The Camino de Santiago, also known as the Way of Saint James, is the name used to refer to all the routes that lead to where the apostle Saint James the Great is said to be buried. The Camino has been one of the most important Christian Pilgrimage for well over 1,000 years and it has started a new international rebirth.
The Camino is a journey to the religious and historical roots of Europe, it’s traveling through beautiful countryside and timeless villages, it’s rediscovering the pleasure of being in direct contact with nature.
But it is also an invitation, to rediscover yourself through introspection and new encounters, to change habits that have been making you unhappy, to build unexpected friendships and give yourself new challenges.
Camino Fact Files
- The Camino de Santiago is a network of routes from every major city in Europe that lead to Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain
- It is the 3rd most important Christian Pilgrimage after Jerusalem & Rome
- It leads to the burial place of the Apostle Saint James
- Walking the Camino on a Holy Year or during the 2016 Year of Mercy gives you plenary indulgence
- Over 300,000 pilgrims finished the Camino in 2017
The first European Cultural Route & an UNESCO Heritage Route
In October 1987, the route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe; it was also named one of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.
This is what UNESCO says about the pilgrimage:
A network of four Christian pilgrimage routes in northern Spain, the site is an extension of the Route of Santiago de Compostela, a serial site inscribed on the World Heritage List in 1993. The extension represents a network of almost 1,500 km: coastal, interior of the Basque Country–La Rioja, Liébana and primitive routes. It includes a built heritage of historical importance created to meet the needs of pilgrims, including cathedrals, churches, hospitals, hostels and even bridges. The extension encompasses some of the earliest pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela, following the discovery in the 9th century of a tomb believed to be that of St. James the Greater. http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/669
Camino Statistics – updated in January 2018
- Over 300,000 pilgrims finished the Camino in 2017 (10% increase compared to the last Holy Year 2010)
- 2.5 million people visit Santiago de Compostela a year
- 51% of pilgrims are men – 28% are less than 30 years old – 17% are over 60 years old
- 92% of all pilgrims walk the Camino
- 7% cycle the Camino
- 400 a year ride the Camino on a horse
- 40 a year complete the Camino on a wheel chair
- Almost half of all pilgrims are Spanish (44%) but over 130 nationality complete the Camino
- The next nationalities on the Camino are Italy (16%), Germany (14%), the USA (10,4%), Portugal (7,7%), Ireland (4%), the UK (3,4%) and Brazil (3%). [percentages of foreign pilgrims]
- The country with the highest percentage of population that walk the Camino is Ireland
- The most popular route by far, chosen by 70%, is the French Way, which begins in Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port in France and passes through Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, Leon, and Astoria
- 26% of pilgrims start in Sarria, 112 km from Santiago on the French Way
- 11% start in Saint-Jean-Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and walk 775 km in over 4 weeks towards Santiago
- The 2nd most popular route is the Portuguese Way chosen by 22% of all pilgrims
- The Northern Way is followed by 15k people a year (6%)
- The Silver Way – Via de la Plata & The Original Way – Primitivo by 8k (4%) each
- The English Way is chosen by 7k (3%) and all other routes are barely used (0,30%)