Council of St James

Summary of the Way of Saint James

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Photo: Xerencia de

Pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela began in the 9th century from the time of the discovery, history or legend, of the tomb of the Apostle Santiago.

During the eight subsequent centuries a continual flow of pilgrims from all over Europe traced the routes that converge in Spain and lead, via the Camino del Norte (North Way) or the Camino Francés (French Way), to Santiago de Compostela, the final point of all the Jacobean routes.

From the start, the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) produced a close and fruitful link between the pilgrims and the inhabitants of the towns through which it passes. Therefore, in addition to its spiritual value, the Camino became the backbone for the dissemination of languages, customs, currents of thought, artistic styles, etc.

The Way of St. James, declared an artistic-historical site in 1962 by the Spanish state, has received a number of international acknowledgements. The Council of Europe distinguished it as the First European Cultural Itinerary in 1987, and in July 2004 it was awarded the category of Great European Cultural Itinerary. In 1993 it was included in Unesco's list of cultural assets declared to be World Heritage Sites. In 2004, the Way of St. James received the Príncipe de Asturias Award to Union for being a "place of pilgrimage and of meeting between people and cultures which, through the centuries, has become a symbol of fraternity and the backbone of European conscience".

The Jacobean Route attracts visitors with the wealth of its multiple facets. Whether travelling the route by foot, bicycle, horse or any other means, its spiritual, artistic and cultural vitality, the friendly nature and hospitality of its people, and the beauty and variety of the landscapes it crosses, guarantee a range of sensations that will endure in the traveller's mind.

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