Santiago de Compostela is a city in northern Spain where, according to legend, the disciple of Jesus, St. James, is buried. In the name of the city, Santiago stands for James, and Compostela is a pilgrimage certificate. In medieval Europe, Santiago de Compostela was the third most important pilgrimage destination after Jerusalem and Rome.
In the 9th century, King Alfonso II travelled to Santiago de Compostela along the road now known as the Camino Primitivo and had a chapel built over Jacob’s tomb. A century later, the local sanctuary became a destination for international pilgrimage. Infrastructure was created. The pilgrimage route symbol was a scallop, which travellers picked up from the beach near the shrine and took it home as evidence. The Camino de Santiago was born.
It is believed that more or fewer pilgrims have travelled along this path throughout history. Today’s pilgrimage gained momentum in the 1960s and has grown steadily, reaching more than 300,000 pilgrims arriving in 2017. There are incredibly many pilgrims in the holy year when Jacob’s Day – July 25 – falls on Sunday. A pilgrimage is distinguished from hiking because the destination is a sanctuary, and there is no definite itinerary. The start and endpoints of the route are known; the rest is formed on an ongoing basis. It is said that “tea provides”. Pilgrimages are used for religious, cultural, emotional, hiking, and other personal reasons. The road is open to everyone. The locals are very friendly to the pilgrims – it is a very fast-growing branch of tourism. Pilgrimage is becoming increasingly popular because it helps find yourself, take time off, put yourself to the test, is a sustainable so-called small footprint tourism industry, promotes self-development, and offers cultural and/or religious experiences, etc.
Upon arrival in Santiago, the pilgrim is given a certificate – Compostela. The pilgrim carries a pilgrim’s passport with him on the pilgrimage, collecting temples every day. The temples attest to his passage. The name of a simple hostel-type pilgrim’s hostel is Albergue. The pilgrim is wished “Buen Camino!” which means “Good way!”