The Camino de Santiago
The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain owes its origin to the discovery, in what is now Galicia, of the tomb of the Apostle James the Great sometime early in the 9th century. It probably achieved its greatest popularity in the 12th century, when it came to rival Rome and Jerusalem as goals of Christian pilgrimage, and though it declined thereafter, it has never been entirely forgotten. In recent years it has seen a renewed surge of interest, and in 1987 it was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe.
Although the 800 km route from Roncesvalles in the Pyrenees - the Camino Francés - is by far the best known, "the Camino de Santiago" is in fact a network of routes, starting from elsewhere in Spain and Portugal, and many more distant points in France, Germany, and further afield. These less well-known and quieter routes are developing rapidly, several of them by now perfectly viable alternatives to the traditional route.
The Confraternity of Saint James was established as a non-denominational association in 1983 by a group of 6 people who had made the pilgrimage, and wanted "to give something back", by giving help and advice to new generations of pilgrims: this remains our main purpose. More than 25 years down the line, we have some 2000 members, publish a quarterly journal and a series of guides to the pilgrim routes, offer an on-line bookshop and a telephone enquiry service, run a library with an on-line catalogue, a digital image collection (also available through this site), and a collection of slides for loan, offer bursaries to young students of the pilgrimage, run two pilgrim hostels in northwest Spain, and organise a full programme of events in the UK, and visits abroad. Nearly all of this large programme of work is done by volunteers, people who, like the founders, want to "give something back" in partial recompense for an experience which has enriched their own lives.
We have strong links with other pilgrim associations, particularly those in other English-speaking countries; with Pilgrimage to Santiago, the leading bulletin board on the Camino; and with the Picture Pages of the Camino, which offers stage-by-stage pages of many pictures for 8 of the Caminos in Spain, and also has slideshows.
We invite you to explore this site, which covers the history of the pilgrimage as well as the experience of undertaking it today, and both the practical and spiritual aspects of setting off for the shrine of Saint James.
Although this site has been optimised for all the most popular browsers, visitors sometimes report that the typeface is too small to read. If you experience this problem, try:
1. In Internet Explorer, go to View/Text Size/and choose a larger size. In IE8, you can select your zoom size by clicking on the down arrow in the bottom right hand corner of the screen.
2. Go to Control Panel/Display/Settings/Screen Resolution, and move the slider to see if you get a better result. The lower the resolution you choose, the larger the print will be on your screen.
3. A simpler method, which doesn't involve making permanent changes, is to turn the scoll button on your mouse while holding down the CTRL key - this gives you a fairly fine level of zoom control. (Thanks to Peter Buchan for this tip!)
4. Also usually you can hold down the CTRL key and press the + (plus) button on the numeric pad to increase the font-size. Hold the CTRL key and press the - (minus) key to reduce the font size. Holding the CTRL key and pressing 0 (zero) returns to the default font size.