The Camino de Santiago is a pilgrimage route that ends in Galicia, Spain at the shrine of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. The route’s historical importance and the upwards of 1,800 points of interest along the route have led the Camino de Santiago to be named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

 

During the Middle Ages, the Camino de Santiago brought ample foot traffic and fostered a great amount of cultural exchange between the Iberian peninsula and those visiting the Camino route.

 

There is no single route for the Camino de Santiago. In fact, there are many variations, and even different means to follow the path. For instance, some choose to go on horseback and others by bicycle.

 

Scallop shells on walls along the Camino de Santiago.

Found along the coast of Galicia, scallop shells have become a symbol of the Camino. (lincolnbrody.wordpress.com)

The most common path is the Camino Francés, which stretches about 500 miles from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port, France to St. James’ shrine. Though this path is the most common, one should not feel the need to follow the popular. Make the Camino a unique journey – choose your route based on personal limits and fitness, the kind of nature you’d like to see, and any towns you may want to pass through.

 

The Camino at the very least will provoke some introspection and personal reflection, but it can be a life changing experience for some. It’s important to go into the Camino without expectations or hopes for the outcome and to take the chance to escape from the craziness of the world.

 

Look into the Camino online, and consider planning your own trip to develop self-awareness and an understanding of yourself.

 

Which route would you follow for the Camino de Santiago? Share your thoughts below or on Twitter @ryanlawlessness.