The Way of St. James: more than just a tourist route

We live in an era in which, for a large number of people, working days are becoming longer and longer and there is less free time to have fun or do some kind of physical activity. Stress is one of the most common diseases of our century. It causes physical and emotional exhaustion and can be the cause of other health problems: digestive, cardiac, depressive, etc.

Rosa M. Bosch explains in an article in La Vanguardia entitled “The hiking revolution” that this sporting activity known as “hiking” has grown considerably in recent years among groups of all ages. It is estimated that fifteen million Europeans practice it on weekends; the number of members of hiking clubs is increasing and new offers of trekking articles are appearing on the market.

We could say that hiking has become an urban phenomenon. The need to disconnect from the hectic life in the cities leads many people who are not strictly sportsmen to practice it. It also brings us many healthy benefits: it activates our cardiovascular system, relieves back pain, regulates blood pressure and helps us to be more optimistic and positive.

As a leisure and free time activity, hiking allows us to enjoy a different form of tourism in which we can really integrate into the culture of the places we visit, their people and their nature. The tourist of the 21st century is increasingly moving away from traditional tourism with organized packages and is looking for different, more spiritual and contemplative trips. They expect to find landscapes that are not only outdoors but also indoors.

Are you looking for such an experience? You may have heard of the Camino de Santiago as a devotional pilgrimage similar to those that exist in other countries. However, its historical and cultural transcendence has few comparisons in Europe where it only competed in importance with Rome and Jerusalem. During the Middle Ages it favored the economic development and cultural exchange of the areas through which it passed.

The Jacobean route is a different Way, a journey through the Art and History of the old continent. Today it is still alive thanks to the influx of pilgrims from all over the world who join this vital experience.

We will give you some reasons why the Camino de Santiago attracts thousands of pilgrims every year:

* Personal challenge: many face their tour as if it were an adventure. This is possible thanks to the diversity of primitive paths or access routes that were inaugurated since the 9th century: the French Way, the Northern Way, the Silver Route, the Portuguese Way, the Basque Way, the Aragonese Way or the Catalan Way.

Each day is different from the previous one since it can be done by perfectly signposted sections. On arriving in Santiago, all pilgrims agree on the feeling of having reached a goal.

* Spiritual reasons: undoubtedly the Way of St. James has a Christian imprint. However, and despite the fact that for a large number of people the meaning of the pilgrimage is to venerate the tomb of the Apostle, the growing internationalization of the Jacobean route and the flow of pilgrims from different cultures and religions, shows that pilgrims, whatever their origin, set out in search of a spiritual universe, hoping to find themselves, enrich themselves on a human level and find inner peace.

* To feel attracted by the Spanish and European culture: regardless of the path we follow during our tour, we will find impressive monuments, cathedrals, bridges and Roman roads, monasteries and stately mansions of incalculable value. Not in vain the whole of the Jacobean route was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1993.

* Integrating into the customs: walking the Camino de Santiago allows us to learn first-hand about the festivals, popular folklore or gastronomy of the places we visit, getting rid of clichés and preconceived ideas that we can form when we only have information from magazines or documentaries.

In particular, the typical cuisine of Galicia will not leave you indifferent; it is the ideal destination to enjoy the best fresh seafood (mussels, scallops, clams, crayfish), octopus and rich roast veal or the delicious Santiago cake Experience it for yourself!

* Get close to nature: if you are a hiker or like to travel, you will probably enjoy the landscapes and natural environments. In Galicia you will be able to contemplate some of the most beautiful and contrasting landscapes in northern Spain: meadows, pastures, mountain passes, natural parks… In these postcard scenarios we will totally disconnect from daily routines, freeing our mind to give way to reflection.

Whatever motivation you have to start your Camino de Santiago tour, it will surely become a rewarding and unforgettable experience in your life. Not in vain many pilgrims decide to repeat.

Find out more about our tours and discover the Camino de Santiago: more than just a tourist route.

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