What is the Camino de Santiago?

When people talk about “The Camino”, they are usually referring to the Camino Frances, a roughly 500 mile route that begins in France, crosses the Pyrenees into Spain and finishes in Santiago de Compostela.

In fact, there are many routes to Santiago.  Historically a person’s camino began at their front door, be it in Germany, Sweden, Franch, Spain or wherever. Assuming the pilgrim arrived safely in Santiago, he or she turned around and walked home!

Originally begun over a thousand years ago, the Camino was a pilgrimage that paid homage to the apostle, James, whose bones, according to legend, were discovered in the vicinity and subsequently buried in what grew to become the cathedral in Santiago. It was also a way for Catholics to atone for sins. Fact or fiction, the reports of those bones have caused quite a stir for the centuries.

Interest in the Camino waned in the early part of the 20th century and the pilgrimage had all but disappeared until a resurgence began in the 1970’s. The 2010 release of the movie, The Way, starring Martin Sheen gave the Camino an additional boost, and today nearly 250,000 people make a pilgrimage to Santiago each year.

I have walked three different Caminos:
The Camino Frances, 2013
The Camino Portuguese, 2014
The Camino Primitivo, 2015

Each one was a different experience, each one was rewarding, each one was challenging and each one left me with the desire to go back.