Lying on the ground, supported by pilasters, the pilgrims make the historic center of Santiago de Compostela, a World Heritage Site and the capital of Galicia, in northwestern Spain, a space for contemplation.
The nine recognized routes to get there are marked in Praça do Obradoiro, which come from the four corners and joined in the center by the last shell, a symbol that guides pilgrims throughout the journey.
The atmosphere is happy. There are those who risk a triumphant attitude, raising their bicycles to the sky, or make the scene the scene of a marriage proposal, bringing smiles in their eyes and lips.
But the star in this scenario is the exuberant Cathedral of Santiago, built in 1075, a mixture of architectural styles inside and out, where the crypt is buried in which Santiago, the disciple of Jesus and the patron saint of Spain, is buried. The visit is amazing.
In the ninth century, when the pilgrimage began to arrive there and worship it, the passage was full of misfortune and, for many, synonymous with sacrifice.
One thousand two hundred years later, there is a large specialized network to make life easier for the pilgrim and services such as luggage transport at the price of 4 euros (R $ 21) by post, in addition to several possibilities to follow the route: on foot, by bike, horseback, train or boat.
Even those who are not card athletes have time and can split the stages to Santiago according to the time available. For hikers, it is advisable to have a day off for unforeseen events.
The first cultural itinerary in Europe is a favorite of Brazilians, the tenth country with the most pilgrims to Santiago in 2019 and the only representative of Latin America in the top 10. In that year, over 347 thousand people made pilgrimages there, mostly on down. , for religious reasons and more.
At Xacobeu, or the Jacobean Year, when the day of July 25, the day of Santiago, falls on a Sunday, the route acquires even more special airs.
In addition to various events, it opens the holy door of the Cathedral of Santiago and devout pilgrims can ask for a plenary indulgence, forgiveness of all sins.
With the pandemic, for the first time, Xacobeu is celebrated in two years, 2021-2022, and it is worth taking advantage of the temperatures of European spring, which lasts until June 20.
The French Road, the most famous of the routes and a legacy of humanity, offers a walk through the centuries that has as its starting point the medieval Saint Jean Pied de Port, in southwestern France.
From there, 777 km are covered in 33 days, but if you want a shortcut closer to Madrid, start in the charming Burgos, which shortens the journey by 12 days.
From there, get ready for a journey in which the silence is interrupted by the song of birds, the green fields continue as you can see, and the plane trees with still dry branches give the landscape the appearance of paintings outside the canvas.
Restaurants and bars are close to the medieval portals of the millennial city. If the 16th century Santa Maria Arch is already impressive, a sigh of admiration comes in front of the grandiose Santa Maria Cathedral, a world heritage site.
The Gothic temple built from 1221 onwards is a gallery with works from floor to ceiling, such as the dome of the central nave over the tomb of the warrior El Cid, the Renaissance golden staircase by Diego de Siloé, model of the Paris Opera, and the friendly figure of the biter. the bell rings with his mouth open.
The visit is a sample of historical diving, through monuments and ruins, which marks the route through the region of Castile and Leon, in northwestern Spain. The walk follows the back roads, where in a few minutes pilgrims from Colombia, South Africa and European countries pass.
To slow down as you ascend and descend the alleys of Castrojeriz, a quiet boat ride along the Castilla Canal in Frómista, in the province of Palencia, offers a break before discovering the famous 11th-century church of San Martín. a translation. of Romanesque style, with its rustic walls.
As you get lost in the alleys of León, you may hear rock music coming from a pub in front of the city walls, mingling with the childish laughter of students leaving school a few meters from Santa’s Cathedral. María de Regla, another Gothic temple from the 13th century.
With one of the most important stained glass collections in the world, next to the Chartres Cathedral in France, it is not for nothing that it is called the house of light. It’s the feeling of going to infinity through shades of blue, red, purple, yellow.
Leão also bears the mark of Gaudí, who designed the Casa Botines in 1892, and the jewel-encrusted glass of Infanta Dona Urraca, kept in the San Isidoro Museum, one of the relics considered to be the Holy Grail.
Another must-see stop in the region is the monumental Castle of the Templars, in Ponferrada, which built most of its imposing stone walls in the 15th century and has ruins from the time of the Catholic crusader warriors, a treasure ignored in the middle. -1920, when he tried to make a football field there.
In the same historical atmosphere, we advance towards Galicia. The Celtic music that comes from the souvenir shops sets the tone for the village of O Cebreiro, in Lugo, which preserves pre-Romanesque buildings, one of which is a museum that helps us get an idea of what life was like inside the straw. and stone huts. The mountain above is one of the most difficult parts for pilgrims.
In the village is the Church of Santa Maria, which preserves the relics of the miracle in which the wine and the host sanctified by the unbelieving priest were transformed into blood and flesh before the faith of a peasant, in 1300.
The Portuguese Way also passes through Galicia, a 571 km route from Lisbon. The Spanish air is presented in the form of a breeze to those who pass from Valença to Tui through the international bridge over the waters of the river Minho.
The walk through Galicia offers the opportunity to admire the blue tones from the sea to the sky from unique scenarios, such as the ruins of the castro de Santa Trega, a village from the first century BC, at 341 meters altitude, in Guarda, in the province of Pontevedra .
Two churches to visit along the way are the Shrine of the Virgin Pilgrim, a small temple dedicated to travelers in the heart of Pontevedra’s lively historic center, and the Church of Santiago de Padrón, home of writers Rosalía de Castro and Camilo José Cela.
Among the devotees, it is believed that the stone that can be seen on his altar was used to tie the boat carrying Santiago’s body.
While all the trails end in Santiago de Compostela, one of them, Calea Finisterre and Muxía, starts there towards A Coruña, a route of about 90 km of pure beauty, starting with the Maceira Bridge, with its stone arches surrounded by waterfalls . among the green of the trees and bushes.
Cape Finisterre was what the Romans believed to be the westernmost place on earth, right at the end of the world.
It is not, but the mystical atmosphere on the hill, marked by the statue of the bronze boot and the stone at km 0, is an invitation to contemplate the sunset, on the edge of the rocks, or to spread the towel for a picnic. on the carpet of flowers.yellow, feeling the time change its rhythm.
Speaking of the history of time, the square in front of the catwalk is named after the physicist Stephen Hawking, who defined the end of the world as “a beautiful place”. Yes, he was right. About 30 km away, the seagull’s flight sprinkles the blue sky above another lighthouse, the one in Muxía, where, surrounded by rocks, is the Sanctuary of Nossa Senhora da Barca.
In this environment, where the silence is interrupted by the sea hitting the rocks, according to local tradition, Santiago had a vision of the Virgin, who in a stone boat encouraged him to follow his path. According to the pilgrims, this is the only way to end the journey and the invitation to return remains.
Guide to the Camino de Santiago
How much does the Camino de Santiago cost?
There are several websites, such as the official route, El Camino de Santiago, and specialized agencies, Pilgrim, Gali.com Wonders, Tee Travel and Art Natura, that allow you to budget depending on the route and how you travel. way.
A simulation performed by Sheet on the Pilgrim website for a trip on June 4, from Sain Jean Pied de Port to Santiago de Compostela, lasting 34 nights and accommodation with breakfast can start from 2,985 euros (R $ 15,613), with optional services transport in a backpack for 170 euros (R). $ 889.22) and cancellation insurance for 140 euros (R $ 732.30) included.
How long do I need to book?
It depends on the number of stages and the way chosen to make the trip, but it can be calculated from the websites of the agencies, which also show how many kilometers will have to be covered per day. In the simulation made for the French Road by Sheetthe journey would take 34 days.
What is the best time of year for this trip?
May and June are good months to travel, due to the milder spring temperatures.
How does the luggage transport service work?
The service can be rented on the agencies’ website when the package is closed. In the simulation performed by Sheetthe package for 34 days was 170 euros (R $ 889.22)
What are the options for following the route?
In addition to the traditional pilgrimage on foot, the pilgrim can also go to Santiago by bike or on horseback. For those looking for a faster trip, it is possible to take the pilgrim train from Madrid in the European summer. At the same time, it is possible to participate in the navigation route, with the Northmarinas association, which carries out “Navega el camino”.