The Camino de Santiago walk attracts thousands of pilgrims every year, coming from all over the world. They decide to take on this adventure for days, weeks, and even months, on the way to the sacred city of Santiago de Compostela.
There are many different Jacobean routes leading to Santiago. The choice among them may depend on the motivations and preferences of each pilgrim. Today, we would like to talk about the most popular Caminos in number of pilgrims: the French Way (or Camino Francés) and the Portuguese Way (or Camino Portugués).
The French Way is, by far, the most sociable route of the Camino de Santiago. There are many books and movies focusing on this walk. For example, the film “The Way”, starred by Martin Sheen. This has contributed in making it the most popular Camino de Santiago trail.
The French Way is called like that because it starts in the French village of St-Jean-Pied-de-Port (right in the boarder with Spain). Those pilgrims who have enough time to complete the full walk will be able to enjoy different landscapes: from the steep Pyrenees Mountains, to the colorful vineyards in La Rioja, the austere views of “La Meseta”, the rural areas of Galicia region and all its green colors… Not to forget about some of the most important cities of Northern Spain, like Pamplona, Logroño, Burgos, León… and, of course, Santiago de Compostela.
More than 800 km of diverse and powerful landscapes, that would take more than one month to be completed.
But there is no need to allocate so much time to enjoy the experience. Most of the pilgrims walk the last 100 km of the French Way, which is the minimum required to get the Pilgrim Certificate (Compostela). That is why the last stretch of the walk, from Sarria to Santiago, is the busiest one.
Those pilgrims who are looking for a sociable experience and to meet many other fellow walkers on the way, should consider the Camino Francés. However, there is another historical route that should also be taken into consideration: the Portuguese Way (or Camino Portugués).
The starting point of the Portuguese Way is the capital city of Portugal, Lisbon. In contrast to the French Way, most of the walk is in Portugal. Just the last 100 km (from Tui to Santiago) pass through Spain (all of them in Galicia region).
The Camino Portugués is not as well known as the French Way, but it is gaining more and more popularity each year. Why? Because of the stunning views we can contemplate on the way. There are many where it is possible to see the Atlantic Ocean, up to Pontevedra (from this point to Santiago de Compostela, the route is inland).
But, what is so special about the Camino de Santiago? Is it because of its unforgettable landscapes? All the spirituality that can be “breathed” along the route? The kindness of the locals? The gastronomy? Or maybe is it the personal enrichment we experience when we interact with people from all over the world?
One and all the answers are correct. There is definitely something special about the Camino de Santiago, something that moves all pilgrims, making them want to come back.
See www.galiwonders.com for more information about the Camino de Santiago