In 1987 the Council of Europe declared the Camino the first European Cultural Route and in 1993 the Camino de Santiago (el Camino Francés) was placed on the World Heritage List because it demonstrated "having outstanding universal value".
In 1998, France had all its four original medieval pilgrimage routes also placed on the World Heritage List under the title of: "Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France". In Latin and French they are called:
The 21st century pilgrim walking these routes will also experience and discover that along the Camino Francés in Spain, are four other World Heritage Listed sites:
In 2004 the prestigious Prince of Asturias Foundation from Spain - La Fundación Príncipe de Asturias bestowed an award on the Camino de Santiago:
“From these beginnings, the pilgrimage to Santiago became a driving force for extraordinary spiritual, social, cultural and economic vitality. In the course of its 1,200 years of history, it also became a symbol of fraternity amongst different peoples and the corner stone and focal point for an incipient, generalised awareness of Europe. The Council of Europe confirmed its backing in 2004 by naming it a Primary European Cultural Itinerary, stating that it demonstrated "the importance of man in society and the ideas of freedom and justice (it is) a niche for tolerance, learning and solidarity, for dialogue and coming together."
No where in the world do you have such a concentration of World Heritage sites as you have on or near the Camino Francés. This is both unique and exciting for any person/pilgrim walking the Camino. Do allocate time for these most worthwhile detours. Australians and New Zealanders live so far away, so when you are there, take advantage of this embarrassment of past riches.
In Rioja between Nájera and Santo Domingo de la Calzada, approximately 15 km from the Camino de Santiago route you have the 1997 World Heritage listing of the Yuso and Suso Monasteries at San Millán.
At Ponferrada (location of the fabulously impressive Knights Templar castle), 20 kilometres west is another World Heritage Listed site:
And in Galicia, approximately 33 km from the Camino Francés at Lestedo (near Palas de Rei) in a northerly direction is the city of:
The art and architecture from the 10th century onwards along the 800 kilometres Camino Francés from Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees to the main entrance of the Cathedral in the Praza de Obradoiro in Santiago de Compostela is so culturally rich and resplendent that no one is left unmoved by past human endeavour and creativity.
|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.|
The Camino de Santiago de Compostela was one of the main manifestations of European culture in the Middle Ages which was founded on Catholic/Christian traditions from the earliest times when most of Western, Central and Eastern Europe had been Christianised towards the end of Roman power and domination circa. 4th Century Common Era.
Saint James Way or now more commonly known as the Camino de Santiago had a major influence on the form of art and civilization in the various countries of Western Europe.
France during the Middle Ages developed four main pilgrimage routes and once over the Pyrenees (the natural, geographical barrier between France and Spain) converged into one route and called the French Route and now universally called el Camino Francés. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) through its vehicle the World Heritage Committee with their World Heritage Listing identified a massive number of built structures directly attributed to the Pilgrimage route from the Pyrenees all the way to Santiago de Compostela. The report stated that there are one thousand eight hundred (1,800) buildings along the route both religious and secular which have been identified as being associated with the Camino and pilgrimage.
This built environment is so culturally rich for modern day pilgrims that one could view the pilgrimage as simply the longest and most continuous museum crawl on earth!
The Camino de Santiago represents the birth and manifestation of Romanesque art and architecture. From the second half of the 12th century, came the Gothic cathedrals. There developed different chains of monasteries and castles. The Knights Templar castle in Ponferrada is an awe inspiring sight to behold. The expansion of existing cities, towns and villages whilst establishing newly built environments for just one purpose: supporting and assisting the pilgrim on his way to and from Santiago de Compostela. And not forgetting public works initiated by the various northern Spanish kingdoms and other entities created expressly for the Camino such as bridges, inns, hospitals and chapels.
The World Heritage Committee when it listed the Camino de Santiago (el Camino Francés) openly acknowledged that it is little changed from the Middle Ages. The report stated:
“The actual Route itself is well established and much of it survives the 20th century. About 10% of the original Route has been destroyed, and a further 10% lies beneath modern roads, but in many cases the modern road runs parallel to the ancient route.”
Quintessentially and most importantly, the Camino is a living pilgrimage route used by modern day pilgrims.
In a report/evaluation from the Advisory Body to the World Heritage Committee in 1993 it stated that: "The Route of Saint James is a unique example of its type which had a significant, even fundamental, influence on the consolidation of Western Europe.”
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