A dig into the history of the Camino uncovers an epic narrative that rivals the Narnia Chronicles, Star Wars or the Lord of the Rings. The Camino has it all – a purposeful journey; mountain ranges and endless plains; a centuries long battle between different perceptions of Good and Evil and, after all is said and done, the realisation that human beings so often spar with windmills.
The pilgrimage has a cast of characters that originates in every part of the Iberian Peninsula (what we now call Spain and Portugal) and beyond.
The Camino’s history spans religion and race - Christian, Islamic, Jewish, Celtic, Basque, Roman, Goth and Berber. Over its one thousand year history, the Camino has been walked by millions of people and honoured with many titles - ‘El Camino de Santiago’, ‘The Way of Saint James’, or simply ‘Camino’ or ‘Way.’
At the height of its influence in medieval times the Camino joined Jerusalem and Rome as one of the three great Christian pilgrimages. It was a destination for Crusaders as well.
Although it has never been completely forgotten at any time during its one thousand year history, the Camino has seen an extraordinary resurgence in the past twenty years. Villages that had been abandoned by young people seeking their fortunes in the cities of Spain or overseas, are being rejuvenated by pilgrims’ demands for shelter, food and hospitality.