The concept of pilgrimage, a journey to visit a holy place, is vital to all world religions - the Hindu pilgrimage to Barnaras, the Jewish pilgrimage to the Temple at Jerusalem and the Islam pilgrimage to Mecca are but three. One of the principal objects in all cases is worship of someone or something integral to the faith in question.

The earliest sites of importance for Christian pilgrims were the Holy Land and Rome. Pilgrimage remains central to the Church up to the present day and the great Marian shrines in Europe at Lourdes and Fatima attract huge numbers. The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela and to Rome and elsewhere however, still retain an unique status because they place the emphasis on the journey, as much as the destination for the pilgrim, For the Santiago pilgrim, the essence of the experience is as much to travel as to arrive.

Whilst the joy for the average traveller derives from the physical nature of the routes, there is an inescapable spiritual dimension that arises from the knowledge that such routes have sacred qualities. The sign of the scallop shell which recurs throughout the Camino and the many religious services available for pilgrims all serve to remind everyone of the historic purpose and importance of the path. The great age of faith lives through the path, which would even now be familiar to the first pilgrims. The modern traveller or pilgrim will share both solitude and companionship, and congenial evenings in local bars, just as their predecessors did.

The Cathedral of Santiago is a truly living Cathedral, one where long-term pilgrims are reunited and are joined by thousands of others who have arrived by more modern means. A mid-day Pilgrim Mass is celebrated in the Cathedral each day and is are hugely attended. Additionally, the massive thurible known as the Butofumeiro is swung on most occasions. This amazing object, which hangs by a rope almost the full height of the cathedral, is propelled virtually up to the ceiling by a team of six altar servers. Its purpose in ancient times was to fumigate the pilgrims staying in the galleries but is now it is used primarily for spectacular effect. This provides an unforgettable climax to the Santiago pilgrimage. In Rome there is no greater symbol of faith than the magnificent Cathedral of St. Peter at the heart of the Vatican City.


We offer guided versions of some of our routes – please ask for more details. We can also provided guides on request. If you are organising a group of friends and would like a guide, please contact us for further information.


A useful link about pilgrimage art


1. Pilgrimage - the general background

BARBER, Richard. Pilgrimages. - Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 1991. - 159 pp. [A survey covering both Christian and non-Christian centres of pilgrimage]

DAVIES, J.G. Pilgrimage yesterday and today - why? where? how? Medieval pilgrimage, its critics over time and pilgrimage today. - London: SCM Press, 1988. - 240 pp. [A good general introduction from a theological viewpoint]

DUNN, Maryjane, and DAVIDSON, Linda Kay. The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela: a comprehensive annotated bibliography. - New York: Garland Publishing, 1994. - 508 pp. - (Garland Medieval Bibliographies, 18.)

FINUCANE, Ronald C. Miracles & pilgrims: popular beliefs in medieval England. - London: J.M.Dent & Sons, 1977. - 245 pp.

HALL, D.J. English medieval pilgrimage. - London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1966. -226 pp. [An account of pilgrimage within England]

KENDALL, Alan. Medieval pilgrims. - London: Wayland, 1970. - 126 pp. [An introduction to the subject for younger readers]

SUMPTION, Jonathan. Pilgrimage, an image of mediaeval religion. - With illustrations and maps. - London: Faber and Faber, paperback ed, 2002. - 391 pp. [Detailed study of the phenomenon of medieval pilgrimage]

WARD, Benedicta. Miracles and the medieval mind: theory, record and event 1000 - 1215. - Aldershot: Wildwood House, 1987. - 310 pp.

2. The artistic background

CODEX CALIXTINUS, Book V, Pilgrim's Guide. The pilgrim's guide to Santiago de Compostela: a gazetteer, by Annie Shaver-Crandell and Paula Gerson, with the assistance of Alison Stones. - London: Harvey Miller, 1995. - 421 pp. [An English translation of the 12th century guide with a gazetteer describing and illustrating all the towns and monuments on the four French routes and the main Spanish route as a pilgrim of the year 1200 would have seen them. Paperback edition published in 1997.]

CONANT, Kenneth John. Carolingian and Romanesque architecture, 800 - 1200. - Integrated paperback edition ed.- Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1987. - 508 pp. - (Pelican History of Art.) [illustrated classic work on Romanesque including the great churches of the pilgrimage roads]

JACOBS, Michael. The road to Santiago de Compostela. - London: Viking, 1991. - 147 pp. - (Architectural Guides for Travellers.)

KINGSLEY PORTER, A. Romanesque sculpture of the pilgrimage roads. - With 1527 plates. First published 1923. - New York: Hacker Art Books, 1985. - 3 vols. [The definitive work for many years]

MALE, Emile. The Gothic image: religious art in France of the thirteenth century. - Translated by Dora Nussey. - London: Fontana, 1961. - 415 pp. [originally published in in French in 1910]

WHITEHILL, Walter Muir. Spanish romanesque architecture of the eleventh century. - Oxford: OUP, 1968. - 299 pp. [Includes a lengthy section on the cathedral of Santiago]

3. The Santiago pilgrimage: St James's cult, history and legend, including translations of primary sources

CODEX CALIXTINUS, Book II, Miracles of St James. The miracles of Saint James. - Edited by Thomas F. Coffey, Linda Kay Davidson and Maryjane Dunn. - New York: Italica Press, 1996. - 169 pp. [Translation of the Veneranda Dies sermon from Book I of the Liber Sancti Jacobi, and the miracles from Book II]

CODEX CALIXTINUS, Book V, Pilgrims' Guide. The pilgrim's guide: a 12th century guide for the pilgrim to St James of Compostela, translated from the Latin by James Hogarth. - London: Confraternity of St James, 1992. - 97 pp. [The first full English translation of the 12th century guide for the pilgrim to Santiago]

CODEX CALIXTINUS, Book V, Pilgrims' Guide. The pilgrim's guide to Santiago de Compostela [by] William Melczer. - New York: Italica Press, 1993. - 345 pp. [A translation of Book V of the Codex Calixtinus with introduction and notes]

CODEX CALIXTINUS, Book V, Pilgrim's Guide. The pilgrim's guide to Santiago de Compostela: a critical edition. Vol.I: the Manuscripts, their creation, production and reception; Vol. II: the Text, annotated English translation; Latin text collated, edited and annotated [by Alison Stones, Jeanne Krochalis, Paula Gerson, Annie Shaver-Crandell]. - London: Harvey Miller Publishers, 1998. - 2 vols.

CONFRATERNITY OF SAINT JAMES. Pilgrims from the British Isles to Santiago de Compostela in the Middle Ages. - Procedings of a conference held at Hengrave Hall 16-18 March 1990. - London: (The Confraternity), 1991. - 55 pp. [Includes papers by Derek Lomax, Brian Kemp, Hilary Shaw, and Brian Tate]

DAVIES, Horton and Marie-Hélène. Holy days and holidays: the medieval pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. - London: Associated University Presses, 1982. - 243 pp. [Scholarly but accessible account of the pilgrimage and its background.]

DIOCESAN COMMISSION FOR HOLY YEAR. St. James the Apostle and his place in history: 10 study themes. - Santiago de Compostela: Comisión Diocesana del Año Santo, 1993. - 92 pp. [Ten illustrated chapters on the history, religion and archaeology of the pilgrimage, written by Spanish experts, and designed for use by parish groups or students]

FLETCHER, Richard. St James's catapult: the life and times of Diego Gelmírez of Santiago de Compostela. - Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984. - 341 pp. [A biography of Santiago's dynamic first archbishop incorporating the history of St James and the development of the pilgrimage in the high Middle Ages]

GITLITZ, David M., and DAVIDSON, Linda Kay. The pilgrim road to Santiago: the complete cultural handbook. - New York: St Martin's Griffin, 2000. - 440 pp.

HOHLER, Christopher. 'The badge of St James', in The Scallop: studies of a shell and its influences on humankind, edited by Ian Cox. Shell Transport and Trading Co,1957, pp 49-70.

KENDRICK, T.D. Saint James in Spain. - London: Methuen, 1960. - 217 pp. [Study of the origins of the cult of St James in Spain]

STORRS, Constance Mary. Jacobean pilgrims from England to St James of Compostela from the early twelfth to the late fifteenth century. - Santiago de Compostela: Xunta de Galicia, 1994. - 202 pp. [Definitive account of the medieval pilgrimage from England; originally a University of London MA thesis]

TATE, Robert Brian. Pilgrimages to St James of Compostella from the British Isles during the Middle Ages. - Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1990. - 26 pp. - (E. Allison Peers Publications Lectures, 4.) [Useful introduction to the pilgrimage from Britain]

VAN HERWAARDEN, Jan. "The origins of the cult of St James of Compostela." In: Journal of Medieval History, vol VI, no. 1, 1980, pp. 1-35. [A detailed and important study of the origins of the pilgrimage]

4. Accounts of pilgrimages and journeys to Santiago de Compostela (in chronological order)

LAFFI, Domenico. A journey to the West: the diary of a seventeenth- century pilgrim from Bologna to Santiago de Compostela. - Translated, with a commentary by James Hall. - Leiden and Santiago de Compostela: Primavera Press and the Xunta de Galicia, 1997. - 192 pp. [Well illustrated and annotated translation of an important Italian pilgrimage account]

KING, Georgiana Goddard. The Way of St James. - London: G.P.Putnam's Sons, 1920. - 3 vols. [A discursive account of a journey made in the early years of the 20th century by the Professor of the History of Art, Bryn Mawr College]

STARKIE, Walter. The road to Santiago: pilgrims of St James. - London: John Murray, 1957. - 324 pp. [A classic early account of the pilgrimage and the author's journey from Arles, with his fiddle]

MULLINS, Edwin. The pilgrimage to Santiago. - London: Secker and Warburg, 1974, now reissued Oxford, Signal Books, 2001 - 224 pp. [A good general introduction to the subject by an art critic who followed the Paris route by car]

LAYTON, T.A. The Way of St James or the pilgrims' road to Santiago. - London: Allen & Unwin, 1976. - 228 pp. [An account of the author's travels in Spain; includes an abridged translation of Aimery Picaud's guide]

NEILLANDS, Rob. The road to Compostela. - Ashbourne: Moorland Publishing,1985. - 175 pp. [An account by a cyclist who followed the Le Puy route]

DENNETT, Laurie. A hug for the apostle. - Toronto: Macmillan of Canada, 1987.- 228 pp. [Account of the author's pilgrimage from Chartres to Santiago to raise funds for multiple sclerosis research]

ALVEY, Ada. In search of St James: Cornwall to Compostela, the story of a pilgrimage in 1983. - Redruth: Dyllansow Truran, 1989. - 68 pp. [An account of a coach journey, preceded by information on Cornish links with the pilgrimage]

HANBURY-TENISON, Robin. Spanish pilgrimage: a canter to St James. - London: Hutchinson, 1990. - 176 pp. [A pilgrimage on horseback across Spain]

BENTLEY, James. The Way of St. James: a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. - Photographs by John Miller. - London: Pavilion Books, 1992. -143 pp.

SELBY, Bettina. Pilgrim's road: a journey to Santiago de Compostela. - London: Little, Brown & Co, 1994. - 212 pp. [Account of a cyclist's journey to Santiago on the Vézelay route]

HITT, Jack. Off the road: a modern-day walk down the pilgrim route into Spain. - London: Aurum Press, 1994. - 225 pp. [A writer's struggle with 'authenticity' in the modern pilgrimage]

STANTON, Edward E. Road of stars to Santiago. - Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1994. - 197 pp. [An American pilgrim's journey]

FREY, Nancy. Pilgrim Stories: on and off the road to Santiago. - Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998. - 313 pp. [The experiences of modern pilgrims, collected and analysed by a cultural anthropologist, emphasising the integration of pilgrimage into their everyday lives.]

5. Illustrated books

HELL, Vera, and Hellmut. The great pilgrimage of the middle ages. -. Introduction by Sir Thomas Kendrick. - London: Barrie & Rockliff, 1966. - 269 pp. [A rare and beautiful book; the introduction is followed by 170 large, annotated photographs of the route in France and Spain]

TATE, Brian, and Marcus. The pilgrim route to Santiago. - With photographs by Pablo Keller. - Oxford: Phaidon Press, 1987. - 153 pp. [Account of the routes through France and Spain, with evocative photographs]

6. Guides to the route across Spain

BRAVO LOZANO, Millan. A practical guide for pilgrims: the road to Santiago. - León: Editorial Everest SA, 5th ed. 1998. - 261 pp. with maps in a separate waterproof pocket. [Exists in Spanish, French, and German as well as English editions. Considered as one of the best.]

RAJU, Alison. The way of St James. - Milnthorpe: Cicerone Press, 2003. - 2 vols, covering le Puy to the Pyrenees, and the Pyrenees to Santiago and Finisterre. [A more compact guide]

VALIÑA SAMPEDRO, Elias. The pilgrim's guide to the Camino de Santiago. - Translated by Laurie Dennett. - Vigo: Galaxia, 1992. - 275 pp. [Authoritative illustrated guide]

VALIÑA SAMPEDRO, Elias. The way of St James: the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela. - Brentford: Roger Lascelles, 1993. - 112 pp. [Clear and elegant cartography of the route in Spain]

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