The Way of St. James is considered one of the three most
important Christian pilgrimages and exists for over more than
thousand years. The most traditional way to discover, enjoy
and cover this route is on foot. There are different pilgrimage
ways to choose from, but all end in Santiago de Compostela,
Galicia, the city where it is said that the apostle James
the Great is buried.
The average a pilgrim does on foot each day is between 25
and 30 km. Taking the Camino Frances (French
Way), the most popular route of all, the Camino de Santiago
can be covered in almost one month, which means a total of
about 750 km separating Roncesvalles in the province of Navarra
(Navarre, Spain) and Santiago de Campostela (Galicia, Spain).
Starting point are the French Pyrenees.
Of course you can also join the St. James Way during any
of the different stages. One of the stages covers Santo Domingo
de la Calzada in La Rioja and Villafranca de Montes de Oca,
province of Burgos (Castile and Leon), with many fountains
and historic monuments along the route.
The next stage passes Atapuerca, a village which has become
very well known due to the importance of archaeological finds
regarding the human origin and evolution and reaches Burgos
with its gothic Cathedral and chapel, which is dedicated to
Santiago, and also many churches. Not only the Camino Frances
- French Way - passes through Burgos, but also La
Ruta del Cid.
Another of the stages towards Santiago de Compostela and
its Cathedral, is from Leon, a city rich
of Romanesque, Gothic, Plateresque, Renaissance and Modernist
monuments such as the Cathedral with the spectacular façade
and portal, being the symbol of the city, to Astorga. It is
a beautiful, bi-millenary town set on a hill and about 45
km west from Leon.
Astorga disposes of an important historic
and artistic centre, the destination of the Roman way that
started in Emerita Augusta, today called Merida. Besides a
prominent Roman centre with the remainings integrated into
the modern structures, Astorga is crossroad of two main routes
of the area: The Via
de la Plata and the Way of St. James (Camino
de Santiago or Ruta Jacobea). Worthwhile seeing is the cathedral
with its mixture of Renaissance, Gothic and Baroque, next
to the palace (Palacio Episcopal) built by the architect Antonio
Gaudi, and the Roman wall.
Spring and Autumn is likely to be the best time of the year
to discover the whole route or part of it, as the climate
tends to be good for walking and there are not too many pilgrims
and tourists on the way. To avoid the heat, pilgrims usually
start walking very early in the morning. Doing the pilgrimage
on foot means travelling with light clothing, comfortable
footwear and light backpacking.