Religious pilgrimages were, and still are, present in many philosophies from Buddhism and Islam to Judaism and Christianity. Perhaps the world’s best known pilgrimages today end in Jerusalem, Rome, Mecca, Medina and Santiago de Compostela. The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain is known as the:
- Camino de Santiago
- Way of St James
- Walking the Camino
Santiago de Compostela became a centre for pilgrimage after the 9th century discovery of the body of one of the twelve apostles, one of Jesus’ inner circle, St. James. Although it was a pretty punishing and difficult undertaking in those times, pilgrims began to arrive in large numbers soon after. The Frenchman Bretenaldo who walked the Camino around the year 920, is generally considered to be the first known foreign pilgrim to journey to Santiago.
The pilgrimage to Santiago had a big influence on the areas it traversed. New towns were created with infrastructure being provided that made the pilgrimage easier. Rules were established to protect the pilgrims and institutions, from hospitals to the security provided by the Order of the Knights of Santiago, were founded.