Map of The Camino de Compostela – The Way of Saint James
The Camino is known by many different names. In France it is called Chemin St Jacques, in Germany it is Jakobsweg, in English the Way of St James and in Spanish it is called the Camino de Santiago, Camino de Compostela or simply The Camino.
There are many routes, but each path leads to one place –the city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, where, according to legend, the remains of St James were discovered around 1200 years ago. Pilgrims have for centuries journeyed to the shrine of St James in the Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela, then, as now, those who have walked the last 100kms have earnt a plenary indulgence – the Compostela. The wording on the Compostela has remained the same since the middle ages.
In the Middle Ages hundreds of thousands of people made their way to the shrine, battling the often treacherous elements, and at times other hazards such as bandits, illness, and lack of food. They primarily travelled on foot, leaving their homes near and far, sometimes making use of boats to travel across lakes and seas, sheltering in special pilgrim hospitales along the way. Here they were fed and sheltered, and in the case of those suffering such diseases such as St Elmo’s Fire, looked after, by monks who established special monasteries to care for the pilgrims.
After the Middle Ages, the Camino slowly decreased in popularity until, in the early twentieth Century, there were very few pilgrims making their way to the Shrine of St James. As the end of the twentieth Century approached the number of pilgrims making a Camino, and reaching Santiago de Compostela, increased markedly. 2,491 pilgrims were issued with a Compostela in 1986, increasing to 154,613 in 1999, though this figure is abnormally high due to the fact that this was a Holy Year. This increase in pilgrim traffic continued into the twenty first Century with the Jubilee Year of 2000 seeing 55,004 pilgrims receive Compostela’s, and with numbers continuing to increase in 2019 which saw 347,584 pilgrims granted Compostela’s, 5,301 of those being Australian. In 2022, the second part of 2 year Holy Year (due to the pandemic), 437,771 pilgrims were granted a Compostela, with the number of Australians, in post pandemic times, dropping to 1,717.
Australians have continued to enthusiastically make this pilgrimage, though we know from our paperwork that there are many who start in far-away places and take, like their European counterparts, a number of years to reach their destination.
The number of Australians reaching Santiago de Compostela has increased from 1,015 in 2009 to 5,220 in 2018. Post pandemic, these numbers are steadily increasing, but have yet to reach pre-pandemic levels. (see footnote.)
Walking the Camino articles
We've listed some of our best articles with tips and advice about Walking the Camino.
(Note: Of course there are other ways to get to St Jean Pied de Port …. for example, flying into Barcelona and catching a train or bus to Pamplona, then a bus to St Jean Pied de Port or Roncesvalles […]
20 May 2021 started the Ignatian Year which will last until 31 July 2022. The Society of Jesus (Jesuits) will be celebrating the 500th anniversary of a lost battle, of a wound that for Ignatius meant a failure. Inigo de […]
Pilgrim Beatitudes Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you discover that the camino opens our eyes to what one cannot see. Blessed are you, pilgrim, if you are not so much concerned about arriving, but arriving with the others. Blessed are […]
Since the Middle Ages pilgrims have walked to Santiago de Compostela to honour the apostle Saint James and to gain spiritual indulgences. Originally, they started from their own front door, following in the footsteps of previous walkers. Due to the […]
On my morning walks, I am constantly reminded of the Camino as I walk past the iron fences with the iconic fleur-de-lis incorporated into many of our modern fence designs. I find it fascinating how this symbol has spanned the […]
Reprinted with permission from La Concha (American Pilgrims on the Camino) Sept 2020 Many of us were planning to walk the Camino this year and are disappointed. Here are 4 ideas to bring the Camino to your home. Eat like […]
Many of the churches and cathedrals along the Camino routes were built during the Middle Ages. The 11th and 12th centuries marked the heyday of the pilgrimage. After Rome and Jerusalem, Compostela became the most important destination for Christians. The […]
At the 2019 AFOTC National Conference, your committee was asked to ‘Encourage Australians to explore local Camino paths’. Here is some information to help you further investigate some of the spiritual walks provided here in Australia. The Way of St […]
This article is intended to give an idea of what it is like to be a hospitalero, the duties, rewards, the good and the bad. The way each albergue is organised can vary greatly, and this description is intended to […]
Having now arrived in Santiago de Compostela on four occasions and walked in excess of 3,000 kilometres in Spain and Portugal, I have seen endless flora and encountered a reasonable variety of fauna. Commencing with the Camino Francés in 2013, […]
An hórreo is a typical granary from the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula (mainly Galicia, Asturias and Northern Portugal), built in wood and stone, raised from the ground by pillars ending in flat staddle stones to prevent access by rodents. […]
I am well qualified to write a ‘dummies guide’ because a year ago I knew nothing about starting a group/club and, as for Facebook, I wanted nothing to do with it. But I did have a fair knowledge of walking […]
At the February gathering of Pilgrims in Adelaide, we had the pleasure of a very informative talk by Dr Rosemary Nursey-Bray, a guide from the SA Art Gallery. The subject was the life and works of Antoni Gaudí, the outstanding […]
On the various Camino routes pilgrims are occasionally seen walking with hiking trailers, shopping trolleys and even strollers with backpacks on board taking the place of a toddler! There are Pros and Cons to walking with a hiking trailer in a general sense and as I found out with my hiking trailer, Spot.
The festival of San Juan is celebrated across Spain, Portugal and some Latino countries on 23 June, the eve of St John’s day, and coincides with midsummer feasts and the shortest day of the year. Traditionally bonfires were lit to […]
My first Camino was a solo one in 2005. As a woman in my fifties, I was relieved to find that I felt very safe. Since that time, I have walked many solo Caminos and have never felt afraid for my personal safety.
The Iberian Peninsula is a land rich in history, tradition and superstition. Portugal and Spain being “Catholic countries” share many of the same holidays and religious festivals. There are also many legends, some based on vague historical facts, others coloured […]
Often San Roque is depicted, one leg exposed, with a dog – carrying a bread roll in his mouth – by his side. Why? Legend tells that this man, whose parents died when he was 20, gave his inheritance to […]
The Australian Friends of the Camino (AFotC) does not organise guided or self- guided Camino pilgrimages or tours. If you are seeking such assistance with your pilgrimage, we have compiled the following alphabetical list of Australian tour operators to help […]
Do not leave your belongings unattended keep your valuables with you at all times even in the shower in albergues. Carry a mobile phone – or have access to one. Telephone numbers of the emergency services are on the reverse […]
1. Cathedral The great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela dominates the medieval city. As other buildings were constructed over time none were allowed to be higher than the towers of the Cathedral. Legend has it the Cathedral is the burial […]
Here are a few simple steps you can take to start you on your Camino. But first, the Spanish El camino simply means the way or the path in English. There is not just one Camino to Santiago de Compostela in […]
David is a veteran first-aider who has given first aid, pastoral care and support to pilgrims on the Camino for the past nine years – all on a voluntary basis. His twice-yearly first aid Caminos are funded partly from the […]
The Camino Chaplaincy is an apostolate formed of volunteer priests, ministers, religious and lay people. All have walked the Camino to Santiago. The President of the Camino Chaplaincy is Bishop Ralph Heskett C.Ss.R., the Bishop of Hallam, England. The Camino […]
26 countries make up the Schengen Zone and have seamless borders for entry/ exit between them ie they have abolished passports and any other type of border control at their common borders. Fortunately, the UK is not included. It takes […]
Pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela require a credencial or pilgrim ‘passport’ to establish their bona fides to stay in the albergues or refugios on the Camino. That is that they plan to walk, cycle or go by horseback to […]
I would like to share a hint found useful for dealing with bed bugs and the treatment of bed bug bites. Firstly, before leaving Australia I treat my sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, pillowcase, backpack & boots with Permethrin (Debugger), […]
This article is not meant to be a definitive guide to technology and the Camino rather a starting point, an introduction to how technology might be used to research and plan, aid whilst on the Camino and to keep in […]
A circuitous route to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Stage One beginning in Munich, Germany ending in Jerusalem – traveling through Austria, Italy, Albania, Macedonia, Greece, Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Second stage from Vienna, through Germany, Czech Republic, Holland, Belgium, France […]
My latest plan is to walk to Santiago de Compostela via the Camino Frances route. Why don’t you join me on my journey across four mountain ranges beginning in France, across northern Spain to the end of the world. Share […]