Santiago´s Route attracted numerous pilgrims until the middle of the 16th century. Over the 17th centuruy, people began to forget about the Apostle and the number of pilgrims to Compostela fell dramatically.
This tendency continued the following centuries; in the 19th century only 30 or 40 pilgrims, mostly Portuguese, arrived every day. As a consequence of the small number of pilgrims, the pathways were virtually abandoned.
This trend finished in the mid-1950´s, thanks to the efforts made by Father Elías Valiña, priest of the Parish Church of Cebreiro, in Lugo Province.
He promoted the restoration of the Hospital and of the Sanctuary of Santa María de Cebreiro, and restored the traditional welcome made to pilgrims.
Later, in the 70´s, Father Valiña, along with other admirers of the pilgrimage tradition, begun to mark the route with yellow arrows, from the Pyrenees to Santiago. When he finished this arduous task,
he published the first Pilgrim Guide of Santiago in the 80´s. The Association of Friends of Santiago Route of Estella, Navarra, also helped to rehabilitate the route, by studying and preserving it since the 1960´s.
The pilgrimage was recommenced in the 1980´s, but it was in 1993 that the Holy Year, the Xacobeo,was celebrated in style throughout Spain to commemorate the pilgrimage that represents the return to the Spanish and European roots. The UNESCO declared the way World Heritage in 1993, which also contributed to its restoration. But this was not the last commemoration of Santiago Pilgrimage. The year 1999 was the culmination of Xacobeo´99, a plan to improve infrastructures, restore most of the forgotten Galician art heritage, and to rehabilitate the Galician paths that lead to Santiago.