Top Ten Epic Bike Rides

Iberian Pilgrimage Routes

El Camino de Santiago is the path scraped into being by countless wandering pilgrims hoofing it across northern Spain to the city of Santiago de Compostela. In the high Middle Ages, Santiago was one of the three main holy cities of Christendom and the only one not overburdened by politics (Rome) or torn apart by endless conflict (Jerusalem). It thus arguably became Europe's most important medieval pilgrimage center. The road to Santiago, a route worn still deeper into history every year by hordes of hiking travelers, begins in a few places: St. Jean Pied-de-Port (in the French Pyrenées), Roncesvalles (on the Spanish side of the Pyrenées), and Somport (further east, in the French Pyrenées). Many people choose to start from other important pilgrimage centers even further afield, like Paris or Arles. The important thing, as always, is time. The whole point of El Camino is that you shouldn't have to worry about time; you should not feel compelled to rush from site to site. You should be free to contemplate yourself and your surroundings. Covering the 500 or so miles by bike is a perfect way to do it.

Published: 14 Jan 2005 | Last Updated: 5 Feb 2013
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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