinos' population was listed at 78 people, but most registered residents live in cities and commute to Moratinos for weekends or festivals. In January 2015, 18 people lived in the town year-round. Most are farmers. Three are foreign-born immigrants who discovered Moratinos while walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail, which passes through the heart of the town.

Moratinos is notable in Palencia for its sudden growth in businesses. In 2010 a carpenter was the only businessman in town; in 2015 Moratinos was home to a hostel, a pilgrim's albergue, and a bar-restaurant. Weekly Mass is served at La Iglesia de Santo Tomas Apostol (18th century); the annual homecoming fiesta is held the third weekend of August.

Moratinos is home to historian Modesto Celada Vaquero and journalist Rebekah Scott.

Other villages in the municipality include San Nicolás del Real Camino

Neda, Galicia

Neda is a municipality in province of A Coruña in the autonomous community of Galicia in northwestern Spain.

The town is on the English Way path of the Camino de Santiago. It is said that the father of George A. Romero was born here.

Pilgrim's hat

A pilgrim's hat, cockel hat or traveller's hat is a wide brim hat used to keep off the sun.

The Pilgrimage

The Pilgrimage (Portuguese: O Diário de Um Mago, "Diary of a Mage") is a 1987 novel by Brazilian novelist Paulo Coelho. It is a recollection of Paulo's experiences as he made his way across northern Spain on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The novel serves as part adventure story, part guide to self-discovery.

The Way (2010 film)

The Way is a 2010 Spanish drama film directed, produced and written by Emilio Estevez and starring Martin Sheen, Deborah Kara Unger, James Nesbitt, Yorick van Wageningen, and Renée Estevez.

The film honors the Camino de Santiago and promotes the traditional pilgrimage. Saying he did not want the film to appeal to only one demographic, Emilio Estevez called the film "pro-people, pro-life, not anti-anything".


Triacastela is a municipality in the province of Lugo, Galicia, Spain. It gets its name from the three castles that once stood here, none of which exist today. Norman (Viking) invaders in 968 A.D. pillaged here, eventually to be defeated at Cebreiro pass and driven off. They probably destroyed all three castles at that time.It is along the French Way route of the Camino de Santiago (The Way of St. James), and many of the pilgrims stop in the town's albergues and restaurants.

Vía de la Plata

The Vía de La Plata (Silver Way) or Ruta de la Plata (Silver Route) is an ancient commercial and pilgrimage path that crosses the west of Spain from north to south, connecting Mérida to Astorga. An extended form begins further south in Seville and reaches north to the Bay of Biscay at Gijón. The path is used by the modern A-66 and AP-66 freeways, as well as by the older N-630 national road.

Zubiri, Navarre

Zubiri is a small village in Navarre, situated on Spain's N135 with a Romanic bridge across the Arga River. Zubiri is located on the French Way path of the Camino de Santiago.

North West
North East
of Madrid
Canary Islands
Pre-romanesque art in the Kingdom of Asturias
Major figures
Minor arts
Spiritual legacy

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