Camino de Santiago
The pilgrim route
Date of World Heritage Declaration: French Camino in 1993 and in 1998 the French paths.
Site: Camino de Santiago
Location: Regions of Burgos, Salamanca and León, all located in Castilla y León.
The Camino de Santiago is transited by pilgrims from all over the world with the goal of reaching the finish line: Santiago de Compostela, place in which the relics of the Apostle Santiago el Mayor are worshiped.
Located in Castilla y León, the Camino de Santiago is a long path that crosses the region horizontally. It passes through La Rioja and Burgos, piercing through the region to then come to an end in Leon after passing through Palencia.
Some of the most important characteristic roman buildings of Spain were built along the Camino de Santiago, in Villages such as San Martin de Frómista or San Isidoro de León.
The Camino was a popular path during the Middle Ages, but it was slowly forgotten about. Today, it is a very popular destination, with visitors arriving from all over the world.
The French portion of the Camino and its paths were declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in the years 1993 and 1998 respectively. At the same time, the Camino has been awarded the Galardón de Itinerario Europeo by the European Council and the Honorific Title of Europes’ Calle Mayor.
Since the apostle Santiago
According to the legend, after the death of the Apostle Santiago it turned out impossible to bury him in the Herodes’ territory, reason why his disciples carried his body by boat.
In the year 812 A.C, some relics believed to belong to the Apostle Santiago are found, and during the Spanish Reconquest, people begin to speculate about the possibility of his remains having been buried in Galicia.
In the beginning of the 9th Century, the King Alfonso II El Casto decided to build a church in the place where, as the story goes, laid the remains of the Apostle Santiago. Soon after, the news spread in the Christian Europe and pilgrims began to arrive to Santiago. The number of travellers grew rapidly in the 10th century, as the European population abandons the isolation characteristic from earlier times and began a series of exchanges and relations in the religious field, which will help pilgrimage become a more active, broad and simple way of showing devotion.
Rome, Jerusalem and Santiago de Compostela became the most important destinations. The Navarra, Aragón and Castilla y León monarchs facilitate the journey to Santiago through the construction of bridges, path reconstructions and building hospitals.
After the 14th Century multiple social upheavals in Europe caused pilgrims to deviate to other destinations. The Spanish Reconquest alsodeviates both the financial and political attention of the Spanish kingdoms towards the South of the country. The Camino slowly starts to lose its popularity compared to former centuries in such a way, that even though many pilgrims still make the journey to worship the Apostles’ tomb in order to fulfil their penance, it loses its appeal with every passing year.
In the year 1962, there was a first attempt to bring the Camino back to life: An announcement was made that the path was going to be represented by signs in the nearby areas in order to promote it, but this idea wasn’t as successful as they initially thought it would be. In the year 1993, Holy Year in Santiago de Compostela, the regional government of Galicia decided to boost its value by portraying it as a tourist destination and thus launches a publicity campaign in the Jacobeo of this year, Xacobeo’93.
Thanks to this plan and the collaboration of the regions the Camino passes through, a number of sections of the path and some of the infrastructures were restored for pilgrims. Since then, whether you do the Camino on foot, by bike or on horseback, it’s a popular destination which combines religion and spirituality with exercise and culture.
Details of the Way
Cathedral The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is a catholic temple situated at the heart of the Coruña Province in Galicia. According to tradition, in this temple resides the grave of the Apostle Santiago, which made the cathedral one of the main pilgrimage destinations in Europe during the Middle Ages through the Camino de Santiago.
Calixto II In the year 1122, the pope Calixto II declared Holy Year in Compostela every year that the 25th of July (Holy day of Santiago) would fall on a Sunday. This privilege was later confirmed by the Pope Alejandro III in 1179.
FacadesEach individual facade of the cathedral and its corresponding squares represent outstanding urban ensembles. The Obradoiro facade is baroque and was carried out by Casas Novoa in the year 1740. Azabacherias facade is also baroque and is the work of Ferro Caaveiro and Fernandez Sarela, and was later modified by Ventura Rodriguez. The Platerias Facade and the porch of the Glorias belong to Roman sculpture and were erected by the Master Esteban and the Master Mateo respectively.
The Obradoiro’s square place towards which the main facade faces, represents the stonemasons’ workplace, which was located in the main plaza during the construction of the Cathedral. In order to protect the porch of the Glorias from weathering, this facade and its towers have undergone many reforms since the 16th century.
Structure The building’s structure is situated over an area stretching 8.000 square meters, which includes a deck in the shape of a Latin Christian Cross formed of three naves, with a transept with three additional naves. The lighting comes from the windows of the two lateral naves.
Heritage of Cultural InterestThe Santiago Cathedral was declared Heritage of Cultural Interest in the year 1896 and the old city of Santiago de Compostela, which was wrapped around the Cathedral, was declared World Heritage by the UNESCO in the year 1985.
Camino de Santiago in Burgos
From La Rioja to river Pisuerga
The Camino de Santiago penetrates in Burgos from La Rioja. The first village along the path is Redecilla Del Camino, and within the town’s church a single baptismal font from the 12th century is kept, with a city engraved onto it representing Celestial Jerusalem. This is one of the most beautiful Romanic fonts that are preserved in Spain.
Past Redecilla Del Camino the pilgrims will find themselves in Belorado, where remains of a castle are preserved, and in Villafranca de Montes de Oca, in which its church dates back to the middle of the 12th Century. The sepulchre of San Juan de Ortega, preserved in a crypt, is a precious sculpture from the end of the Spanish Romanic era, as it is decorated with elegant engravings and figures.
The next stop is Burgos, were the “Las Claustrillas” monastery is located, a Cistercian feminine building founded by Alfonso VIII and his wife Doña Leonor in the year 1187. It is mainly gothic but also conserves Romanic transition elements.
Past Burgos, a mandatory stop is Castrojeriz, a small town with monumental heritage of the highest calibre as within it are preserved the ruins of the San Anton Monastery, the temple of the Clarias Mothers and the churches of San Juan y Santo Domingo.
Lastly, another one of the most emblematic locations along the Camino de Santiago is the Fiero Bridge in Itero Del Castillo, Burgos. The bridge dates back to the 11th Century and was constructed following the mandate of Alfonso VI to cross the Pisuerga River, by the regional border between the cities of Burgos and Palencia. It is an astonishing work of medieval engineering, a bridge with eleven semi-circular spans intertwined with pointed arches.
Camino de Santiago en Palencia
San Martin de Frómista, withholds the Church of the old San Martin de Tours Monastery, considered to be the goddess of Romanic Architecture in Palencia. The perfection of its shapes and size proves shocking to observe, as well as its precise and perfect construction which unites architectonic beauty and ornamental richness.
If we keep going forward in the Camino we can find the Iglesia de Santiago de Carrión de los Condes, which occidental Romanic facade with its cover and famous sculptural frieze usually attract the attention of any and all tourists and pilgrims that may approach.
Lastly, halfway between Frósmita and Carrión de los Condes we encounter the Santa María la Blanca temple, en Villalcázar de la Sirga. It is a plain but imposing temple that represents a transition between the romantic and gothic periods. It has three naves, an ample transept and three chapels.
Camino de Santiago in León
At the gates of Galicia
Leon is the last region in the Castilla y Leon Provence through which the Camino de Santiago passes through before entering Galicia. The first mandatory stop for its Romanic interest is without a doubt Sahagún. It is one of the most popular resting spots along the Camino de Santiago.
San Lorenxo is another magnificent example of Romanic Mudejar, although in its most classic phase. With its large dimensions the most curious feature is its construction material, as it is solely made of brick.
Finally, just before entering Galicia we find ourselves with the last link within the Castilla y León region: the church of Villafranca del Bierzo and its famous forgiveness door, which gets its name from the pilgrims that were unable to continue their journey to Compostela, and would therefore end it here, receiving the same blessing.