See the section for Spain of the Trento Bike Pages

El Camino de Santiago

From a message of Luis E. Arlegui to Eurobike, Sun, 7 Jan 1996 12:13:54

Please note the following remark by Luis, on Thu, 10 Dec 1998 13:10:28 -0800: "Lot of people seems to think I am kind of a Camino guru of some sort (which I am not at all) and along the past few years I received several dozaines of messages asking for advice, route information and even hotel bookings!! This has never been a great concern, with an average of a message of this kind a month is quite easy to [deal with them]. But this year is a Xacobeo [Jubilee], and requests are exponentially growing (oh, well, that is a slight exageration, I should remember you'r a mathematician!!)."

So please, folks, do not write to Luis for further information, but do check the other available sites.

El Camino de santiago is the most important pilgrimage trail all over Europe. Gotescalco, Bishop of Le Puy, was one of the first pilgrims as far as we know, he did the trail in 950 AD (more than 1000 years ago!!). The first guide of the CdS was written by Aymeric Picaud, priest of Potou, in the XIIht century: Codex Calixtinus.

Today, the CdS is called also GR-65 in the International Code, GR means Gran Recorrido or Grand Randonne. It starts in France and ends in Santiago de Compostela. All along the trail there are some traditional services for the pilgrims: Posada y Comida (food and bed). The free food is not available today, however, in Santiago (Hostal de Los Reyes Católicos) you have right for three days of free lunch by showing your "Compostela" (it is a certificate of having done the CdS, later I will explain how to get it), along the way you can obtain cheap meals showing your Credencial de Peregrino (Pilgrim's Credentials). Fortunately, it still available the Posada, that is, bed, for the Pilgrims. Most are really humble (they depend on the budget of the town, so ...). They use to be free, while a donation will be kind: Asociación de Amigos del Camino de Santiago, phone: (948) 22.14.79

In the Colegiata de Roncesvalles (Roncesvalles, where Sir Roland was killed by vasque warriors when retourning to the Court of Charlemagne, is located in the Pyrennees, near Valcarlos) you must ask for the Credencial de Peregrino, it is only for those who are doing the CdS walking, with horses or by bike. The Credencial must be stamped in every town you pass, it will give you the right to use the Posadas. Once you are in Santiago you must show it in the Cathedral, they will give you the "Compostela". You can also get the Credencial in St Jean de Pied de Port: Les Amics de St Jacques, Rue de la Citadelle, phone: 37.03.79.

The Spanish part of the CdS is 783 Km long. It starts in Valcarlos (Spanish Pyrenees) and, of course, ends in Santiago. Unfortunately, some portions of the original CdS are today roads or motorways. But it remains long portions of the original way, so it could be nice having a mountain bike. Of course, there are always road alternatives.

There is a 12 stages plan. The day distances ranging from 52 to 75 km, so you can enjoy the landscape and the towns:

  1. Valcarlos-Pamplona (60 km)
  2. Pamplona-Los Arcos (66 km)
  3. Los Arcos-Santo Domingo de la Calzada (75 km)
  4. Santo Domingo de la Calzada- Burgos (72 km)
  5. Burgos-Fromista (75 km)
  6. Fromista-Sahagún (62 km)
  7. Sahagún-León (58 km)
  8. León-Rabanal del Camino (68 km)
  9. Rabanal del Camino-Vega de Valcarce (69 km)
  10. Vega de Valcarce- Sarria (54 km)
  11. Sarria- Melide (72 km)
  12. Melide- Santiago de Compostela (52 km)