Last year in 2017, a total of 301 036 pilgrims received their Compostela, the Certificate of Achievement of the Camino de Santiago, which is 30 000 more than during the last Holy Year in 2010.
This is the most pilgrims on the Way of Saint James in centuries and is a direct reflect on the increasing popularity of the Camino de Santiago.
More people on the Camino and enjoying its benefits is a wonderful things, and in this article we would like to invite you to learn a bit more about those brave 300 000 pilgrims who accomplished their goal last year.
Summary of the updated official Camino de Santiago statistics given by the Pilgrim Office for 2017:
- A large majority of pilgrims are between 30 and 60 years old – 55%
- 49% of all pilgrims were women
- 28% who received the Compostela were under 30 and 17% were over 60
- 44% of all pilgrims claim they completed the pilgrimage for solely religious reasons
- As you would guess, the vast majority of pilgrims you will meet on the Camino are Spanish (44%) but you might be surprised that most of them come from Andalusia (21%), then Madrid (19%), Valencia (12%). 9166 Galician completed the Camino in 2017. [percentages of Spanish pilgrims]
- The countries best represented on the Camino are Italy (16%), Germany (14%), the USA (10,4%), Portugal (7,7%), Ireland (4% – largest percentage of any country compared to its size), the UK (3,4%) and Brazil (3%). [percentages of foreign pilgrims]
- 19% of all pilgrims are students and 13% are retired
- There were 1337 priest achieving the Camino in 2017 and other 1144 members of the clergy
- 85% of all pilgrims traveled between April and October
- The busiest month on the Camino is August but strangely it is a quiet month for Ultreya Tours as mostly Spanish students travel that month
- May and September are by far our busiest months as our clients try to avoid the heat but are not the busiest months for the Camino
- The season really starts with Semana Santa which in 2018 will be on the 25th of March so we predict a much busier April 2018 than usual
- 92,5% walked the Camino & 7,3% cycled
- 417 pilgrims rode on horseback and 43 brave souls traveled last year on a wheel chair (!)
- As usual the majority of pilgrims (26%) start in Sarria – 112 km away from Santiago on the French Way but an astonishing 33 000 pilgrims walked a whole month from Saint Jean Pied de Port in France (11%)
- A total of 180 737 pilgrims or 60% walked the French Way
- Porto (7,5%) and Tui – 114 km from Santiago on the Portuguese Way – (7%) were also very popular starting points with 22% of all pilgrims choosing the Portuguese Way.
- 6% choose the Northern Way through Santander and Ribadeo.
- 4,5% choose the Original Way through Oviedo.
- 3,8% choose the English Way by Ferrol or La Coruña.
- 3% choose the Silver Way which originates in Andalusia and goes through Astorga or Ourense
- Only 29 walked the Camino de Invierno
Compare these statistics with our article from 2015
The Compostela, the Pilgrim Office and how the statistics are gathered
To receive your Compostela, the Certificate of Accomplishment of the Camino de Santiago, you need to prove you walked/horse-rode the last 100 km or cycled the last 200 km.
For this you need to get your “Pilgrim Passport” certified by the Pilgrim Office stamped at least twice a day on the last 100 km (we provide this on all our tours otherwise you can purchase one at home from your local Friends of Saint James Association, online on the Camino Forum Store or in the main churches on the Camino, in dedicated shops and some hotels in the main starting towns.
The stamping process is one of our favourite parts of the Camino, as everywhere you will go during your pilgrimage (hotels, bars, shops, restaurants, churches…) will have a unique stamp, making for a great souvenir once you come home.
Once, you arrive in Santiago de Compostela, go to the Pilgrim Office on Rua das Carretas next to the Cathedral where you will be issued the Compostela.
We recommend avoiding the most popular times like 11 am or 3 to 6 pm so you don’t have to queue for hours.
How those statistics are gathered
The Pilgrim Office will ask you some basic on which are based the statistics: mode of transportation, starting point and which route you choose, and some more personal questions like your name, your gender, occupation, age, country of origin and if you accomplished the Camino for Religious or Cultural reasons (or both).
Other statistics are gathered from pilgrim offices and albergues on the Camino like the pilgrim office in Saint Jean Pied de Port in France or the albergue in Roncesvalles on the other side of the Spanish border.
Christian Welcome & the Pilgrim Office
To understand what the Pilgrim Office is, we would like to share the message sent by the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela about their Christian Welcome.
“The Christian Welcome on The Way (Spanish acronym: ACC) is the effort by a significant number of Diocese and Church hostels (of parishes, religious orders, of brotherhoods…) to improve the service to the pilgrims on The Way of Saint James. The ACC is not an instituted organisation, but a group of people who share illusions and work. Those involved are:
– The Pilgrim’s Office of Santiago de Compostela.
– The Interdiocesan Commission of delegates for The Way of Saint James.
– A series of masculine and feminine religious communities that execute the welcome along The Way: Benedictines, Augustinians, Cistercians, Franciscans, Dominicans, etc.
– Various priests and parish hostels.
– Hosts who devote their time and enthusiasm to serve pilgrims in church hostels and who try to accompany them along their faith’s journey.”
We would like to thank the Pilgrim Office & the ACC for the wonderful work done in the past couple years to improve the Pilgrim Office facilities in order to offer the Compostela to those 300 000 pilgrims last year, to improve the experience on the Camino by their close work with the Church, the different Friends of Saint James Association, parishes, hoteliers and the Xunta of Galcicia.
And remind everyone most of this work was done on a volontary basis by incredible human beings who dedicated several months of their lives to be a Hospitalier, to welcome pilgrims at arrival in Santiago and to work long hours in the Pilgrim Office issuing Compostelas.
To give back and found out more about their actions go to acogidacristianaenloscaminosdesantiago.org