The Pilgrimage

Discover the adventure of traveling the Camino.

By Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

Walker or pilgrim, towards Arbós (2009)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The Homo Viator or itinerant man is lost in the mists of time and is common to all civilizations. His destination, the focus of his attention, is often headed towards a sacred place. Santiago de Compostela and the tomb that holds the remains of Saint James the Apostle is one of the longest standing examples of this.

Walker or pilgrim on the Camino Lebaniego (2017)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

To go on a pilgrimage is to walk with a desire to seek something out. This could be a specific objective or a symbolic or undefined entity, whether that is divinity, nature, and/or yourself. The pilgrim is not just another walker: they have an aura of spirituality, transcendence, and mysticism that has generated a certain amount of respect over time.

Preparation, towards San Andrés de Teixido (2014)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

Going on a pilgrimage requires a willingness of body and mind that inspires someone to leave the comfort zones that modern societies have become overly reliant on, in pursuit of an experience that will challenge them physically and mentally. It does not require particular physical fitness, but rather a predisposition of spirit.

Unique nature, Ponte Maceira (2007)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The ways to Santiago de Compostela pass through spectacular and unique places that are rich in nature. Routes such as the French Way (Camino Francés), the Northern Way (Camino del Norte or Camino de la Costa), the Original Way (the Camino Primitivo), the Lebaniego Way (the Camino Lebaniego), and the Camino Vasco del Interior, traditionally called the Tunnel Way (the Camino del Túnel de San Adrián), are designated World Heritage Sites.

Unique nature, Tercia Valley (2009)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The knowledge that the pilgrim is crossing a unique landscape, demands particular respect and sensitivity for the environments that these routes pass through. They must leave nothing but footprints behind.

Jacobean spirit, Camino Jacobeo de la Frontera (2018)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The figure of Saint James the Apostle is the essence of the Camino, either through religious belief or cultural legacy. There are many reasons for a pilgrim to complete the Camino, some of which they may not know themselves.

Jacobean spirit, Olveiroa hostel (2007)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The common denominator of all the possible reasons for going to Santiago de Compostela is the legacy of Saint James, which has permeated the pilgrimage experience throughout the sands of time. There is no doubt that the knowledge of this enriches the experience of walking the Camino.

Overcoming, stream in Fuente de Cantos (2012)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

A pilgrim must overcome obstacles, patiently and carefully, being conscious that they are not going for a walk in the park or in a garden. In fact, outside of the towns and villages they will come across nature in its purest form, with its beauty and challenges.

Eagerness for Knowledge, cloister of the Dead (2017)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

A pilgrim doesn't just walk, they also enrich their knowledge. They must take time to cover the route, without overlooking the beautiful, historic monuments that mark out the Way of Saint James, and have the restless desire to know what is hidden behind the walls of a church, castle, or building …

Eagerness for knowledge, milestone in Granja de Moreruela (2019)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

The smallest villages they pass through often hold unique treasures. It will help the pilgrim if they find out about the places they will pass through before they set off. Like the traveler in Cavafy's poem, when they return home, they will be "wealthy with all [they] have gained on the way."

As many ways as pilgrims, Santa Lucía del Trampal (2012)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

There are many ways to Santiago de Compostela. From the beginning, they were far from being homogenous, official routes. This has created a wide area of influence around the paths that, over time and through historical circumstances, have become the fixed routes offering greater protection and definition.

As many ways as pilgrims, Cáparra ruins (2012)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

Every pilgrim follows two routes: one to their destination in Santiago de Compostela and one to their inner self. To be a pilgrim is to want to know that there is something more than the space we live in day to day. It also involves crossing our mental boundaries. There are many detours off the Camino de Santiago that are just as enriching as the Camino itself. Self Discovery.

Pilgrimage is an attitude, Alcuescar hostel (2012)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

"The pilgrim doesn't demand, the pilgrim thanks." This moto, a product of the modern-day pilgrimage, but rooted in the tradition of centuries, provides us with an important clue as to what it means to be a pilgrim. Always staying in hostels, for example, or carrying a staff, does not make someone a pilgrim. A pilgrimage involves an attitude towards the Camino and an attitude towards life.

Pilgrimage is an attitude, Puebla de Sancho Pérez (2012)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

Attitude is what defines a walker to Santiago de Compostela and differentiates them from a casual hiker. The Way is a school: it shows how overloaded people are in their everyday lives, and how little is really needed to live. It also teaches the redundancy of so many daily worries that burden us more than they make us happy. To be a pilgrim is to listen to the inner self.

Share (2016)Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the St. James Way

To be a pilgrim is to share with others; joy and difficulties, experiences, and teachings of the Camino. Bonds of friendship are often formed that will last forever. The experience removes the restraints and constrictions of daily life to show people their truer, more authentic selves.

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