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Pilgrimage is an interesting way to explore Spain

Novani Nugrahani

The Jakarta Post

Jakarta  /  Mon, March 21, 2016  /  09:36 pm
Pilgrimage is an interesting way to explore Spain

A sign points the way for pilgrims to the Compostela Cathedral in Galicia, Spain. Declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Camino de Santiago features several pilgrimage routes in northern Spain, which end at the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia where, legend holds, the saint's remains are buried. (Shutterstock/-)

There are many ways to explore Spain, but one particular trip is said to be the cheapest option.

Declared as a European Culture Route in 1987 and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, Camino de Santiago is the collective term for several pilgrimage routes in northern Spain that end at the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, where, legend holds, the saint's remains are buried. Many visitors take up this route, also known as the Way of St. James, as a form of spiritual journey or a retreat for their spiritual growth.

Marc Grossman, an Australian researcher who manages the caminodownunder.com website, said a Camino de Santiago pilgrimage might be the cheapest way to explore Spain, since pilgrims could stay in pilgrim hostels known as albergues along the routes, which only cost between 6 and 10 euros per night per person. Some hostels even operate on a voluntary donation basis.

For first-timer pilgrims, the Camino's French route is said to be a great place to start. It traditionally starts in St. Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees and finishes about 780 kilometers further in the city of Santiago.

“You don't have to start all the way from St. Jean Pied de Port. You can start somewhere nearer or complete the route some other time,” said Grossman during a 60-minute documentary film screening of "Walking the Camino: Six Ways to Santiago" held by Spain Tourism Board in Jakarta on Tuesday. 

The film tells the story of several pilgrims from all over the world who follow the French route to visit the city of Santiago de Compostela. It takes them about a month of walking to complete the route.

The French route passes through a few major cities in Spain, including Pamplona, Burgos and Leon, and is reportedly equipped with good infrastructure.

Grossman suggested that the perfect time to do the Camino de Santiago was Spring and especially Autumn, when the weather is nicer and more stable. 

“You can start at any stage anywhere along the route, just remember to register and have your pilgrim passport,” he said.

He added that the Camino offered an unforgettable and even an enlightening journey, as there was a metaphysic side to the journey that included emotional and spiritual exploration and soul-searching.

“Camino de Santiago really proves that it is the journey that matters the most, not the destination,” said Grossman. (kes)

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