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The Background to Santiago de Compostela - a World Heritage Site   by Stephen Morgan

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Spain has a wealthy and varied legacy that is very much a product of the long and quite convoluted history that as a country it has had to undergo.

As you travel around the country you can see glimpses of a past wealthy in the legacy of former conquerors be they the Moors, medieval Spaniards themselves or parts of the country that have Jewish and other international flavours.

As you would expect for a country where organized religion has played such an important part in its history, throughout Spain you will find lots of individual pilgrimage routes.

The way of St. James otherwise known as the Camino de Santiago is possibly the most famous of all of these routes. It was in the ninth century that the Way of St. James became popular allegedly as a result of the remains of St. James being found. The prospect of being able to pay tribute to the last resting place of St. James has been such a magnet that in the following centuries pilgrims from around the world have travelled this route.

The story behind the waves and James is like a lot of other religious shrines in that sometimes people do sometimes it hasn't them particularly here between the 16th and 17th century there was no one will put an interest in their own way of St. James. Possibly part of the reason for this may have been the alleged instructions from one of the popes of the day who stated that it was possible for prisoners who have been serving time in jail for minor misdemeanours that it might be possible for them to serve penance by undertaking a journey along the way of St. James.

Interest in this particular pilgrimage route was revised in the 20th century on the Way of St. James when the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation made Santiago de Compostela a world legacy site – a site that now has since become the setting for one of the world’s biggest pilgrimages.

The combination of Santiago de Compostela and the Way of St. James has become so successful and quite frankly so massive that an entire tourism sub industry has grown up alongside it.

The English route, the French route and the Spanish routes probably are the most common starting off points for the Journey along the Way of St James. It has to be said that the most popular pilgrimage routes originate in France, leading from the north of France right down to Spain.

Nowadays unless you happen to be a completely devout, fervent and ardent pilgrim it is unlikely that you would travel the entire 760 common to route from Roncesvalles to Santiago de Compostela. Those who do manage the entire route claim that the hardship and suffering that they go through stands him in good stead for being able to appreciate the whole experience once they get to Santiago.

To ensure all of pilgrims who are on the route don't stray from the straight and narrow of the Way of St James an informal system all markers and signposts at strategic points along the way has been developed. These primary consist of yellow arrows placed strategically at various points and are widely credited to be the brainchild of Father Elias Valdinha. Of course his motive may well have been to ensure that pilgrims when they arrived at Santiago arrived in the best possible condition. No matter what, it is a good system and it works. 

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About the Author: Stephen Morgan writes about a great many Internet Travel based issues and more on the above can be found at Accommodation in Galicia . For a more complete overlook at Tourism in Galicia try http://www.turgalicia.es

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Saint James Way Bike Tour - Cycle the Camino de Santiago
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Camino de Santiago Trail in Galicia Independently Walking with baggage transfers 
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