This week marks the highlight of the year for many in the majestic Galicia city of Santiago de Compostela: the celebrations and events surrounding tomorrow’s Feast Day of St. James the Apostle, by when many of those hiking northern Spain‘s Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James) pilgrimage route aim to enter the city. Whether they do it for religious reasons or not, all who have done the Camino know what a life-changing experience it is – a month or more of ups and downs of a month or more trekking over hill and dale, through landscapes sometimes banal but more often beautiful.
They say that during the hours upon hours spent walking each day, pilgrims enter “the zone”, achieving a clarity and focus conducive to meditating on one’s own life as well as some of life’s larger questions. For many, their lives have been forever marked as “before” and “after” walking the Way of St. James.
And of course, in addition to the Camino and the many marvelous cities, towns, and landmarks along the way – some of the most notable include Roncesvalles, Estella, Pamplona, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Vilafranca del Bierzo, and O Cebreiro – all pilgrims are moved when he or she finally arrives, footsore, at the final goal (the holy grail, as it were), Santiago de Compostela itself.
As challenging as the rigors of the road could be, many find themselves missing them, along with the lovely landscapes, the pilgrims’ hostels filled with memories and history. But immediately the magnificence of Santiago’s UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, mostly built between the 12th and 17th centuries, takes their breath away at the very least, and can inspire tears of emotion, as well. The first stop of course is the ornate 11th-century cathedral, where they can commune with the relics said to be of St. James, and get your Camino passport stamped with the crowning stamp. Then it’s off to explore more of this singular city, which we described in a past post.
And not only can Iberia get you there (the nearest airport to Spanish starting point Roncesvalles is Pamplona), but we also offer a discount especially for pilgrims.
This week’s festivities actually stretch in various forms on to the final fireworks show on July 31. But the quiet profundity of the Camino is yours any time of year. Come discover it with us.