For centuries Catholic pilgrims from all over Europe & beyond set out to walk often hundreds of miles to the shrine of the apostle, St. James whose remains were said to rest in the Cathedral de Santiago de Compostela in Santiago, in northwestern Spain. Though many routes crisscrossed Europe, the most well-traveled route stretches 500 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port in France over the Pyrenees through Basque country and then onto Galicia.
The scallop shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Pilgrims wear them on their packs & they are on all the way markers for the trail.
In modern times the trail has been popular with hikers and bikers all over the world for a variety of reasons, Some travel just for recreation, others during a transitional time in their lives & many for spiritual reasons. It is still popular today among Catholics. In 1987 it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Along the way, pilgrims stay in “albergues,” similar to youth hostels. At each albergue you get your pilgrim passport stamped.
In 2013 I walked 250 miles of the Camino with my long time friend, Deb,marking my 60th birthday. We skipped the middle part since we only had 2 1/2 weeks. It was a pivotal experience in my life. We started in France with many other pilgrims beginning the long trek from the charming medieval village of St. Jean de Port crossing the Pyrenees the next day.
Some of the many memorials along the way. Deb is leaving a special stone in the Pyrenees in memory of her father.
Scenes along the Camino….
The End of the Journey- for most, the Cathedral de Santiago, for me – Museo by the Sea (in new shoes.)