At up to 790 kilometres in length and taking approximately 30 days to complete on foot, it is safe to say that the Camino de Santiago is an epic journey. You get to see the shrine of the apostle Saint James the Great at the end of the pilgrimage, which some may see as a just enough reward on its own merit, but if you make the pilgrimage at any point in your life you will be treated to some of amazing sights on your journey, which will help make it a truly unforgettable experience.
The start of the route is now widely accepted as being Saint Jean Pied de Port, a small village just across the border into France. It is here that you can collect your Camino passport from the pilgrim’s Office and in this passport you can put stamps to mark your pilgrimage. Pamplona is one of the first landmarks you will reach on the Camino de Santiago. It is located in the Navarra regio once you have crossed over into Spanish territory. If the name Pamplona rings a bell it is because it is here that the world famous Running of the Bulls takes place during the San Fermin festival. Pamplona has some great places to visit including the Museo de Navarra, the Ciudadela fortress, the Catedral de Santa Maria and the historical Cafe Iruna.
One of the most spectacular views on the pilgrimage awaits you at the top of the Perdon Hill. Once on top of the hill, you will be able to see for miles around and it is a sight to behold.
Perdon Hill is decorated at the top by a row of iron pilgrim statues, which is the perfect spot for a selfie!
The route passes through the main street of Puente de la Reina where you’ll cross the old medieval bridge to cross the river and continue your journey before you reach a place famous for its wine, Logrono: the captial of the La Rioja wine region. If you like sampling wines then you are in for a treat because there are many bodegas to visit here. Do not drink too much wine because you do not want to be continuing your journey while nursing a banging headache and energy-sapping hangover.
If you want to tick off a UNESCO World Heritage site then make sure you visit the Catedral de Santa Maria de Burgo where building work starting back in 1221 and when you finally reach Astorga, which is not as well known on the Camino, you will find the Astgora Cathedral and the Palacio Episcopal that were designed by Antoni Gaudi. Of course, the best sight awaits you when you complete your pilgrimage and reach Santiago de Compostela. Greeted by towering spires, you can complete your journey by attending mass in the cathedral where you will be greeted by a welcoming priest and giant censer, called a botafumeiro, swings overhead and dispenses incense throughout the amazing building.
Have you completed the Camino de Santiago? What were your favourite sights along the way?