The ¡Buen Camino! project invites readers to a virtual (or real) journey along the most famous pilgrimage route in Europe.
Google Arts & Culture has just released a website devoted to the ancient pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which ends in Galicia, Spain.
Whether you would like to take a “virtual pilgrimage” or plan an actual trip, on foot, bike, or wheelchair, the new ¡Buen Camino! project has you covered.
Created in cooperation with the the Regional Government of Galicia, the Regional Government of Aragon, Santiago Cathedral Foundation and the Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Way of Saint James, the project promotes the Camino, in an easy to navigate, beautifully illustrated, and informative way. It ought to make the aforementioned governments and foundations say, “Doh! Why didn’t we think of that?”
Background on the Camino
For those who have heard about the Camino, but are a bit shaky on its origins, the ¡Buen Camino! website offers enough background information to get one’s bearings. Somewhat surprisingly, right off the bat, the guide emphasizes the pilgrimage’s religious history and purpose.
“Around the year 820 CE, the tomb of Saint James the Apostle was discovered in Galicia. This was one of the most important events of the Middle Ages across the whole of Europe. Today, 12 centuries later, scores of pilgrims travel along the Camino for many different reasons,” begins the explanation.
Perhaps the Camino’s status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site gives it enough street cred, for the tech giant Google to dedicate so much internet space to this very Catholic institution.
Dig a little deeper in the site, and there’s real history. Learn about the first visitors to the tomb, whom tradition tells us were the Asturian kings Alfonso II and Alfonso III, bringing the court of Oviedo with them on the journey. The site takes the reader on a historical tour of the Camino over the centuries, illustrated with beautiful photos of important historical and religious sites and artifacts.
Find your route into Galicia
Google Arts & Culture’s site includes photo-illustrated guides to different pilgrimage routes with background information on each one. Click on “The French Way,” for example, and you’ll learn that this is the most famous and historic route. Click on “The Coastal Portuguese Way,” and learn about Galicia’s “best kept secret” — a historic pilgrimage route that features the dramatic beauty of the coast.
The guide includes stunning photos of some of the towns, churches, landmarks and historic buildings pilgrims along each route, along with historical background on them.
And for those who would like to make an actual pilgrimage, the site offers great resources: pro tips for enjoying the Camino, a packing list, and advice on how to travel are included in the guide.
Where to stay
Along the various routes on the Camino are the public albergues, a network of hostels offering a night’s rest to the weary pilgrim. over 70 albergues accommodating more than 3,000 people. The ¡Buen Camino! Guide provides photos and information on some of the more popular albergues.
Bonus Camino content
There seems to be almost no end of Camino content on this site. Meet the people who make their living on the Camino and those who have walked it, hear a Galician bagpipe, and at the end of it all take a quiz on everything you’ve learned.