In the footsteps of Santiago’s Pilgrims
“And with the pilgrimages came tourism, cultural tourism, surrounding the whole phenomenon of the recovery of the old medieval environments”.
Goethe said Europe was formed through the Route of Santiago. Still, the Route suffered centuries of neglect. It was a real challenge for us to recover those old traces. It was not easy. Apart from the historical research and field work we had to do, we found an almost universal skepticism. How could a medieval pilgrimage from ancient times be recovered at the dawn of the 21st century, how could we recover the road towards a distant grave in the west through hundreds of villages like Olveiroa? How are you going to bring the people of the 21st century to old forgotten routes and villages like this, people would ask us.
In 2010, the Hole Year of Compostela, over 272,000 pilgrims came to Santiago de Compostela to do a traditional pilgrimage, ‘traditional’ meaning covering the trail on foot, horseback or bicycle. The road is a space of freedom, solidarity, adventure seeking, spirituality and a way to go. Many of them covered hundreds of kilometers, others thousands.
In the future, I hope these old stones, this old passage of pilgrims, will be kept up for our children and grandchildren. I hope it will benefit all of these villages not only culturally and personally, but also in their social and economic development. They deserve to be reinstated in the modern era.
The Route of Santiago certainly changes the lives of all who work on it. At this point, it would be difficult for me to imagine a life without this work, without this commitment.
José Antonio de la Riera, Spain