The walking pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia, Spain, is an ancient Catholic practice whose origins go back to the ninth century CE, the Spanish struggle against the Moors, and the political need for a national building project. According to legend, the destination is believed to be the final resting place of the Apostle James.

For this long journey, the bodily and emotional experience is central. The Spanish road El Camino Francés is presently the most frequented itinerary, lasting about 800 km and undergoing a noteworthy revival since the late 1980s. Four much longer pilgrimage roads also cross Europe, going to Compostela.

The participants certified by the Oficina de Sociología de Santiago de Compostela, the official statistical source, were about 100 in 1984; since then the ...

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