2.About Camino

In general

Legend says that St. James’s remains were carried by boat from Jerusalem to northern Spain where he was buried on the site of what is now the city of Santiago de Campostela. The Way of Saint James was one of the most important Christian pilgrimages during medieval times. In the roman-catholic Church there are only two other pilgrimages on which a plenary indulgence could be earned. Pilgrimage to saint Peter’s tomb in Rome and to Jesus Christ’s tomb in Jerusalem.

Saint James the Great, son of Zebedee, brother of John the Apostle, was one of the Twelve Apostoles of Jesus Christ. Herod the King had him executed by the sword apparently because of James’s fiery temper. Together with his brother John were called Boanerges or Sons of Thunder so probably that kind of character was running in the family? There were times on my Camino I felt fatigue, pain and weakness. There were times I was tricked by other’s false guidances or disillusioned by my own choices. Sometimes, anger would eruput from some places deep into my character of which I was not aware of. I was ready to thrown thunderbolts! The lesson would be not to fight it but as the Camino journey advances one realizes how to forsake anger.

There a number of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela. Traditionally, as with most pilgrimages, the Camino de Santiago began at one’s home and ended at the pilgrimage site – Saint James’s tomb. However, a few of the routes are considered main ones. During the Middle Ages, the route was highly travelled. Then after, the great plague epidemy called The Black Death and the Protestant Reformation together with the political unrest in sixteenth-century Europe led to its decline. By the 1980s, only a few pilgrims per year were arriving in Santiago. Later, the route 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.

The main pilgrimage Camino route, and the most popularized one is the Camino Frances or The French Camino as it departs from Sain Jean Pied de Port in France. It follows an earlier Roman trade route, which continues to the Atlantic coast of Galicia, ending at Cape Fisterra. Although not the westernmost point of mainland Europe (Cabo da Roca in Portugal is farther west) the fact is that ancient Romans called it Finisterrae (literally The End of the World or Land’s End in Latin) as they viewed it as such. This route is also called La Voje Ladee or The Milky Way as at night, walking the Camino Frances, the Milky Way overhead seems to point the way. It was the most route travelled for centuries as France was the bigest roman-catholic country of Europe and in the same time neighboring Spain. It still is. This record is from another route, from Via de la Plata.

It can well be said that, from time immemorial, man has sought his way in the stars. The Way of St James is also known as the Milky Way and has always been a pilgrims’ route. Long before the appearance of the remains attributed by legend to St James the Elder, people went on pilgrimage to “Finisterrae” to contemplate the end of the earth. In the 11th and 12th centuries, pilgrimages to the tomb of the Apostle St James began to acquire a European dimension. The massive transit of pilgrims consolidated the creation of churches, hospitals and hospices, the rise of culture and the first generations of professional merchants in the main cities along the Way.”

from elanillodelcamino.com

Via de la Plata (Camino Mozarabre)

Vía De la Plata or Camino Mozarabe route is the longest of the many alternative Camino Santiago de Compostela routes in Spain.

The route was used by the Mozarabic, Christian pilgrims during the period of Muslim domination and by all those coming from the south of Spain, including those who arrived in Sevilla by sea from North Africa and other parts of the Mediterranean. Also known as the Vía de la Plata as it follows the course of a Roman road of that name. There are few assumptions about the origin of the name. One translates literally plata into silver and claims the name derives from the fact this road was use for silver or tin trade. Second one comes from the Arabic word balatta for “broad, surfaced road” and the third one comes from the Latin word lapidata for a “stone paved road”.

The Vía de La Plata or Ruta de la Plata is an ancient commercial and pilgrimage path that crosses the west of todays’ Spain and connects ancient Roman cities of Emerita Augusta nowdays Merida in south with Asturica Augusta nowdays Astorga in the north. Sections of the ancient Roman road are still present today. The route was used for commercial purposes and probably formed out of older traditional roads connecting south and north of the Iberian peninsula. It was used for any kind of traffic so probably also by Hannibal’s armies, and their elephants. The path is used by the modern A-66 and AP-66 freeways, as well as by the older N-630 national road.

Via de la Plata route of the Camino de Santiago begins today in Sevilla, goes through Merida and then in Astorga joins to the Camino Frances to end in Santiago de Compostela. Is also possible to take the Camino Sanabres in Granja de Moreruela and also go westbound to Santiago de Compostela. Which route we choose at Granja de Moreruela – later in this story.


Also known as The Pilgrim’s Passport, the Credencial is a document which pilgrims on the Camino carry throughout their walk. Broadly speaking, it is a successor of the medieval safe conducts issued to pilgrims.

The Credential is stamped in each town or village along your route and provides a record of the places where you stayed. This is an integral part of the Camino de Santiago experience and will make your Credencial one of the most cherished mementoes of your Camino journey.

Most importantly, the Credential serves as proof to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago that you have walked the Camino as a Pilgrimage in a Christian sense. You must be able to show you have observed the minimum qualifying requirements. On arrival at Santiago de Compostela, you take your stamped Credencial to the Pilgrim’s Office, where staff issue you with a Compostela certificate proving you have followed the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage.

My Credencial
My Credencial

Scallop symbol

The emblem of Saint James is the scallop shell, which identifies those who have made the pilgrimage. In Chapter 12 of Book II of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, one of the miracles told is the saving of a gentleman of Apulia (Italy) who recovered from a throat ailment after being touched with a scallop shell brought by a pilgrim from Santiago de Compostela.

The scallop shell, often found on the shores in Galicia, has long been the symbol of the Camino de Santiago. Over the centuries the scallop shell has taken on mythical, metaphorical and practical meanings, even if its relevance may actually derive from the desire of pilgrims to take home a souvenir.

The scallop shell also acts as a metaphor. The grooves in the shell, which meet at a single point, represent the various routes pilgrims traveled, eventually arriving at a single destination: the tomb of Saint James in Santiago de Compostela. The shell is also a metaphor for the pilgrim: as the waves of the ocean wash scallop shells up onto the shores of Galicia, God’s hand also guides the pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela.

As the symbol of the Camino de Santiago, the shell is seen very frequently along the trails. The shell is seen on posts and signs along the Camino de Santiago in order to guide pilgrims along the way. The other, more common signpost is the yellow arrow.

Camino - after Zamora

The shell is even more commonly seen on the pilgrims themselves. Wearing a shell denotes that you are a traveler on the Camino de Santiago.

The scallop shell also served practical purposes for pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago. The shell was the right size for gathering water to drink or for eating out of as a makeshift bowl.

Camino - Fisterra