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Pilgrims walking Camino de Santiago broke record in 2023

A man walks the Camino de Santiago in Spain. / Credit: Jorge Luis Ojeda Flota via Unsplash

CNA Staff, Jan 3, 2024 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Pilgrims walking the famous Camino de Santiago have reached a new record. In 2023, nearly half a million people from around the world hiked this historic route.

According to the statistics released by the pilgrims office, 446,035 pilgrims arrived at the Spanish pilgrimage site. Nearly 200,000 of the pilgrims were from Spain, primarily from the southern region of Andalucia. 

In terms of foreigners, pilgrims from the United States ranked highest — with 32,063 — followed by Italians with 28,645 and Germans with 24,342. 

Other countries that ranked high included Portugal, France, the United Kingdom, Mexico, South Korea, Ireland, Australia, and Canada.

The major age groups represented were 18- to 45-year-olds, with 10,181 pilgrims, and there were 10,096 pilgrims between 45 and 65 years old. Women pilgrims also outnumbered males.

Despite the Camino being a traditional Catholic pilgrimage, 23.3% of those who walked the route completed it for nonreligious reasons. 

The Camino de Santiago, also known as “The Way of St. James,” is a 1,000-year-old pilgrimage route through Spain, Portugal, and part of southern France that leads to the Cathedral of Santiago located in the Archdiocese of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain. The cathedral is traditionally held to be the burial place of St. James the Apostle.

After the discovery of the relics of St. James the Great in the ninth century, the Camino became a major pilgrimage site from the 10th century onward. The Camino was officially declared one of the “three greatest pilgrimages of Christendom,” along with Jerusalem and the Via Francigena to Rome, in 1492 after the liberation of Granada under the reign of the Catholic monarchs Ferdinand II of Aragon and Isabella I of Castile. In 1987 it was declared the first Cultural Route of the Council of Europe.

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