Welcome to one of the oldest and most important Christian pilgrimage routes in the world!
The Way of St. James – El Camino - Spain Pilgrimage (The French Route)
Beginning in Leon and finishing in Santiago de Compostela, this route is a longer route in order to get a “Compostela” (El Camino Certificate). This will attract a more experienced Walker, or Pilgrims who have completed our Tour 70 and is up for a greater challenge. Referred to as the “French Route”, you will leave the plateau of Leon taking in the Leon mountains as you make your way to Astorga. This portion of your trip is charecterised by broom, heather, oak trees and conifer planta-tions. You will continue on towards Mount Irago before making your way down to the wealthy area of Bierzo. Make your way through the challenging steep climb to O‟Cebreiro as you stay the course into Sarria. From there you will enjoy the hilly lands of Galicia, which is known as one of the most beautiful parts of the Camino, and of course the most rewarding! There are numerous reminders of the pilgrims past who travelled the route including crosses, statues and grain silos. The gates of Galicia lead to the fabled Santiago de Compostela with its famous Cathedral, site of the tomb of St. James.
“Tourists pass through places, places pass through Pilgrims”
“Tourists pass through places, places pass through Pilgrims”
*Although this is a “walking tour” – rest assured that everything will be taken care of by 206 Tours! On your pilgrimage, you will be staying at fabulous hotels.
You will have a driver & vans following your group as well as transporting your luggage. Furthermore, if you feel the need to complete a walking segment via transportation, you can simply climb aboard our bus or van as needed. Enjoy excellent meals throughout the pilgrimage and you will have an assistant and a guide at your side from start to finish.
A PILGRIMAGE IS A FORM OF TRAVEL WHICH IS GOOD FOR YOUR BODY & SOUL!
YOUR TRIP INCLUDES: †Round-trip airfare from your desired Airport *book without airfare (land only option) † All airport taxes & fuel surcharges †First Class 4-stars hotels & quaint Inns: (or similar)
~ 1 night: Hotel Catalonia Goya, Madrid
~ 2 nights: Hotel AC Leon, Leon
~ 2 nights: Hotel Ciudad de Astorga, Astorga
~ 1 night: Hotel AC Ponferrada, Ponferrada
~ 3 nights: Parador, Villafranca del Bierzo
~ 2 nights: Hotel Alfonso IX, Sarria
~ 1 night: Pousada de Portomarin, Portomarin
~ 1 night: Palas de Rei
~ 2 nights: A Painza, Arzua
~ 1 night: Hotel Amenal, Arca/O Pino
~ 2 nights: Hotel Compostela, Santiago de Compostela † Breakfast daily † 13 Lunches † Dinner daily † Professional local Catholic Tour Escort † Guide Book of El Camino and Daily Maps † Catholic Priest & Mass daily † Sightseeing and admissions fees as per itinerary † Transportation by air-conditioned motor coach † Vehicle available to assist pilgrims who are unable to complete any leg of the journey † Porterage service at Hotels throughout. † Hotel taxes and service charges †Flight bag & portfolio of all travel documents
*Special Clergy Discount *Discount is offered to ordained clergy in the Roman Catholic Church: deacons, priests, or bishops belonging to the diaconate, the presbyterate, or the episcopate, respectively as well, as Catholic Sisters.
** This is a Walking Pilgrimage ** Important notice: this itinerary involves an average of 13 - 20 miles daily of walking/hiking. It is essential that participants be in fit condition in order to complete the journey. We will have assistance vehicles (motor coach) available to assist pilgrims who are unable to complete a particular leg of the journey.
Sample Day-by-Day Itinerary:
Day 1, Depart USA
Board your overnight transatlantic flights from your hometown. Meals are served on board.
Day 2, Arrive in Madrid
Upon arrival in Madrid, you will find your luggage and exit the baggage claim into the arrivals hall where you will be greeted by the tour escort who will be with you throughout your pilgrimage. Afterwards we will enjoy a sightseeing tour of the capital city of Spain. Madrid became Spain’s capital simply through its geographical position at the center of Iberia. When Felipe II moved the seat of government from Toledo to Madrid in 1561, his aim was to create a symbol of the unification and centralization of the country, and a capital from which he could receive mail the fastest, and communications from each corner of the nation. Madrid’s main sights occupy a compact area between the Royal Palace and the beautiful gardens of El Retiro. The great trio of museums: the Prado (one of the oldest and greatest collections of art in the world: Bosch, Velazquez, Goya, Titian, El Greco, etc), Thyssen Bornemisza (like a walking through the history of the painting) and Reina Sofía (permanent gallery of modern Spanish art: Picasso, Dalí, Miró, Tapies, Chillida, etc); are ranged along the Paseo del Prado, over towards the Retiro park. The oldest part of the city, el Madrid de los Austrias, is centered on the gorgeous, arcaded Plaza Mayor, just to the east of the Royal Palace. Other interesting buildings and sights are: Puerta del Sol, Gran Via Street, Cibeles fountain, Alcalá gate, the Spanish Square, etc. During this mostly panoramic tour, we will attend Mass in the Cathedral of La Almudena. Dinner and overnight in Madrid.
Day 3, Madrid – Burgos - Leon
After breakfast in the hotel, we will depart towards Burgos. Burgos has been on the pilgrim route to Santiago from the very beginning. In the old part of the city, we will find the remains of the old castle looking down onto the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Mary, declared a World Heritage Site in 1984. The building of the cathedral was commissioned in the 11th Century by King Fernando III and his German wife Beatrice of Swabia. The building of the cathedral was overseen by the English born Bishop Don Mauricio. The towers which dominate the skyline were designed and built by Hans of Cologne, bearing more than a passing resemblance to the great cathedral in Cologne. The cathedral is vast with a number of different chapels but perhaps one of the most interesting is the Chapel of the Christ of Burgos. Directly opposite this chapel above the Chapel of Santa Tecla you will find the Papamoscas. This is an automaton above a clock which opens and closes its mouth and strikes a bell on the hour. Also within the cathedral are buried the remains of Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar, better known worldwide as El Cid. Apart of the Cathedral we will find two very important monasteries in Burgos: The Monastery of Las Huelgas, a favourite place of retreat for the Castilian monarchs; and the Cartuja de Miraflores where now, a community of Carthusian monks live in silence. This afternoon, we will warm up our legs walking around 3 miles from Calzada del Coto to Bercianos del Real Camino or from Bercianos del Real Camino to El Burgo Ranero. At the end of the day, we will arrive in Leon. Lying on the banks of the Bernesga River, Leon is the last major city before we reach Santiago, and before we climb through the mountains of the Cordillera Cantabrica. The city was founded as a Roman fort in AD 68 to protect the roads leading west to the gold mines at El Bierzo. The town was home to the Legio Septima, or Seventh Legion of Imperial Rom,e from when the city is believed to get its name. Leon was Christianized in the 3rd century becoming the oldest Bishopric (diocese of a bishop) in Western Europe. Leon has impressive buildings like the Cathedral of Santa Maria, a gothic masterpiece. The building that stands here today was begun in the 13th century and built over the original Romanesque Cathedral. The Cathedral of Leon is well known worldwide due to its impressive stain glass windows, similar in quality to the ones in Chartres Cathedral. Other buildings we will find in Leon are: Casa Botines, built by the famous architect Antoni Gaudi, who designed the Sagrada Familia Basilica in Barcelona; the Royal Collegiate of San Isidoro; and the former pilgrim hospital and monastery of San Marcos. Dinner & overnight in Leon.
Day 4, Leon – Villadongos del Paramo
Breakfast in the hotel. After attending Mass in the Cathedral of Leon, we will stamp our pilgrim passport in the Cathedral to start our pilgrim walk towards Santiago de Compostela, following the scallop shells that pass by the Real Collegiate of San Isidoro and towards San Marcos. The first village we are going to find in our way is La Virgen del Camino (Our Lady of the Way). The Catholic tradition says that during the feast of the Visitation in July 1505, the Virgin Mary appeared to a local shepherd while he was taking care of his flock. She asked him to go to the city, to get the Bishop and to bring him to this place to build a shrine in her honor. He asked the Virgin Mary how was the Bishop to know that it was She that sent him. The Virgin Mary seeing that he had a slingshot in his hand asked him to pass it to her. She picked up a small stone and put it into the slingshot. She told the shepherd that wherever this stone landed that is where she wanted her shrine to be built. The shepherd set off to speak to the Bishop in Leon and told him of the apparition. He was unconvinced until the shepherd, using his slingshot, hurled a stone which promptly became a boulder when it struck the ground. Now convinced of the miracle, the Bishop built a hermitage dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The very modern church that stands in the place where the original hermitage had been is the Church of the Virgen del Camino which was built in 1961 and is managed by Dominican friars. After visiting the Virgen del Camino village, we will follow the old Roman road that linked Astorga with Leon. At the end of the stage, we will arrive at the village of Villadangos del Páramo, where we will find the Church of Saint James where at its entrance we will see a carving depicting the legendary battle at Clavijo in 844. It is at this battle that Santiago in his guise as Santiago Matamoros, is reputed to have helped the vastly outnumbered Christian army. Dinner and overnight in Leon.
Day 5, Villadongos del Paramo – Astorga (walking day, 16.6 Miles / 22 km)
Breakfast in the hotel. After attending Mass at Saint James Church in Villadongos del Paramo, we will continue our walking pilgrimage. The first large village we will find today is Hospital de Orbigo, and to get to this beautiful village we will have to cross the longest bridge on El Camino (670 feet) and there is a nice story related to it: El Paso Honroso (The honorable pass). The name was given due to a jousting tournament of sorts undertaken by Don Suero de Quiñones. Don Suero was in love with a lady by the name of Doña Leonor de Tobar, who unfortunately did not feel the same way. This 15th century knight, who considered himself a prisoner of her love, decided to wear an iron collar around his neck every Thursday as a symbol of being enslaved by his love for her. As a way to impress both the lady he loved and King John II of Castile, as well as a way of freeing himself from his enslavement, he decided to embark on a surprising joust in the style of the knights of old. Don Suero offered the tournament to Saint James saying that he and nine other knights would challenge those undertaking the pilgrimage to Santiago until 300 lances were broken. When the tournament was finished, all the participants went to Santiago de Compostela to offer the arms with which they fought to the Apostle. The tradition says that the iron collar (that it was turned in gold) worn by Don Suero, is hung around the neck of the image of the Apostle that is used in processions. We will find the Church of Saint John the Baptist on the other side of the bridge, which is what remains of the pilgrim hospital which had been built in the 12th Century by the Knights of the Order of Saint John of Jerusalem. At the end of the stage, we will arrive to the walled city of, Astorga. This historical and religious city, called Asturica Augusta by the Romans, was one of the Roman strongholds in the Leon area. On it the French and the Plata Routes to Santiago converge. This extraordinary Gothic Cathedral from the 15th Century presides over the town; the Episcopal Palace or Gaudí Palace, houses the Museo de los Caminos, which displays pieces from all churches related to the Route to Santiago.; and the chocolate museum that celebrates Astorga chocolate industry which thrived during the 18th and 19th Centuries. Dinner and overnight in Astorga.
Day 6, Astorga – Rabanal del Camino. (walking day, 12.3 Miles / 19.7 km)
After breakfast in the hotel, we will attend Mass at the Cathedral of Astorga. Today we will walk through the area called: la Maragateria, ending in the Bierzo region that borders with Galicia. We will walk through Murias de Rechivaldo, a lovely village with most of the stone buildings constructed in the traditional Maragato style, and where we will find the Church of Saint Stephen. With a carving of Our Lady of the Pillar above its door; “Santa Catalina de Somoza”, there we will see the Church of Saint Mary that houses a relic of Saint Blaise, the town patron saint, and El Ganso, with its thatched houses which are typical of the North-Western part of Leon and Galicia. Before arriving to Rabanal del Camino, we will pass the remains of the Roman gold mines of La Fucarona, one of the oldest gold mines which made a cliché of Astorga´s wealth in Roman times. In the Middle Ages, Rabanal del Camino was an important stop for pilgrims before they walked through the mountains. It was a large settlement of the Templar Knights who used to defend and protect the pilgrims from the robbers of the harsh areas of Focebadon. There is a community of Benedictine monks living in the San Salvador del Monte Irago Monastery who came from Santo Domingo de Silos in 2001, although, now the monastery is affiliated with the abbey at St Otilien in Germany. Board bus for your return to Hotel in Astorga for dinner and overnight.
Day 7, Rabanal del Camino – Ponferrada (walking day, 20.3 Mile / 32 km)
Breakfast in the hotel. After attending the Holy Mass at the Church of Saint Joseph (or at the Church of Our Lady of the Assumption), the bus will bring us to our departure point where we will continue our pilgrimage. After leaving Rabanal del Camino, the route continues across the region of Leon. The first village that appears is Foncebadon, the onetime important center in the Middle Ages that has been abandoned. Here took place a Council in the 10th Century, and a century later, the hermit Guacelmo founded a hostelry for pilgrims. Some kilometers off the municipality, surmounting a peak that the Romans dedicated to Mercury can be seen the Ferro Cross, on top of a stick fixed to a big heap of stones. Traditionally pilgrims bring a stone from their places of origin and deposit it on the heap. The end of our today’s journey is located in Ponferrada. This town, with Prehistoric and Roman antecedents, had two accesses in the Middle Ages. One was via the Roman bridge spanning the Boeza river, sunk in the 18th Century; the other was via the path of the Gallegos, and then crossing the river by the Medieval bridge of Mascarón. At the end of the 11th Century, the Bishop of Astorga, Osmundo, commissioned the building of a new bridge, "la Pons Ferrata", a pass with iron banisters which gave name to the city. Later on, between the 11th and 14th Century, the Castle of the Knights Templar was built. In the 15th Century the Catholic Monarchs commissioned the construction of the Hospital de la Reina, next to the fortress. In this monumental town also stand the Basilica of Nuestra Señora de la Encina, built to commemorate the apparition of the Virgin in a grove of Holm oaks, and the Baroque church of San Andres, which is home to an outstanding retable: "The Christ of the Wonders". Dinner and overnight in Ponferrada.
Day 8, Ponferrada – Villafranca del Bierzo (walking day, 12.6 Miles / 20.2 km)
Breakfast in the hotel. After attending the Mass, we continue on our walking pilgrimage. Today, part of our journey will follow the old Roman road that connected Ponferrada with the silver and gold mines located in Las Médulas. The first, and last, village we will see today is Cacabelos. Cacabelos as a village that first appeared in the 10th Century, but it can trace its origins to way back in the Bronze Age. In the Middle Ages, the town boasted few churches and some pilgrim hospitals, but nothing remains of these ancient buildings except the 18th Century the Quinta Angustia Shrine, where we will find a very unusual carving of the child Jesus playing cards with Saint Anthony of Padua, which was built on the site of one of the medieval hospitals. At the end of the stage, we will arrive to Villafranca del Bierzo, the last major town along the Camino de Santiago in Leon, with the Galician village of O Cebreiro only 17 miles away. Villafranca del Bierzo is believed to have been founded by French monks of the Cluny order. The town could be said to owe its existence to El Camino and the many monuments founded here that make Villafranca del Bierzo a natural tourist destination. There is plenty to see, but the most interesting buildings/monuments are: The Church of Saint James (that granted the privilege of providing absolution to the pilgrims who were too ill to continue along the Camino to Santiago), San Nicolas (founded as a religious school run by Jesuits until their expulsion in 1767), The Collegiate of Saint Mary ( which was built on the site of the original monastery of the Cluny order), The Agua Street (full of palaces and emblazoned houses), The San Francis Church, and the Castle of the Marquees of Villafranca. Board your bus for your return ride to your Hotel in Villafranca del Bierzo for dinner and overnight.
Day 9, Villafranca del Bierzo. Resting day
Breakfast in the hotel. We will dedicate our day to rest and enjoy this beautiful town. Dinner and overnight in Villafranca del Bierzo.
Day 10, Villafranca del Bierzo – O Cebreiro (walking day, 17.2 Mile / 27.6 km)
Breakfast in the hotel. After attending Holy Mass, we will continue our pilgrimage. During the morning, we will walk through the Ancares Valley area where we will be able to see the Castles of Sarracín (which some ruins can be seen), and Veiga; both castles are connected to Celtic legends. Half way through our walk, we will arrive to the village of Vega de Valcarce where we will find a great example of an “horreo” or grain store. As we enter in Galicia, we will see different horreo styles, usually made of granite or wood. The Camino, from this point until we get to O Cebreiro, will consist of climbing up through the mountains with the terrain starting off gently but progressively getting steeper. O Cebreiro, with an altitude of almost 4,000 feet, owes much of its existence to the Camino de Santiago, as well as to the many roman roads that passed this way. It is the first town we reach on the French Camino as we enter Galicia. The first pilgrim hospital to appear in the town was built in the 9th Century and was run from the late 11th Century by the monks of Saint Gérard De’Aurillac, a French religious order. Also in the 9th Century, the monastery of the Sanctuary of O Cebreiro was built, not much remains other than the Church of Saint Mary the Royal, considered to be the oldest intact church along the whole Camino. There is an Eucharist miracle related to this church. In the 14th Century there was a parishioner from a nearby village called Barxamaior, who climbed up to the church through heavy snow and a blizzard in order to hear Mass. As the priest was performing the Eucharist, he had a momentary lapse of faith and whilst he was consecrating the bread and wine he thought to himself, whilst looking at the parishioner sat in front of him “what is this man doing here in this cold weather, just to see a piece of bread and a little wine?”. It was at this point that the miracle occurred, the bread turned to flesh and the wine became blood. This became known locally as the Galician Holy Grail. The relics are kept in the church in a reliquary given to the church by the Catholic Monarchs whilst they were undertaking the Camino to Santiago in 1486, along with the chalice and paten used in that Mass. While we are here in O Cebreiro we will be able to take a look at the Pallozas, the traditional round stone houses with thatched roofs that the people of this area used as their homes. Board your bus for your transfer to your Hotel for dinner and overnight in Villafranca del Bierzo.
Day 11, O Cebreiro – Triacastela (walking day, 12.2 Miles / 19.6 km)
Breakfast in the hotel. After attending the Holy Mass at Saint Mary the Royal Church, the bus will transfer you to your departing point and we will continue our pilgrimage towards Santiago. In Galicia, we will pass through countless hamlets connected to one another by ancient dry-stone walls separating the trail from an endless patchwork quilt of worked fields and cow pastures. We'll enjoy the hearty Galician fare - including leafy green soup, called “caldo gallego”, creamy cow's milk cheeses, thick, round loaves of wheat, rye and corn meal bread, outstanding Galician veal and pork, seafood and greens – cabbage, broad beans, Swiss chard and leeks. Our halt today will be Triacastela. In the 13th Century, Alfonso XI tried unsuccessfully to convert this precious village into a big town. Triacastela once had a hospital and a prison, an unusual circumstance along the Route. Pilgrims can visit the Parish Church of Santiago, containing a façade from the 18th Century and a Romanesque apse. In its interior there is a processional cross from the 12th Century. As a penance, pilgrims used to carry in their packs a limestone from the mountains of Triacastela. Dinner and overnight in Sarria.
Day 12, Triacastela – Sarria (walking day, 13 Miles / 20.9 km)
Breakfast in the hotel. After attending the Holy Mass we will continue our pilgrimage. Today, on our halfway to Sarria, we will get to the town of Samos where we will find the impressive Benedictine Monastery of San Julian de Samos. It was founded in the 6th Century by San Martin Dumiense, and renovated by San Fructuoso in the 7th Century. Unfortunately, soon after the monastery was renovated, it was abandoned because of the Moorish invasion and it wasn't until the Christian King Fruela I reconquered the area did the monks return. This important monastery is situated on the valley by the Ouribio River, surrounded by a scenery that enhances its beauty and provides a mysterious atmosphere. Its impressive Neoclassical façade is worthy of note, as well as the huge cloisters. The cloister of Nereidas, from the 16th Century contains a beautiful fountain. The Cipres chapel, from the 10th Century, is one of the oldest elements in the monastery. Back on the Route, we will pass through a picturesque scene full of oaks and chestnut trees. At the end of the stage, we will arrive to Sarria. Sarria has been inhabited for many thousands of years both by the Celts and the Romans but the town was founded at the end of the 12th Century by King Alfonso IX, the last King of Leon. He unfortunately died here in 1230 from a serious illness that he contracted as he was undertaking the pilgrimage to Santiago. Most of the buildings linked to El Camino can be found behind the main street on the hill where the old town used to be, like the Church of Salvador (with a Romanesque ground plan and Gothic façade), the small chapel of San Lazaro, the hospital of Saint Antony (which today houses a Court), the remains of its old fortress from the 14th Century, and the Monastery of La Magdalena (founded by a couple of Italian friars, belonged to the Penance of the Venerable Martyrs of Christ, who passed this way on their pilgrimage to Santiago, and that is now managed by the Religious Order of the Mercy of Christ). Dinner and overnight in Sarria.
Day 13, Sarria - Portomarín (walking day, 14.3 Miles / 23 km)
After breakfast we will go to the Pilgrim Office to request our Pilgrim Passport and we will start our walking pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. In the spirit of St James the Apostle, we become authentic pilgrims, journeying along an outer road (and the road within). Our walking trip will finish in Portomarin. The town, which dates back to the Roman Age, was an important halt along the Route in the Middle Ages. The old Portomarín lies beneath the waters of the dam built in 1962. But before flooding the town, many monuments were moved, stone by stone. Such was the case of the church-fortress of the Knights of San Juan of Jerusalem, who once run the old hospital that lies beneath the waters of the Miño river, along with the old Medieval and Roman bridges. Dinner and overnight at Portomarin.
Day 14, Portomarin - Palas de Rei (walking day, 15 Miles / 24.1 km)
Breakfast in the hotel. From Portomarín we'll set off into the woods on our journey towards Palas de Rei, once an important town in the Middle Ages. It had a Royal Hospital and the church of San Tirso stands on its lands, with a Romanesque portal. On the hilly walk we'll continue through field and forest passing countless granaries, hórreos, and wayside crosses or cruceiros (usually depicting on once side Christ and the other the Virgin), both very characteristic of the Galician landscape. Evening at leisure. Optional visit to the Monastery of Vilar de Donas, the fine Romanesque temple that stands majestically is remarkable for its Gothic paintings from the 16 C, and the busts of the "donas" or ladies that founded the house and its central apse in the 14th-century. The temple also treasures several sarcophagi of Knights of the Order of Santiago along with a stone retable that depicts the eucharistic miracle of O Cebreiro. Dinner and overnight at Palas de Rei.
Day 15, Palas de Rei - Arzua (walking day, 18 Miles / 28.9 km)
Breakfast in the hotel. The walk sets off from Palas and ends up at a the bustling small town of Arzua. We finish our day with a visit to Melide. This town is crucial to the Route, because it is the place where the French and the Oviedo Routes converge. At the entrance to the town there is a crossroads from the 14 C, one of the oldest in Galicia. The present Parish Church was the former church of the Monastery of Sancti Spiritus. It contains stately sepulchers. Worthy of note are also the small chapel of San Roque, with its transept from the 14-century, and the Romanesque church of Santa María. Today we also pass from Galicia's Lugo province to Galicia's A Coruña province. A Medieval bridge leads pilgrims to Ribadiso, before arriving at Arzua, the next halt on our journey. Surrounded by beautiful scenerywe see the Gothic Chapel of Magdalena, the only part of the old Augustinian monastery that has come down to us. The little town is famous nowadays for its Galician cheese factories. The chestnuts and oaks give way to eucalyptus. Dinner and overnight in Arzua.
Day 16, Arzua (day of rest)
Today we will take a break to rest our bodies and tired feet. After Mass you will have time at leisure to relax and reflect on your journey thus far. Dinner and overnight in Arzua.
Day 17, Arzua - Arca do Pino/Rua (walking day, 11 Miles / 17.7 km)
After breakfast we will continue our trek to Arca do Pino, the largest community before Santiago, immersing ourselves in the fragrant eucalyptus groves. We'll picnic en route. After arrival in Arca, you can take a quiet walk around this village. The emotion is reflected in the faces of the pilgrims. The tiredness accumulated during the pilgrimage is not apparent. Many things are on the pilgrims minds: The list of all the sights to see in Santiago, the visit to the Apostle, the intention to pick up the document that certifies that the Route to Santiago has been made. Optional visit to the grandiose Monastery of Sobrado, Galicia's first Cistercian monastery and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Renovations in the 17th and 18th centuries amply embellished the façade, church and side chapel. Dinner and overnight in Arca do Pino.
Day 18, Arca do Pino - Monte do Gozo - Santiago (walking day, 14 Miles)
After breakfast we set out to make the last and final stage of our journey to reach the famed city of Santiago. En route we'll stop for our picnic on the Monte del Gozo (Mount Joy) from which the spires of the Cathedral are first visible. We will soon arrive at the Cathedral, the destination we have been yearning to reach. This architectural
masterpiece is the most important Romanesque monument. After arrival in the Cathedral square and saying thanks to God for taking care of us during our pilgrimage, we'll check into our hotel. Free time. Dinner and overnight in Santiago de Compostela.
Day 19, Santiago de Compostela
After breakfast we will visit and celebrate Mass at the Cathedral of St. James, one of the finest examples of architecture in all of Europe. Access to the Doorway of Glory is via the Obradoiro façade. Once in its interior, we will be carried away by the emotions produced by the sight of so many extraordinary valuable works of art. Tradition invites us to perform some rites: The most important and meaningful one is the hug to the Saint, go under the main altar and visit the crypt where the relics of St. James are preserved. After free time for lunch we continue our visit to the city of Santiago: Obradoiro Square, Fonseca Palace, Gelmirez Palace, Franco Street, etc. Evening at leisure. Dinner and overnight in Santiago de Compostela.
Day 20, Santiago de Compostela – USA
Breakfast in the hotel. In the morning we will say hasta luego (see you soon or good bye) to our new friends. We transfer to Santiago Airport for our return flights home to the USA
Important notice: this itinerary involves an average of 13 - 20 miles daily of walking/hiking. It is essential that participants be in fit condition in order to complete the journey. We will have assistance vehicles (motor coach) available to assist pilgrims who are unable to complete a particular leg of the journey.
Would you like to arrive earlier or stay later? Let us know at time of registration, we will reschedule your airline reservations pending availability at no additional fee. Let us know if you need assistance with pre or post stay at hotel.
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Santiago de Compostela Cathedral,
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
The History of El Camino
206 Tours Pilgrimage Group
The Way of St. James or St. James' Way, often known by its Spanish name, el Camino de Santiago, is the pilgrimage to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia in northwestern Spain, where legend has itthat the remains of the apostle, Saint James the Great, are buried.
The Way of St James has existed for over a thousand years. It was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times. It was considered one of three pilgrimages on which a plenary indulgence could be earned; the others are the Via Francigena to Rome and the pilgrimageto Jerusalem.
Legend holds that St. James's remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where they were buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Compostela. There are some, however, who claim that the bodily remains at Santiago belong to Priscillian, the fourth-century Galician leader of an ascetic Christian sect, Priscillianism, who was one of the first Christian heretics to be executed.
There is not a single route; the Way can take one of any number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. However a few of the routes are considered main ones. Santiago is such an important pilgrimage destination because it is considered the burial site of the apostle, James the Great. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly traveled. However, the Black Plague, the Protestant Reformation and political unrest in 16th- century Europe resulted in its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims arrived in Santiago annually. However, since then, the route has attracted a growing number of modern-day pilgrims from around the globe. The route was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987; it was also named one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 1993.
Today tens of thousands of Christian pilgrims and other travelers set out each year from their front doorstep, or popular starting points across Europe, to make their way to Santiago de Compostela. Most travel by foot, some by bicycle, and a few travel as some of their medieval counterparts did, on horseback or by donkey (for example, the British author and humorist Tim Moore).
For groups of 20 or more, you may choose your own departure and earn FREE trips
This is such a magnificent pilgrimage, that it is a subject of the movie directed by Emilio Estevez and starring his father Martin Sheen called ‘The Way’. This is a very interesting movie that encompasses elements of the pilgrimage that 206 Tours offers – called: The Way of St James (El Camino) – highlighting Spain’s spectacular Santiago de Compostela. The movie is based on a story of an American Father and Doctor (played by Martin Sheen) who decides to travel to Spain in order to walk the ‘El Camnio’ in order to follow in the footsteps of his son (played by Emilo Estevez) who dies on this journey.
If you are interested in experiencing this type of pilgrimage, be sure to register below
El Camino Walking Stick
O Cebreiro, Spain
Temple of Debod,
Santiago The Pilgrim Cathedral, Borgos, Spain
Simancas Castle, Leon, Spain
The Iron Cross, Foncebadon, Spain
Mount of Joy,
Santiago de Compostela, Spain
St. Lazaro Church,
Church of Santa Maria, Palas de Rei, Spain
Arca do Pino, Spain
Interior of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
The Botafumeiro, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
The Relics of St. James, Santiago de Compostela
206 Tours Pilgrimage Group, Santiago de Compostela, Spain