El 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.
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.
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.