The signage on the Camino de Santiago

What do the different signage elements that you will find walking along the Jacobean routes towards Santiago mean? We tell you

Señalización Camino de Santiago

Señalización Camino de Santiago

Know the signs and follow them to reach each end of the stage

The signage of the different routes of the Camino de Santiago is one of the problems that traditionally worry most before pilgrimage for the first time; Will we lose easily? Will we know how to interpret the signals? Will they be clear enough? Fortunately, the Camino de Santiago is usually well indicated, with clear and visual signs at each junction and every few kilometers of route. Therefore, simply knowing what each of the signs mean, we should not have problems to easily reach the end of each route.

What signs are you going to find on the Camino de Santiago and what do they mean?

To guide you on your pilgrimage you should only attend to the three types of signs that you will find below, however, as in any hiking route, it will also be useful to know the position of the sun when you walk (remember that the sun rises through the east and it is set in the west). With this simple trick you will know in each moment in what cardinal point you are heading.

  • The yellow arrows: They are the most important symbol that you must take into account if you are pilgrims to Santiago. They will accompany you throughout your journey, always indicating the direction you should follow, for example at crossroads. Why are they yellow? Everything comes from the contribution of Elías Valiña, parish priest of O Cebreiro and one of the most important figures of the resurgence of the Camino de Santiago at the end of the 20th century.
  • The milestones or signaling milestones: This official signage consists of a concrete block that includes an arrow with the course to follow, a yellow shell on a blue background (standardized symbols throughout the Camino) and generally the distance in kilometers that separates us from Santiago de Compostela. They are very common especially in Galicia, where we will find one every 500 meters.
  • The scallop shells: In addition to drawn in the own cairns, you will find them distributed throughout the Way of Santiago, in each of its routes, as much in facades as in religious buildings or even in the ground (with a finished in bronze). Scallops, very common in Galicia, are one of the universal symbols of the Camino de Santiago and have been carried by pilgrims for centuries. The open part of the shell tells us the direction to take to get to Santiago.

Where will you find the signs?

The cairns you will find generally separated from each other by 1 kilometer (every 500 meters when you enter Galicia), usually at crossroads or on the same path of the route. As for the yellow arrows, you can find them painted almost anywhere (besides the cairns), both on roads and in towns; just try to make sure that it is not fraudulent signals that you try to drive without your permission to a private business (an increasingly common problem).

Something similar happens with the scallop shells; Although they are always included in the landmarks, you can also find them in all types of constructions, even on the ground, although they are more common in populations

Are the Camino de Santiago signage unified?

Traveling the Camino de Santiago, as you know, you will cross different autonomous communities. Some of them add their own signs, such as Navarra with the GR 65 trails (identified with a white band and a red one), but all of them also use the unified signs of the Camino de Santiago that we have described above: the yellow arrows, the markers and the scallop shells.

Following the recognition of the Camino de Santiago as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, the signs of the Camino de Santiago have their symbols and colors unified, so that any pilgrim, whether very or very unfamiliar with the Camino de Santiago, Regardless of his experience, he can be guided without problems by the main Jacobean routes.


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