Take a Walking Tour of the Camino de Santiago

Pilgrims have walked these paths for hundreds of years, and today we're joining them

By Google Arts & Culture

Lugo cathedral and Roman town wall, Lugo, Camino Primitivo, Way of St. James, Camino de Santiago, pilgrims way, UNESCO World Heritage Site, European Cultural Route, province of Lugo, Galicia, Northern Spain, Spain, Europe (2011-03-21) by Juergen RichterGetty Images

The Camino de Santiago, or The Way of St James, is a network of pilgrimage routes that criss-cross Europe, leading towards The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia, Spain. The routes, marked with James' scallop symbol, have been walked since the 9th Century.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela by Jaime Nuño GonzálezFundación Santa María la Real

The name Santiago derives from the latin Sancti Iacobi, but how did St James end up in Spain? Legend holds that after his martyrdom, James' body was brought to Spain by his disciples, while his relics were carried miraculously by angels.

Walking along the vineyards (1993) by Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern SpainUNESCO World Heritage

There are many different places to begin the trail and different routes to follow, we're going to follow the most popular, the Camino Francés, which begins in Paris and goes via Tours, Bordeaux, Pamplona, Burgos, León, and arrives in Santiago de Compostela.


For centuries this city has been one of the most important in Europe. In the medieval era, the University of Paris was second to none. Here, philosophers and theologians sought to understand the world.

Sainte Chapelle, Paris

The Cathedral of Notre Dame may bring in the tourists, but the Saint Chapelle is the real treasure of Paris. This unbelievable Gothic chapel was built to house the relic of the crown of thorns, the prize possession of the kings of France.

Place Plumereau, Tours

We're in Tours, along the River Loire. This area of western France is well-known for its refined wines and dialect. Until the 16th Century, Tours and the region of Touraine was the permanent home of the monarchy, and the landscape is dotted with estates and châteaux.

Cathédrale Saint-Gatien, Tours

Tours Cathedral was built between 1170 and 1547 on the road from Paris to the south-west of France. Over the years it acquired unusual mixture of Romanesque and Gothic ornamentation. It has been a classified monument historique since 1862.

Place de la Bourse, Bordeaux

The next major city on our route is Bordeaux. Once again, a city known for its wines, which have been produced here since the 8th Century. Bordeaux is also renowned for its historic architecture, such as this public square, the Place de la Bourse.

Basilique Saint-Michel, Bordeaux

The Basilica of St. Michael was built between the end of 14th century and the 16th century. It's one of Bordeaux's three main churches, and found at the heart of the ancient quarter of Saint-Michel. If you visit between April and October, you can climb the 114m tall bell tower.

Plaza de Toros, Pamplona

After a few days travel you'll cross the French-Spanish border, and soon come to Pamplona, whose annual bull run was made famous in Ernest Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. The event is actually part of the festival of the patron saint, Saint Fermin.

Catedral de Pamplona, Pamplona

If you'd rather not be chased by bulls, you can visit the city's cathedral, built on the oldest part of the ancient Roman town. Throughout the middle ages, the Cathedral was where the kings of Navarre held their coronations.

Castillo de Burgos, Burgos

Further west, at the edge of the central plateau, is Burgos. The city is rich in ancient churches and convents. The three most notable are the cathedral, the monastery of Las Huelgas, and the Carthusian monastery of Miraflores.

Miraflores Charterhouse, Burgos

A Carthusian monastery, Miraflores Charterhouse is situated about four kilometres from the city centre. Among the treasures of the Charterhouse are the wooden statue of St. Bruno and the tombs of King Juan II and of his spouse, Queen Isabella of Portugal.

Santa María de León Cathedral, León

León was once the capital of the powerful Kingdom of León. Its cathedral dates back to that golden era of the 13th Century. The 'Pulchra Leonina', as it's known locally, contains one of the most extensive and best preserved collections of medieval stained glass in Europe.

Catedral de León, León

When you're inside, you can really appreciate the stained glass. Imagine yourself as a medieval pilgrim seeing this for the first time, a far cry from your own small, dark, wooden home. It's easy to see how it acquired its other nickname, 'The House of Light'.

Monte Viso, Santiago de Compostela

From the heights of Monte Viso, we can almost see the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It's not far now…

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

This is what we've travelled for, the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Behind this Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque facade are the grave and relics of Saint James the Great.

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela by Jaime Nuño GonzálezFundación Santa María la Real

Thanks for joining us along the Camino de Santiago. We hope you enjoyed the journey. Don't forget to pick up a Galician scallop shell, the traditional symbol that you had completed the pilgrimage! Now take another walking tour, this time of Van Gogh's Europe.

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