Huh? what’s that, the cami…whatever?!

7 05 2011

Although the Camino de Santiago de Compostela attracts hundreds of thousand of people each year, it’s not well-known in this part of my world.  If you know what it is, or have even walked it yourself, you’ll find this post extremely dull, I’d recommend you spend your hard-earned computer browsing time on something more interesting.

If you’ve never heard of it, stay tuned.

First of all, most people don’t use the full name.  I’ve heard it called the Camino (the Way) and this is the term I’ve become most comfortable using.  However, I noticed that our French Canadian counterparts tended to call it the Compostela.  In any case the translation is the Way of St James.  There are many different paths (with different names), but they all converge on the Santiago de Compostela or the supposed grave of St James.  History often has holes in it and no one really knows whether or not the bones of St James are actually buried there.  In any case, it is one of the holy sites of the Roman Catholic Church.  For the truly adventurous, the end of the path goes on to the coast of Spain, but most people end their pilgrimage at the cathedral.

The Way is marked by a clam shell and many pilgrims carry a clam shell in one form or another.

Traditionally, you carry all your necessary belongings on your back.  Accommodation is simple, hostels (refugios, or albergues),  food is purchased along the way.  Most people walk, some bike, and fewer do it on horseback.  We’re walking.

The entire Way of St James is several hundred kilometres long.  As long as you do the last 100 kms you are considered to have completed a pilgrimage.  We’re doing about 270 km.

The Way of St James has been designated a world heritage site by UNESCO, but it still has religious significance.  Today, it possible to do either a “pilgrimage” or a “tourist walk”.

The Way of St James, only one of the routes to the Santiago de Compostela

I’m looking forward to actually being there.

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