Saturday, March 5, 2016

The Who, What, Where, Why and How of the Camino de Santiago in 2015

In June 2015,  Jay and I checked off the Camino from our (short) bucket list.  We walked a
portion of the Camino Frances together with our friends, the Amigos de Santiago.  
Since that time, I have tried to keep up with Camino news and continue to be interested in what's happening along the way.  Who knows, we may just do the Camino again.

A very good source of information on the Camino is the official website of the Pilgrims' Office in Santiago de Compostela .   The photo above shows their old office in 2015,  they have since moved to a much bigger and better space. 
The Pilgrims' Office regularly releases statistics about the Camino through their website at 
The figures stated below are taken from their 2015 annual report. 
And because we did our Camino in 2015,  the Amigos de Santiago are part of the official statistics. 
I hope that after reading this post, you'll be encouraged to walk the way of St. James. 

1. How many pilgrims walked the Camino in 2015

According to the website  262,459 pilgrims walked the Camino de Santiago in 2015.  This is 
up from the 2014 figures of 237,886.   It's nice to see pilgrim numbers growing.  Of this total,
236, 716 or 90% did the Camino the old fashioned way -- they walked.

Bicigrinos or bicycle riding pilgrims numbered 25, 346 or just 9%.  

2.  The Gender Split

Women were slightly outnumbered by men on the Camino in 2015 --  123,530 women versus  138,929 men (47% versus 53%).

3. Age doesn't matter on the Camino

Our little group of peregrinos spanned the age ranges tracked by statistics.  While we did not have any one below 30,  the Amigos were in their 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s.  
Pilgrims in the below 30 age range numbered 74,691 or 29%.  
Pilgrims from 30 to 60 comprised the largest group at 144,031 or 55%.  
And just to show that age shouldn't deter you from doing the Camino, the 60+ age group numbered 43,737 or 16% of the total number.   I saw many senior citizens walking the Camino, as a matter of fact, most of them walked much faster than me!
I would say that the Amigos hewed to the demographic split as most of us were also in the 30 to 60 age group.

4. Top Three Pilgrim Groups

As can be expected, 122,387 or 47% of the pilgrims came from Spain.  
Next are the Italians - 22,148 or 16% followed by the Germans at 18,869 or 13%.
The Americans are in fourth place with 13,669 pilgrims.  

While we did meet Filipinos and other Asians along the way -- like this Japanese couple who had done the Camino twice -- Asians are not on the top 10 list of pilgrims as of 2015. 

5. Young people on the Camino

We frequently ran into school groups with student pilgrims walking along the Camino.  
They were often noisy and full of energy (as young people normally are), but it was gratifying 
to see so many teen-agers doing a centuries old pilgrimage.   
Statistics show that 50,479 or 19% of total pilgrims in 2015 were students.

6. Point of Origin

Sarria, 112 km from Santiago de Compostela was where 67,406 or 25% of the pilgrims started their Camino from.  Sarria is ideal for those who do not have the time to walk the entire distance of more than 700 kilometres. If you are a strong and fast walker,  you can walk the 112 km in just 4 or 5 days. 
On the other hand, 31,053 pilgrims (12%) who had more time and resources to complete the entire walk started off from the French town of St. Jean Pied-de-Port, across the Pyrenees.
St. Jean Pied-de-Port is the official starting point of the Camino Frances.

As for the Amigos, we walked 130 kilometres from Triacastela to Santiago de Compostela.  
We were part of the 2,213 pilgrims who started from this small Galician village.

7.  The road most travelled 

In 2015 the Amigos, along with 172,206 or 66% of total pilgrims walked along the UNESCO World Heritage route, the Camino Frances.   This was followed by the  Camino Portugues which had 43,137 pilgrims or 16%.  The third most travelled way with 15,826 pilgrims or 6% was the Northern Camino, which passes through San Sebastian, Bilbao and the Basque coastline.  

8.  Reasons for doing the Camino

When I went to get my compostela at the Pilgrims' Office, they asked me (as they do with all peregrinos),   what was my reason for walking the way.  
 Of the total for 2015,  38% or  99,681 cited religious reasons for doing the Camino.

However,  141,969 pilgrims or or 54%  cited religious / cultural reasons for doing the Camino.  If you add that to the figure above,  241,650 or a whopping 92% did attach some spiritual significance to walking the way.

And 20,809 or the remaining 8% cited purely cultural reasons for doing the Camino
Of course, I had my own "cultural" moments every so often,  the Camino after all is about 
the joy and not the suffering of pilgrimage.

9.  Some more facts about the walk 

When you do the Camino, you'll walk on all sorts of surfaces,  from tree lined, leafy paths...

through sunny country back roads ...

over narrow dirt trails  ....

sometimes, even by the national highways. 

And when you get tired from walking -- not to worry, there's always some place quiet
to sit down and rest for a while. 

10. Why 2016 is the year to do your Camino

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela celebrates the Holy Year of Mercy this 2016 and the Holy Door or the Porto Santa has been opened for pilgrims.  It is the perfect time to plan and finally walk the way of St. James. 

This year, stand at the Plaza do Obradoiro after you finish your Camino.  
I assure you it is a life enhancing experience.

NB Thank you to my fellow peregrino and husband Jay, for photos #7 and 19 that I used in this post.

No comments:

Post a Comment