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The Camino does NOT start in StJpdP - discuss

2020 Camino Guides

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Hmm, I travelled in the Northern Territory recently too, and agree that the Milky Way is a magnificent sight. I fear, though, that if you had tried to use it to lead you to Santiago, you would have discovered why so many early European explorers perished in the Australian outback. I think we would prefer to have you here alive and kicking than looking for your body in the wilds of the Kimberley or Pilbara.
O? I thought they were used to navigating in the northern hemisphere but perished in Oz, because they couldn’t read the stars upside down 🙃???
 

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
For what it is worth, here are my two or three cents worth... I am presenting these thoughts as bullet points so they might be debated individually, as appropriate.
  1. I believe that Tinka (OP) is correct that the Camino does not start at St. Jean Pied de Port, per se.
  2. Most all early writings on this suggest that one's camino starts at one's home, or perhaps your local church. You departed from there and walked to Santiago de Compostela.
  3. However, starting from there, individual paths gradually merged into more heavily traveled routes across all or Europe, and eventually leading south and west in the direction of Santiago de Compostela.
  4. Eventually, all of these routes would have to get over the Pyrenees mountain range that separates what is now France from what is now Spain. IIRC, this can be done only at four places where there are either coastal plains or passes through the mountains.
  5. The passes (West to East) are near Irun on the Atlantic coast, the Napoleon / Valcarlos Pass at St. Jean Pied de Porte, the Somport Pass, and the coastal area on the Mediterranean, north of Barcelona.
  6. Most of the routes coming from northern europe passed through Bordeaux, Paris, and or Toulouse, before merging north of St Jean Pied de Port at another town (?Pau?).
  7. From this merge, the prevalent route across the Pyrenees develops where the present day Napoleon Pass / Valcarlos option are. A mountain pass is never to be discounted.
  8. Over time, and if you look at a diagram of all the routes coming from north, you can see an almost scallop shell design, with the main spine or route running more or less down the center. This would be the Camino Frances.
  9. I suspect that, over time, demand created a supply of services and accommodations for pilgrims along this route. One fed on the other, and the route grew in use and prosperity.
  10. In addition, if you look at the politics and warfare of the time, you recognize that the route of the Camino Frances also represented the approximate northern extent of the Moorish occupation and consolidated control of Iberia.
  11. Because of push-back from the indigenous peoples (Basques) and the inflow of Christians due to inception of the Camino from the mid-800s, the Moors were not able to establish full and complete control over the northern territories, beyond about where the Camino Frances is today.
  12. The line of Templar fortifications, churches and monasteries along this route of travel tends to support this conjecture. If word got out that pilgrims were largely protected from be victimized by the Moors along this line of March, it would logically become the favored route.
  13. Supporting this assessment is the statement made in many a pilgrim Mass at St. Jean Pied de Port by the presiding priest. To wit: "...we have been preparing pilgrims to continue their journey over the mountains to Santiago de Compostela for more than 1100 years..." I have heard this several times...
  14. Finally, on the geographical importance of St. Jean Pied de Port, I believe it was the last place a pilgrim could rest up, equip or provision themselves for the walk over the mountain, until they arrived at the Roncesvalles monastery, or before that, Pamplona...
  15. My considered opinion is that while the Camino does NOT START at SJPdP (See #2 above), the confluence of routes from the north into a single stream, onwards to Santiago de Compostela, DOES enforce the notion that at least the final segment of the Europe-wide network of Camino routes does combine at SJPdP. I believe that is the basis for the incorrect assessment that the Camino Frances starts at SJPdp.
  16. In summary, the Camino Frances does start at SJPdP, because it starts in France, traverses the Pyrenees into Spain, and leads the pilgrim to Santiago de Compostela.
Hope this helps the dialog. Feel free to disagree... Discussion is good.
On point 15: don’t more of the routes coming from the North from France actually meet at Puente Le Reina rather than SJPdp?
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
On point 15: don’t more of the routes coming from the North from France actually meet at Puente Le Reina rather than SJPdp?
There are multiple meeting places for the routes from France, including Logroño, and even so far along as Burgos.

The French routes via the Norte don't even join the Francès 'til Galicia ...
 

t2andreo

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
C/F: 2013, 2014
C/M: 2016
C/P: 2015, 2017
C/I: 2018
Voluntario: 2014 - 2019
Yes and no, IIRC several routes form the north and east of the Pyrenees converge at SJPdP, or other places like Logrono, Burgos, Leon, or whereas one or two other routes meet the Frances at Puente la Reina. In any event, once the merge with the DF, they are all counted as being the CF.

Distance certificates that state your route into Santiago, as well as the entry made to the database for statistical purposes will state Camino Frances. All tributary routes flowing into major routes are counted as solely the route that ended at Santiago.

The exceptions are for routes, like the Norte, that are near 100% independent before flowing into the Frances just before Santiago. The Ingles and Primitivo are like this two. So too, is the Via de la Plata.

On the Madrid Route, most of the distance is before you join the Frances at Leon, or Sahagun, so this is counted as the Madrid.

There are other examples of this policy.
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
The Tours, Le Puy and Vezeley routes converge at Ostabat. St Jean-le-Vieux was the staging point for preparing for the crossing of the Pyrenees, until SJPDP emerged as a more forward staging area.

Streams join rivers at many places. If toll collectors are on the road, pilgrims take to the woods to go around them. If an army is beseiging Burgos, take another way.
 

Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Yes and no, IIRC several routes form the north and east of the Pyrenees converge at SJPdP, or other places like Logrono, Burgos, Leon, or whereas one or two other routes meet the Frances at Puente la Reina. In any event, once the merge with the DF, they are all counted as being the CF.

Distance certificates that state your route into Santiago, as well as the entry made to the database for statistical purposes will state Camino Frances. All tributary routes flowing into major routes are counted as solely the route that ended at Santiago.

The exceptions are for routes, like the Norte, that are near 100% independent before flowing into the Frances just before Santiago. The Ingles and Primitivo are like this two. So too, is the Via de la Plata.

On the Madrid Route, most of the distance is before you join the Frances at Leon, or Sahagun, so this is counted as the Madrid.

There are other examples of this policy.
Thanks. Interesting. I was taking my cue from Frederik Gros’ ‘Philosophy of Walking’. He talks about the establishment already in the Middle Ages of 4 main (and many subsidiary) routes from France - starting from Le Puy or Vezelay or Tours or Toulouse. Don’t 3 of these meet in Puente Le Reina?
 

nycwalking

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
CF: (2001, 2002, 2004, 2014). Hospitalera: 2002, Ponferrada. 2004, Rabanal del Camino.
Because in good Catholic tradition, you must start out in suffering before being redeemed, and the walk to Roncesvalles is definitely suffering.

The alternative suggestion is that SJDP just had the best marketing department.

:) ;)
eh, that's Protestant ... 🥳
“Suffering is overrated”.

Said by NYC Episcopal priest circa 2002.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
While you certainly have the right to ask the question, personally, I think it is irrelevant. You start with your question saying you are not a contrarian nor a provocateur. But, we all know, many pilgrims for a variety of reasons, harbor a resentment that many pilgrims choose to start THEIR pilgrimage at St. Jean. Do you resent that so many pilgrims, for whatever their reason, choose to start there?
Resent, certainly not. I wish joy to any Pilgrim wherever they start their journey. I posed the question, and its qualifications, purely out of curiosity. It has intrigued me for many years, ever since my own first Camino - which I started in StJpdP. The cursory research I had done at the time and the easy rail connections from London led me there.

Much of this discussion with its mix of History, Geography, Logistics and speculation is exactly what I had hoped for and has enhanced my understanding of the modern phenomenon of the Camino Frances. I'm surprised to learn that many Pilgrims resent the choices of others. But then, I posed the question in hope of gaining learning.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Thanks. Interesting. I was taking my cue from Frederik Gros’ ‘Philosophy of Walking’. He talks about the establishment already in the Middle Ages of 4 main (and many subsidiary) routes from France - starting from Le Puy or Vezelay or Tours or Toulouse. Don’t 3 of these meet in Puente Le Reina?
Nowadays, those three meet in SJPP -- yes you can technically take a historic route of I can't remember which Way but probably the Le Puy one or the Paris one which technically joins up with the others in some deserted field up there between SJPP and Ostabat (there's a little monument), but seriously, nobody at all actually does so.

The route that joins the Francès just before Puente is the Aragonès, that the principal Arles Way via Toulouse leads to.
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
With the most recent addition to the Compostela rules that is actually the situation for some. If you are a Galician living within a 100km radius of the Cathedral and wish to receive a Compostela at the end of your pilgrimage you must now travel away from Santiago to a point on a recognised Camino route at least 100km from the city and walk from there. The same is true for Galicians further afield who live in some part of the province at some distance from a "recognised" route. What seems like the obvious thing to do - simply to walk by the most convenient/practical/interesting route from your own front door - is no longer acceptable to the cathedral. A situation I find bizarre.
Can you give us chapter and verse where this specifically is quoted: 'a recognised Camino route'?
Is there a list of such recognised Camino routes? Recognised by whom ? And must all people, as well as Galicians living within 100km, use a recognised route to reach SdC? It will bring me back to another point.....but only if we can find the quote.
 

lthrnck55

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Sept/Oct 2014

Camino Frances via Lourdes Sept/Oct/Nov 2020 ( Hopefully )
Resent, certainly not. I wish joy to any Pilgrim wherever they start their journey. I posed the question, and its qualifications, purely out of curiosity. It has intrigued me for many years, ever since my own first Camino - which I started in StJpdP. The cursory research I had done at the time and the easy rail connections from London led me there.

Much of this discussion with its mix of History, Geography, Logistics and speculation is exactly what I had hoped for and has enhanced my understanding of the modern phenomenon of the Camino Frances. I'm surprised to learn that many Pilgrims resent the choices of others. But then, I posed the question in hope of gaining learning.
" ... but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts. " ---

Seemed resentful and even sarcastic to me. But as you say, you were just being curious. My mistake.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
the Arles route becomes the Aragones and joins the Frances at Puente La Reina, although really it joins at Obanos.
This is quickly disappearing from living memory, I think ☺: the bit between Ostabat and Puente La Reina carries the name "via Navarra" or "camino Navarro" and there are guidebooks (and local administrations in Spain) in whose view/use of language the Navarra way and the Aragon way join near Puente La Reina to form the Santiago way/way of the Franks/way of the French from then onwards.

I've often wondered when Camino de Santiago or Camino Frances became an actual name for a 800 km road. I mean when you live in Pamplona would you actually call a road leading out of town "Santiago Road" and not rather "Estella Road" or "Logroño Road"? I never found out any details for this. I seem to remember that the "via Francigena" for example which goes from Canturbury to Rome carried this name initially only in Lombardy ie much closer to Rome and not in England or France.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes/Burgos/SdeC (by train) 77; Frances 12,15,17; Finisterre 17; Lourdes/Aragones 18; Meseta 19.
@rappahannock_rev, the details are fascinating!
When I was in Jaca in 2018 I found a small Diagon-Alley-like used-book shop close to the cathedral that was selling like-new copies of Fr. Elias' guide for 5 Euros.... along with framed photos of the Generalissimo and etc.... ("Let's do the Time Warp again!")
 
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alhartman

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Hope so!
Interesting historical info.
I would nominate LePuy as the modern start. Godescalco started there in about 950. And route was memorialized in Codex Calixtinus in about 1250--maybe the first travel guide.
I started first in SJPdP because Camino was a consolation prize for my inability to coordinate a full Pacific Crest Trail walk. And because I read MacClaine, Coelho, and Hoinicki. When I arrived at the SJPdP acquile, totally shell shocked from 36 hours of travel, the lady behind me (Serbian) told me of her 30 days from LePuy--in the rain, so the following year I started in LePuy. That year, as I neared the end, the basque hospitalier said the real start was Ostabat where all the routes thru France converged. Walked briefly with a (Flying) Dutchman who said it started in Rotterdam at his home.
Since for me, the walk has always been about the journey, I have been grateful for all my starts-LePuy,Vezelay, Toulouse, SJPdP, Seville.
But the increasing popularity does come from books, movies, and other publicity (now Facebook and this forum). I happened to be in Santiago for the opening of "The Way' in fall of 2011 and knew that the Camino would forever change--just as it did to a lesser extent when Hape Kerkeling's book came out.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances Roncesvalles to Sahagun Oct 2016
Sahagun to SDC April 2017
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
This should be interesting! A disclaimer: I started my Camino in Roncesvalles. I do remember arriving in Sarria and sauntering down by the station as the train arrived. There were "newbies" everywhere. The excitement was palpable. They were taking pictures of each other, street signs, stray dogs and cats amid much laughter and loud voices with accents from all over the world. It was a collective new world they were embarking upon.

Whatever the reason people initially started in Saint Jean, I believe people, now, see it as a place to experience what the Sarria people were experiencing. Starting in Saint Jean gives one a more structured environment to be excited in than Roncesvalles if that is what you are looking for. The people arriving by train, as well as bars, shops and an more urban environment to gird oneself for the journey ahead.
 

C clearly

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
I am enjoying this thread!

Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur
You could have fooled me! :cool:

In a rare display of self discipline, the forum members stayed on track overnight.
Maybe from your time zone! From mine, 8 or 9 hours behind, I eagerly turned on my computer this morning to find 66 fervent new posts on this thread.

This thread is better than a morning cup of Coffee
Actually I found that I needed a second cup of cup to catch up on the posts. 20 more posts appeared while I was getting coffee.

many pilgrims for a variety of reasons, harbor a resentment that many pilgrims choose to start THEIR pilgrimage at St. Jean.
Yes, I am finding the vehemence of argument to be puzzling. WHAT are we arguing about? Is it the historical and semantic truths about the name of a route? In many posts there seems to be an implied criticism of people who start in SJPP (ignorant, misinformed, overly susceptible to mass media).

the Camino Frances does start at SJPdP, because it starts in France
Simple and true.

So then people start wherever they want instead -- and this is completely non-problematic !!!
Again, simple and true, at least in terms of the semantic and historical arguments.

Now, the overcrowding IS a problem, but we'll have to wait for Teacher @Tincatinker to assign that topic next week..
 

benny aumala

Member
Camino(s) past & future
may-june 2016
may-june (2019)
One map defines the Spain-French Border as start of Camino.
I think Camino starts from your home. On Frances you need to start
at least from Sarria.
Important is to arrive in Santiago de Compostela, not starting point.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF Sep/Oct 2015
C Primitivo Sep / Oct 2016
Portugese Sep/Oct 2017
VdlP, Muxia 2018
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
I believe the Camino starts in your heart and you wander from there.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(15,16,18)CheminduPuy(16) Portuguese(16 VDLP(17)Primitivo(17)Ireland-3000K(18) Norte18Vasco17
QUOTE="Bradypus, post: 784884, member: 42372"]
I think that some who walk the Caminos now have the romantic idea that walking the Camino Frances has continued more or less unbroken since the Middle Ages. But by the 1970s the practice had all but died out. The few who did walk it did not follow a signposted footpath but rather made their own ways between the towns and villages from the Pyrenees to Santiago.

The idea of a defined, waymarked, mapped and documented route with a guidebook and dedicated pilgrim accommodation really dates from the late 1970s and early 1980s when Don Elias Valina and his associates marked out the route now known as the Camino Frances. Oddly enough that is not what Valina himself called the route in his seminal 1984 guidebook: he simply refers to it as the Camino de Santiago. In reality the Camino Frances of today is far more a creation of the late 20th century rather than a continuation of medieval practice. Don Elias chose to describe a route which begins in SJPDP. His highly influential book starts there. And a lot of us have something of a fixation with walking a "complete" route.

While it is obviously true that in previous centuries pilgrims walked from many different places to Santiago the 20th century Camino revival began with one clearly defined and documented path. It was only after the revival in interest in the Camino Frances had taken root that the multitude of alternative paths were created or resurrected. The thing which I find most odd in retrospect is that Valina described the route from SJPDP as his second option - the first route he describes is the Somport-Canfranc Aragones way. I have never really understood why SJPDP has so greatly eclipsed Somport as a starting point.
[/QUOTE]
I think that some who walk the Caminos now have the romantic idea that walking the Camino Frances has continued more or less unbroken since the Middle Ages. But by the 1970s the practice had all but died out. The few who did walk it did not follow a signposted footpath but rather made their own ways between the towns and villages from the Pyrenees to Santiago.

The idea of a defined, waymarked, mapped and documented route with a guidebook and dedicated pilgrim accommodation really dates from the late 1970s and early 1980s when Don Elias Valina and his associates marked out the route now known as the Camino Frances. Oddly enough that is not what Valina himself called the route in his seminal 1984 guidebook: he simply refers to it as the Camino de Santiago. In reality the Camino Frances of today is far more a creation of the late 20th century rather than a continuation of medieval practice. Don Elias chose to describe a route which begins in SJPDP. His highly influential book starts there. And a lot of us have something of a fixation with walking a "complete" route.

While it is obviously true that in previous centuries pilgrims walked from many different places to Santiago the 20th century Camino revival began with one clearly defined and documented path. It was only after the revival in interest in the Camino Frances had taken root that the multitude of alternative paths were created or resurrected. The thing which I find most odd in retrospect is that Valina described the route from SJPDP as his second option - the first route he describes is the Somport-Canfranc Aragones way. I have never really understood why SJPDP has so greatly eclipsed Somport as a starting point.
I think the reason SJPP is the much more used starting point is that three of the French Caminos converge there; Tours(Paris), Vezelay, and LePuy. Camino Arles which is a lesser used route than the other 3 goes through Oloron to Somport. There is also a Camino which I just did that goes through southern France via Lourdes into SJPP but it goes through Oloron so you could veer south through Somport alternatively.
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" Camino
but 2019?
I first walked the CF in 2001, before Shirley etc. I relied on a little booklet put out by the Confraternity of St James in London. The first stage in that booklet was from SJPDP, so that is where I started. So I blame the Confraternity!
I read an article about the Camino in the UK Daily Telegraph newspaper in 2000. The journalist started out from SJPP and so did I in 2001.
 

malingerer

Active Member
I think that some who walk the Caminos now have the romantic idea that walking the Camino Frances has continued more or less unbroken since the Middle Ages. But by the 1970s the practice had all but died out. The few who did walk it did not follow a signposted footpath but rather made their own ways between the towns and villages from the Pyrenees to Santiago.

The idea of a defined, waymarked, mapped and documented route with a guidebook and dedicated pilgrim accommodation really dates from the late 1970s and early 1980s when Don Elias Valina and his associates marked out the route now known as the Camino Frances. Oddly enough that is not what Valina himself called the route in his seminal 1984 guidebook: he simply refers to it as the Camino de Santiago. In reality the Camino Frances of today is far more a creation of the late 20th century rather than a continuation of medieval practice. Don Elias chose to describe a route which begins in SJPDP. His highly influential book starts there. And a lot of us have something of a fixation with walking a "complete" route.

While it is obviously true that in previous centuries pilgrims walked from many different places to Santiago the 20th century Camino revival began with one clearly defined and documented path. It was only after the revival in interest in the Camino Frances had taken root that the multitude of alternative paths were created or resurrected. The thing which I find most odd in retrospect is that Valina described the route from SJPDP as his second option - the first route he describes is the Somport-Canfranc Aragones way. I have never really understood why SJPDP has so greatly eclipsed Somport as a starting point.
Brierly?

The Malingerer.
 

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times
The Camino starts wherever you can afford to start.
Afford financially and time wise. If it has to be in Sarria or Tui, so be it. If one has the time and money to start further away, so be it. It is not that big a deal.
If possible I like to start in Saint Jean because I like the Camino spirit there and those first few steps as you walk out the town I find very cool. Mind you, I have also started the Frances from Pamplona as well due to time constraints and I did not feel I missed out on anything.
 

Glamgrrl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Travel318
I keep a picture map of the most pronounced Camino routes on my phone. When people ask about the Camino in general, I show it to them and explain that most routes in Spain and Portugal connect to other routes across Europe like the GR routes. I also explain that Camino means a walk, a path, a hike, a journey, and it can start from anywhere. People who haven’t traveled or read about other paths/journeys are astonished that all these routes connect. I do say a common final destination is Santiago.
 

Glamgrrl

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Travel318
The first time I heard about the Camino was about thirty years ago when I read an article in National Geographic about a pilgrimage from Le Puy all the way to Santiago, aprox 1600km it said, I decided then that this was for me but work, home renovation and a triple bypass distracted me for several years. Fast forward to 2012 when my brother rang me from Australia and said he had retired and was going to walk the Camino and to pack my bag and get myself ready... and ....we were walking from St. Jean, which was where he was told it started. So I guess it all depends where you are told it starts when you don't know yourself. Now I believe it starts when you leave home and whether you walk all the way like many Europeans I met or whether you take planes, trains etc. Your staging point after that is a matter of choice.
I used Google and found many articles about the Camino. This one isn’t your time from but from 2015. https://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2015/05/camino-de-santiago-pilgrimage/
 

Derrybiketours

A journey of 500 miles begins with one step!
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SANT-FIN (09/2018)
PORTO-SANT (11/2018)
Caminho Da Fe (01/2019)
SJPdP- Meseta (28/09/2019)
There are far more than just three stages on the "full Camino", and truth is I don't think I even know all of them myself yet, as this 2019-2020 is my first time doing one.
Fair point but don't they all come under the philosophical idea of body, mind and soul or physical, emotional and spiritual 🤠
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Interesting. I lived on the Sahara Desert for 2 years and the Milky Way was aligned right over my village.
Ok, Milky Way it is then ☺. I've just discovered an image, and I've never seen it presented like this before. Every 50 minutes, the photographer took a photo of the night sky over the course of 10 hours and then stacked the pictures on top of each other. You see the position of the Milky Way at these 50 minutes intervals in the night sky, the way you would see the position of the Milky Way if you stayed outside and watched it throughout the night. The photos were taken in Australia but the principle is the same everywhere. Enjoy and draw your own conclusions. 🤔😌



Source: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/news/2017/05/milky-way-photograph-space-galaxy-australia/ . Image is linked, not copied.
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Can you give us chapter and verse where this specifically is quoted: 'a recognised Camino route'?
Is there a list of such recognised Camino routes? Recognised by whom ? And must all people, as well as Galicians living within 100km, use a recognised route to reach SdC? It will bring me back to another point.....but only if we can find the quote.
@timr I was told this in person by two pilgrim office volunteers last November and shown a copy of the most recent version of the cathedral's Credencial which stated this rule. Which was not on the version I had received from Ivar just a few weeks earlier so I assume it must have been quite recent. It applies to all - not just Galicians. I mentioned them in particular because they are the most likely to find themselves in the odd situation of having to travel away from Santiago in order to receive a Compostela. I think that @t2andreo has suggested that the officially recognised routes are the ones which are named and printed in outline maps on the current version of the credencial.

credencial-1.jpg

PS. No mention of this rule on the pilgrim office website and they still show an earlier image of the credencial without this rule. But as they still do not give a full translation of the latest Compostela to include the "new" second paragraph concerning minimum distances on foot and by bike - some years after the introduction of the pretty new version - I would not hold my breath while waiting for an update.
 
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jsalt

Jill
Camino(s) past & future
Portugués, Francés, Le Puy, Rota Vicentina, Soulac, Norte, Madrid, Salvador, Primitivo, Aragonés
Interesting. I lived on the Sahara Desert for 2 years and the Milky Way was aligned right over my village.
That’s odd, it’s over this part of the world too 🤣 . I stared at it every night lying in my sleeping bag while hiking the Fish River Canyon in Namibia. Did you know there is a big black patch in it of NOTHINGNESS? No, don’t answer that, definitely don’t want to completely hijack this thread 😂.
 

Jackie Robinson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
First Time this year
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
I was under the impression that one’s journey began from their starting point, be that their own front door or from a renowned/adopted start point, in this case, Saint Jean?
 

OTH86

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés five times, Madrid two days, Ingles once.
I wonder -- if the journey and not the destination, is one's Camino, does it make sense that the starting point of the Camino is when one decides to take/make the Journey? 🤔
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Offered simply FYI: The sainted Fr. Elias started his 1984 El Camino de Santiago: Guia del Peregrino at the Somport Pass.
That is his first option. But if you skip forward a few pages he also gives SJPDP as his second option and then further complicates matters by offering both the Route Napoleon and Valcarlos routes as possibilities :cool: I used that 1984 Valina guide for my first two Caminos. The first journey using a copy bought by my mother-in-law on her own 1985 camino and which she had signed by Don Elias when her group met him in O Cebreiro. Sadly my own journey took me there a few months too late to meet him myself.
 
Camino(s) past & future
2000,2001,2004 Camino Frances from St. Jean
2005 Camino Argonese from Oloron to Puente de la Reina, Camino Frances from St. Jean,
2013 Camino Portugese from Porto, Camino Ingles from Ferrol, Camino Finisterre
(2016) Camino Portugese from Braga
I stopped into a bookstore in Madrid today and looked at the Camino guides. Guides for the Camino de Santiago seem to show options of starting in Somport as the first choice, and Roncesvalles as the second choice. There was a guide to the Camino Frances which started in SJPP.

I can blame Shirley for starting in SJPP.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Lourdes/Burgos/SdeC (by train) 77; Frances 12,15,17; Finisterre 17; Lourdes/Aragones 18; Meseta 19.
That is his first option. But if you skip forward a few pages he also gives SJPDP as his second option and then further complicates matters by offering both the Route Napoleon and Valcarlos routes as possibilities :cool: I used that 1984 Valina guide for my first two Caminos. The first journey using a copy bought by my mother-in-law on her own 1985 camino and which she had signed by Don Elias when her group met him in O Cebreiro. Sadly my own journey took me there a few months too late to meet him myself.
Quite correct, and 'Touche!' ...

I envy your mother-in-law: I'd like to have met the man....
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I was told this in person by two pilgrim office volunteers last November and shown a copy of the most recent version of the cathedral's Credencial which stated this rule.
I find this rule really strange. What does "deberán" actually mean? I've not yet progressed to this tense/verb form. "Must"? "Ought to"?

The Cathedral/pilgrimage authorities do have this concept of "camino reconocido". They recognise a trail based on documentation that shows that some pilgrims (don't know how many) have walked at one time in the past (Middle Ages?) and/or that there were pilgrims hospitals etc. along the trail. Obviously only within Galicia resp. within their 100-200 km range because otherwise they would have to recognise many dozens if not hundreds of caminos within Spain alone.

It's my ambition to read as many medieval pilgrim reports as I can, as close to the original as possible for me, but so far I've managed only one report in its entirety and a few others as extracts. None of these pilgrims followed any of the trails that we regard as established caminos, ie either they took detours or it is not all clear where they walked over the whole course of their pilgrimage within Spain and elsewhere.
 
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Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I find this rule really strange. What does "deberán" actually mean? I've not yet progressed to this tense/verb form. "Must"? "Ought to"?
I do not have the grammar knowledge to answer myself but Google Translate renders the sentence as "The last 100 kilometres must be carried out by any of the routes recognised as official by the S.A.M.I Cathedral of Santiago" so it seems to be some sort of imperative. Certainly what I was told by the pilgrim office was that it is now a mandatory condition for receiving a Compostela and not merely a recommendation.

PS: https://www.spanishdict.com/conjugate/deber
 
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Walton

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 Sjpp to Sdc. 2018 Lisbon to Sdc to Finisterre. Next up hopefully VDP or Del Norte.
I'm a bit of a "Lotus Eater" in regard to philosophical questions like that posed by Tincatinka.

I started walking from St. Jean Pied de Port, because climbing hills is supposed to good for you. And bragging rights - "I climbed the mighty Pyranees, man against altitude, and then went downhill, more or less, for another 750kms or so" :cool: So there!! 😂

My real Camino started after I watched "The Way" on Netflix out of boredom while recovering from a decent dose of the flu.

I thought, this is another one of those feel good movies until curiosity piqued and I googled the movie and then was hooked.

It started when I said to myself "I'm going to walk this".

So Tincatinka - does a Camino start when you begin walking from somewhere or when you first learn there is a Camino out there, waiting to be walked?

And to add the missing second half to your question - When does the Camino actually end? Santiago de Compostela, Finesterre or somewhere else? Does it ever end?
 

timr

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Several and counting...
@timr I was told this in person by two pilgrim office volunteers last November and shown a copy of the most recent version of the cathedral's Credencial which stated this rule. Which was not on the version I had received from Ivar just a few weeks earlier so I assume it must have been quite recent. It applies to all - not just Galicians. I mentioned them in particular because they are the most likely to find themselves in the odd situation of having to travel away from Santiago in order to receive a Compostela. I think that @t2andreo has suggested that the officially recognised routes are the ones which are named and printed in outline maps on the current version of the credencial.

View attachment 64727

PS. No mention of this rule on the pilgrim office website and they still show an earlier image of the credencial without this rule. But as they still do not give a full translation of the latest Compostela to include the "new" second paragraph concerning minimum distances on foot and by bike - some years after the introduction of the pretty new version - I would not hold my breath while waiting for an update.
@Bradypus Thanks! This brings me back to a question I have raised before. And again I hope Tom @t2andreo may help. My question is this. Is the route from Lugo through Friol to Sobrado dos Monxes, linking the Primitivo to the Norte, "official"? And is it "recognised by the SAMI"?
I walked this route in May 2016. In the Tourist Office in Lugo, where I went to look for advice, I was told rudely - quite rudely actually - and definitively, the it was "not permitted" to do this, ie to deviate from one route on to another. I paid no heed to this gentleman and took myself off on the "Camino Verde" for the next two days, possibly my two favourite Camino days ever. And I did obtain a Compostela on that occasion.
But my question remains, if there is a requirement that one walks on a route that is recognised by the SAMI is there a list of such routes?
I find it extraordinary that one has to walk on a particular path. I am horrified by the notion that the pilgrim office might demand evidence of the actual path I have followed, while I can accept that there is a rule about 100km and about two sellos.
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
I find it extraordinary that one has to walk on a particular path.
Me too. If the Compostela is meant to testify that the named person has arrived "from anywhere on the Orb of the Earth with an attitude of devotion or because of a vow or promise" and has then "devotedly visited this most sacred temple with Christian sentiment (pietatis causa)" (from the Pilgrim Office's own translation) why should it also be necessary to have done so by walking 100km on one of a limited number of approved routes? For me that appears to be strong evidence that the cathedral have now endorsed the notion that it is the physical characteristics of the journey itself which defines a walk as a pilgrimage and not the religious or spiritual intentions of the walker which are no longer of any real interest to the pilgrim office.

An example. Last November I walked from San Andres de Teixido to Santiago. At Neda I joined the Camino Ingles and followed it to Santiago - a distance of 102km on a recognised route and therefore only just qualifying for a Compostela. Though at that point I was not aware of this "recognised route" rule and my decision to join the Ingles at Neda was purely practical. If the route I had chosen from San Andres had happened to join the Camino Ingles at Fene instead - only a little over 3km further south - then although I would still have walked around 150km in total I would NOT have qualified for a Compostela. What is the rationale behind such a rule?
 
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Helen1

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
London to Santiago (2014)
Narbonne to Oloron (2015)
Camino Portugues (2016)
Sentier Cathar (2017)
Loving the discussion. I think a pilgrimage starts when you make up your mind to go. For me, all the planning, gear selection, film watching, training walks, (or perhaps the complete lack of these) are all part of the pilgrimage journey.

there's nothing really special or "magical" about say SJPP or Le Puy (though both places are very beautiful certainly), it's just that those places belong to a particular network of Camino infrastructures that happen to be both practical and reassuring in multiple interconnected ways.
I think I disagree with the special bit of this, of course there's no badge or historic fact that makes SJPP special but I think it has become a special place. SJPP has a vibe that's different to the other small French towns in the area, it's full of excited people starting a journey, the pilgrim office with it's awesome multilingual staff is amazing. I turned up in SJPP cold and soaked to skin after a torrential downpour and received a wonderfully warm welcome, such a contrast to the repeated 'non' I received from hotels in Tours when I arrived a lot less bedraggled but still wet and needed somewhere to stay.

My saunter/trek over the Pyrenees was a magical beginning to a life changing pilgrimage. I would not change it for the world.
I think this is part of the draw, rightly or wrongly, many people equate pilgrimage with challenge - how many first timers want to miss the toughest stage of the camino? It might be really hard for most people but it's also achievable and reasonably safe. Its not the like the bit of the GR10 from Hendaye to SJPP where you have a metal cord nailed into the rock to help (if you do slip and fall at that point you'll probably die). Most of us could easily fly to Lourdes and start there - well marked route, easy first day along a river, incredible place to visit etc. but the challenge and adventure of getting to SJPP adds to its appeal I think.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?
When I see a post that infers that the poster considers a 'full camino' to originate in SJPP, I am tempted to set caps lock on and reply 'you don't get it', but in a new measure of my temperance, I have avoided that to date.

I know that when my Camino de Santiago journey began, it was when two friends were contemplating their pilgrimage in 2008. I had other travel plans that year, but they knew that I was interested in and prepared to undertake demanding and challenging recreational activities as respite from being largely desk bound at work. When one of them found himself bitten by the camino bug, I agreed to walk with him in 2010. He had walked from Pamplona in 2008, but wanted to cross the Pyrenees in 2010, and I didn't have any reason not to do that.

However, in preparing for that walk, I had done a little research, and had begun to understand the complexity of the different routes. Gitlitz and Davidson (The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook) alerted me to the several routes converging on Puenta La Reina, and there were some wonderful web resources as well about the many other routes across Spain. What I didn't grasp then was that I was about to become part of a horde of pilgrims who, perhaps like me, had not put terribly much thought into why we were starting where we did.

Mind you, those of us starting in SJPP are a very small fraction of those that do undertake the Camino de Santiago, and while our numbers waxed and waned along the way and around Easter, it was not until I was walking from Sarria that it became clearer how significant this undertaking the pilgrimage was to so many people.

It is easy to suggest Brierley's guide, Coelho's The Pilgrimage or any other work that describes the route from SJPP to the exclusion of others as part of the problem. There might be some justification for that if it were the only readily available resource, but they aren't now and weren't then. Even in 2010, there was a wealth of material on the web freely available. Jack Hitt's Off the Road had been published nearly 15 years earlier and Gitlitz and Davidson a decade before I walked. Both describe the other Navarrese and Arogonese routes.

But I wonder whether it is that frequent. Perhaps it is so glaring and grating to our sensibilities if we have a broader perspective that we feel it occurs more often than it does.
 
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dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011 (2019)
But my question remains, if there is a requirement that one walks on a route that is recognised by the SAMI is there a list of such routes?
Like @Bradypus, I couldn't find such a restriction on the Pilgrim Office English language pages, and could not find any requirement there to walk on a 'recognised route', and my 2016 credential doesn't contain the restriction that appears to be in the newer version.

Further, the Pilgrim Office pages on 'Planning' defers the detail on what routes might be taken to a variety of sources, including this forum. It is silent on there being any that are 'recognised'. This page is the only one that show up when the site is searched for the phrase 'recognisd routes', and while not a dead end, doesn't provide the level of certainty one might want. Equally, searching for the phrase 'traditional routes', which results in a listing of a FAQ entry, isn't any more helpful.

@timr, I don't immediately see where else one might go for an answer, and remain as puzzled as you are about this.
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
Of course it doesn't start in SJPP. For many it starts 100 km east of Santiago. The percent starting in Sarria has gone from 20% in 2008 to 45% in 2018.
 

longwalker60

Member
Camino(s) past & future
09/2018
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
Many people start at SJPP, and many do not. Those that do, probably do because of the movie THE WAY, or because many of the guidebooks start there. But it begs the question, why not? For those that like a challenge, iris certainly a long difficult trek. It is also very beautiful walking through the clouds and looking down to see the town and the valley below. Going through SJPP a historic, quaint village is worth the start, and Orisson is also very nice. As many on this thread state, you could start anywhere, but I m glad I started at SJPP. It was one of the most difficult days on the camino, but also, one of the most rewarding feel sorry for those that start at Sarria, they have no idea what they have truly missed. Buen Camino!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
I find this rule really strange. What does "deberán" actually mean? I've not yet progressed to this tense/verb form. "Must"? "Ought to"?
Third person plural future of Deber.

‘They will have to’

Deber indicates a stronger ‘obligation’ or ‘duty’ than other similar forms like ‘tener que’
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
Fair point but don't they all come under the philosophical idea of body, mind and soul or physical, emotional and spiritual 🤠
Stage Zero is none of the above.

So no, actually, they don't -- some of them are geographic/practical/learning how, others cultural, others social, and so on.

I'm not saying that those three stages that are often talked about on the relatively short Camino Francès as started from at SJPP aren't a good general presentation of the sorts of common experiences that many pilgrims have, because they are.

But :

There are more things in this Camino de Santiago, Horatio, than are dreamt on in your philosophy ...
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
I find this rule really strange. What does "deberán" actually mean? I've not yet progressed to this tense/verb form. "Must"? "Ought to"?
Only way to translate that simply while keeping the future tense would be by using "are to" active or "are to be" passive (depending on whether the verb/verb group following your "deberán" is an active or passive).

But really it's just Spanish for a future of "must".

Ideally it would be translated by the non-existent future tense of "ought to" (as a more polite manner of expressing what's actually a strict future obligation). Something like "shall be ought into" could I supposed be forced to work if you really insisted, but it would be not only inelegant to the point of an utter mess to get the exact meaning across ; but also incredibly confusing for anyone not intimately familiar with the more extreme possibilities of non-standard English phrasing and vocabulary use, i.e. virtually everyone.

But it's a "locution of the imperative" -- "locutions" are used when a particular mood of a verb is defective in a language, basically from such little need for such distinct forms as a "future imperative or "past imperative" that whatever means that may have existed in the linguistic history have vanished from the Grammar.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
SJPP has a vibe that's different to the other small French towns in the area
Many small French towns have a "vibe" that is unlike those of other small towns in their area.

But if you mean "SJPP is full of tourists and foreigners and other nearby towns aren't" ? Sure, Le Puy too, but that's hardly unique to those places.

Lourdes, Vézelay, Le Puy, Paris, Chartres, Orléans, Tours are all particular pilgrimage destinations in their own right -- very many pilgrims visit these sanctuaries who have nothing to do with the foot pilgrimage to Santiago. It's genuinely different for you if you walk from far into one of these places on your Camino, intending then to walk out and carry on your pilgrimage to Compostela. Then yes, the places can be special.

But SJPP just isn't a pilgrim destination as such in its own right, but simply has become so by default through reasons of convenience and practicality -- just as Arles did in the Middle Ages because that's where the bridge over the river was, even though the Sanctuary considered to be at the "start" of that part of the Way is at Saint Gilles du Gard. Arles is a crossroads of several Ways to Rome and Compostela ; SJPP is a similar crossroads.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I was taking my cue from Frederik Gros’ ‘Philosophy of Walking’. He talks about the establishment already in the Middle Ages of 4 main (and many subsidiary) routes from France - starting from Le Puy or Vezelay or Tours or Toulouse. Don’t 3 of these meet in Puente Le Reina?
The narrative of four pilgrimage roads leading from France to Spain is based on a 12th century account that was unknown throughout the centuries and became only known to a larger audience in the 1930s when it was translated from the Latin into French and the scholar/translator gave it a captivating title. Now this narrative gets repeated over and over again. The trail of the long distance hiking trail from Le Puy to SJPP was created in the late 20th century by a French hiking association and they gave it a captivating name. It's not based on a historical route and nobody knows where that bishop actually travelled. This contemporary narrative goes so far that we can even read in this thread that there are four mountain passes in the Pyrenees and you have to take one of these four when you cross from France to Spain. While there are dozens of other Pyrenees mountain passes and medieval people including pilgrims and other travellers used them.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
Now that I think about it but it's more gut feeling and speculation than based on reliable source material, I think there is another thing that sets the Camino Frances apart from other roads: medieval pilgrimage roads were basically trade roads, they were based on and grew with long distance trade and commerce, whether they were former Roman roads or not. Remember that the Romans had never occupied all of Europe so they didn't build roads everywhere.

The Camino Frances in Spain, however, was driven to a large extent by pilgrim influx and of course, by related trade and other trade. But the pilgrimage was apparently a larger factor than elsewhere. Bridges were built and roads were maintained for the pilgrims; we know this from medieval sources and you can read about it on large displays along the CF.

When I looked at the sometimes quite big churches with their rich ornament in small pueblos (not the large cathedrals), I wondered where the money had come from to build them. Obviously from donations but that money had to come from somewhere, too. I vaguely remember a small pueblo on the CF where both the guidebook and the street names indicated that they did trade with Flanders I think but I would have to look this up and in any case I don't know whether by that time commercial maritime shipping had already developed to be viable for trade with the north of Europe or whether they had their goods heaved over the Pyrenees ... in any case, during the golden age of pilgrimage to Santiago, pilgrimage must have been an important economic factor. And it made the CF special 😇.
 
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Kiernan

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés febr/march (2012)
Camino Francés febr/march (2019)
Hi everybody. It's been a long time since my last time here, and is great to join you again.

In my humble and personal point of view, my answer is "yes": SJPP is not the begining. In fact there are so many beginnings as pilgrims on the way. My experience shows my clearly 😅 the fact that I've never could get the point for my first step:

-First time (2012): wanted to begin in SJPP, but decided finally to start from Roncesvalles, due to hard and complicated way to get there. Any way.....I started from Espinal due to heavy snow that day😂

-Second time (2019): I decided to begin in Roncesvalles, but as I arrived around mid day to the Bus station in Pamplona, I thought that waiting so many hours for the bus to Roncesvalles was boring......and I began to walk there🤷‍♂️

-Third time (2020 fingers crossed...!): I decided already that I'll begin in Espinal again (call it a sentimental reason). ......and who knows were I'll begin this time 😂😂
 

kelleymac

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
March/April 2015, Late April 2016, Sept/Oct 2017, April 2019.
Nowadays, and seen from "our" vantage point (non-English speaking Continental Europe ☺), SJPP is not only a starting point, it is also an end point: the natural end point of the road from Tours/Paris which is a major traditional road from France to Spain and the natural end point of the modern and very popular long-distance path from Le Puy that has been stylised or fashioned into a "camino de Santiago".
I figured GR 65 couldn't be the real path the pilgrims took. Why go up those hills when there's a good road along the river valley? Still, it's good to be away from the cars.
 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
There's one born every minute. That's why they can charge it!
There have been discussions of these trips on the forum before. The average daily price of $600 during a trip of 8-11 days is roughly the same for these kind of US operators: REI, New York Times, Smithsonian and National Geographic for example.

They emphasis hiking, culture, gastronomy, history. They have guest lecturers. And none of them starts in SJPP and makes the group plod along the Route Napoleon. Smithsonian and NYT start with an overnight stay in the hotel in Roncesvalles, REI in Bilbao going west, and NatGeo start from Pamplona.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
A pretty good map I've not seen before. Google 11-12th Century Trade Routes and pick a site where the map is interactive, for example here including a bit about the role of Iberia/Spain. I think these are the actual major routes that medieval pilgrims most likely took during this time. Look at France!!! And the Roncesvalles pass is marked!

The fact that you don't see a sea route from the British Isles to Coruña has to do with the development of sea going commercial ships for the rough seas in the area. They became available only later while the Venetian ships for the Med were of a different kind (if memory does not fail me here). These are the old roads and we can see it and feel it. 🙃

Trade routes.jpg
 
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Hurry Krishna

Indian on the Way
Camino(s) past & future
2009 (from Sarria), 2014 from St Jean Pied de Port, 2016 from Porto, 2018 from Le Puy to Santiago.
Now that I think about it but it's more gut feeling and speculation than based on reliable source material, I think there is another thing that sets the Camino Frances apart from other roads: medieval pilgrimage roads were basically trade roads, they were based on and grew with long distance trade and commerce, whether they were former Roman roads or not. Remember that the Romans had never occupied all of Europe so they didn't build roads everywhere.

The Camino Frances in Spain, however, was driven to a large extent by pilgrim influx and of course, by related trade and other trade. But the pilgrimage was apparently a larger factor than elsewhere. Bridges were built and roads were maintained for the pilgrims; we know this from medieval sources and you can read about it on large displays along the CF.

When I looked at the sometimes quite big churches with their rich ornament in small pueblos (not the large cathedrals), I wondered where the money had come from to build them. Obviously from donations but that money had to come from somewhere, too. I vaguely remember a small pueblo on the CF where both the guidebook and the street names indicated that they did trade with Flanders I think but I would have to look this up and in any case I don't know whether by that time commercial maritime shipping had already developed to be viable for trade with the north of Europe or whether they had their goods heaved over the Pyrenees ... in any case, during the golden age of pilgrimage to Santiago, pilgrimage must have been an important economic factor. And it made the CF special 😇.
Interesting! Do you remember the source for your thinking that CF in Spain is special because it was ‘driven’ by pilgrims??
 

gschmidl

sator arepo tenet opera rotas
Camino(s) past & future
Kumano Kodo (11/2018), Camino Sanabres (4/2019)
It's interesting how many people read about SJPdP being the "official start" and the overcrowding of the route and think "yes! This is what I want to do."

For me, it informed wanting to pick something as far away from that experience as possible, and so we started in Ourense.
 

Derrybiketours

A journey of 500 miles begins with one step!
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SANT-FIN (09/2018)
PORTO-SANT (11/2018)
Caminho Da Fe (01/2019)
SJPdP- Meseta (28/09/2019)
Fair point but don't they all come under the philosophical idea of body, mind and soul or physical, emotional and spiritual 🤠
Stage Zero is none of the above.

So no, actually, they don't -- some of them are geographic/practical/learning how, others cultural, others social, and so on.

I'm not saying that those three stages that are often talked about on the relatively short Camino Francès as started from at SJPP aren't a good general presentation of the sorts of common experiences that many pilgrims have, because they are.

But :

There are more things in this Camino de Santiago, Horatio, than are dreamt on in your philosophy ...
Before we begin trading charater insults of well known Shakespeare plays let me remind you of what I said which clearly exonerates me from this philosophy and as my granny says never argue with someone who knows what there talking about 🤠 ..

Ignorance is bliss and why let a little truth get in the Way of a good story
Three words:
Body
Mind
Soul

Well as @VNwalking highlights a fourth
Ignorance

At the pilgrim office in Santiago I met a Spanish volunteer who provided me with an A4 page presenting an illustration of what he described as his theory of the Camino in his 50 years walking it, before, during and for the 40 days after. He asked me to not hand out or share the actual document but the main core message is one than you hear often. That the walk taken as a whole is broken into 3 stages, the body (physical), mind (emotional) and spirit (soul)
Not my words but as I said why let the truth get in the way...
I know nothing...it was my hampster Mr Fawlty' 🤠
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances 2017, 2018, 2019, Ingles 2018, Madrid (2019) Portuges (2020)
Tinca tinker has opened a can of worms here - some of these posts have more content (and are better researched) than my Phd thesis. Others would merit the TLDR response elsewhere. Those of us who are of an age which implies we are not digital natives do have a tendency to give an essay response to a multi-choice question.

We who have even a passing interest in the Irish Catholic tradition would, when faced with this question, fall back on the elegant expression of faith of the late Father James (Jack) Hackett, former mentor and spiritual guide to Fathers Edward Crilley (sadly deceased) and Dougal Maguire.

On this subject - as on so many others - he wisely and definitively opined ‘that would be an ecumenical matter’.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
And then there is this very cool map, which shows the even older roads.
A bunch of proto-caminos jump out when you zoom in on Spain.
And yes, @Kathar1na - there is much of what is now the Frances.
But also the VdlP, much of the Invierno, and bits and pieces of a bunch of modern caminos.
There is nothing new under the sun.
And yes...there is the way over the pass from what is now SJ le Vieux - but also the route followed by the Baztanes (and no complete road over the Col de Somport.down to Oloron - so, so much for the vintage of that route).
 
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Derrybiketours

A journey of 500 miles begins with one step!
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SANT-FIN (09/2018)
PORTO-SANT (11/2018)
Caminho Da Fe (01/2019)
SJPdP- Meseta (28/09/2019)
Two prisoner's in a cell, one stares at the bars and the other stares at the stars 🤠 Im escaping again and looking forward to my stargazing adventure in a couple of weeks, particularly the Meseta. I'm starting my Camino from the star outside my window and along the way decided to stop at Beilari (Basque word meaning Pilgrim) and intend to secure top bunk next to window so can follow same star and as if by magic the Pilgrim accommodation website shares my astrophilic curiosity...

the star road
In the “Codex Calixtinus”, the pilgrim’s book from the 12th Century (> alongside), the Camino is seen as the earthly replica of the Milky Way. According to the book, Charlemagne one night saw “a road of stars. It started at the Frisian Sea and led (...) to Galicia, where in that time the remains of the holy James rested without anyone knowing.” James himself then gives Charlemagne the task to liberate “my pilgrimage route (...), so that one (..) can visit my grave.”
(Whether this is true or not, Charlemagne never got further than Zaragoza, from where he made his famous retreat via Roncesvalles).

Faith in holy places is of all times. For example, the Camino de Santiago follows an old road to Cabo Fisterra (= the Cape at the End of the World) which had already been used by the Celts. There the sun sets and both the underworld and the world of rebirth begin. According to some, the Celts in their turn followed an old star road, which led back to the lost kingdom of Atlantis.
In the Middle Ages many Christian pilgrims followed this old example, by walking on to Cabo Fisterra after Santiago de Compostela. This old tradition is followed by more and more pilgrims nowadays.

Ignorance is bliss and why let a little truth get in the Way of a good story 🤠
At the pilgrim office in Santiago I met a Spanish volunteer who provided me with an A4 page presenting an illustration of what he described as his theory of the Camino in his 50 years walking it, before, during and for the 40 days after. He asked me to not hand out or share the actual document but the main core message is one than you hear often. That the walk taken as a whole is broken into 3 stages, the body (physical), mind (emotional) and spirit (soul) and its path is aligned with our Milky Way from Ronsevalles to Finisterre hence the universal energy, lay lines and abundance of 'thin place' usually located at top of hills.
So ... if I understand correctly, most of the other caminos in Spain are not aligned with the Milky Way?
The finest view I have ever had of the Milky Way was a few weeks ago in a national park in the Northern Territory in Australia. An astonishing sight which appeared to be directly overhead. Who knew that I was on the precise line of the Camino Frances? ;)
I learnt only very recently that up to about the time of Galileo people didn't know that the Milky Way consists of stars. So if Charlemagne was shown a path of stars by Saint James in 800 and something, it cannot have been the Milky Way, can it?
Not my words but as I said why let the truth get in the way.... although after walking Francè I walked back from Porto and didn't have same effect on me. Isn't the pyramids aligned with our constellation, maybe it's something similar with that particular route, 'I know nothing..
Hmm, I travelled in the Northern Territory recently too, and agree that the Milky Way is a magnificent sight. I fear, though, that if you had tried to use it to lead you to Santiago, you would have discovered why so many early European explorers perished in the Australian outback. I think we would prefer to have you here alive and kicking than looking for your body in the wilds of the Kimberley or Pilbara
Tonight when I look for the Milky Way, being in the US, should I follow it to Santiago going west or east... oh, wait, either way, I fall into an ocean since I can't swim!
The Milky Way is called milky way or similar in other languages because people didn't know and couldn't see that it consists of stars. So their explanation was that it's milk or dust or footprints of souls etc etc.

It did get connected with Saint James but I think again mainly in connection with souls and dying at first, something we don't want to hear so much about in our times. Legend says that Saint James showed a path of stars to Charlemagne, and many people including scholars assume it was the Milky Way because they know little about the history of astronomy. Or even astronomy. 🙃
It was a real eye opener when I read about the account of the attack on Charlemagne's soldiers and officers during their return journey from Spain, written by a person who lived then and was close to him. Roland and Roncesvalles? One single line ... A path of stars in the sky?
I lived on the Sahara Desert for 2 years and the Milky Way was aligned right over my village.
That’s odd, it’s over this part of the world too 🤣 . I stared at it every night lying in my sleeping bag while hiking the Fish River Canyon in Namibia.

 
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Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
In the “Codex Calixtinus”, the pilgrim’s book from the 12th Century (> alongside), the Camino is seen as the earthly replica of the Milky Way. According to the book, Charlemagne one night saw “a road of stars.
You see, this - "seen as the earthly replica of the Milky Way"- is where the Albergue Belairi in SJPP errs 😇. They copied it from a lousy source that copied it from a lousy source etc etc. They didn't read the book themselves.

The original book speaks of a vision - three visions actually, night after night - of a viam stellatam and a viam stellarum. A starry way, a way of stars, and not the Milky Way which even the most educated people of the time when the book was written did not regard as consisting of stars. The original represents these visions more like a dream or like a natural phenomenon, ie some stars aligned during these nights in the sky.

Of course all this doesn't matter much to most people. It's trivial. But when I see stuff like this from people it makes me very suspicious about the rest of what they say, the ley lines, the pilgrimage road walked by druids from Stonehenge to Finisterre, the whole sun stuff ... all this from a time where we don't even have written testimony! But I know how much they like to belief in it. 😌

Sometimes I feel like asking them whether they have ever watched the night sky themselves and tried to replicate that mapping procedure ...
 
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Derrybiketours

A journey of 500 miles begins with one step!
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP-SANT-FIN (09/2018)
PORTO-SANT (11/2018)
Caminho Da Fe (01/2019)
SJPdP- Meseta (28/09/2019)
But when I see stuff like this from people it makes me very suspicious about the rest of what they say, the ley lines, the pilgrimage road used by druids from Stonehenge to Finisterre, the whole sun stuff ... all this from a time where we don't even have written testimony!
On this subject - as on so many others - he wisely and definitively opined ‘that would be an ecumenical matter’.
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
I wish to express my gratitude to every member who has contributed to this discussion. I am, as ever, impressed by the depth and breadth of knowledge held and shared by members and by the passion and humour often expressed.

I feel that my question has been answered as completely as it ever could be. There are deep historic routes across France that converge on a few potential routes across the Pyrenees, St Jean included. St Jean has become a point of focus for the modern Camino Frances because of its accessibility both on foot and by various forms of public transport; because it has been mentioned or even featured in various guidebooks and other literature; because the internet we all rely on so much will lead you there moreoften than anywhere else. Even dear Gronze starts the Frances in France.

I have also been reminded that "most" Pilgrims do not start their Camino in St Jean, not even most of those setting out to walk "The French Way" so it was a sub-set of a sub-set that aroused my curiosity.

I'm taking a break from the Forum. I'll be spending a few days on the Piddle. Not another English colloquialism but a Camino of ancient ridge-ways, Fransicans, Benedictines and not very enigmatic chalk-cut-figures, hill-forts and some of the roots of British trades-unionism.

Blessings upon you all ;)
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Members will be aware that I am neither a contrarian nor a provocateur but that I do like, now and again, to ask questions a little beyond which is the best bar to discuss the best sleeping bag in.

So, as I viewed a thread started by a new member who is flying into Madrid and probably training it to Pamplona asking how to get from there to a small provincial French town in the western foothills of the Pyrenees, I wondered, again, why do people think that the Camino starts in St Jean pied de Porte?

Our new member could start walking to the shrine of Santiago from Pamplona, as many do. They could, if they were determined to travel away from Santiago before walking to Santiago, have made their way to historic Roncesvalles. They could, if they wanted to, head for Somport or Irun or even Barcelona but everyone wants to get to StJpdP and then leave it the following morning via a potentially crippling walk up and over a thumping great hill for no other reason that I can discern than "that its there" (Mallory, I forgive you) or because that is where their guide book starts.

With all due respects to @Monasp and the good folk of the Bureau des pèlerins de Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port. Why?
Personally, I agree with you. The Camino can start anywhere. If one is talking the Camino Frances, the four routes join near Puente la Reina. If one wants to describe the Camino Frances as the union of the three French routes that are not the Aragones, then it would start at Ostabat, about 20 km before SJPP. Otherwise, what route is that 20 km on? And, of course, the half way marker on the Camino Frances just before Sahagun marks half way from Roncesvalles, indicating that as the starting point of the Camino. None of these places is SJPP.

All that said, most pilgrims nowadays seem to see SJPP as the starting place. That's because the guide books and movies tell them it is. Which just pushes the question back. Why do the guide books say so? I think because it is the nearest town with good transit connections and a fair amount of accommodations to Ostabat, which, due to its smaller size, isn't seen as quite so suitable a starting point. When I look at my guidebook from the 1980s by Don Elias, one of the first modern guidebooks, although his map starts at Ostabat, his descriptions of locations starts at SJPP. Other guidebooks may have taken their cues from him.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I wish to express my gratitude to every member who has contributed to this discussion.
@Tincatinker, we have to express our gratitude to you for inviting us to this open discussion. Somewhat unexpectedly, it was very entertaining and turned into a bit of a treasure trove. I see some things clearer than ever before and that gives me always a good feeling. And you gave us even a little puzzle as a bonus. The Tolpuddle Martyrs, right? I had never heard of them before nor of the river but then everywhere west of Salisbury is terra incognita for me.

I wasn't planning to post any more in this thread as your message was a perfect ending but since @David Tallan has thwarted this plan - thank you, David 😊 - I will add a video I had never seen before. A time-lapse view of the sky during the course of a single night, featuring the Milky Way and some observatories in Chile .... it takes only 45 seconds to watch. This should be made compulsory viewing in SJPP. 💫 😇

 
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Yctoo

Pilgrim
Camino(s) past & future
Camino ingles (2018)
Love this thread and all the opinions. I walked “my” Camino when I left home in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and flew to London, and onto Santiago. I chose the Camino Ingles not because it was short, or complete or quiet but to honour my British forebears wh o would have come to Coruna or Ferrell and then walked. I was so aware that I was walking in their footsteps and they accompanied me to Santiago and are with me now at home. No I didn’t walk theCamino Frances but my choice was personal, subjective and right for me. Trying to discern now what path is next for me
Buen Camino, bom caminho, good paths to all
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Where does Somport fit as a starting point in the history of the Frances?
According to Valina in his 1984 guide it was the preferred route for pilgrims travelling from Arles, Saint-Gilles, Montpellier and Toulouse. They would then merge with pilgrims from Roncesvalles at Puente la Reina.

1568582501360.png
 

Tincatinker

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Lots ;0)
Where does Somport fit as a starting point in the history of the Frances?
I think its touched on in the thread Dave. The more easterly route from Arles, possibly taken by Pilgrims from southern & eastern Europe(?) via Pau & Oloron & evolving into the Aragones..

Edit: Bradypus got there while I was typing. And that really is my last for a bit. Buen caminos amigos.
 

davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I think its touched on in the thread Dave. The more easterly route from Arles, possibly taken by Pilgrims from southern & eastern Europe(?) via Pau & Oloron & evolving into the Aragones..

Edit: Bradypus got there while I was typing. And that really is my last for a bit. Buen caminos amigos.
You are correct, it was covered a bit. I just did not read clearly if this route predates or antedates the more northern crossing through the Pyrenees via SJPdP through. Somewhere I developed the notion that Somport access was the older of the two. :)
 

Bradypus

Antediluvian
Camino(s) past & future
Too many and too often!
Somewhere I developed the notion that Somport access was the older of the two.
The Wikipedia article on Somport points out that there was a Roman road over the pass so it would have been a fairly early route in any case. The article also suggests that Somport may have been preferred over the SJPDP-Roncesvalles crossing to avoid Basque and Navarran bandits who were not suppressed until the 12th century. No evidence cited to support that idea though.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
If you zoom in on the map of Roman roads that I posted (up there somewhere in this thread), it's pretty clear that the route through where Roncesvalles is now was already an established route then - but not the more easterly route through Somport. There were smaller ways that went up there from both sides, but no road over the pass (at least if that map is to be believed, and there is no reason to doubt it, given the source. I'd trust it more than Wikipedia...).
Thank you for this thread @Tincatinker , and happy walking!
I really appreciate everyone's contributions too. That YouTube link is gorgeous, @Kathar1na!

Edit: it's here:
And then there is this very cool map, which shows the even older roads.
Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire A bunch of proto-caminos jump out when you zoom in on Spain.
There's a lot of detail there; it's quite an amazing resource.
 

David Tallan

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
Where does Somport fit as a starting point in the history of the Frances?
I went and looked at some of my older guidebooks to see. I have three from the 80s. We have already discussed Don Elias' guidebook and how it starts with Somport and the route from there before proceeding to the other route and SJPP.

I have two other books from the 80s. One is the English edition of a guide by Eusebio Goicoechea Arrondo. The version I have is the fourth edition from 1988. It starts its discussion of the French Route with the Navarre Route starting in Ostabat. After Pamplona it loops back to the Tolosana route which it picks up in Somport.

The other book I have from the 80s is the English translation of a French book by George's Bernés published by Robertson McCarta. It starts in SJPP and leaves the Camino Aragonés to an appendix. It doesn't go into much detail but it does list stages starting in Somport.

Of course, we can go back to the first guidebook, the Codex Calixtinus. Book 5 is the guidebook. It starts with chapter one which discusses the four major routes. Chapter two is where he starts breaking it down into days' journeys. This chapter begins (in the English translation of the Melczer edition): "From the Somport to Puente la Reina there are three short days' journeys...", which gives primacy to Somport as the place from which to detail journeys and, incidentally, leads me to believe he is expecting his readers will be riding rather than walking. For what it is worth, he starts detailing the other route from Saint Michel, a village near SJPP, rather than from SJPP or from Ostabat. SJPP is not mentioned.

That's as much as I know of the history of Somport as a starting point, at least as far as guidebooks go.
 
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davebugg

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2017)
Camino Frances (2018)
Camino Ingles (2019)
I went and looked at some of my older guidebooks to see. I have three from the 80s. We have already discussed Don Elias' guidebook and how it starts with Somport and the route from there before proceeding to the other route and SJPP.

I have two other books from the 80s. One is the English edition of a guide by Eusebio Goicoechea Arrondo. The version I have is the fourth edition from 1988. It starts its discussion of the French Route with the Navarre Route starting in Ostabat. After Pamplona it loops back to the Tolosana route which it picks up in Somport.

The other book I have from the 80s is the English translation of a French book by George's Bernés published by Robertson McCarta. It starts in SJPP and leaves the Camino Aragonés to an appendix. It doesn't go into much detail but it does list stages starting in Somport.

Of course, we can go back to the first guidebook, the Codex Calixtinus. Book 5 is the guidebook. It starts with chapter one which discusses the four major routes. Chapter two is where he starts breaking it down into days' journeys. This chapter begins (in the English translation of the Melczer edition): "From the Somport to Puente la Reina there are three short days' journeys...", which gives primacy to Somport as the place from which to detail journeys and, incidentally, leads me to believe he is expecting his readers will be riding rather than walking. Incidentally, he starts detailing the other route from Saint Michel, a village near SJPP, rather than from SJPP or from Ostabat.

That's as much as I know of the history of Somport as a starting point, at least as far as guidebooks go.
Thank you, David.
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
If you zoom in on the map of Roman roads that I posted (up there somewhere in this thread), it's pretty clear that the route through where Roncesvalles is now was already an established route then - but not the more easterly route through Somport. There were smaller ways that went up there from both sides, but no road over the pass (at least if that map is to be believed, and there is no reason to doubt it, given the source. I'd trust it more than Wikipedia...).
Thank you for this thread @Tincatinker , and happy walking!
I really appreciate everyone's contributions too. That YouTube link is gorgeous, @Kathar1na!

Edit: it's here:

There's a lot of detail there; it's quite an amazing resource.
I think if you look again you'll see that the lines don't connect to St Jean le Veaux and Roncesvalles either. What that means...no idea. But they do also call out the Col du Somport pass as being used from 300-640. This is really a great map; I've been immersed for a few hours!
 

NorthernLight

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Le Puy to Santiago via the Frances 2012-2013. EPW2015
Aragonese & Frances 2016
Burgos to Muxia 2017
Summus Portus as an old Roman route would likely have been used when it was convenient for the Romans and those who came later. Surely any replacement troops or supply shipments coming from Rome would have sometimes followed the Arles/Aragon route, and sometimes the route along the Mediterranean Sea by Girona.

Perhaps sometimes they paid the Basques to let them through their area of woods and mountains, but that may have been risky.

I wouldn't assume that there was only ever one route used. There are other ways over the mountains, although those perhaps weren't so suitable for an army. I do think the Somport route would be as doable as Valcarlos.
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
Of other interest to me is farther to the east, the pass(es?) through Huesca. Have these passes ever had any historical significance for the migration of pilgrims? Looking at the rich history near St Bertrand de Comminges with multiple mines and temples between it and the routes leading into the Pyrenees makes me wonder.

Of particular interest to me is the migration of Vitis vinifera (European/Mediterranean grape vines). Varieties such as Carignane (Cariñena, Mazuelo in Rioja), Grenache (Garnacha, Garnatxa) and Mourvedre (Monastrell) and a few other more obscure varietal are most famous in the Rhone they are Spanish varieties. While Mourvedre, from what I remember is a variety that appeared from a near Valencia (Murviedro) the others are from Aragon. Varieties that have been discussed as potentially arriving from the have been our friends Albariño and Mencia. But some recent genetic testing has left these as potentially autochthonous.

While it would seem that Huesca may not have been the route for the migration it is curious.
 

Kathar1na

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago and beyond (own way - voie de Tours - camino francés - Biskaya - Manche)
I think if you look again you'll see that the lines don't connect to St Jean le Veaux and Roncesvalles either. What that means...no idea. But they do also call out the Col du Somport pass as being used from 300-640. This is really a great map; I've been immersed for a few hours!
The lines on this map are often only an approximation. You may have noted that both the Somport pass and the Roncesvalles pass are called Summus Pyreneus on this interactive map. That's because there is no unanimity about where this Summus Pyreneus actually was. There is a belief that the name Somport is derived from Summus Pyreneus but it's not certain. There is no unanimity about where exactly the Summus Pyreneus of the ancient Roman road exactly was that connected Astorga and Bordeaux and ran through Pamplona and Roncesvalles.

Edited for correction
 
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Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
The lines on this map are often only an approximation. You may have noted that both the Somport pass and the Roncesvalles pass are called Summus Pyreneus on this interactive map. That's because there is no unanimity about where this Summus Pyreneus actually was. There is a belief that the name Somport is derived from Summus Pyreneus but it's not certain.
Yes. I've noticed they do give a degree of accuracy on the landmarks. Most seem to be relatively accurate to under 100m others to about 2000.

Edit: and interesting to note according to the Digital Atlas of the Roman Empire site there are 2 Summus Pyreneus sites: one for Puerto de Ibañeta/Roncesvalles and the other to the west of Somport, Puerto del Palo/Col de Pau.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
I think if you look again you'll see that the lines don't connect to St Jean le Veaux and Roncesvalles either.
I may be wrong, but took the name directly from the map; when you click on the little triangles a page pops up telling you the modern place name and details of what the place was then (town. fort, etc.). I think @Kathar1ina is right - the lines themselves are probably approximations.
Of particular interest to me is the migration of Vitis vinifera (European/Mediterranean grape vines). Varieties such as Carignane (Cariñena, Mazuelo in Rioja), Grenache (Garnacha, Garnatxa) and Mourvedre (Monastrell) and a few other more obscure varietal are most famous in the Rhone they are Spanish varieties. While Mourvedre, from what I remember is a variety that appeared from a near Valencia (Murviedro) the others are from Aragon. Varieties that have been discussed as potentially arriving from the have been our friends Albariño and Mencia. But some recent genetic testing has left these as potentially autochthonous.
Oh, this is so interesting @Darby67 , thank you . I was wondering about vines and roads when I was walking the Invierno this summer, as the terraces along the Mino and Sil valleys date back to Roman times. But I assumed the vines in Spain all came with them, rather than being indigenous. Maybe not?
Sorry everyone, a bit off topic, but interesting.
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
@VNwalking, yes I was just admiring the segue.

Grape vines are historically planted from cuttings which yields the same DNA as the mother vine: clones. But as time has marched on, some vines do grow from seed. This would yield an entirely new variety. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of these varietals which came about when Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc got busy. So perhaps Mencia and Albariño are related from cuttings brought from the north, I don't recall if the literature dismissed that or not.

The Roman terraces in the Priorato are spectacular if you ever should ever be near Tarragona. I've yet to wander down to the Mini or Sil...on my list!
 

tomnorth

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances: September 24 - October 31 (2015)
I agree that the Camino Frances does not have to start in SJPDP for everyone, but for me, it will.
 

Darby67

Enólogo caminando
Camino(s) past & future
2018 CF Jan-Feb
2019 CF Jan-Mar
I may be wrong, but took the name directly from the map; when you click on the little triangles a page pops up telling you the modern place name and details of what the place was then (town. fort, etc.). I think @Kathar1ina is right - the lines themselves are probably approximations.
I certainly don't assume that I am correct. Without clarification why some of the red route lines disappear when it seems to me relatively clear that they shouldn't, is a rompecabeza. What the accuracy of the routes is in comparison to what they state for particular landmarks isn't stated as far as I have seen. Is it a function of really not having an idea or is there another reason?

There is a belief that the name Somport is derived from Summus Pyreneus but it's not certain.
Summus in latin according to google translate is high, which I interpret as also meaning or pertaining to summit. I'll be honest that language has always been a challenge to me and I learned more about my own language when I was 'forced' to learn Spanish. So Somport would be a conjunction of Puerto/port in someway. Thank you for another clarification!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
@VNwalking, yes I was just admiring the segue.

Grape vines are historically planted from cuttings which yields the same DNA as the mother vine: clones. But as time has marched on, some vines do grow from seed. This would yield an entirely new variety. Cabernet Sauvignon is one of these varietals which came about when Cabernet franc and Sauvignon blanc got busy. So perhaps Mencia and Albariño are related from cuttings brought from the north, I don't recall if the literature dismissed that or not.

The Roman terraces in the Priorato are spectacular if you ever should ever be near Tarragona. I've yet to wander down to the Mini or Sil...on my list!
From a catamaran on the Ribeira Sacra. Zoom in to see the incredible patches of vines.
18ED83EC-73B3-45C7-B08B-8BBFA9E57768.jpeg 0A6D2D19-CE0C-413F-9744-CB24A8FC931C.jpeg DB571B36-2F70-4A08-9E8A-0AFA70D8B6AE.jpeg 9388FB28-8140-4AB0-963F-D9F61AB5ACD7.jpeg B63A2623-7534-440D-8B72-CF35779146E3.jpeg
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances(2006) Portugues(2013)
San Salvador (2017) Ingles (2019)
And then there is this very cool map, which shows the even older roads.
A bunch of proto-caminos jump out when you zoom in on Spain.
And yes, @Kathar1na - there is much of what is now the Frances.
But also the VdlP, much of the Invierno, and bits and pieces of a bunch of modern caminos.
There is nothing new under the sun.
And yes...there is the way over the pass from what is now SJ le Vieux - but also the route followed by the Baztanes (and no complete road over the Col de Somport.down to Oloron - so, so much for the vintage of that route).
And when you zoom in on Caledonia, you see my town - Kirkintilloch - on the Antonine Wall. The West Highland Way runs north from Milngavie, close by.
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
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Where does Somport fit as a starting point in the history of the Frances?
As part of the Arles route like people have been saying, but also of the Piémont Way (especially since the Andorra Way has become heavily tarmacked on the French side, so that some people starting as far south as near Béziers or going through there can end up their French sections at Oloron > Somport if they want ; the German semi-bike semi-foot pilgrim I met this year in Béziers, really nice guy, was doing that having started in Germany via both Le Puy and Arles)

Historically anyway, the principal Ways across the mountains are the two coastal routes, Mediterranean and Atlantic, then the Perthus (by FAR the easiest crossing but there's almost ZERO Camino infrastructure on that route), Bourg-Madame to Puigcerdà (another easy crossing in itself as it's a nice walk between two border towns, but it's a fairly long albeit rather beautiful way to get up there, so more days with French prices to pay, then a bit of a lonely road down, but there are some hiker infrastructures up there on the French side anyway), Andorra (should still be a good choice of crossing for cyclists, or a good place to start your Camino if you don't mind roughly the same lonely hike down to Ballaguer or Lleida as from Puigcerdà), then the Somport and SJPP. There are quite a few other far more minor places to cross, too numerous to detail at 3 AM.

Plus a bewildering number of variants of those principal routes ...
 

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