The Camino de Santiago, in English “The way of St James”, is a world famous pilgrimage. The pilgrimage ends in Santiago de Compostela, here in Galicia, a world heritage site. The cathedral there dates back to the 12th century and contains the remains of St James. These remains are the reason that hundreds of thousands of pilgrims do the walk each year. And don’t forget the cyclists too!
History of the Camino de Santiago
The actual name of the city is Santiago de Compostela. Roughly translated to English this means “St James in the field of the stars”. The origin of this name dates to the early 9th century. The legend says that a bright star led a shepherd to a field on Mount Lebredon. There he found the remains of St James, one of the 12 disciples of Jesus. The Spanish king at the time King Alfonso II decreed that a church should be built on this site. Within this church would lie the remains of Santiago “St James”. From that point on, the cathedral became a point of pilgrimage for Catholics. In 2018, more than three hundred thousand pilgrims registered their arrival in Santiago.
Different routes of the Camino de Santiago
All roads lead to Santiago for pilgrims. There are officially four routes that arrive in Santiago, and each route spreads out across Spain. The most popular is the French route, across the north via Leon. The northern route runs in parallel hugging the Bay of Biscay. It is not as popular as the French route, but each year sees more pilgrims. The primitive route is the shortest, from Oviedo in Asturias. This was the route from the 10th century, when Oviedo was the seat of the Spanish king. Very popular now is the Portuguese Way. The full walk is from Lisbon, but the most popular starts in Porto. The original route enters Spain in Tui, and the coastal route close to the Celtic mountain of Santa Tegra . This route will introduce everybody to the beautiful scenery of Southern Galicia , such as Monte Aloia and the Rias Baixas.
Cycling the Camino de Santiago
Over the last few years, cycling the camino de Santiago has become more popular. To follow the actual camino one must use a mountain bike, or at the very least a gravel bike. It can also be done on a road bike, although one will have to deviate slightly from the original routes. However, it is quicker, and for those pressed for time a more viable idea. Whichever way you decide to experience the camino, it will bring you to Galicia, the jewel in Spain’s crown. So, whether or not you are looking for a walking holiday in Spain or a cycling holiday in Spain, choose Galicia. You won’t be disappointed.