Santiago de Compostela – The Pilgrims Pilgrimage

As has been said on a number of occasions Spain is very much a country that is much more than just the sum total of the constituent parts.

It is obvious to see while you travel throughout Spain the influences and cultural traditions left by former invaders and conquerors such as the Moors and Romans.

There are numerous pilgrimage routes to be found throughout Spain as would be fit a country that has had such an influence brought upon it by organized belief.

if we take a look at one of the pilgrimage routes and the one in particular that we want to take a look at is the one that’s in the northwest of Spain and is known as the way of St. James or the Camino de Santiago. Dating from the ninth century when it is alleged that the remains of St. James were buried in what is now known to be modern day Galicia in the ensuing centuries it has turned out to be one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in all of Christendom.

As is the way with a lot of holy and historic sites interest has been sporadic sometimes good sometimes not so good. The 16th and 17th centuries probably saw the least interest in this particular route. It has been said that apparently in the past prisoners used to walk along the route as an attempt to try and do some penance in getting atonement for former misdemeanours.

Interest in this particular pilgrimage route was revised in the 20th century on the Way of St. James when UNESCO made Santiago de Compostela a world traditions site – a site that now has since become the setting for one of the world’s biggest pilgrimages.

Nowadays, Camino de Santiago the way of St. James is more than just a holy pilgrimage route and has become a major visitor attraction whereby people merely pass along the route to appreciate the beauty and the historic traditions.

there are a number of starting off points for the Camino or Way of St. James, the most common of which are probably the English, the French or Spanish routes. Of these three the most frequented as far as pilgrims and travellers are concerned is probably the French and there are a number of routes which originate throughout France but all come to converge upon the town of Roncesvalles.

If most authorities are to be blunt and extremely honest they would have to admit that only the most ardent of pilgrims would start out alone the Camino from Roncesvalles and then journey along the 760 km route to Santiago. As they pass through historic towns and villages along the route such as Navarre, Burgos and Logrono, many pilgrims claim that having gone through this experience en route they feel suitably spiritually prepared for when they arrive at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.

An informal system of yellow arrows has grown up over the years and these are placed strategically at key points throughout the entire journey to make sure the pilgrims and travellers don’t get lost. Whether or not this is a reflection upon the state and condition that pilgrims were arriving at Santiago at the end of the journey but this system of yellow markers was credited to Father Elias Valdinha who wanted to make sure that pilgrims arrived at the end of the journey in reasonable condition.