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Leaving stones and crosses on the Camino de Santiago: the meaning behind this tradition

The traditions of the Camino de Santiago are many, and this one stands out for its solidarity with the rest of the pilgrims

Stones on the signals of the Camino of Santiago, image from Envato Elements

Stones on the signals of the Camino of Santiago, image from Envato Elements

The yellow arrow with a pile of stones next to it is one of the most common images along the way, whatever route is followed. However, it hides a meaning that not everyone knows. Among all the traditions and legends related to the Camino de Santiago, this is one of the oldest. This tradition has no known origin, but goes back centuries.

The story of the stones of the path

The stones along the route to Santiago were initially placed with the intention of guiding other pilgrims. In this way, other travelers were informed of the path to follow, before there was standardized signage. The stones in each section are a silent way of creating community, in which the pilgrims do not meet each other but are aware that they follow the legacy of others before them.

These stones have another reason for being, more spiritual. Leaving a stone along the way is a symbol that the pilgrim leaves behind his fears and mistakes. It symbolizes that you get rid of a burden, that you abandon the pain and regret that you have carried during the previous kilometers.

Whether to release sorrows or to feel in community with other pilgrims, this gesture has spread to all parts of the world. Each of the stones on the path are, in a spiritual way, the loads that thousands of pilgrims have carried before you, and that they have been able to leave behind to complete the path to the Cathedral of Santiago.

Stones on the signals of the Camino of Santiago, image from Envato Elements

Stones on the signals of the Camino of Santiago, image from Envato Elements

What do the crosses mean

The crosses have a slightly different meaning, they are not a mark for the rest of the pilgrims. Although its origin is not known, apparently it began to be made as a way to honor the death of a loved one. There are those who continue to do it today to show respect and memory of their loved ones, since this symbol has survived over the centuries.

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