In a year marked by hope and renewal, the Santiago de Compostela route has welcomed its 200,000th pilgrim—a record-setting figure that heralds the enduring appeal of this storied pilgrimage. On Sunday 24 July, the Oficina del Peregrino placed the 200 thousandth seal this year. On the cusp of a post-pandemic world, the ancient Camino paths resonate with the footsteps of a diverse tapestry of pilgrims, each drawn by faith, challenge, or the search for meaning. This surge in numbers not only reflects the Camino’s historical significance but also its burgeoning relevance in a world yearning for connection and spiritual depth.
Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route
2022 is the second Holy Year, something that actually took place in 2021 with the ‘Año Xacobeo’ but was spread over two years because of the pandemic. In 2021, 178,912 pilgrims did the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage. This is already more than in the Covid year 2020 with only 54,144 pilgrims
Record-breaking year for Santiago
But 2022 looks set to be a record-breaking year because nine days before the 200,000 pilgrim with an official seal was reached in 2019, it is already a fact this year. All indications are that the record of 347,578 pilgrims in 2019 will be broken in 2022 on the Santiago de Compostela route for pilgrimage.
Well presented countries
Pilgrims from all over the world make their pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela anyway. It is the people from their own country, Spain, who are in the number 1 spot. Its neighbouring country, Portugal is at number 2. But if we look further down the list, we see that there is also a lot of popularity for the Camino de Santiago route from the other side of the world. For example, at number 5 is the United States according to statistics from the Oficina de Atención al Peregrino. 5778 pilgrims have reached the city of Santiago de Compostela in the year 2021 and have therefore received an official seal. This proves that the Camino de Santiago is not only popular among Europeans, but really an experience for everyone from all over the world.
Pilgrimage is more popular than ever
Pilgrimages are a trend again. Europe’s most famous pilgrimage is the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route in Spain. In 1972, only 67 pilgrims were recorded completing the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage path. In 2019, there were 348,000. Other lesser-known pilgrimages such as the Via Francigena from Canterbury to Rome are attracting more visitors, while Japan’s Buddhist Shikoku pilgrimage has also seen similar growth. Millions of Muslims are going on hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia that is one of the five pillars of Islam and something that all Muslims who are physically and financially able should do (the rising trend in numbers can be seen there too). Meanwhile, the Hindu Kumbh Mela in northern India is described as the world’s largest human gathering, attracting some 220 million pilgrims over 50 days in 2019.
Motivation is the key
The Santiago de Compostela route is the most famous pilgrimage in the world. Many pilgrims have been dreaming of it for years. And rightly so, because walking or cycling the Camino to Santiago is an experience for life.
For some, embracing the statue of St James the Apostle in Santiago de Compostela is a form of liberation and the start of a new life. For others, the pilgrimage is a sporting challenge. Regardless of motivation, the pilgrimage route has a lot of meaning for everyone. But only those who have undertaken this challenge can speak about it.
The Camino Calls: A Journey for the Ages
As the Camino de Santiago beckons a record number of pilgrims to its sacred routes, it stands as a testament to the universal quest for purpose that transcends borders and cultures. The surge of walkers from far-flung corners, including the United States, attests to the Camino’s global allure, uniting people from all walks of life in a shared journey of discovery. With each step towards the hallowed shrine of St. James the Apostle, pilgrims find not just a trail of stones and earth, but a path woven with stories of liberation, challenge, and transformation.
Whether you are drawn to the Camino for its historical allure, spiritual significance, or the physical test it offers, the journey promises to be a transformative experience. With numerous routes like the Camino Francés and Camino Portugués, or the extension to Finisterre and Muxía, the way is open to all who seek it. If you hear the call of the Camino de Santiago, let WAW.travel guide your steps, helping you to join the ranks of the hundreds of thousands who have walked this pilgrimage path. Embark on this life-affirming route and add your own story to the Camino’s enduring legacy.
Would you also like to walk or cycle the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route?
Would you also like to walk or cycle the Santiago de Compostela pilgrim route? We now have several pilgrim routes to the cathedral. Think about the camino Frances or the camino Portugués. You can also start your camino in Santiago de Compostela and walk to Finisterre and Muxia.
(Source: SpanjeVandaag & Pelgrimsbureau Santiago de Compostella)