A thousand ways, one destination
For many centuries thousands of pilgrims have followed the diverse ways through Europe that joined the French Route in Spain, the official and best-known route. The works of recovery and signposting have extended to these secondary routes, where the yellow arrows and stone signs can also be found.
The most important secondary route is the Cantabrian Route, also called the Coastal Route, the most travelled by until the 10 C, despite its difficulties. It enters Spain across the Bidasoa and continues through Vizcaya and Guipuzcoa. Then it crosses Cantabria and Asturias, and joins the French Route at Melide or Arzúa.
Whereas the Cantabrian Route was the most traversed until the 10 C, the oldest is the Padrón-Santiago way. It was at Padrón that the pilgrimage began when the Apostle´s body was moved to Santiago.
Despite the wide sea that separates Galicia from the British Islands, the Apostle´s miracles also attracted the English. In the Middle Ages they became regular visitors to Compostela. The route they followed is known as the English Route. It begins at La Coruña or Ferrol and proceeds towards the Cathedral.
Portuguese pilgrims have played an important role in the history of the pilgrimage. They showed their devotion to the Apostle from the very beginning. The route enters Spain by Tui, in Pontevedra and passes through O Porriño, Mos, Redondela, Soutomaior, Vilaboa, Pontevedra, Barro, Portas, Caldas de Reis, Valga, Pontecesures and Padrón. At Padrón it joins the oldest route, which was followed by the Saint´s body from Iria Flavia towards Compostela.
Pilgrims from the south of Spain follow the Southwestern Route, also called Vía de la Plata (the Route of Silver). This way, which dates back to the Roman Age, was joined by pilgrims from the west of Andalucía, Extremadura, Salamanca, Zamora and some villages in León. It joins the French Route at Astorga.
The last Route is the Fisterra-Muxía way, which takes pilgrims to Cabo Neiro, Finisterre. Until the discovery of America, Finisterre was considered the end of the world. In the Middle Ages, many pilgrims, moved by curiosity, stopped by this place after visiting the Apostle´s tomb.