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My Holiday

Record of pilgrims in Santiago in 2019

Fecha: 2019-10-02

According to the predictions in 2019, around 360,000 pilgrims will pick up their compostela. A record. And the double number of 2004.

José Antonio Álvarez, 65 years old and from Spain, walked alone from Leon to Santiago. In the morning of october 1st, as he went to pick his compostela at the pilgrims office, he was fully put in the spotlight! He was pilgrim number 300.000 to recieve the compostela and therefore the pilgrims office celebrated it in a special way. For a few years the pilgrims office has been holding this tradition to make a special celebration for pilgrim number 300.000). Last year the same happened to Manuel Miguel Pozo, however this happened the 16th of october, thus over 2 weeks later than this year which means that more pilgrims have arrived to Santiago so far this year.

Growth over the years

The pilgrim's office closed its doors the 31st December 2018 after delivering 327,378 compostelas. That is an increase of more than 8% compared to the year before. In 2017, over 300,000 pilgrims arrived to Santiago de Compostela:  20.000 more than in 2016. It is, therefore, to be expected that the number of pilgrims in 2018 will again be exceeded this year. According to the predictions in 2019, around 360,000 pilgrims will pick up their compostela: a record number and double as many as in 2004. 

Camino Portugues along the coast is booming

Of the more than 300,000 pilgrims that arrived to Santiago in 2018, 49% were women versus 51% of men. 93% took the pilgrim route on foot, 6% by bicycle, 130 by boat, 318 on horseback and 79 pilgrims in a wheelchair. 55% of the pilgrims were between 30 and 60 years old, 17% were older. The Camino Francés is still the favorite route. Every year the number of pilgrims on this camino grows by 3%. In 2018, the Camino Portugues was the chosen route of 67,822 pilgrims, an increase of 20.72% compared to 2017.

The camino Portugues along the coast is growing rapidly. In 2018, 13,840 pilgrims chose this pilgrimage, while in 2016 there were only 2,600. In the first six months of 2019, there were 8,576 pilgrims on this camino.

You can read here why more and more pilgrims choose this route.

Korea discovers the camino

Most pilgrims come from Italy and Germany. Americans an Koreans are the fastest growing countries. In 2004, 18 Koreans arrived in Santiago increasing this number to 5,665 in 2018. About 2,00 pilgrims from the US arrived in Santiago in 2004 and in 2018 this number elevated to 18,582. 

This year 2019, as said, 360,000 pilgrims will reach their final goal in Santiago. The Santiago Pilgrim's Office expects that, based on these figures and taking into account the Holy Year of 2021, the 300,000th compostela will be awarded in the middle of the summer next year. It is also expected that in the Holy year of 2021, the number of 500,000 pilgrims will also be exceeded. Do you plan to walk or cycle a pilgrim route in 2021? Then we have 5 tips for you. 

The camino gives what you need

The number of pilgrims on the camino keeps growing and growing. On one hand, this worries me. How many pilgrims can Northern Spain handle? Where does it end? Will pilgrims in the future perhaps choose hiking or cycling routes in other countries? These are just a few questions that occasionally pop through my head. On the other hand, I see the Spanish government doing everything to make the pilgrimage to Santiago better and safer with new apps like alercops. Spain is preparing for another Holy Year by placing new signposting and initiating local initiatives along the route. I therefore fully trust that the camino will give all pilgrims who will do a camino in the coming years what they need. Just as I have experienced that myself.

Buen camino!

Annemiek Nefkens
Happy Holiday Manager and camino expert

About the writer
Want to know more about Annemiek, click here

(source: Narua, Roberto Santos and Pilgrims Office Santiago)


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