Since the early Middle Ages, countless devoted pilgrims from all over Europe walked all the way from the Franco-Spanish border at the Pyrennes to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia to pay homage to the relics of St. James the Great, housed in the magnificent Cathedral in the centre of Santiago's old town. These pilgrims will stop en route at Pamplona, Burgos, Leon, before finally arriving at the steps of the Cathedral after a long and ardous route. They will carry in their possession a staff, with a Galician scallop shell (the symbol of St. James) and a document known as 'credencial' (Pilgrim's Passport), to be stamped at every town on the route where they had stayed overnight. The stamps collected in this document serve as proof that the said pilgrim has indeed completed the pilgrimage according to an officially approved route (i.e. Camino de Santiago or St. James' Way) and is entitled to an official certificate of pilgrimage upon arrival at Santiago de Compostela.
Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
There are several official ways, depending on where the pilgrims embark on their journey. The most common one is the Pyrennes - Pamplona - Burgos - Leon - Santiago way. Since we did not walk to Santiago (we drove there with a rental car), we were not considered true pilgrims (driving is not an approved method of completing a pilgrimage), just ordinary tourists.