The symbols of the Camino de Santiago that you should know

If you are going to walk the Camino de Santiago and you want to soak up its cultural symbolism and historical legacy, you must know these Jacobean icons and what they represent.

These are the most important symbols of the Camino de Santiago

You already have everything organized; This is the good year, you're going to carry your backpack to walk the Camino de Santiago. Each one of us does it for different reasons: adventure, new experiences, sports, devotion, promises ... However, for the experience to be complete and much more enriching, it is a great idea for the pilgrim to become familiar with some of the symbols of the Most important Camino de Santiago that you will find on your pilgrimage.

Some are simple graphic icons, others are objects, and we have also included iconic places that perfectly represent the Jacobean phenomenon and its great cultural richness, forged over more than a thousand years of history.

The shell of the pilgrim (or vieira)

No doubt we are facing the most universal and known symbol of the Camino de Santiago. The shell of the pilgrim can be seen hanging in the backpacks of many walkers on the Jacobean route, but it is also an icon that has a signaling purpose: to indicate the Camino de Santiago route. Officially, the shell that we will find in the landmarks and signaling of the Camino must be yellow and with a blue background. Originally, in the Middle Ages, it was used to distinguish pilgrims who had already arrived in Santiago and returned home, but it is now used indiscriminately by all kinds of pilgrims.

The yellow arrows

The yellow arrows of the Camino de Santiago are another important signaling element for pilgrims. They have been used in the Jacobean route since 1984, and the idea comes from the historic parish priest of O Cebreiro Elías Valiña, a notable promoter of the Camino de Santiago phenomenon at the end of the 20th century and the signaling of the French Way. In the Camino you will find yellow arrows everywhere indicating the path to follow to reach Santiago: in stones, landmarks, official signs ...

The milestones of the Camino de Santiago

The milestones or signaling markers are blocks of stone or concrete placed by official institutions to indicate both the direction of the Camino (with a yellow arrow), and to mark the distance that separates us from Santiago de Compostela. They always include a scallop shell with a blue background and are usually separated by 1 kilometer, except in Galicia, where they separate only by 500 meters. You will find them at crossroads and on the path itself.

The pilgrims credential

The credential of the pilgrim is a very useful element in the course of the pilgrimage of any traveler. It is a document that must be stamped at each beginning and end of the route of the Camino de Santiago and that gives us access to occupy a bed in public shelters that we will find in our journey. The credential can be requested both at the beginning of our journey and in the associations of friends of the Camino de Santiago in the main cities.

The pilgrims staff

The so-called "third foot of the pilgrim" is a characteristic element of the traveler who goes to Santiago. It is a long cane, whose wood usually comes from chestnut and that must exceed in length the height of our shoulders as a rule. The pilgrim's staff is highly recommended, especially to deal with ups and downs; its use is extended even today, although many hikers also opt for folding hiking poles.

The compostela

Compostela is a certificate that any pilgrim can request when his pilgrimage ends in Santiago de Compostela. The only requirement is to have traveled on foot the last 100 km to the cathedral (by any of its routes), while by bicycle the minimum distance required is 200 km. If we fulfill these conditions, which should be demonstrated when we show our sealed pilgrim credential, we can request the compostela at the International Pilgrim Welcome Center on Calle Carretas 33 (very close to Plaza de Obradoiro).

The Cathedral of Santiago

The Compostela temple is another of the most universally recognized symbols in relation to the Camino de Santiago, with its unmistakable Gothic façade. It is the point of arrival of all the Jacobean routes that cross the Peninsula and Europe, whose original objective was to lead the pilgrim to the place where, according to tradition, the remains of the Apostle Santiago are found. The Cathedral of Santiago is one of the most important and most symbolic temples of the entire Catholic faith; It is located in the millenary city of Santiago de Compostela, in the Plaza de Obradoiro.

The Jacobean Year

The Compostela Holy Year is a very special date on the Camino de Santiago, since it is only celebrated 14 times each century (each year, July 25 falls on a Sunday). By tradition, the Catholic Church grants all-year plenary indulgence (absolution of all sins) to the pilgrims who complete the route. The last Jacobean Year was celebrated in 2010, while the next will take place in 2021, when a new explosion is expected in terms of the influx of pilgrims.

The botafumeiro

The botafumeiro is one of the most characteristic elements of the Compostela liturgy, a unique and very characteristic device found in the Cathedral of Santiago. It is a large container of more than 60 kg that is filled with incense and charcoal that is made "fly", swinging from one side to another tied to a large rope to perfume the temple. In antiquity its use was established to eliminate the bad odors of the cathedral, which gave shelter to the pilgrims who concluded their pilgrimage in Santiago.

The Calixtino Codex

The Codex Calixtinus is a manuscript of great relevance in the Compostela tradition, guarded from medieval times in the cathedral of Santiago and considered as the first guide of the Camino de Santiago. The authorship of the last of his books, which focuses on detailing the Camino de Santiago as it was in the twelfth century, has been attributed to the French friar Aymeric Picaud.



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Recent activity
Miquel Pellicer
Miquel Pellicer 21/09/19 11:27:19
Hola a tod@s.
No voy a compartir ninguna experiencia, porque todavía no he hecho el Camino. No obstante, y tras leer este artículo, me ha surgido una gran duda. Al ver las tres primeras fotografías de los símbolos del camino en las que se nos muestran claramente la concha, la flecha y, sobre todo, un hito con ambas, es cuando me lío. Con la flecha no hay problema, seguir el sentido indicado. Pero no lo tengo tan claro con la concha, entonces, cuando te encuentras con una, ¿hacia dónde indica? Tenía entendido que la dirección a seguir era hacia el lado abierto de ésta... pero en la foto del hito la flecha indica a la derecha y la concha en sentido contrario.
¿Me podéis ayudar?
0 3
Miquel Pellicer
Miquel Pellicer 04/10/2019 19:10:34
Hola Doe/Desconocido...

Lo de la flecha está claro, pero no siempre está pintada. Y lo de que en Asturias es el lado ancho y en Galicia el estrecho tiene el mismo sentido que una frase de mi zona cuando preguntas por el tiempo que va a hacer: "Igual llueve que no llueve. A la noche te lo diré". ????
Sin avatar
jhon doe 25/09/2019 16:26:40
Buenas tardes , según donde estes :En astucias debes seguir el lado más abierto de la concha , pero en Galicia es al revés .Buen camino
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