The Camino de Santiago (Spanish) or Saint James Way (English) is a network of Christian pilgrimage routes in France and Spain which have been in existence since the ninth century. The pilgrimage route which is the focus for Camino Downunder is called the Camino Francés. In the 12th and 13th centuries Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela exploded in popularity, overtaking the other two pilgrimage routes to Rome and Jerusalem.
During the Middle Ages, the infrastructure supporting this immensely popular pilgrimage route; 800 kilometres from the Pyrenees to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia witnessed some one thousand two hundred buildings erected, civil engineering works constructed such as bridges and new towns established along the Camino track, which today for the 21st century pilgrim/walker is an incredible legacy to enjoy, admire and walk along.
It is therefore no exaggeration to say that walking the Camino Francés to be the most unique walking track in the world precisely because of its history combined with its natural and built environments lasting more than one thousand years.
A common narrative with some historical overtones, suggest a Christian hermit by the name of Pelayo or Pelagius circa. 813 AD witnessed lights or a bright star shining over a cave in the wooded countryside; in the isolated north western region of Spain.
Soon after, and still in the 9th century it was deemed by Church authorities that the bones found there were those of the long lost and forgotten Apostle James, martyred some 750 years earlier in Judea. The latter becoming the patron saint for Spain and called: Santiago, and who in death was credited as the credible historical catalyst for Christian Spain to successfully reconquer all of its territory in 1492.
At that location where the remains were found (in the Middle Ages called “relics”) was erected a number of earlier versions of today’s Santiago Cathedral and the surroundings were eventually transformed into the fabulously enticing and exquisitely beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela.
In 1985 the old city of Santiago de Compostela was placed on the World Heritage List because of its historical and religious significance dating back some 1,200 years. The Muslims, who had successfully invaded Visigoth (the then ruling class) dominated Spain in 711. Generations later, the caliphates (the Muslim rulers of southern Spain) successfully reached Santiago de Compostela in 997 and destroyed the cathedral and town, but left the religious relics intact, whilst taking the huge cathedral bells as a war trophy.
The city was completely rebuilt in the 11th century and much embellished over the centuries with its Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque buildings. Today, the original old town of Santiago demonstrates that it is one of the world’s most beautifully built environments. The oldest buildings are grouped around the tomb of St James or Santiago, located within the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela which is in the old part of the city.
At the main entrance is the exquisite Pórtico de la Gloria (western façade of this massive cathedral), considered a masterpiece of late twelfth-century architectural design and sculpture.
"...the pilgrim at once the complete insider, the total outsider. This is why the pilgrimage is not a tour, not a vacation, not at all a trip from point A to point B, but a journey that is both an experience and a metaphor rather than an event. This is why the pilgrimage must be done on foot, never on bicycle; why you must stay in refugios, not in hotels; and why the journey should be long and hard. And this is why you then experience a place and culture in a way vastly different than as a traditional visitor or even as a local."
Conrad Rudolph, Pilgrimage to the end of the world.
|Sólo hay un Camino||There is only a path|
|Que te lleva a otra forma de vivir||Which allows you to live another way|
|A otra forma de sentir||Another way of feeling|
|Es un camino guiado por el sol||It’s a track guided by the sun|
|Y las estrellas||And by the stars at night|
|Y cuando lo sigues encuentras un país mágico||And when you follow it, you find a magical country|
|Donde todo es posible||Where everything is possible|
|Paisajes de leyenda||With legendary locations|
|Mares de intensidad||Powerful seas|
|Ciudades de piedra||Cities of stones|
|Y gente que regala amistad||And people who delight in friendships|
|Sólo, si haces el Camino||Only if you undertake the Camino de Santiago|
|Al final, siempre encuentras lo que buscas||In the end, you will always find what you’re looking for|
|El camino - Galicia - la sientes.||The Camino de Santiago – Galicia – you’ll feel it.|
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