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What is the Camino de Santiago?

The Camino de Santiago is a network of ancient pilgrimage routes across Europe that lead to Santiago de Compostela, a city in north-west Spain. For a thousand years, pilgrims have walked to Santiago to honour the apostle Saint James, whose tomb is in the cathedral.


These days, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims register with the Pilgrim's Office in Santiago every year, having walked or cycled at least 100km of the way. Around a third of these walk for solely religious reasons. The others, like me, walk for wider spiritual reasons, pleasure or the challenge of a long-distance hike.

A map of northern Spain showing the Camino Frances and other pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela.
Image from: Paulusburg, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

The most popular of the pilgrim routes is the 'Camino Frances' that starts in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and crosses northern Spain in a wide smile. I walked most of this route in the summer of 2022. The experience was transformational.


The second most popular route is the 'Camino Portugues' that starts in Lisbon in Portugal. My husband and I walked the final week of this route, from Vigo (one day's walk from Pontevedra) to Santiago, during the very wet December of 2022. As you might expect, the experience was totally different but also magical.


You can read more about both Caminos in this series of blogs - or read the whole story in my book, Walking the Camino, due to be published in April.


If you're planning to walk the Camino, please let me know in the comments what you would like to know, and I will do my best to answer your questions.

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