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Camino vs. Other long distance paths

urukrama

New Member
I have walked quite a bit on various long distance trails (GRs) in France. Though I have been attracted by the Camino Frances and other pilgrim routes, I've never walked any part of it. I keep playing with the idea of walking the whole way one day, but several things keep me back (mainly the crowds) and always make me choose for another walk.

Reading about others' experiences of the Camino, there is a lot that I recognise from my own long distance walks -- the physical struggles, the solitude, the peace, the different stages one goes through week after week, etc. --, but also a lot that I have no experience of -- the sheer number of pilgrims, the refugios and their pleasant and unpleasant sides, the strong camaraderie many pilgrims talk of, etc.

How, and to what extent, is the Camino different from any other long distance path? Is there a difference, practically speaking? Is there a difference for you emotionally/intellectually, i.e. does the fact that this is the Camino, that has been walked by so many before, have a big impact on you that is absent in other long distance walks?

My question is obviously mainly aimed at those that have experienced (any of) the Camino(s) as well as non-pilgrim long distance paths (in Europe or elsewhere), but any comments are really appreciated. :)

(If this is posted in the wrong subforum, please move it along moderators! I didn't really know where to post this.)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
For me, it feels safer than any trek I could take in the United States.
It's also more supported (alburgues, bars, restaurants, hostels) than either the Pacific Crest Trail or the Appalacian Trail in the USA.

Plus, the food's better!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I think you could have said 'the caminos' vs other long distance paths. There are at least 5 recognized long 'camino' paths in France and another 5 in Spain. They are all different but I don't think any compare with the Camino Frances which has been described as the Jacobean route par excellence.

Besides having walked other long distance paths, I have also walked a couple of 'camino' paths.

In 2004 I walked the Via Turonensis from Paris to Spain. We didn't see any other pilgrims until we reached the south, around Saint Palais, and there weren't any pilgrim refuges until the south either so for me it was like walking a GR.

In 2006 I walked about 700km of the Via Francigena (pilgrimage path to Rome) and there again, we only saw a few pilgrims, a couple at the Gr St Bernard hospice and a cycling pair in Siena. We only found two pilgrim hostels in Italy.

From 21st to 26th June I walked the Camino Ingles from Ferrol to Santiago. We didn't see any other pilgrims and stayed in one pilgrim albergue (we were the only two in an albergue with 25 beds).

None of these felt like pilgrimage trails somehow.

Is there a difference for you emotionally/intellectually, i.e. does the fact that this is the Camino, that has been walked by so many before, have a big impact on you that is absent in other long distance walks?

In spite of the Turonensis, the VF and the Camino Ingles being ancient paths that have been walked by many before us, and although one experiences the same magic of long distance walking, none of them had the same mystique, the same pull or the same vibrancy as the Camino Frances.
 

Sansthing

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
French Camino (2009), French Camino (2011), Via de la Plata (2012), Camino Inglês (2014),
One big difference is that a long distance path is just that, a long distance path. The Camino(s) are long distance paths too but at the same time also pilgrimages.
Sandra :arrow:
 

urukrama

New Member
Thank you all for your replies. Very interesting.

I am not a Christian, so for me the pilgrimage side of the Camino would be less strong. My other long distance walks do take on a pilgrimage character, though -- they have a religious dimension to them.
 

urukrama

New Member
sillydoll said:
None of these felt like pilgrimage trails somehow.

[...]

In spite of the Turonensis, the VF and the Camino Ingles being ancient paths that have been walked by many before us, and although one experiences the same magic of long distance walking, none of them had the same mystique, the same pull or the same vibrancy as the Camino Frances.

Very impressive track record, Sil! :eek:

It seems the main difference you described between these different paths and the Camino Frances is the number of other pilgrims. Is that what makes the Camino Frances so special, or is there something about the path itself that is special (the places it passes through, etc.)? Or is it something entirely different altogether?
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
I think its more than just the numbers of people who walk the caminos although this does make a difference to your experience on long distance walks. (There is something gospel-like about sitting in a field or courtyard sharing wine, stories and breaking bread with pilgrims at the end of a long day.)
You will often read posts on the different caminos where people say "don't expect it to be like the camino Frances" or "its nothing like the camino Frances". Perhaps this is, in part, due to the fact that of all the camino routes, the Camino Frances has the best recorded history, both modern and medieval, with many romantic legends and traditions interwoven into the whole 800kms from the Pyrenees to the End of the World. Churches, cathedrals, hospices, roads, bridges etc were built during the middle ages in support of the pilgrims who walked the ways. It has been likened to a string of Rosary beads leading to the cathedral in Santiago.
In 'The Road to Santiago - Gitlitz and Davidson' a register dating1594 at the hospice at Villafranca de Montes de Oca recorded 16,767 pilgrims that year, over 200 on some days. The town with the highest number of shelters was Burgos which in the 15th-c boasted 32 hospices, and even as pilgrimage declined, still supported 25 into the late 1700’s. In the middle ages almost every town and village on the Camino Frances supported at least one pilgrim hospice. Many were small - a favourite number was 12 beds that corresponded with the numbers of apostles. The sheer numbers of pilgrims who have walked it, and who walk it today, lends to a sense of belonging to something larger than oneself.
I don't belong to any organised religion. For over 30 years I have lived my life according to Buddhist philosophy, but I did not find this contrary to the spirituality of the camino.
The camino Frances has a unique vibe. Perhaps it is the history, the folk lore, the landscape, the villages, the many volunteers that provide hospitality in the refuges, and the large number of pilgrims one meets along the way.
When people say "the camino called to me" or "I want to walk the camino" they usually mean the Camino Frances. After having walked that route they may try a different one, but many, like me, keep returning to the same path.
 

Sagalouts

RIP 2015
you 've got me worried Sil
before I did my Camino I was the big I am saying I would never do the same thing twice, I plan walking early next year and have been searching the Camino blogs and looking at other long distance walks-around the world, I want to swim in the great melting pot of humanity that I have just experianced,are you telling me there is nowhere else, what about the Camino from Sevilla?
Ian
 

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
I must confess to being rather wary of the Camino Frances, which I have not yet 'done'. I read all about the crowds, the full refuges, the pilgrim menu, the loo paper littered verges, and I am afraid I will lose the sense of pilgrimage - travelling with eyes, ears, heart and mind open to growth - spiritual in the widest sense - which we have been experiencing on our serial pilgrimage, bit by bit, from our front door in East Anglia, UK via Holland, Belgium and half way through France, so far. (Admittedly, we are slow cyclists not walkers, but I think it must be similar)

All the renowned camino experiences are coming our way, but bit by bit. We learned how to trust that a bed for the night would be there when we needed it quite early on. We met St James in a street and house name outside the youth hostel in Essex on out first night! Our first 'proper' stamp in our passport in Tournai which also had brass shells in the cobbles was a thrill. Meeting our first fellow pilgrims also staying in a monastery in Leffe was another landmark. Finding traces of pilgrims from the past is certainly not confined to the Camino Frances, or even Spain, or the four French so-called historical routes - we found pilgrim hospices in Belgium, pilgrim grafitti in northern France etc etc. Getting to Vezelay was an arrival to celebrate, and a beginning of meeting other pilgrims daily (even if only one ot two), staying in pilgrim refuges, sharing our midday meal with a hungry dutch pilgrim on the roadside and our one-pot hoosh supper with a french pilgrim in a caravan under a barn roof - traditional hospitality from a farmer who was pleased that out CSJ passports had big enough sections to accommodate his outsize stamp! We met a famous chemin de St Jacques eccentric, Dr Conquet, in Benevent L'Abbaye. And our last night, last year, in a refuge in Flavignac, south of Limoges, was the first night with a snorer who was not either of us!

So I am afraid that the Camino Frances would be like a brass band in a huge cave, with every experience jumbled up with every other and indistinguishable, compared to the chamber orchestra in a perfect acoustic where each individual sound is identifiable and meaningful.

So we are probably turning right at Orthez and following the river into Bayonne, to take the Norte route when we get there in late September. If and when we take the Camino Frances, on foot or on bikes, it will be early or late in the year.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Sagalout - I am only talking from my own experience. I haven't walked the Via de la Plata, or the Camino Norte, or the Portugues route etc .... but, even when discussing those routes, you find people saying 'don't expect it to be like the camino frances'.
For many pilgrims, not only me, there is something compelling and addictive about the camino frances that calls you back to it. I don't know what it is but many, many pilgrims talk about it's pull, have written about it and have tried to explain it - without much success!

Bridget & Peter

So I am afraid that the Camino Frances would be like a brass band in a huge cave, with every experience jumbled up with every other and indistinguishable, compared to the chamber orchestra in a perfect acoustic where each individual sound is identifiable and meaningful
.

Thousands of pilgrims have had very meaningful experiences walking the camino frances - some life altering - hence its popularity and the reason why so many walk it again and again.
If your reservation about walking the camino frances is only that it will be crowded, then you should go at a quieter time, probably in October onwards, and probably after the Holy Year when you are more likely to have a solitary experience.

Finding traces of pilgrims from the past is certainly not confined to the Camino Frances, or even Spain

Of course, you are right, there are thousands of Christian shrines all over Europe - many pilgrimage destinations in their own right. However, I think there is a reason why the camino frances was named Europe's first Cultural Itinerary by the European Union. It is a bit like an 800km outdoor museum with its many well documented monuments, churches, abbeys, cathedrals and little jewels of medieval villages, Roman bridges and roads, straw and mud structures etc etc.
The landscape too is a great attraction, from the forests of the Pyrenees, through undulating woodland, the vineyards of Navarra and La Rioja, the wide open plains of the meseta to the mountains of León which take you up to 1,400 metres over 2 days, then very steeply down to the Bierzo plain, then up again to the Cebreiro range reaching 1,400 metres and the highest point in the Irago Mountains at 1500m just after Manjarin, into the green, undultaing farmlands of Galicia.

What I was trying to convey on my earlier post is that on the less supported routes I've walked in France, Switzerland and Italy - all on designated pilgrim trails but without the pilgrim infrastructure and often no other pilgrims- I felt like a tourist with a backpack on rather than a pilgrim and I've never had the urge to go back and walk those routes again.
Unlike the CF - I could go back right now and walk it all over again - and I'd put up with the albergues, eat the pilgrim menus, help clean up the litter and still have a wonderful, meaningful pilgrimage!
 

Bridget and Peter

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Home to Reims 2007
Reims to Limoges 2008
Camino Ingles 2009
Limoges to Gernica 2009
Gernica to San Vicente de la Barquera 2010
San Vicente to La Isla 2012
La Isla to Santiago Sept/Oct 2014
sillydoll said:
Thousands of pilgrims have had very meaningful experiences walking the camino frances - some life altering - hence its popularity and the reason why so many walk it again and again.

Sil

I may have been a bit over the top about the brass band in a echoing cave, but even in the best acoustics some people will always prefer the chamber consort to the massed choir. I'm not denying the experience of thousands but contributing another viewpoint, which is that, without having experienced the Frances first, I and my husband are finding our pilgrimage along other ancient routes to Santiago a thrilling spiritual experience, and consequently are feeling wary of the Frances experience. It may be that if we had done the Frances first we would feel like you do, a bit disappointed by the other routes.


sillydoll said:
Of course, you are right, there are thousands of Christian shrines all over Europe - many pilgrimage destinations in their own right.

I am not talking about old pilgrimage routes to other Christian shrines, (although of course one comes across them, and very interesting they are) but the specific St James routes. How do you think the medieval northern European pilgrim to Santiago got to the Pyrenees?

sillydoll said:
However, I think there is a reason why the camino frances was named Europe's first Cultural Itinerary by the European Union. It is a bit like an 800km outdoor museum with its many well documented monuments, churches, abbeys, cathedrals and little jewels of medieval villages, Roman bridges and roads, straw and mud structures etc etc.
The landscape too is a great attraction, from the forests of the Pyrenees, through undulating woodland, the vineyards of Navarra and La Rioja, the wide open plains of the meseta to the mountains of León which take you up to 1,400 metres over 2 days, then very steeply down to the Bierzo plain, then up again to the Cebreiro range reaching 1,400 metres and the highest point in the Irago Mountains at 1500m just after Manjarin, into the green, undultaing farmlands of Galicia.

I may be wrong, but I think all the Camino de Santaigo/Chemin de St Jacques/Jakobspad etc routes are a Major Cultural route for the EU. It maybe that you are thinking about the Camino Frances being a UNESCO world heritage site.

Lovely as all that landscape, monuments, etc are, there are also beautiful landscapes, buildings, and all the rest along the rest of the Santiago routes, of course.

One of the reasons we chose to do our pilgrimage this way was because we read advice in many places to consider a route other than the Frances because of the problems that the large numbers bring in terms of spoiling the beautiful landscape.

sillydoll said:
What I was trying to convey on my earlier post is that on the less supported routes I've walked in France, Switzerland and Italy - all on designated pilgrim trails but without the pilgrim infrastructure and often no other pilgrims- I felt like a tourist with a backpack on rather than a pilgrim and I've never had the urge to go back and walk those routes again.

I suppose I was trying to convey that not everybody feels as you do, like a tourist on the other routes. We felt like pilgrims. I wanted other people to know they could too. Your views are very influential, Sil, and very well grounded in knowledge and experience. But it's OK for others to be expressed. Even admitting that someone is wary of the CF!!

sillydoll said:
If your reservation about walking the Camino Frances is only that it will be crowded, then you should go at a quieter time, probably in October onwards, and probably after the Holy Year when you are more likely to have a solitary experience.

As I said
Bridget and Peter said:
If and when we take the Camino Frances, on foot or on bikes, it will be early or late in the year.

And yes, we do intend to wait until after the Holy Year. But it's not solitude we are after, it's just we are both currently people who cope better with smaller groups and less external stimulation - Peter because he has a history of CFS/ME which means his head goes 'wuzzy' with too much unmoderated input and me, Bridget, because I am a compulsive talker and joiner-in who would be tempted to dive right in over my head, get over-tired and over-excited and lose sight of my husband and my God.

When the time is right, I'm sure we will go for the full-immersion experience of the Camino Frances. But at the moment it's like leaving the icing until last, and finding that the cake itself is so satisfying you only want to nibble it slowly so that the experience can last as long as possible, and actually being so happy with it feeling that you could give the icing itself away to the small child eyeing it up without a qualm of regret. After all, there's plenty more iced cake left on the serving dish for another slice later.

And some of the value of our pilgrimage so far is that I have learned the above about myself!
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Bridget, I agree with all that you say and I am really pleased that you and Peter are having such positive experiences on your many pilgrimage journeys. Perhaps I didn't stress enough that I am only talking from my own experience. I think that everyone's opinion is right - it all depends on their experience, and where they are coming from. I certainly don't expect everyone to feel the same way but not having done the other routes, I can't comment on them - I can only offer my opinion on why the camino frances, as a long distance path, was different to other long distance pilgrimage routes, for me.

According to the CSJ - and other sources - "The route known as the Camino francés was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987, and inscribed as one of UNESCO's World Heritage Sites in 1993."

This site might interest you - lots of French Santiago heritage sites here:
Wiki: In 1998, several sites [probably over 100] in France were added to the UNESCO World Heritage Sites under the description: Routes of Santiago de Compostela in France. They are places related to the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Western Spain, a part of the Way of Saint James. Usually they are churches or hospitals.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_Heri ... _in_France
 

Rebekah Scott

Camino Busybody
Camino(s) past & future
Many, various, and continuing.
I can´t boast of the wide pilgrim experience of Sil, but I can say I´ve been a hospitalera for two-week stints at stops along the Via de la Plata, Caminos del Norte, and much longer on the Frances. We did that purposefully, whilst deciding where to settle down: which Camino would offer the most opportunity to be useful to pilgrims and acceptable to the locals?

We tried very hard to make things fit on the Via, as wise and experienced people said that path needs more attention. We stayed for more than a month in Fuenterroble de Salvatierra, and did two weeks in Ourense. (and other places since).

We looked at houses along the Del Norte and Primitivo paths around Lugo, and spent more weeks at Miraz and Mondoñedo, to get a feel for them.

But another expat hospitalero told us early on a bit of advice that holds true til now: It´s the pilgrims who make the path, and the pilgrims on the Frances are a different animal to those on "the other caminos." Compared to the hardcore bikers and long-haul hikers on the Via, and the mostly-German, mostly "sportif" and mostly repeat-hikers on the Norte and Primitivo, we find this to be true.

Yes, there are TONS more "tourigrinos" on the Frances, and crowds and noise and trash. But the Frances is still "THE" Camino, with all the history and infrastructure and legend and vibe. And the pilgrims here, at least a large number of them, are doing this as a Pilgrimage, not just another notch in their Swiss Army Expedition Record knife. They have a commonality and tolerance and sweetness I don´t see so much of on other trails.

So, I guess I´m saying it´s not so much the trail. It´s the pilgrims walking it that makes the Frances different... all that cultural and religious baggage they´re carrying along with them. Long may they wave.

Reb.
 

nellpilgrim

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SDC-Fisterra 08/Camino Frances SJPP to SDC 09/Nuremburg-SDC 11- ongoing
"Its the pilgrims who make the path" to quote Rebekah
The cultural richness and natural beauty of the CF served as a sort of Trojan horse-it drew me in and provided constant joy and delight on route. But once I started the real hook were the people I connected with-past & present, pilgrims & locals. And it was they, not I, who actually defined and tempered 'my' camino.
Though I was 'open' to the pilgrim experience I presumed that by selecting the time of year I went , the range of of accommodation used even the departure time in the mornings I would be able to manufacture a 'bespoke Camino'. But it doesn't work like that I found that the actual core experience can't be orchestrated-as no matter how carefully one plans the dynamics of the CF seem to sabotage the 'bespoke' and infiltrate the 'manufactured' !
What I found so special about the CF was that my individual path had to meet, and merge, with those of hundreds of others crafting the pilgrimage I needed rather than the one I wanted.
My journey, certainly as initially planned, 'suffered a sea change into something rich and strange'' en route.
Bonne route
 
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Anonymous

Guest
What marvellous, introspective, gentle and kind responses (ancient English male is both surprised and impressed - and apologises if that sounds patronising) ... yes, I do agree, we try different ways - I have tried inventing pilgrimage routes in England, to no avail - as it is upon the Camino Frances that one feels so strongly that one is walking in the footsteps of unknown friends long gone, that one is stepping forwards along a path of history ... good people all, what kind and good comments you have made.
 

KiwiNomad06

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy-Santiago(2008) Cluny-Conques+prt CF(2012)
I guess a wonderful thing about the world is that we are 'all different'. For me, there is no particular pull to walk along much of the Camino Frances again, but I am hopeful I will walk along some other pilgrimage trails.

There were many things I loved about walking the Chemin in France from Le Puy to SJPP. Though some would point out that this trail, the GR65, was a creation of the 70s, to be honest it didn't feel like that. Even though the exact pilgrim routes have been 'forgotten' over time, the GR65 has been very cleverly routed to go past many places where pilgrims clearly walked, as well as through some beautiful landscapes. (And most of the medieval churches and chapels we walked past were open during the day, so you could step quietly inside for some reflection or, if brave enough, a song.) And though there were far fewer pilgrims than on the CF, there were still a good number in April-May, and I found that the community spirit amongst walkers in France was very strong.

By contrast, I found it harder to feel the presence of the throng of pilgrims from centuries past on parts of the Camino Frances, where the route was on modern senda or close to busy highways.

I think about where I might walk 'next time'. I feel a strong pull to walk to the Marian shrine of Le Puy, perhaps from Cluny and/or from Geneva. And the route near the Pyrenees that goes through Lourdes then onto the Camino Aragones also appeals to me. Time will tell where I actually end up going......
Margaret
 

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As someone who's walked large numbers of LDPs (map at http://www.peterrobins.co.uk/walking/mywalks.html ), I think there are several different questions here, which boil down to the questions of motivation and objectives. The Santiago pilgrim orgs like the CSJ have some things in common with those formed to help those on standard LDPs, such as the Appalachian Trail in the US or the SW Coast Path in England; these include the physical and practical side of walking a long distance. However, their emphasis and raison d'etre is very different, because they're based on the religious concept of pilgrimage, not on long-distance walking. These are two very different things: you do not have to walk a long distance to be a pilgrim, and you do not have to be a pilgrim to walk to Santiago.

Another major difference is that pilgrimage routes, by definition, have a destination - the shrine at the end - whereas most LDPs don't go anywhere very much, starting and finishing in obscure places miles from anywhere. The objective is not the destination as such but to look at the scenery en route - to have a nice walk, perhaps following a geographical feature such as a river, coast-line, or range of hills. Because the emphasis is on scenery, they will make lengthy detours to climb hills or go to other attractive bits of countryside, and tend to avoid towns on the assumption that walkers don't want to be trudging along tarmac through urban areas. Pilgrim routes, on the other hand, have a very different perspective; they are mainly based on historically important roads, and so take the opposite approach, deliberately visiting towns, especially those with historically important buildings such as churches, and avoiding detours up hills etc, which travellers of yore would never have done.

This difference is particularly noticeable in France, where various existing GRs have been 'rebranded' as 'roads to Compostela'. Because these retain the detours up hills etc, pilgrim organisations have in many cases come up with a shorter alternative for pilgrims to follow. So the assumption here is very much that 'pilgrim routes' are indeed fundamentally different from standard LDPs; the objective is to get to Santiago as directly as possible, not to wander about having a nice walk - though no doubt pilgrims prefer to have a nice walk rather than a nasty one :)

Much has been made in this thread of the numbers of people on the Camino Frances, but this is no different from popular LDPs elsewhere, such as the Tour du Mt Blanc or some of the routes in the Dolomites - the (over)crowded refuges, the camaraderie from repeated meetings with people walking the same route, etc. In fact, I first experienced this sort of thing on the Pennine Way, when I walked it in the 1970s.

It's also quite new; when I walked from England to Santiago some 20 years ago, I hardly saw any walkers at all, let alone any pilgrims. This was in complete contrast to some of my walks in the Alps around the same time, where I had to spend some nights sleeping on the floor of a crowded refuge, jammed in with others.

As walking to Santiago has increased in popularity, other bodies, both public-sector and commercial, have got involved in promotion and providing facilities. These bodies have a very different agenda from traditional pilgrimage. Inevitably, this has led to changes, which in some ways make 'the Camino' more like other LDPs. However, at base there are still fundamental differences.
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
Peter, I was hoping you would contribute to this thread.

Just one comment, you say
"and avoiding detours up hills etc, which travellers of yore would never have done."

In a paper written by Julie Candy (University of Glasgow) "Landscape and Perception: The Medieval Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela from an Archaeological Perspective" she mentions the path from Castrojeriz.

"The lonely hamlet and monastic hospital of Foncébadon, founded by the 10th century near the high pass of this latter range, is testimony that pilgrims did not shy away from accepting the challenge of this mountain route. A few archaeological indicators in less dramatic circumstances shed further light on pilgrim attitudes to terrain. Just outside Castrojeriz in the Meseta, the route of the Camino runs determinedly westward up a steep, uncompromising hill, and then descends on the other side (Figure 7). A detour of just a kilometre or two via another village presents no difficult slope to climb. Why is it that the route avoids the naturally more easy and efficient path through the landscape? Seemingly the challenges presented by the natural landscape were accepted with a mind-set of penitence, one that dictated that spiritual merit was won by the hardship of the journey. This would fit in well with the overall penitential theme of the practice of pilgrimage.
 
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Anonymous

Guest
"The lonely hamlet and monastic hospital of Foncébadon, founded by the 10th century near the high pass of this latter range, is testimony that pilgrims did not shy away from accepting the challenge of this mountain route. A few archaeological indicators in less dramatic circumstances shed further light on pilgrim attitudes to terrain. Just outside Castrojeriz in the Meseta, the route of the Camino runs determinedly westward up a steep, uncompromising hill, and then descends on the other side (Figure 7). A detour of just a kilometre or two via another village presents no difficult slope to climb. Why is it that the route avoids the naturally more easy and efficient path through the landscape? Seemingly the challenges presented by the natural landscape were accepted with a mind-set of penitence, one that dictated that spiritual merit was won by the hardship of the journey. This would fit in well with the overall penitential theme of the practice of pilgrimage.

Yes, but that is just guesswork isn't it ... people making things up on their best guess -

It could have been that the lower village had banned pilgrims from passing through for long enough for the alternate route to become the Camino,
or a toll was set up on the lower road that pilgrims wished to avoid
or there were robbers on the lower road
or there was a ford on the lower road that became too deep in winter
or there was a timber hermitage at the top of the hill they they visited
or that there was a specific view of a sacred site from the top

So people come up with the reason that agrees with their point of view and ignore all other equally valid possibilities .... :wink:
 

sillydoll

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
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Yeah - especially those doing the research for their Phd. Lazy buggers.
 
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Deleted member 3000

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"Castro" derives from Latin, meaning fort, I was told by a Canadian Latin teacher and scholar along the Camino. Castrojeriz originally was a Roman outpost. I suspect the route was selected by the Roman Centurions as the most direct. While the climb up to the top of the mesa looks intimidating, because it looked so strenuous, I timed my walk up it! It was only about fifteen minutes, though it felt like an hour in the blazing morning sun. I personally will go with the Ph.D. studies, particularly if they find the Roman iter in the area.
 
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oh dear ... I wasn't disagreeing with the studies, only pointing out that the conclusion was guesswork ... it is quite common for academics to pick and choose their evidence to support their own pet theories ... and the title of a dissertation :wink:

her point was "... the challenges presented by the natural landscape were accepted with a mind-set of penitence, one that dictated that spiritual merit was won by the hardship of the journey"

whereas ... it was most likely just where the road went.

.. Castrojeriz may indeed have once have been a Roman camp and the way west could have indeed then been a Roman road - and if that is the case my point is made - the pilgrims followed an already existing road - and without Google Earth and modern maps may not have even known that there was another way that was less of a climb ... so that original piece of information in the thesis (if that is what it is from) doesn't hold as evidence in support of her theory of the penitent mind-set etc (although I do agree with her suppositions about the medieval religious mindset, just not that piece of 'evidence') ...

finally .. she doesn't mention that there is an old castle at the top of that hill and the top was also where the village originally was .. the way she writes suggests that it is an empty hill ....
 
yes, I would agree. Julie Candy seems to me to be making 2 false assumptions: that the roads were created by pilgrims (by and large, they weren't - pilgrims just used existing roads), and that said pilgrims were 'overall penitential' (penitence was part of it, but 'pilgrimage' does not equal 'penitence'). The idea that pilgrims deliberately chose to go up a hill as some sort of mortification of the flesh seems wide of the mark to me. In that particular example, was that the medieval route anyway? It's the modern Camino, but you'd have to investigate more deeply to check that the modern route follows the old one in that particular spot.

That's not to say that medieval pilgrims didn't climb hills if there were something to justify it. There are plenty of 'holy hills' with a shrine, often to St Michael, on top. There are several low-level entries to Santiago from the east, but it's obvious why pilgrims make the detour to see the yearned-for city from the relative heights of Monte do Gozo. But that's a bit different to the modern LDP, which climbs a hill for the sake of it, because there's a good view or whatever.

Kunig von Vach recommended bypassing both the Foncebadon pass and the O Cebreiro one, taking a lower-level route (the modern main road), so he obviously didn't have a 'mind-set of penitence'. Walking from Germany to Santiago and back is quite long enough, thank you, without climbing unnecessary hills :)
 
D

Deleted member 3000

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As fun as speculation is, here is something from one who has studied the area. Of course, we can speculate further on motivations, etc. I think it might have been an alien culture from a flying saucer that selected the pilgrimage route.

Mid-twentieth century, was held in the province of Burgos Archaeological various tastings, to know that people lived in prehistoric ages.
Deposits were found corresponding to the initiation of the use of metals, called Calcolithic period, which ran from the 3rd millennium AD, in the Ribera del Duero, in Moradillo of Roa and Roa (Roa Lands), with pottery (bowls, cups globular, profiling and smooth S) Useful lithics (arrowheads) and bone (punches) and chapitas of pure copper and is now in the period Calcolithic Burgal bell.

• THE CIVILIZATION OF Ciempozuelos bell, and called for the deposit of madrileño Ciempozuelos, dating between the end of the 3rd millennium and the beginning of 2020 a. de C. C. It is characterized by the type of profile flared vases, decorated with a tip, arranged in narrow horizontal bands, alternating with smooth surfaces. A civilization is among the years 2200-2000and fall in the province of Burgos three sites: Atapuerca, Cerro de Burgos and the castle hill castle Castrojeriz it immersed in a room in a pocket easily and distinctly Celtic defense, as found in the high Peña Amaya, but it may also inhabit the caves of his hill, and he would use a prehistoric caves Castrojeriz, eg on the slopes of El Picacho, in the vicinity of Santo Domingo de Silos.

• In the Bronze Age I-neck (the neck of the Castro Avila), Phase I, dated 1500 to 1200 ceramics are decorated with themes points (ears, zig-zag). In a second stage, late Bronze Age, 1200 to 750 ceramics are more complex. Steppe was found in the late twentieth century, an interesting site for the culture of Phase I. In Castrojeriz, on the hill of the castle as a place defensive, found a site I nape of the period, full, between 1500 and 1200 a. de C. C.

• IN THE AGE OF IRON, Phase-750-300 a. de C. C. and second phases of the year 300 the romanization. This is called Phase 2 Christomonism. Corresponding to this time inspections have been carried out in passing in archaeological Castrojeriz, Burgos Roa.. The settlements of these villages, were taking advantage of other locations, due to his defensive position, for example. Among the known clusters include: Castrojeriz, olmillos and area of Sasamón Fernamental of Melgar. Their houses were rectangular, mud and branches as a roof and its pottery, which alone is known, has decorated quay.

• EPOCA Christomonism II Iron Age IV century a. de C. C. Become widespread tools of iron plowshares, lathes, pottery, molinos, etc. The pottery is decorated with concentric half circles, wavy lines and lozenges. The residents of this area were Vacceo Turmogos or two ethnic groups are not well known its territorial boundaries, it is said that the river Odra, was limited. The nuclei were more important to know: Desóbriga (between Melgar and Osorno) Segísamon (next to Olmillos) Deobrígula (Tardajos) Autraca (Castrojeriz) village on the hill to the castle. Another historical version according to Ptolemy, Greek geographer of the second century of our era, the town Ambinon-Ambino, Castrojeriz and was assigned to Turmogos. The name means strength circular.

These populations occupy several acres, the castro Tardajos, 42 acres, if Castrojeriz was the smallest, 2 to 3 acres, being encorsetado by extending the witness of the castle hill, but with high density population. The adobe houses were orthogonal and the hard clay floor and basement fire. The nucleus was defended by walls and moats. The tip of the village Autraca reached several hectares.

The documentation of archaeological deposits Castrojeriz (Autraca) and Roa de Duero (Rauda), the two most significant villages of Vacceo, recorded from the eighth century a. de C.,has allowed well-defined and documented changes in large entity in the material culture, such as in ceramics, with reticulated decoration, arches, zoomorphic motives, etc. making it possible to differentiate a new style and a stage, called Tardoceltibérica, which are hardly visible even the Roman influence.

• In the 60s of the twentieth century, an archaeological tasting in a farm located at NW of the former collegiate Castrojeriz investigating a site of a village. Ceramics were found useful for home to preserve grain silos, and so on. Was classified as settlement of a pre-populated. This town may be called SISARACA of turmogos Vacceo and romanized or later. Historians place him in Castrojeriz.

All of the above describes some meager archaeological investigations and possible conjectures and hypotheses that are still to be confirmed, but discovers the tip of the iceberg of archaeological remains, from prehistoric settlements to settlements for the lengthy period of time between the year 2500 BC to Roman rule.

• AGE IN HISTORY, from the Romans to the modern age, in Castrojeriz have also investigated especially notable medieval and Roman remains. I refer to the castle as a defensive since prehistoric troglodytes rooms in the basement of the prehistoric Autraca, the well of the courtyard of the castle and possible links with the medieval passageways, (according to legend) that more than 2 km broken through the basement of the historic center of Castrojeriz.

Many do not know where they go, but a large part, to the castle. The passages on their own, are a wealth of archaeological content enough to make an investigation.

Passageways, its architecture may belong to the XIII-XIV. They vault with half point arch, barrel, with arches arches fajones or more or less pointed, the time of transition from Romanesque to Gothic.

Much of this underground labyrinth, this collapse, intentionally or by neglect. It is a heritage of great interest for the study and appreciation of the medieval village of Castrojeriz. There are traces of and reasons to say that medieval passageways, possibly linked to the fortress tower, Romanesque base and the three streets, which still remain to cloister, a Romanesque-Gothic transitional, as the north wing was removed when it builds the present church of San Juan, in the sixteenth century, and also with the enigmatic Order of Templars.

Castrojeriz, as we have described, has been settlement of peoples from prehistoric times, but its most interesting is perhaps the Middle Ages, but they are only assumptions and shallow studies, they have never done serious archaeological inspections that can confirm this.

November 2005
Pedro Villarrubia Tardajos
 

sillydoll

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That's what happens when you quote just a short paragraph from a thesis without including all the references, et als, bibliographies, etc. !!
My apologies to Julie Candy.

This is Castillo Mirador - on the hill above the town of Castrojeriz.
 

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"That's what happens when you quote just a short paragraph from a thesis without including all the references, et als, bibliographies, etc. !!"

Indeed - but if just that one point is false, which it is, I already have no interest in reading the rest of it ....

As you will know, most 'evidence' for a thesis or dissertation is not from first hand knowledge but from reading what others have written before, and those writers may have based their work on what others had written before them - which is why bibliographies are so important ... but the best 'test' of any thesis is first hand knowledge ..
I do not know if she is a former pilgrim or not but to walk the Camino would have been a good experiental foundation for her thesis ...

anyway, we seem to be all agreed that a walking a Camino to the tomb of St James is not the same as walking an LDP elsewhere - ... I thought Peter's comparison was very good

... and it does seem that the Frances is somehow more of a camino than the others ... a simile would be Ebay and a number of smaller auction sites .. they just cannot seem to get enough adherents to challenge Ebay. ...
 
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is that a rhetorical question?

Obviously from written records, songs, architecture, symbolic paintings, etc we can be aware of what has happened but not necessarily in a factual and truthful way (the losers in any contest, for instance, tend not to leave much documentation behind) but it is quite impossible to get into the mindset of someone from another time - it's difficult enough with people of our time, don't you think?

So you have academics who must publish to keep their jobs and they have to publish something new so they come up with new slants on an old idea, read older writers, hack out whole sections to prove their thesis and then another publication ... but not truth (what is truth?), just their flawed works. And - then people read just snippets and small quotes from these books that seem to agree with what they want to believe and they then think they understand ...

For instance - the given is that the tomb and remains of St James were 'found' because Spain 'needed' a hero .. although this was only another guess by another academic who was trying to prove their thesis, this has been repeated so many times by later writers that it now seems to be truth ... but this would presuppose some sort of plan .. a person being told to 'find' the tomb (by whom?), secular princes being encouraged to translate the disciple into a warrior and so on .. a very complicated fraud indeed ... especially as there is a skull fragment missing and the Vatican have a skull fragment of St James from before the time of the find and it fits the skull ...

but you could also say that the vision and finding happened independently of any outside influences, the chap did have his vision and did locate the tomb and that it was the Roman Catholic Church in France who wanted to expand their influence into Spain who capitalised on the find, set up a clandestine headquarters with the Cluny Abbots to propagandise and push into northern Spain, but in a way that Islam would honour and not fight against - all being People of the Book, and then made him the warrior, moor-killing Saint and dragged along the secular world into a bloody centuries long confrontation with the Muslim population ... Islam was eventually pushed back to Africa and Catholicism was triumphant and that it was all actually a French plot ... and the Camino is still named the French Way
... but we hear none of this do we ... :wink:
 
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Indeed - but if just that one point is false, which it is, I already have no interest in reading the rest of it ....

As you will know, most 'evidence' for a thesis or dissertation is not from first hand knowledge but from reading what others have written before,

I must have been mistaken when I interpreted your above statement to mean that we could only rely on what we know first hand, that Sillydoll's comments were false because she did not have first hand knowledge. Pardon my error in taking your words literally.

I have not met anyone who really believes the bones in the Santiago Cathedral are those of St. James, or that James came alive to slay Moors in great numbers. I am sure that there are many who do, but everyone I have met views it more allegorically, so there may be a lot of agreement with your view on the mysterious discovery of the remains.

It is my personal view that the can be great validity in the research and writings of Ph.D.s, but I can understand your skepticism.
 
it seems the Roman road went via the 'other village' (by which I assume Castrillo Matajudios is meant) where there was a junction. According to the ayuntamiento website http://www.castrillomatajudios.es/turis ... o/historia that was where the Camino Real went too, and there was an "antiguo hospital de peregrinos". So it looks very much as though this is a 3rd false assumption: the modern Camino is not following the old camino at that point. http://maps.peterrobins.co.uk/e.html?zo ... n=-4.17272

CM has an interesting history, being one of the first Jewish communities in Spain, acquiring special privileges in the 10th century.
 

sillydoll

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Camino(s) past & future
2002 CF: 2004 from Paris: 2006 VF: 2007 CF: 2009 Aragones, Ingles, Finisterre: 2011 X 2 on CF: 2013 'Caracoles': 2014 CF and Ingles 'Caracoles":2015 Logrono-Burgos (Hospitalero San Anton): 2016 La Douay to Aosta/San Gimignano to Rome:
"Castrojeriz is an example of a village clearly determined by the pilgrimage to Santiago. Originally grew around a fortification (Castrum Sigerici). Castrojeriz had a strong military function approximately until year 1131, when Alfonso I of Aragon “el Batallador”, decided to change the route of Santiago extending it to Castrojeriz. The road meant a second focus of urban development (the first one was the fortification). Passini (2000) qualifies Castrojeriz as a clear example of the key role of Santiago’s route in the territorial management."

More info on the road - and many other Roman Roads in Spain - at http://www.traianvs.net/
Click on Camino Santiago 1, 11, and 111
 

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