“All roads lead to Rome”. This old saying, well known to all, is perfectly applicable today with Santiago de Compostela. After the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle, the Way has been walked for hundreds of years by pilgrims from all over the world along how many kilometers we need to complete it. Since then, the old paths of the European continent have emerged with the same destination, Santiago. It was from the construction of the cathedral that pilgrimages multiplied and today’s Camino de Santiago was consolidated.

We must bear in mind that there is no single itinerary, depending on the starting point we can choose between dozens of routes, each with its own history and tradition. There are more than 60 routes in Spain and many others in the rest of Europe. In this article we present the favorite routes of pilgrims on their way to Santiago.

What does a route have to be to be one of Santiago’s routes?

Although the Route of Santiago can start from many points, in order to be considered one of the historical routes of Santiago a number of factors must be respected. To this end, a number of criteria have been established, which are as follows:

– There must be evidence of the historical route, both in the ancient cartography and in its use.
– The historical existence of hospitals, bridges and even Jacobin legends of the route.
– The historical documentation of the pilgrims’ passage.
– We can also add the passage through the villages related to the Jacobin route and its symbolism and history.

THE DIFFERENT ROUTES

There is a wide range of official roads to Santiago that cross the peninsula, more than fifty have been documented. Below we report in detail the oldest routes, which currently accommodate the largest number of pilgrims:

The French Way

This route has been declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO and European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe. It is par excellence the most famous and crowded of all. It is considered the best marked route and has many advantages for the pilgrim, such as the quality and variety of accommodation, all types of services and a rich offer of monuments and landscapes. And it has its starting point in Saint Jean Pied de Port (French-Spanish border) although the most popular point to start this Jacobin route is Sarria (Lugo) which is located about 110 km from Santiago.

The French route consists of about 800 kilometers, which can be completed in about 30 days. If you do not have that much time other popular starting points are: Ponferrada (12 days), León (9 days), O Cebreiro (8 days) or from Sarria (5 or 6 days) which offers the minimum number of how many kilometers we need to get the Compostela.

The Portuguese way

The Portuguese Route is the second most popular route for pilgrims. It brings together a group of routes that start from different parts of Portugal, always entering Galicia through the city of Tui. The fact that it welcomes more pilgrims each year has turned it into a route that offers all the services and variety of accommodation a pilgrim may need.

This route consists of about 600 kilometers that start from the Portuguese capital and cross cities such as Coimbra, Mealhada, Águeda, Oporto, Barcelos, Ponte de Lima, Rubiães or Valença do Minho. Once in Galician soil, the route crosses emblematic places like O Porriño, Redondela, Pontevedra, Caldas de Reis or Padrón before reaching Santiago de Compostela. In total it takes about 21 days to cover the 600 kilometers. For pilgrims who do not have much time, Tui is the starting point because, like Sarria in the French section, it offers the minimum distance needed to travel to get the compostela.

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The way of the North

The official route of the Camino del Norte is the one that winds along the northern coast of Spain. It enters Galicia through the city of Ribadeo until it reaches the French Way in the last kilometers. This route distinguishes itself for being one of the oldest and preferred by the most experienced pilgrims.

But… how many kilometers we need to complete it? It has a distance similar to the French Way, with about 815 kilometers, divided into 32 stages. Irún is the starting point of a route that crosses important cities such as Santander, Bilbao, San Sebastián and Baamonde. Its great beauty has led to its recognition as a World Heritage Site.

The Primitive Way

Probably the oldest road, hence its name. Historically it forged its fame after being made by King Alfonso II The Chaste. It shares with both the North Way and the French Way. And it is a fairly demanding and less well-trodden route. It makes up for its lack of services and accommodation with the incredible landscapes it offers to its pilgrims.

So it consists of 321 kilometers in total divided into 11 stages starting from Oviedo. It passes through towns such as Grado, Salas, Tineo, Borres, Pola de Allande La Mesa, Grandas de Salime, Fonsagrada, Cádavo Baleira, Lugo and Palas de Rei. From this point we will continue by the French route. If we want to make the minimum of how many kilometers we need to obtain the compostela in the primitive way we will have to begin from Lugo.

The English Way

The shortest Camino de Santiago of all. It takes its name from ancient times when pilgrims of British origin entered the peninsula at two points: Ferrol or A Coruña. It is a less frequented route recommended for those pilgrims who already know other routes and want to explore the less beaten paths.

The distance of the English Way from Ferrol will be enough to get the well-deserved Compostela, 110 kilometers traveled in 5 or 6 days. If we start from A Coruña we will not reach the minimum of 100 Kms. Both routes converge in Bruma where they join up to Santiago de Compostela.

The Via de la Plata

Historically, this route was a communication route of the Roman epoch that was joining Astorga with Merida. Different facts along the history made that this route suffered modifications and expansions. Nowadays you can start from the south of Spain, specifically from Sevilla. It shares the last kilometers with the French road. The great distances, the climate and the scarcity of lodgings in some points turn it into a route not suitable for all the pilgrims.

This itinerary has a route of 705 kilometers, approximately 26 days leaving from Seville and passing through towns of great history like Merida or Salamanca. There are two entry points to Galicia, either connecting with the French route in Astorga or if we prefer we can choose to connect with the Sanabrés Route from Ourense, the latter being the most recommended option if you want to cover the 100 Kilometers needed to obtain the Compostela in 5 or 6 days.

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MORE ROUTES…

In addition to the already mentioned routes, there are many more including the different variants of each path. Other documented routes are:

– The Sanabres Way (369kms)
– The Aragonese Way (178kms)
– The Mozarabic Way. (From Almeria to Merida 618 kms)
– Via Augusta (Cadiz to Seville 171 kms)
– El Camino del Sur (From Huelva to Zafra 186kms)
– The Catalan Way (Approximately 494 kms from San Pedro)
– El Camino del Ebro (From the Ebro Delta to Logroño 453kms)
– El Camino de Madrid (From Madrid to Sahagún 324kms)

These are some of the more than 50 Caminos that exist in Spanish territory without counting those found in the rest of Europe. And you, do you know any of these routes? do you want more information? would you like us to help you organize your journey? If so, leave us your comment or contact us directly on 981966846.