Camino de Santiago | The Way of St James, Spain

Camino de Santiago de Compostela (in English: The Way of St. James) is a network of routes across Spain and Europe which all lead to Santiago de Compostela, in the northwest of Spain. In the Middle Ages, these routes were walked as a pilgrimage to the tomb of the apostle St. James.

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Nowadays, tens of thousands walk or cycle the Camino de Santiago every year in an epic journey of 500 miles. People from all over the world with all kinds of motivations: sport, culture, religion, nature, adventure etc., travel El Camino de Santiago, or parts of it, in a lifetime experience. El Camino de Santiago has been declared World Heritage by UNESCO and the First European Cultural Itinerary.

 The main routes of El Camino de Santiago – The Way of St. James are:

- The French Way (in Spanish: Camino de Santiago Frances) which goes from the French side of the Pyrenees through the interior of northern Spain as far as Santiago de Compostela, in the Spanish region of Galicia. It’s the most famous and followed route of El Camino de Santiago.

- The Northern Way (in Spanish: Camino de Santiago del Norte) which from the Basque Country follows the northern coast of Spain and the mountains of Asturias until Santiago. It has breathtaking landscapes and it’s less crowded.

- The Silver Way (Via de la Plata) starts in Seville in Andalusia, southern Spain, and follows an ancient Roman route merging with El Camino Frances in its final part.

- The Primitive Way or Original Way (Camino de Santiago Primitivo) crossing the high mountains of Asturias.

- The Portuguese Way (Camino de Santiago Portugues) from the Portuguese city of Porto.

This website covers general aspects of planning your pilgrimage along Camino de Santiago – The Way of Saint James and provides information and tips for future pilgrims. We focus especially on the French Way and also on the Northern Way because they are the most popular but we hope to add further information on the other routes in time.

Map of El Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James

Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James: A long tradition

For centuries and centuries, indeed since the very beginning of Christendom many pilgrims have followed St. James’s footsteps across Spain and they still continue to arrive in Santiago de Compostela.

Camino de Santiago means freedom, culture, sport, nature, tradition, challenge, peace but above all it is freedom. Numerous emperors like Charlemagne, popes like Calixtus II, kings like Alfonso II, brave knights like the Spanish “El Cid” or the Knights Templar, noblemen, thousands of priests, farmers, beggars, travelers, the healthy, the sick, the blind, the lame, the rich and the homeless; all of them were pilgrims in el Camino de Santiago and all of them were treated the same, because no one knew if the dirty, tired and blistered pilgrim that just arrived in the village before sunset was a king, a bishop or a pauper. They were and still are all pilgrims always looking for something, always bringing new ideas.

One day in Camino de Santiago

The pilgrims follow the Sun in the day, from East to West and follow the Milky Way (Via Lactea) in the night. They see the sunrise in the mornings and follow the Sun towards the West walking through pure, golden fields or crossing colourful mountains.

Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James, is a new life, a life inside your life where you have the chance of truly being yourself, a return to the basics of the human being, where you have the chance of paying attention to the small things that we always forget in our “busy-lifes”. You get up, admire the day, feel in touch with the Earth, breath, and observe yourself, your environment and people beside you. Then you walk, and think, and admire the day. You meet people in your Camino de Santiago and you really listen to them, you feel a connection with them, they are not strangers. You learn from them and care about them.

You feel hungry and think about how and where you will eat: under a tree, beside a stream of water or in the next village you will find. Probably you already have in your pocket some figs from a fig tree you found by the path or some almonds, cheese or sweet wine that a local just gave to you asking nothing in exchange. You feel tired but very healthy. The Sun is giving you strength.

You continue enjoying the day and Nature and observing everything that happens around you. If unfortunately some car happens to pass nearby you are shocked because you are walking now and you see the world at your natural pace and just the sight of such a fast, noisy and polluting machine is frightening. You think: “What are they for?”.

The Sun is dying now. It is time to rest and wait for the following day. In El Camino de Santiago you can choose where you will sleep: in the next village? in the small albergue enjoying a dinner of local food and nice company? Or maybe under the stars in the warm night? (just think of how often you have this possibility in your normal life).

And the following day the cycle starts again. You will choose how far you want to walk, you will choose your route, you will choose where you will stop to stare at something. This is the freedom that I mentioned earlier, the chance to be you, the chance to take care of the real important things.

In the Camino de Santiago de Compostela there is no competition but there is a communion with the Nature and other beings. Once you have been seduced by its charm you can’t even tell if you have been there just for a few days or for years.

Also available in: French, German, Italian, Japanese, Spanish, Korean, Portuguese (Brazil), Dutch

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