CAMINO DE SANTIAGO
The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is an extensive network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain.
Camino de Santiago Routes
The most popular route (which gets very crowded in mid-summer) is the Camino Francés which stretches 780 km (nearly 500 miles) from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago. This route is fed by three major French routes: the Voie de Tours, the Voie de Vezelay, and the Voie du Puy. It is also joined along its route by the Camino Aragones (which is fed by the Voie d’Arles, which crosses the Pyrenees at the Somport Pass), by the Camí de Sant Jaume from Montserrat near Barcelona, the Ruta de Tunel from Irun, the Camino Primitivo from Bilbao and Oviedo, and by the Camino de Levante from Valencia and Toledo.
PLANNING THE CAMINO
Camino Assisted Tours
Yearly, hundreds of thousands of people of various backgrounds walk the Camino de Santiago either on their own or in organized groups. People who want peace of mind will benefit from an organized or self-guided tour, while many will plan the Camino independently.
Origins of the Camino
The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back to the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) moment of the discovery of the tomb of the evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula. Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela has become a peregrination point of the entire European continent.
The Way was defined then by the net of Roman routes that joined the neuralgic points of the Peninsula. The impressive human flow that soon went towards Galicia quickly made many hospitals, churches, monasteries, abbeys, and towns around the route appear. During the 14th century, the pilgrimage began to decay, brought about by wars, epidemics, and natural catastrophes.
The recovery of the route begins at the end of the 19th century. Still, it is during the last quarter of the 20th century when the authentic contemporary resurge of the peregrination takes place. The social, tourist, cultural, or sports components have had great importance in the “jacobea” revitalization. Still, we cannot forget that the route has gained prestige thanks to its spiritual value.