St James Way illustrated 1 by Miguel Ángel Camprubí
Every year, for the last 12 centuries, thousands of people from all over the world have traveled the different branches of the St. James Way (Camino de Santiago). From countless points of origin, an extensive network of trails lead to Santiago de Compostela, near continental Europe's westernmost edge.
There are currently 281 Caminos listed, with more than 51,500 miles (83,000 km) of routes through 29 different countries. And which is the longest? The one that starts in Antarctica!
St James Way illustrated 2 by Miguel Ángel Camprubí
In 1984, a priest named Elías Valiña personally put up yellow arrows all along the French Way (Camino Francés), from Roncesvalles to Santiago.
Today, the yellow arrows are one of the main symbols of the Camino, along with the scallop shells that people once carried as a reminder of their pilgrimage. Following these makes it difficult to get lost.
St James Way illustrated 3 by Miguel Ángel Camprubí
The Camino de Santiago is over 1,000 years old and is a World Heritage Site. Traveling along it is an opportunity to discover its remarkable monuments—ruins that evoke nostalgia for the past and the people that inhabited them.
Did you know that you can visit the Holy Grail, too? The chalice kept at the church in O Cebreiro (Galicia) is one of the cups that claims this title.
St James Way illustrated 4 by Miguel Ángel Camprubí
The Camino's rich landscape is unmatched: it leads from the sea to the mountains and back again, from the habitat of the brown bear to the home of marine birds.
It crosses chestnut and oak forests, passing under the gentle gaze of wandering cows. It is important to remember that it is worth stopping every now and then to listen and observe.
St James Way illustrated 5 by Miguel Ángel Camprubí
Since the first pilgrims made their way to Santiago de Compostela in the Middle Ages, they have all had one pressing need: to find somewhere to spend the night after the day's walking is done.
The hostels along the Camino today are a more modern version of the medieval pilgrims' shelters, known as hospitales. They are places to take refuge and meet other travelers, and have hospitality at their very core.
St James Way illustrated 6 by Miguel Ángel Camprubí
The pace of pilgrims arriving in Santiago de Compostela is set by the cathedral's Berenguela bell, which can be heard from every corner of the city. A tempting way to pass the time is to pick a bar where you can sit outside, have a bite to eat, and enjoy the city's hustle and bustle.
Anyone left wanting more can grab their backpack and head for Finisterre: the end of the Earth.