25th July is St James Day, a holiday in Galicia. If 25th July falls on a Sunday, it will be considered to be a ‘Holy Year’ or Ano Xacobeo. Santiago de Compostela's old town is a UNESCO heritage site since 1985 and its University dates back to 1495.
Pilgrims follow directions from two symbols: the yellow scallop shell and yellow arrows which mark the way to Santiago. The trail from France to Santiago is 800kms long and takes approximately five weeks to complete but you can start your Camino at any point. However, you need to walk at least 100kms into Santiago to receive your Compostela certificate. This makes Sarria (111kms away from Santiago) the most popular starting point for walkers. If instead of walking you take your bike, you will need to cycle at least 200kms to Santiago to receive your Compostela certificate. Cyclists on the Camino are known as ‘bici-grinos’ (bike-pilgrims). Pilgrims have a passport that needs to be stamped at least once a day. The stamped passport is required to stay in albergues (public hostels).
You may be wondering what do these photos have to do with Camino de Santiago. Well, they were taken at one of the villages that are part of the trail. If you look closely, you will see the the scallop shell on the fountain below. In the village you can find one of the public hostels I mentioned before. The weather has been incredibly warm during the Easter holidays which resulted in a village full of resting pilgrims from all around the world. We also took advantage of this sunny day to visit this place where part of my family lives and enjoy a day at the countryside for a change.
I've been to Santiago de Compostela twice but I've never walked El Camino. It's something I'll probably do at some point in my life but not yet. You have to be fit to endure the long walks so some previous training is advisable.this English website where I found many interesting facts and useful information for pilgrims.
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