Camino de Santiago
Registered in 1993 as a Mankind Heritage Site. This is the route, from the French-Spanish border, which was and still is followed by pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela. Along the route there are around 1800 buildings, both religious and secular, of great historical value. The Route played a fundamental role in the cultural exchange between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of Europe during the Middle Ages. It is still testimony to the Christian faith in people of all social classes from all over Europe.
The network of Jacobean routes which lead to Santiago de Compostela, confirmed as the Leading European Cultural Itinerary by the Council of Europe for its dissemination of cultural expression and creating a common identity among the peoples of the continent, is without doubt the first great route which takes travellers from all over the world through Spanish territory. For more than eight centuries, the cult of the apostle Saint James (Santiago) has resulted in an endless flow of pilgrims, which becomes more intense in the years of Jubilee and which usually has a spiritual foundation. This in addition to the wealth of experiences provided by a route with great cultural variety in the regions and areas through which it passes, the hospitality of the peoples who live there and the varied corollary of personal impressions of the countryside, the experiences and the anecdotes which arise during the route.
The Route Is More Than One Route.
The land route par excellence, which is also the most well-known and the best equipped, is the one known as the French Route. It enters Spain through Somport or Roncesvalles, in the Pyrenees, joins up later in Puente la Reina, in the lands of Navarre, continues through La Rioja and Castilla-León, to enter Galicia via O Cebreiro until it reaches Santiago. Another interesting route is the Northern Route, also known as the Cantabrian route or the high route, which travels through the Basque Country, Cantabria and Asturias, dividing when it enters Galicia. Historically, some illustrious pilgrims completed the Route by continuing to Finisterre, which became a compulsory destination for everyone who had done the Jacobean route. The “Vía de la Plata” route, used by pilgrims living in Islamic territory, was a Roman road which came back into Christian hands. It crosses Extremadura, Salamanca, where it joined up with routes coming from Portugal, and Zamora, reaching Galicia through Verín or linking with the French Route in Astorga. The Portuguese and English routes and the maritime routes were some of the many other ways of reaching Santiago.
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