SANTIAGO'S ROAD

SANTIAGO'S ROAD

Santiago's road   it is one of the most important pilgrimage routes in Europe. The discovery of the tomb of the Apostle Santiago in the 9th century marked the beginning of a Camino that leads our steps to Santiago de Compostela until today. A Way that, over the centuries, has also become a fundamental way of civilization and of cultural, artistic and social development.

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The spiritual meaning of the Camino, the search for oneself, hospitality, nature, the different towns and their people, the rich cultural heritage ... There are many reasons that today justify the pilgrimage to Santiago. And all contribute to make it a unique and unforgettable experience.

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Like many there are also the routes that the pilgrim can choose to get to Compostela. Already the famous Calixtino Codex, a 12th century handwritten jewel considered the first and most famous guide on the Camino de Santiago, includes one of the most used routes since medieval times to reach Santiago: the one we know today as the French Way.

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But not the most famous is the only one. Up to a total of 286 Roads throughout 28 countries have been mapped by the Federation of Friends of the Camino de Santiago in collaboration with the National Geographic Institute. A total of 80,000 Jacobean kilometers that cross the main communication routes in Europe. And most of them have been recovered in recent decades thanks to the rebirth of the pilgrimage to Santiago since the 80s and, especially, since the celebration of Xacobeo 93.

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The choice of the Way depends a lot on the needs and preferences of the pilgrim. From El Camino con Correos we want to help you in this difficult decision. And although there are many and diverse, we are going to focus on the ten most popular roads that cross Spain: the French Way, the Northern Way, the Portuguese Way, the Primitive Way, the English Way, the Silver Way, the Sanabrés Way, the Winter Way, the Mozarabic Way. and the only one that does not have its goal in Santiago, but its beginning: the Camino a Fisterra and Muxía.

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The French Way is the most popular itinerary: the great 800 km route that links Europe with northern Spain, crossing Aragon, Navarra, La Rioja, Castilla y León and Galicia. The most popular section is the one that goes from Sarria to Santiago - already in Galicia -, the minimum 100 kilometers required by the Cathedral of Santiago to have traveled on foot to get the Compostela.

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The French Way is the itinerary followed by pilgrims arriving in Spain via one of the four main routes in France: the Via Turonense (which leaves Paris), the Via Lemovicense (which starts from Vezelay), the Via Podense (which starts de Le Puy) and the Via Tolosana (which crosses the Pyrenees through Somport). Its popularity was unstoppable since its detailed description in the Calixtino Codex (12th century), becoming a great commercial route in which some of the main Jacobean vilas were founded such as Jaca, Pamplona, ​​Logroño, Burgos, Carrión de los Condes, León or Astorga.

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It has an excellent network of hostels and accommodation, good signage and a very rich cultural and artistic heritage. The French Way is also advisable for those pilgrims who like to meet people or are looking for some company along their Route, who want to discover different landscapes and who like to know the wealth of heritage of the territories. On the contrary, it is not very suitable for those who choose to walk a lonely Camino, especially in summer.

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After the French, the most popular itinerary is the Portuguese Way. Most pilgrims travel it from Tui, already in Galicia, which involves 5 or 6 stages until they reach Santiago. Its incredible beauty, a smooth itinerary and a more than acceptable network of accommodation make it one of the preferred options for the walker.

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Beautiful and hard is the Camino Primitivo, the one that goes from Oviedo to Santiago de Compostela. This is the journey by King Alfonso II of Asturias in the 9th century to visit the relics of the Apostle after their discovery. Its mountain sections make it especially difficult to travel a route that, however, rewards the pilgrim with spectacular landscapes.

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Nature is one of the main attractions of the Camino del Norte, which runs along the Cantabrian coast from Irún (Basque Country) to Santiago de Compostela. Also known as the Camino de la Costa, the pilgrim who choose this itinerary has more than 800 kilometers ahead, making it the second longest route to Santiago after the Vía de la Plata.

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The English Way is another good option for those pilgrims fleeing from the most popular routes. Historically it was the route used by English and Irish pilgrims who arrived by boat to the Galician ports and its starting points are Ferrol and A Coruña.

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Little traveled is also the so-called Winter Way, which leaves from Ponferrada to Santiago through more than 250 kilometers. It is a variant of the French Way, which avoids passing through areas of difficult access in winter, such as the climb to O Cebreiro. As it passes, the pilgrim will be able to enjoy unique natural landscapes such as Las Médulas in El Bierzo or the Ribeira Sacra already in Galicia.

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From the south of Spain two Caminos go up towards Santiago: the Mozárabe and the Vía de la Plata. Both are inadvisable to do in summer due to the high temperatures they endure. However, they are ideal for those who decide to do the Camino by bicycle, as they present comfortable dirt or asphalt tracks and do not register significant slopes. The Mozárabe leaves from Córdoba, Jaén, Granda and Málaga, being one of the longest Caminos de Santiago (about two months) and connects in Mérida with the Vía de la Plata. The natural continuation of the Caminos del Sur is the Camino Sanabrés, which from Granja de Moreruela (Zamora) goes to Santiago entering Galicia through the province of Ourense.

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Finally, from the Camino con Correos we also recommend the Camino a Fisterra and Muxía, whose peculiarity is that it begins in Santiago de Compostela. From the tomb of the Apostle, the pilgrim goes to the End of the World, where one of the most spectacular sunsets awaits him.

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Beyond these popular Jacobean Routes, Spain has throughout its territory with more itineraries that connect the different starting points of the pilgrim with Santiago. Some of the best known are the Camí de Sant Jaume in Catalonia, which starts from the Montserrat Monastery and runs through Catalonia in the direction of Zaragoza. Historic is also the Ruta de la Lana, which is the path followed by ranchers, shearers and pilgrims from La Mancha. Or also the Camino de Madrid, which leaves the capital and crosses the Sierra de Guadarrama to Segovia and Valladolid, joining the Camino de Santiago in Sahagún.

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Credits: The Camino de Santiago with Correos

Copyright

Chilean Circle of Friends of the Camino de Santiago

2021