Everyone has their reason to walk the Camino, whether you know it by the time you start or not.

Between the grasslands of northern Spain, the lush eucalyptus forests of Portugal and the scenic villages
scattered around all the Caminos you will surely find a sense and belonging and a reason for your pilgrimage.

But the first step is often the hardest one and we know this, so we are here to give you the support to get you started.

Head out this October – experience the final 100 km to Santiago in 2021!

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Why travel with us?

Passion & Fairness
We cooperate with hand-picked local companies and pass on fair prices. For the Camino.

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We have an eye and a foot on the Camino. Always looking for the best guesthouses.

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Smart routes that can be combined. Also: the full Camino in a group - only with us!

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Thanks to all our customers that chose us as their tour operator – and then came back.

History of the Camino de Santiago


Jacob the Elder (Rubens)

Saint James and early pilgrimages
The history of the Camino de Santiago is interwoven with the history of Spain and Europe. It is centred around the historic figure of James, son of Zebedee, who was one of Jesus’ twelve apostles and brother of the apostle Saint John. He is also called James "the Greater" or St. James. First sources claim in the 7th century that James was active as a missionary on the Iberian Peninsula . When James later returned to Jerusalem, he was allegedly killed by King Solomon and died a martyr.

There are different accounts of how the skeleton of St. James arrived in Spain. Some say his followers brought it into Spain, as it was custom for a missionary’s remainsto be buried at the place of his ministry. Other sources claim that his skeleton arrived to the city of Padrón on an unmanned ship made of stone. Some say the ship was guided by an angel.

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Most stories of how James’ remains were found are similar. One goes like this: A hermit, living in a cave near the woods saw a light over the trees one night. He made out to see what was there and found the mortal remains of a man. He suspected them to be St. James’ and quickly informed the Bishop Theodemir about his discovery. Theodemir spent several days fasting, praying and consulting God. Then he confirmed the authenticity of the skeleton and its discovery was soon officially pronounced by King Alfonso II of Asturias.

Early dipiction of pilgrims

The first pilgrims arrived to Santiago shortly after. King Alfonso II himself was supposedly the first pilgrim, walking on what today is the Camino Primitivo to Santiago. In the 11th century, the Camino slowly gained fame all over Europe. The growing streams of Pilgrims led to an extension of the church which held the tomb of St. James. In 1075, it was restructured into a large cathedral, and the cathedral still has the same layout today. Its classical Roman architecture was later replaced by the popular Baroque style of the Renaissance.
In the following century, the Camino Francés became the main route for pilgrims from all over Europe. Many preferred Santiago to Rome or Jerusalem, as it was closer and a safer route. In the high tide of the medieval pilgrimages, it is assumed that 1000 pilgrims reached Santiago each day – numbers that are comparable with today’s, but at a time of much smaller population sizes. The journey was incentivised by promises of absolution for one’s sins, especially in the holy years (when the birthday of St. James, on July 25th, falls on a Sunday).

Politics of the Camino

The surrender of Granada (Pradila)

The finding of St. James’ remains came with politically opportune timing. At the time of the discovery of Jakob’s skeleton, the peninsula found itself in a deep political crisis. In the 8th Century, an Islamic army – consisting mostly of converted Moors from Northern Africa – had invaded the peninsula. They overtook big parts of the country in a short time. St. James’ remains soon became a strong symbol around which the Christian identity of Europe could be channelled. Many historians believe that the cult around St. James played a crucial role in the Reconquista – the long fights against the Moors, trying to evict them from the Peninsula. It is no coincidence that St. James – who was usually depicted as a peaceful pilgrim – suddenly appeared as a soldier on horseback in many paintings of the time. The battle cry “¡Santiago!” became popular before launching Spanish troops into battle.
The high numbers of pilgrims led to economic and cultural upheaval, especially in Northern Spain. They did not only bring money to the regions they crossed, but also spread new ideas, architectural and artistic innovations, information and gossip. The Camino became a place of cultural exchange and an economic hub. Some pilgrims settled along the Camino and the improvements were influenced by superior Frankish architectural knowledge. The mix of travellers was probably as diverse back then as it is today. Not all pilgrims had religious motifs and outlaws used the Camino to escape from the law, some travellers came here to steal or just to have a grand adventure. In the 12th century, French cleric Aymeric Picaud wrote the Codex Calixtinus, containing what can only be called the first travel-guide for the Camino Francés. He gives detailed information on the route and accommodation, but also curiously colourful descriptions of the different peoples of Spain, most of whom couldn’t escape his harsh judgement. You can read the document here: (https://codexcalixtinus.es/the-english-version-of-the-book-v-codex-calixtinus/)
The effects of the Black Death (the plague) that rampaged Europe, and later the wars of the Reformation, led to the Camino losing popularity. In the 16th century, the remains of St. James were hidden from the pirate Francis Drake, who was roaming the seas. Only in the 19th centuries were they rediscovered in the walls of the apsis.

Modern pilgrim with a scallop shell

The Camino in modern times
The tentative revival of the Camino became harder in the 20th century, when Franco started the Spanish civil war. An era of isolation followed that made the trip to Santiago very difficult. N Franco made St. James the patron of Spain and claimed the nationalists won the war with his help.

Only after Franco’s death did interest in the Camino de Santiago resurge. Pope Paul II paid Santiago a visit in 1982 and the Camino de Santiago was successfully marketed in the holy years of 1993 and 1999. It also earned a place onc the UNESCO list of world heritage. Different publications, movies, and reportages made the Camino internationally renowned. Today, pilgrims come from all over the world and the religious motif for the journey has stepped into the background for many. People come from far-away places like Australia, Korea and the USA.
It is now believed that the Camino Francés follows an old Roman trade route, which soon attracted “pilgrims”, going to Fisterra. The Cape Fisterra was believed to be the most Western part of Europe by the Romans, who named it Finisterrae, and is a place held sacred by the Celts as well.

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