Way of St. James

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Way of St. James in Europe
The scallop is the symbol of the Camino de Santiago
Memorial stone at the Marienkirche in Hof
Pilgrim Monument We are on the path of Jörg Heydemann in Coesfeld

The Way of St. James ( Spanish Camino de Santiago , Galician : Camiño de Santiago ) is a number of pilgrimage routes across Europe, all of which aim at the alleged tomb of the Apostle James in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia ( Spain ). First and foremost, it is understood as the Camino Francés , that high medieval main traffic axis in northern Spain, which leads from the Pyrenees to Jacob's tomb and connects the royal cities of Jaca , Pamplona , Estella , Burgos and León . This route, as it is still done today, originated in the first half of the 11th century.

A pilgrim guide of the 12th century, which is contained in the Jacob's Book ( Latin Liber Sancti Jacobi ), the main source for the veneration of St. James in the High Middle Ages , named four further paths for the French area that unite to form a strand in the vicinity of the Pyrenees. Following the revival of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in the 1970s and 1980s, the main Spanish route was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 1993. In 1998 the four French ways described in the Liber Sancti Jacobi also received this title. In 1987 , the Council of Europe had already raised the routes of the pilgrims to St. James all over Europe as a European cultural route and recommended their identification.

General Introduction

Origin of name

James the Elder by Gil de Siloe
Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Camino de Santiago was first mentioned in 1047. In a document from the Arconada Hospital, Province of Palencia , the main thoroughfare in northern Spain is described as the “path that has been used by pilgrims of St. James and Peter and Paul committed ”. It is the first written mention of this street; from the outset it connects the path with the tomb of St. James in Galicia . In common parlance, the term Camino de Santiago is also used for other historical routes by pilgrims in Europe .

In contrast, an international commission of experts set up by the Council of Europe in 1985 and settled in the government of the autonomous region of Galicia agreed on a nomenclature according to which only the northern Spanish main traffic axis should be called Camino de Santiago (St. James' Way). All other routes are known as the “Way of the Pilgrims”. This is to express that for the Camino Francés the use of the Camino Francés is assumed to be the main function of the pilgrims , while the other routes were old streets which also, but not primarily, served the pilgrims.

The pilgrimage route is also known as the star route .

Destination of the Camino de Santiago

The grave site in Santiago de Compostela developed in the Middle Ages into the third main destination of Christian pilgrimage, alongside Rome and Jerusalem . During the 12th century, the cathedral chapter of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela understood how to integrate the redeeming theological teachings of early scholasticism into its pastoral work before Rome and other pilgrimage centers . A reconciling Christ was conveyed to the people in a simple message that everyone understood, whose work may be bestowed on the people through the intercession of St. James. This pastoral concept was later underpinned by the introduction of indulgences and holy years, modeled on Rome.



After the Arab conquest of al-Andalus in the 8th century, the tradition, which has only been attested since the early 7th century, that the apostle James the Elder had proselytized on the Iberian Peninsula , was taken up in Spain. The Christian successor realms of the lost Visigothic empire required a form of identification. The discovery of the alleged apostolic tomb in the extreme north-west of Spain in the period from 818 to 834 under King Alfonso II of Asturias and the creation of legends about the translation of the holy body from the place of execution in Jerusalem to the end of the then known world, caused by a vision, provided an opportunity for satisfaction this need. The kings of Asturias and later of León made James their patron saint and trusted him especially as a slaughterhouse. Initially, the area of ​​worship was restricted to Cantabria . Since around 930, after northern Spain was incorporated into the Christian dominion, isolated pilgrims from Aquitaine and the Lake Constance area have been recorded.

In the Schaffhausen donor book, a pilgrimage to Count Eberhard VI is recorded in 1070 . Attributed to von Nellenburg , the “founder of the Allerheiligen monastery in Schaffhausen : he was married to Ita, probably from the family of the Counts of Kirchberg . With her Eberhard went on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. "

High and late Middle Ages

Jacob pilgrims, depiction from 1568

One of the largest developed in the 11th and 12th centuries under the influence of the Reconquista as well as the monastic reform that began at Cluny Abbey and the development of a northern Spanish urban landscape along the Camino de Santiago, along with new developments in the Christian doctrine of salvation and redemption ( soteriology ) Pilgrimage traditions of the Christian West. Around 1075/1078 the construction of a Romanesque cathedral began, which in 1120 became the seat of an archbishop . In the 15th century, the place of pilgrimage experienced a further boom with the introduction of special grace years , in which a complete indulgence was granted. Its catchment area extended to Scandinavia and Eastern Central Europe . Although there are no indications of specific numbers of pilgrims for the high or late Middle Ages , English pilgrimage licenses for the 15th century show that around fourteen times as many pilgrims came to Santiago de Compostela in the Holy Years as in normal years.

Modern times

After a decline in pilgrimage in the early modern period , caused by a decline in the pilgrimage idea, the Reformation and the Franco-Spanish War , a renewed upswing has been discernible since the middle of the 17th century. This is clearly visible in a comprehensive construction program for the cathedral, which was initiated in 1657 by Canon José de Vega y Verdugo and concluded in 1769 with the completion of a new north facade. After Napoleon's campaign on the Iberian Peninsula , a sweeping wave of secularization almost completely dissolved the charitable infrastructure of the northern Spanish Way of St. James and led to a significant decrease in the number of pilgrims, even though the pilgrimage on the Way of St. James never came to a complete standstill.

The rediscovery of the bones hidden in 1589 in fear of an English attack at sea in 1879 brought the turning point, especially after Pope Leo XIII. 1884 had recognized the authenticity of the relics found again.

At the end of the twenties, the American Walter Muir began to transmit the Liber Sancti Jacobi (Codex Calixtinus); after the Spanish Civil War it was published in 1944 and the Camino de Santiago reopened as a zone of peace. Before the end of the civil war, Francisco Franco applied to make Santiago the patron saint of Spain again. From now on, Franco and the nationalists used the saint to equate themselves with the “keeper of the Spanish Catholic identity”. The image of Matamoros (the murderer of the Moors) became a symbol of his fascist-nationalist politics.

In 1937 General Franco declared the feast of St. James the Spanish national holiday, a political instrumentalization in a nationalistic sense that could be overcome by the international interest in the pilgrimage after 1945. After the Second World War , which left Europe deeply wounded, you found what you were looking for in the Camino de Santiago: “The Camino de Santiago, with its roots in Christian Europe, created the ideal way to overcome political differences and a continent more through the sound of trampling feet than through warfare merge. "

In the 1950s and 1960s, associations of the “Friends of the Camino de Santiago” were formed in Spain and France and there was still a political interest in the scientific analysis and tourist development. In 1950 the first James Society was established in Paris with the aim of working scientifically.

In the holy Compostelan year 1954, some youth pilgrimages took place - but mainly Franco supporters set out on horses to worship the patron of Spain.

Boom in the modern age

Since the 1970s, pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago has experienced a great boom. In 1982 Pope John Paul II visited Santiago de Compostela and called on the old continent to revive its roots as part of a large “Europe celebration”. In 1987 the Council of Europe declared the route to be the first European cultural route . At that time a good 3,000 pilgrims were registered per year, in 2003 there were over 74,000 from all over the world. In 2004, in the Compostelan Holy Year , 179,932 came. You have covered either the whole way or the way through Spain, but at least the last 100 kilometers of the route on foot or on horseback or the last 200 kilometers by bike . This is recorded with stamps from individual stations in a pilgrim pass and entitles the holder to use the inexpensive pilgrim hostels and to wear the corresponding badges. In Santiago, pilgrims receive a certificate, the Compostela .

The upswing has taken the following course over the past decades:

year pilgrim year pilgrim year pilgrim year pilgrim year pilgrim
1970 68 1980 209 1990 4,918 2000 55.004 3) 2010 272,135 1)
1971 451 1) 1981 299 1991 7,274 2001 61,418 2011 183,366 4)
1972 67 1982 1,868 1) 1992 9,764 2002 68,952 2012 192.488
1973 37 1983 146 1993 99,436 1) 2003 74,614 2013 215,880
1974 108 1984 423 1994 15,863 2004 179,944 1) 2014 237,886 5)
1975 74 1985 690 1995 19,821 2005 93,924 2015 262,459
1976 243 1) 1986 1,801 1996 23,218 2006 100,377 2016 277,854 6)
1977 31 1987 2,905 1997 25.179 2007 114.026 2017 301.036
1978 13 1988 3,501 1998 30.126 2008 125.141 2018 327.378
1979 231 1989 5,760 2) 1999 154,613 1) 2009 145,877 2019 347,538
1) Holy Compostelan year , it is celebrated when the feast day of St. James d. Ä. - July 25th - falls on a Sunday.

2) IV. World Youth Day in Santiago de Compostela
3) European Capital of Culture
4) 800th anniversary of the completion of the cathedral, XXVI. World Youth Day in Madrid
5) 800th anniversary of the alleged pilgrimage of St. Francis to Santiago de Compostela
6) Opening of the Holy Door "ad instar jubilei misericordiae" (on the occasion of the Jubilee of Mercy )

(Source: Statistics from the Cathedral Chapter of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela)

In 2017 people from 177 countries visited the Camino de Santiago. Almost half of the visitors were Spanish, while others came from Germany, Italy, the USA, France and Portugal.

Development of the road network since 1980

The scallop shell and the yellow arrow are the typical orientation aids along the way

An overview of the signposted pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela can be found in the article Ways of the Pilgrims of St. James .

In 1980 the Spanish priest Elías Valiña Sampedro began to mark the Camino Francés in northern Spain with yellow arrows and to ensure the establishment of a hostel network, after he had previously submitted a doctoral thesis on the historical and canonical foundations of the path. At the same time, well-known scientific congresses and exhibitions (including Munich 1984, Gent 1985) examined the European dimensions of the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The growing popularity of the path gave the Council of Europe the opportunity to address the issue as well. His declaration of Santiago de Compostela (October 23, 1987) raised the routes of the pilgrims to St. James in Europe as the first European cultural route (Council of Europe Cultural Route) . The request was made to authorities, associations and individuals to “mark and identify the pilgrimage routes to Santiago throughout Europe”. Two international congresses, which the Council of Europe organized in October 1988 with the German St. Jakobus Society at Schney Castle near Lichtenfels and in September 1989 with the Centro Italiano di Studi Compostellani in Viterbo , provided the binding basis for a route designation. The final declaration of the congress at Schney Castle "emphatically emphasized the necessity of a strictly scientific identification of the historical routes to Santiago, namely this side of the Pyrenees, as well as the further traces of this cult, which is based on written and iconographic documents as well as on research in the field" . The declaration emphasized that this was an "essential prerequisite for their revitalization".

During the congress at Schney Castle, the employees of the inventory of historical traffic routes in Switzerland (IVS) were able to present extensive and well-founded route projects for Switzerland . The Schwabenweg from Konstanz to Einsiedeln and its continuation to the Rhone were among the first signposted routes for the St. James pilgrims after the “Camino Francés” and the Via Podiensis .


In France , the restoration of the road network is based on a complex system of classifications introduced by the Center d'études compostellanes in Paris in the 1980s.

  • As Chemins de Saint-Jacques (Jakobswege) only the four main paths are Via Turonensis , Via Lemovicensis , Via Podiensis and Via Tolosana that already in the 12th century pilgrim guide (fifth book) of the Liber Sancti Jacobi mention found.
  • The Itinéraires form a second category . These are further routes for which historical pilgrim guides or pilgrimage reports are available.
  • Finally, there is the third category, the cheminements . These are routes that are proven by documents such as customs books or passers-by lists from hospitals and other certificates as the routes of the pilgrims to St. James.

In collaboration with the Fédération française de la randonnée pédestre, the main trails have been designated as GR long-distance hiking trails .


Way of St. James between Trier and Metz with the Church of St. James near Fisch

In Germany , the designation of paths did not begin until 1992, when the Protestant pastor Paul Geißendörfer, together with six St. James parishes, realized a pilgrimage from Rothenburg ob der Tauber to Nuremberg . This path was expanded until 1995 in cooperation with the Franconian Albverein and the Oberpfälzer Waldverein to the Franconian Way of St. James , which leads from Tillyschanz via Schwandorf , Nuremberg, Heilsbronn to Rothenburg ob der Tauber. The reference project for a historically accurate route in accordance with the provisions of the Council of Europe is the pilgrimage from Nuremberg via Ulm to Constance, which was developed between 1995 and 1999 based on two reports by late medieval pilgrims, closely following the course of a Reichsstrasse . Since 1999 the regional associations of Rhineland and Westphalia-Lippe have been working on the Paths of St. James pilgrims project in Rhineland and Westphalia .

In May 2003 the Munich Way of St. James was inaugurated, which leads from the Angerkloster at Jakobsplatz in Munich to Bregenz on Lake Constance and there joins the Swiss Way of St. James. In the federal states that were added in 1990, the first route, the Ecumenical Pilgrimage Route, was established in 2003 along the historical course of the Via Regia from Görlitz to Vacha . From 2009 to 2013, the Saxon Way of St. James was re-designated there in the course of the Frankenstraße or Via Imperii between Bautzen or Königsbrück and Hof , connected with the Way of St. James Vogtland and the Way of St. James Silberberg .

Since 2005 the routes of the St. James pilgrims in northern Germany with the two main routes Via Baltica from Usedom to Osnabrück and Via Jutlandica from Frederikshavn to Glückstadt , the latter in Danish- German cooperation, have been developed.

There are four pilgrims' routes in Hesse . One is based on the course of the historic long-distance trade route from Leipzig to Frankfurt am Main (Des Reiches Strasse) . Another leads coming from Eisenach together with the Elisabethpfad via Marburg and Siegen to Cologne . The third route begins in Wetzlar and leads as a so-called Lahn-Camino via Koblenz to Bingen am Rhein. Another Elisabethpfad leads from Frankfurt via Wetzlar to Marburg.

Another branch in Rhineland-Palatinate continues from Frankfurt / Main via Mainz and then on the historic Ausoniusweg via Bingen to Trier .


The main branch of the Way of St. James in Austria goes back largely to a private initiative of the author Peter Lindenthal , who began in 1997 to develop an east-west path from Wolfsthal to Feldkirch through research in the area based on the medieval Way of St. James and sporadically mark it with wooden plaques. Meanwhile, some sections, e.g. For example, the Jakobsweg Weinviertel , the Jakobsweg West Styria, the Jakobsweg Göttweig – Melk , the Jakobsweg in Upper Austria and Salzburg , the Jakobsweg Tirol and then the Jakobsweg Landeck – Einsiedeln as part of Leader + projects, signposted by tourism organizations and partly on your own initiative.

The 38.4 km long route section through Vienna, from the Jakobskirche in Schwechat via the Alberner Hafen to Purkersdorf , was signposted and opened on July 25, 2016 with a festival and hike.


In Poland , since 2005, the Jakobspilger routes have been created, which connect to the German route network in Görlitz, Frankfurt (Oder) and Kamminke . The ecumenical pilgrimage route along the Via Regia was extended to the border with Ukraine . Also a way of of Olsztyn (Olsztyn) via Görlitz and Prague leads, was highlighted. There are also several local and regional feeders to the main routes of the pilgrimage route.


Several branches of the Jakobweg lead through Switzerland. The best known is the Schwabenweg from Constance to the pilgrimage site of Einsiedeln . The path is part of SwitzerlandMobility's national hiking route No. 4 ViaJacobi , which leads from Rorschach via St. Gallen and Einsiedeln to Geneva .

The following connecting routes lead to the ViaJacobi: From Blumberg via Schaffhausen and from Basel to Romont . The regional route No. 43 of the Graubünden Way of St. James from SwitzerlandMobility comes from Val Müstair and joins the Via Jacobi at Amsteg . The Appenzeller Weg , regional route No. 44, connects with the Via Jacobi coming from Rankweil in Vorarlberg near St. Peterzell .


Way of St. James in Luxembourg on the boulevard Franklin Delano Roosevelt, departure to the Peitruss

Pilgrims from Northern Europe also crossed what is now Luxembourg in the Middle Ages . Some finds, such as a scallop shell in a grave in Grevenmacher , attest to this. Coming from Aachen and Trier , the medieval pilgrims probably followed the old Roman routes in the direction of Arlon , Reims and Metz , including the historical pilgrimage routes Via Podiensis (starting from Le-Puy-en-Velay), Via Turonensis (Orléans), and Via Lemovicensis (Vézelay). The way leads past where the Jacobean cult was cultivated in Luxembourg. Examples include Münschecker , Roodt-sur-Syre and Jakobsberg “Jokesbierg” near Bech . Well-known pilgrimage sites such as the grave of St. Willibrordus in Echternach or the pilgrimage sites that have only emerged in modern times such as B. the cathedral of Luxembourg .

Cultural-historical aspects

To the legend of James

The name refers to the apostle James the Elder . Together with his brother John, he was one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ ( Mk 3,14-17  EU , Lk 6,13-14  EU ).

The Spanish Jacobean traditions developed independently of the New Testament information in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. The legend , which developed in numerous stages of development between the 7th and 13th centuries, includes six major subject areas:

  • The description of a missionary activity of the apostle on the Iberian peninsula
  • The translation of the holy body following the biblically transmitted execution of the apostle in Jerusalem by King Herod Agrippa I in the year 44 and the erection of a tomb
  • The rediscovery of the tomb at the beginning of the 9th century under Bishop Theodomir by Iria Flavia
  • The helpful intervention of the apostle in seemingly hopeless situations during battles against the Arabs
  • The liberation of the Camino de Santiago from the Moors by Emperor Charlemagne
  • Miracles that the apostle performed on pilgrims on the way and in the holy place.

The Spanish Jacobean traditions have developed since the 7th century, when in the "Breviarium Apostolorum" for the first time from a mission of St. James on the Iberian Peninsula is reported. With the exception of the tract “De ortu et obitu patrum” attributed to Isidore of Seville , this tradition was initially not taken up in Spain. It was not until the end of the 8th century that the Kingdom of Asturias , the successor state of the Visigothic Empire, which was perished at the time of the Arab invasion, increased the interest in propagating the legitimacy of James as the apostolic protector of Spain and the Asturian royal family. The "Concordia de Antealtares" from 1075 offers a detailed report on the discovery of the grave.

In its full form, as it is passed down through the Book of Jacob in the 12th century and through the Legenda aurea in the 13th century, the legend describes how two friends of James stole the body after the execution, took it to Jaffa and loaded it onto a ship there whose crew consisted of invisible angels. This ship was then en route for seven days and stranded on the coast of Galicia near Iria Flavia . There the body was loaded onto an ox cart; He is said to have been buried in the place where the oxen settled.

The legendary origin of the Way of St. James by Emperor Charlemagne is described in the fourth book of Liber Sancti Jacobi, the so-called Pseudo-Turpin . Accordingly, Charlemagne had freed the way to the tomb of James from the Moors on his campaign in Spain at the behest of the apostle. With the inclusion of the cult of Charles in the worship of St. James, the interest of the German and French pilgrims could be aroused, while on the other hand Emperor Friedrich I Barbarossa and King Ludwig VII of France tried to derive political primacy from the connection of the two legends.

The miracle reports also recorded in the Book of Jacob and the Legenda aurea reflect the psychological tremors to which the pilgrims were exposed on the way out of concern for their salvation; it is often confused dreams and bizarre visions that underlie the miracles:

  • The saint refuses to answer a group of pilgrims who have left a sick companion behind
  • A young man hanged innocently is miraculously saved
  • The devil advises a pilgrim who sinned in a brothel to castration and suicide
  • The apostle made his own gray animal available to a father of a family whose wife died on his pilgrimage and the donkey was taken
  • On arrival in Santiago, an expiatory pilgrim finds the criminal offense erased in his papers
  • A knight who has shown mercy on his way receives eternal life at death.

Everyday pilgrimage

When asked where the Camino de Santiago begins, the answer in Spain is: “El camino comienza en su casa” (The path begins in your house). The Camino de Santiago is primarily an idea; in the Middle Ages this popular movement sparked a new beginning. Numerous facilities for the care and accompaniment of the pilgrims emerged everywhere along the way: monasteries, monasteries, hostels, hospitals, inns and churches. The stream of pilgrims also meant economic blessings for the towns along the routes.

The widespread belief that pilgrimage routes did not follow a rigid route but were dynamic routes is largely out of date. The pilgrimage routes were surprisingly constant over long periods of time. In 1495, the Servite monk Hermann Künig von Vach described almost the same routes in his Santiago pilgrim guide for France and northern Spain that were already contained in Liber 5 of the Book of Jacob from the 12th century. The picture is similar in Germany. The late medieval network of paths, which was established at the beginning of the 14th century, hardly changed until the beginning of the construction of post roads in the first half of the 18th century. In particular, destitute pilgrims followed the trade routes equipped with charitable institutions.

Art and architecture of the Camino de Santiago

Saint-Etienne in Nevers

Just a few decades ago, the churches of San Martín in Frómista and San Isidoro in León , the cathedral of Jaca and the castle chapel of Loarre were regarded as preliminary stages of the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela . Today one speaks more of mutual relationships. In addition to other influences such as the introduction of the Roman church liturgy in the northern Spanish empires, the spread of the Cluniac reform idea and the settlement of French traders and craftsmen in the cities along the Camino Francés , the cathedral of Santiago, which was built around 1075/1078 as a place of the St. James pilgrimage, has a decisive one Effect on the architecture along the pilgrimage route.

The cathedral belongs to the type of so-called pilgrim street churches , which were built between 1050 and 1150 in France and Spain over some of the most frequently visited pilgrims' graves. The prototype for this type of church was the former Saint-Étienne abbey church in Nevers . Close relationships between the workers' huts at Saint-Sernin in Toulouse and the Cathedral of Santiago played a role in the further development . Later buildings of the group are Saint-Martin in Tours , Saint-Martial in Limoges and Sainte-Foy in Conques . All these buildings show how much static-constructive necessities (gallery hall), liturgical-practical needs (ambulatory) and aesthetic-pastoral architectural ideas (uniform vaulting system) have intertwined in the process of their creation.

The thematic and stylistic connection between high Romanesque church buildings on the pilgrimage routes is also evident in the building sculpture . The portals of the early 12th century at Saint-Sernin in Toulouse, San Isidoro in León and on the south facade of the Cathedral of Santiago demonstrate the close interweaving of the building huts. In terms of content, the building sculpture shows the church's interest in conveying the topics of penance and reconciliation . The emphasis on the idea of reconciliation at the Pórtico de la Gloria in Santiago is in striking contrast to the world court portals in Autun , Mâcon , Conques and Sangüesa . The cathedral of Santiago turns out to be the deliberately designed completion of a pilgrimage made out of the desire for redemption.

World Heritage


San Juan de la Peña rock monastery , where legend has it that the Holy Grail was kept

Efforts have been made in Spain since the 1950s to protect the historic buildings along the Camino de Santiago. In 1962, the main path was officially declared a historical-artistic ensemble . From 1984 the Council of Europe named the route to the European Cultural Route and declared its protection to be the primary goal of European cultural policy.

In 1992 Spain set up a joint management of the route and the cultural treasures along the way. The Consejo Jacobeo is a joint commission of the Ministry of Culture, representatives of various other ministries, the provincial governments and the autonomous municipalities. In 1993 the Way of St. James was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site .

The entire historical path on Spanish territory, as described in the Liber Sancti Jacobi as Camino Francés , was protected over a width of at least 30 meters on both sides of the path. This zone widens where individual buildings along the way or entire villages are subject to monument protection. In addition, the World Heritage site includes a list of over 1,800 individual buildings in 166 cities and villages. In addition to religious buildings of all kinds, from the cathedral to the monastery to the field chapel, this also includes facilities for the supply of pilgrims, palaces, private houses, bridges, locks and crossroads. Its creation dates from the 11th century to the present day.

This comprehensive award was possible because only around 20 percent of the route was destroyed by modern construction measures. In large areas today the streets are laid out parallel to the historic path, or this now leads across the fields.


When the Spanish Camino Francés was named, it was immediately suggested that the World Heritage site should be expanded to include further sections of the route in Europe. In France, however, it would take until 1998 for this to happen. It was also not how z. B. in the mountain landscape of Monte Perdido , a common, cross-border site set up, but a separate application has been made.

The background to this is probably that the state of preservation of the pilgrimage routes in France is significantly worse. First of all, a comprehensive inventory had to be made in order to identify the historical routes and the structures connected to them. Of the 5000 kilometers, only 157.5 kilometers were in a condition that justified nomination as World Heritage. From 800 structures related to the pilgrimage, a group of 71 particularly outstanding examples was selected. The criteria for this were that they mark the course of the paths, that they illustrate the historical development between the 11th and 15th centuries, and that they represent the aspects of prayer, rest, care and travel.

49 of the selected buildings stand along the four historical routes described in the 5th book of Liber Sancti Jacobi : the Via Turonensis , the Via Lemovicensis , the Via Podiensis and the Via Tolosana . 22 more are connected to the pilgrimage route in a different way. The protected routes are seven shorter sections of the Via Podiensis.

The sites have been administered since 1990 by the Association de Coopération Interrégionale "Les chemins de Saint-Jacques de Compostelle" (A. C. I. R.) , an association of various regional assemblies, departments and municipalities.


Manhole cover on the Way of St. James in Mayen
Pilgrims souvenirs seen in Santiago de Compostela

Pilgrim badges could be acquired at all pilgrimage destinations in the Middle Ages. They should protect the pilgrim on the way home and also at home. The pilgrim badge of the Santiago pilgrims was (and is) the scallop shell , which originally also served as proof that the pilgrim had actually completed the journey; since the 13th century this has been documented by a letter of credence, today's La Compostela . In addition, the scallop shell also had the practical value that the pilgrim could use it to draw water. In addition, in the fine arts and literature of the Middle Ages, the shell was considered an external characteristic for pilgrims in general. So describes z. B. Gottfried von Strasbourg in his Tristan around 1200 two pilgrims (wallaere) , whose robes are sewn with mussels (vv.2633f). About a hundred years later we find it on the hat of the minstrel Johannes Hadlaub in the Manessische Liederhandschrift . Today the scallop is also an orientation aid, the symbol of which can be found as a sign of the Camino de Santiago at many points along the way.

James Brotherhoods

Brotherhoods, which often placed themselves under the patronage of the Apostle James, took care of the spiritual and physical well-being of the pilgrims. Her relatives founded hospitals and made foundations to care for pilgrims. The pilgrim, who was identified by certain external characteristics - pilgrim staff , pilgrim hat and relatively regulated clothing - and also by his pious behavior, was considered to be worthy of respect and protection. Helping him to find shelter for one night, including food and drink, was a general Christian duty . Numerous hospital buildings throughout Europe testify to the strength of this pious mass movement.

As part of the revival of Santiagopilgerfahrt since the late 20th century, many were James societies and fraternities James newly founded or back, including the German St. James Society or the St. James Brotherhood Trier . Their tasks are to advise pilgrims, to take care of the infrastructure of the paths (hostels, signposts), to issue pilgrims' cards , to scientifically review the pilgrimage traditions and to promote European cooperation.


In Spain and France, the La Compostela certificate is increasingly used in application documents. The applicants want to show that they are trained in social and spiritual behavior in addition to professional competence.

Well-known pilgrims of modern times are Pope John Paul II , the MEP Otto von Habsburg , the writers Cees Nooteboom , David Lodge , Henrik Stangerup and Paulo Coelho , the psychologist Hans Aebli , the actress Shirley MacLaine , the actors Kristian Kiehling and Ulrich Reinthaller , the entertainers Hape Kerkeling , Frank Elstner and Alexander Rüdiger , the painter Diane Duchess of Württemberg and the US President's daughter Jenna Bush .

In 2007, the "kerkeling effect" made itself felt on the Camino francés. In May 2006, Kerkeling wrote the book I'm away, about his pilgrimage on the Way of St. James in 2001, which became the best-selling book of 2006 (over two million copies sold) in Germany. According to the German St. Jakobus Society , the number of German pilgrims who were registered upon their arrival in Santiago rose disproportionately from 8,097 to 13,837 compared to the previous year. Twelve percent of all pilgrims who arrived in Santiago were Germans.

In April 2008, the 69-year-old former coach of the Spanish national soccer team , Luis Aragonés , announced his vow to make a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with his wife if Spain celebrates the XIII. Should win the European Football Championship 2008 . Spain won.



  • Yves Bottineau: The Way of the Pilgrims to St. James. From the French . (April). Bastei-Lübbe-Taschenbuch, Bergisch Gladbach 1992, ISBN 3-404-64111-6 , pp. 364 .
  • Paolo Caucci von Saucken: pilgrimage routes. Santiago de Compostela . Licensed edition Verlagsgruppe Weltbild, Augsburg 2004, ISBN 3-8289-3593-1 , p. 387 .
  • Andreas Drouve, Erich Spiegelhalter, Martin Schulte-Kellinghaus: Jakobsweg. Myths & Legends . Stürtz Verlag, Würzburg 2008, ISBN 978-3-8003-1895-7 .
  • Andreas Drouve (ed.): The Way of St. James: A literary travel guide . Lambert Schneider, Darmstadt 2011, ISBN 978-3-650-23835-1 , p. 144 .
  • Roland Girtler : Wrong Way of St. James. The scar in the souls of Muslims, Jews and heretics . Edition Gutenberg / Leykam Buchverlag, Graz 2005, ISBN 3-900323-85-2 .
  • Patrick Heiser, Christian Kurrat: Pilgrimage yesterday and today. Sociological contributions to religious practice on the Camino de Santiago . Lit-Verlag, Münster / Berlin 2012, ISBN 978-3-643-11889-9 .
  • Klaus Herbers : Way of St. James. History and culture of a pilgrimage . Beck, Munich 2006, ISBN 3-406-53594-1 .
  • Heinrich Kanz : The Way of St. James as the first European cultural route. Walking pedagogical reflections. Lang, Frankfurt a. M / Berlin / Bern / New York / Paris / Vienna 1995, ISBN 978-3-631-48407-4 .
  • Christoph Kühn: The pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. History, art and spirituality . Plöttner Verlag, Leipzig 2005, ISBN 3-938442-01-8 .
  • Gioia Lanzi, Nando Lanzi: The Way of St. James. History and culture . Primus Verlag, Darmstadt 2012, ISBN 978-3-86312-305-5 , pp. 240 .
  • Peter Lindenthal: Peregrinatio Compostellana anno 1654 - Christoph Guntzinger's adventurous pilgrimage from Wiener Neustadt to Santiago . Tyrolia-Verlag, Innsbruck 2014, ISBN 3-7022-3303-2 , p. 293 .
  • Wolfgang Lipp : The legacy of James. On the prehistory and history, on the theological and religious significance of the pilgrimage to St. James. With an appendix on the German pilgrimage routes . C & S-Verlag, Laupheim 2008, ISBN 978-3-937876-18-4 .
  • Itzíar López Guil, Luís Manuel Calvo Salgado (ed.): El camino de Santiago. Encrucijada de saberes . Vervuert, Frankfurt am Main 2011, ISBN 978-3-86527-616-2 .
  • Katharina Maak: The Way of St. James as a factor in tourism development in rural regions. Compare Castilla y León and Brandenburg . Publishing house Dr. Kovac, Hamburg 2010, ISBN 978-3-8300-5115-2 .
  • Bettina Marten: The Spanish Way of St. James - An art and culture guide . Reclam, Stuttgart 2011, ISBN 978-3-15-018792-0 .
  • Michael Vogler: The Way of St. James as a mystical educational trail. On the deeper meaning of pilgrimage . Munich 2012. ISBN 978-3656185277

Drama / fiction

Audio books




Web links

Commons : Way of St. James  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Way of St. James  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Pilgrims  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Franz Joseph Mone : Life of Count Eberhard III. from Nellenburg. In: Sources collection of the Baden regional history, vol. 1., Karlsruhe 1848, "according to the description in the donor book, the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain begins around 1070." In: Heinz Gallmann: The Schaffhauser donor book. Legend about the founder and foundation of the All Saints Monastery . UVK Universitätsverlag Konstanz, 1995, 104 and 125.
  2. Lara Buschmann: Jakobskult, chapter James as a national identity founder during Franquism. In: Way of St. James in Brandenburg. Retrieved January 5, 2014 .
  3. ^ Nancy L. Frey: Santiago pilgrims on the way and afterwards. P. 326.
  4. Statistics of the cathedral chapter of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
  5. taz: Article - LMd. Retrieved August 11, 2018 .
  6. ^ Fränkischer Albverein (Ed.): On the Way of St. James from Tillyschanz via Schwandorf to Nuremberg. Verlag Seehars, 97215 Uffenheim 1997, ISBN 3-927598-22-4 , p. 6.
  7. Deutsche Jakobswege overview on deutsche-jakobswege.de, accessed on May 25, 2015.
  8. ^ Wolfgang Scholz: Lahn-Camino and Rhein-Camino. Conrad Stein, Welver 2019, ISBN 978-3-86686-617-1 .
  9. Hiking map of the Rhine-Main Pleasure: The Way of St. James from the Fulda to the Main , accessed on July 11, 2011
  10. Hunsrücker Jakobsweg . Tour planner Rhineland-Palatinate. Retrieved December 19, 2014.
  11. https://web.archive.org/web/20160722121912/http://www.kathpress.at/goto/meldung/1401976/jakobsweg-durch-wien-vom-alberner-hafen-38-km-bis-purkersdorf Way of St. James through Vienna: From Alberner Hafen 38 km to Purkersdorf, kathpress.at, July 21, 2016, accessed July 25, 2016.
  12. Scallop in Grevenmacher, page 8 , on grevenmacher.lu . Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  13. Way of St. James in Luxembourg , on caminosantiago.lu . Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  14. official land registry: Way of St. James in Luxembourg , on tourisme.geoportail.lu . Retrieved December 2, 2015.
  15. Span. Conjunto histórico-artístico Website of the Spanish Ministry of Culture on the World Heritage Site of St. James
  16. Royal Decree 1095/1997 (Spanish) (PDF; 25 kB)
  17. Evaluation (PDF; 1.0 MB) of ICOMOS , December 1992 (English and French).
  18. Evaluation (PDF; 639 kB) of ICOMOS , October 1998 (English and French).
  19. ^ Website of the A. C. I. R. (French).
This version was added to the list of articles worth reading on May 8, 2006 .