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The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela

Listed under Walking in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.

  • Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
  • Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
  • Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
  • Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
  • Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
  • Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
  • Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
  • Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
Photo of The Pilgrims walk to Santiago de Compostela
Photo by flickr user amaianos
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This is a shorter version of the ancient 5 week Camino Frances or the “French Way” to Galicia. My journey joins the trail at Ponferrada, to the east of Santiago.

There are traditional pilgrims’ markings and tracks to follow across the Galician hills, as well as new and slightly distracting yellow arrows painted onto everything. There are ruined castles and monasteries to visit along the route as well as churches housing several very significant religious artefacts. There are plenty of places to stay, including pilgrims’ only accommodations and campsites.

I went in summer thinking it would be the best time to camp, and it was, although some of the days were very hot and not the best for doing 20kms or more a day.

You’re supposed to embrace the statue of St. James in the cathedral at Santiago at the end of your journey, which I wasn’t intending to do at the beginning of my trip but in the end I wanted to. This is a good experience because you’re part of something that people have been doing since ancient times, so it’s a good time for personal reflection. There are some people on the trail who may want to talk to you a bit to much about their own plans for personal growth, but I think that’s probably how it’s always been and you should just embrace the whole pilgrim experience.

The full route starts at Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port and passes through Pamplona, Estella, the Leon wine region and Astorga before it reaches Ponferrada.

Written by  Russ Claridge.

Other expert and press reviews

“Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France”

Santiago de Compostela was the supreme goal for countless thousands of pious pilgrims who converged there from all over Europe throughout the Middle Ages. To reach Spain pilgrims had to pass through France, and the group of important historical monuments… Read more...

Written by press. Full UNESCO review

“The Best Time to Walk the Camino de Santiago”

Let me first just say – I’m biased – I of course think when I walked it in April/May was the best possible time to do it! Yes, I did get rained on a bit and it was muddy, but I will take those conditions any day over he… Read more...

Written by  Sherry Ott. Read more on Sherry's blog

“Camino de Santiago FAQs”

All of your basic questions about walking the Camino de Santiago answered! Where do you sleep? There are many choices and you do not have to carry camping gear unless you choose to sleep outside. Albergues are the cheapest option ranging 4 to 10 Euro … Read more...

Written by  Sherry Ott. Read more on Sherry's blog

Comments, reviews and questions by other travellers

The real route begins at Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, where you begin your pilgrimage walking down the Rue St. Jacques - Sant Iago in Spanish. In Medieval times, the route was so dangerous, it might take weeks for enough pilgrims to gather in the square to build a group large enough that all could travel safely together.

After the fall of the Holy Land to the Muslims, Santiago was one of only two major pilgrimage sites Christians could travel to in relative safety - the other being Rome.

1 Reply

Wow - I didn't know that, makes it even more interesting. Do people still do the whole length?

Hi I am trying to do a 10 day walk to Santiago di Compostello on the Frances route. Which town do I begin. I will be going there from Barcelona, I would imagine by rail.


Candice Goldstein

1 Reply

You can start from Ponferrada. It's 183 km to Santiago so you'll walk an average of 18 km/day what's not a big effort, therefore, Ponferrada is a city with good transports, so it'll be easy for you to arrive there. Buen Camino!

it's a pleasure for me informe you about the existence of a

"alternative" section of the Walk of Santiago in its stage:

THE ORIGINAL FRENCH'S WALK OF ST. JACQUES (Carrion de los Condes - Sahagun

troutgh Villada)

All informations about it can you find in our web: www.acaminosantiagovillada.

I am grateful to you in before for your collaboration to add this section

in yours maps and to inform other company or organization of the Walk ,with

them you can mantein contact , about it existence.

If the pilgrims wish sleep in a old castillian manor during the walk , we propose you a

only manor hotel in Castilla y Leon :

Bests Regards

Sandro Boniolo

Consultant of Associacion Antiguo Camino Frances de Santiago

E - 34340 Villada

St Jacques de Compostale route in October. When is the best weather for this trip?

Traveling the Le Puy route on this pilgrimage and wonder when is the best weather. Are the first 2 weeks in october a possibility? Is there a better route in the fall? We will be walking for 7 days.

Route of Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela was proclaimed the first European Cultural itinerary by the Council of Europe in 1987. This route from the French-Spanish border was – and still is – taken by pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela. Some 1,800 buildings along the route, both religious and secular, are of great historic interest. The route played a fundamental role in encouraging cultural exchanges between the Iberian peninsula and the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. It remains a testimony to the power of the Christian faith among people of all social classes and from all over Europe.

Copyright © UNESCO/World Heritage Centre. All rights reserved.

Do you know the way to Santiago?

If you are really going for repentence then you need to start at the Tour St Jacques in Paris (just by the Louvre). Also, the end of the pilgrimage is actually on the coast at Finisterre, not in Santiago. Basically the route pre-dates Christianity. Ancient celts used to migrate westwards towards the 'end of the earth' at the northwest tip of the peninsula. The god of the afterlife was Lug, hence the city of Lugo near Santiago. Anyway, just a useless tidbit for you.

I personally found the main 'Camino Frances' to be somewhat barren in places. Let's not forget that most people were doing the pilgrimage under duress back in the day. They therefore went for easy rather than pretty hence the route through the wide open spaces of Leon rather than along the stunning Cantabrian/Asturian coastline. So, be aware that there are different routes and choose the one for you.

The nicest/prettiest sections of the camino are not those leading to Santiago (unfortunately), the last 100km or so is not so wonderful.

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