Galicia Within the Spain of Today

By: Stephen Morgan

The Spain of today is very much an amalgam of the unification of a whole series of autonomous regions whose inheritance is quite wealthy and varied.

The inheritance left behind by previous invaders and conquerors such as the Moors, medieval Spaniards themselves or Jewish and other international communities is wealthy and varied.

As you would expect for a country where organized faith has played such an important part in its history, throughout Spain you will find lots of individual pilgrimage routes.

Of all of the pilgrimage routes possibly the most famous is the Camino de Santiago or Way of St. James. Interest in the Way of St. James arose in the ninth century when the remains of St. James were allegedly discovered. Because of this in the following centuries, pilgrims from throughout the world have travelled this route to have the experience of paying tribute to St. James.

The popularity of this particular route it has to be said has risen and fallen throughout the years. The 16th and 17th centuries probably saw the least interest in this particular route. Allegedly and that has to be stressed here, that apparently one of the Popes of the day (could be one of many) is supposed to have claimed that prisoners would be able to serve part of a sentence for misdemeanours and serve penance if they were to take part on a pilgrimage along the way of St. James.

From a position of declining and waning interest in the way of St. James in the late 20th century quite a significant revival has occurred in interest for this pilgrimage route and part of the reason for this revival may well be attributable to the fact that the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation recognized Santiago de Compostela as a world legacy site and this has further added to the attraction of the way of St. James and Santiago as one of the world's largest pilgrimages.

The combination of Santiago de Compostela and the Way of St. James has become so successful and quite frankly so massive that an entire tourism sub industry has grown up alongside it.

Many people have asked what are the most common starting off points for the Way of St James and it has to be said that probably the English, the French and the Spanish routes are the most common. That having been said to be honest the most popular of all originates from the north of France right down through northern Spain to Santiago.

Nowadays unless you happen to be a completely devout, fervent and ardent pilgrim it is unlikely that you would travel the entire 760 common to route from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. Those who do manage the entire route claim that the hardship and suffering that they go through stands him in good stead for being able to appreciate the whole experience once they get to Santiago.

There are numerous markers long the way to help ensure that pilgrims do not deviate more than is necessary from the original route and the most common of these signs and markers are the ubiquitous yellow arrows that are found painted on trees and rocks along the way. It is said that these were by and large painted in the 1970'S by Father Elias Valdinha who as well as wanting to improve the way also wanted to avoid more confusion than was necessary and also to ensure that all pilgrims arrived at their destination in good order as well as humour!

A considerate man.

Top Searches on
Spain Guide
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 
 • 

» More on Spain Guide