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5 tips to prepare for 2021: Holy Year in Santiago de Compostela

Fecha: 2019-03-12

It may feel still far away, but in 2021 it is again a Holy Year in Santiago de Compostela.

It may feel still far away, but in 2021 it is again a Holy Year in Santiago de Compostela. During the previous Holy Years many pilgrims traveled to Santiago. In the last Holy Year in 2016, no fewer than 278.041 pilgrims arrived in Santiago and in the Holy Year of 2010 272.417.

What does Holy Year mean?

Santiago de Compostela celebrates Holy Year (Año Jacobeo) every time July 25 falls on a Sunday. That is because July 25 is the name day of St. Jacob, his death and birth in heaven are at that day commemorated. For many pilgrims, Sint Jacob is better known by his Spanish name: San Tiago. Want to read more about Sint Jacob?

The rhythm in which the holy years in Santiago succeed each other is: eleven, five, six, eleven and so on. The previous holy year was 2010. The following will be 2027 and 2032. For the first time in history since about 800 years this was deviated from. The pope also named 2016 as Holy Year.

Back to how it started

The first stories about the legendary Camino de Santiago go back to the 8th century. The Camino de Santiago, also known as the St. James' route, distinguishes itself as one of the most important Christian pilgrimages in history. In the past 1000 years many pilgrims traveled to Santiago de Compostela (more about the history of the Camino, you can find here. In Santiago they started with the celebration of a Holy Year around 1426.

What is so special about a Holy Year?

In a century there will be 14 Holy Years. So that's special! But why is it special to walk or cycle the Camino in a Holy Year? Well, the immense cathedral of Santiago (the final destination of many caminos) has many doors, but one of them is very special. That is the "Puerta del Perdón" at the Plaza Quintana. It is always closed, except in a Holy Year. In a Holy Year, a pilgrim can earn a full indulgence when he goes inside through the holy door. According to the teachings of the Catholic Church, there is still a temporary debt after confession and penance, to be paid in purgatory. A full or jubilee abstention gives the believer remission of all temporary penalties, provided that the pilgrim confessed and received the communion.

What do you have to take into account if you want to walk a Camino in 2021?

Because the Holy Year is special, many pilgrims are planning to walk or bike to Santiago in this year. Keep in mind that it can be busy! Especially on the last 100 kilometers to Santiago, from Sarria or Tui. We list our tips for you:

1. If you are already planning to walk or bike a Camino in 2021, it is wise to book your accommodations as soon as possible. We can help you with this already! It is not yet possible to book the flights, that is only possible one year before departure. Let us know which Camino you want to walk and receive a free quote. 

2. July 25 is the name day of Saint Jacob. For many pilgrims it is special to arrive in Santiago on that day. A special moment! We expect a very busy day in Santiago and that means that the prices of the accommodations on that day are very high. Do you think that's not a problem? Then plan your Camino so that you arrive on July 25. Do you want to avoid this? Then you can arrive at any desired day in Santiago.

3. Do you want to avoid the crowds in July and like to arrive in Santiago? Then the months of March, April and October are perfect for walking or cycling a Camino. The weather conditions are also excellent!

4. Many pilgrims walk or cycle in 2021 the famous pilgrim routes, such as the Camino Frances, Camino del Norte or Camino Portugues. You can choose to walk a lesser-known Camino. For example, think of:

  • Camino Primitivo: this Camino is also called the 'original route', because it was the first route to Santiago. When you walk this Camino, it becomes clear why this route is becoming increasingly popular. It is one of the most challenging routes, but also one with the most breathtaking views. Click here for more information
  • Camino Lebaniego: this Camino starts in Santander. The first three days you follow the Camino del Norte and then you enter the mountains from the Picos de Europa National Park. The monastery of Santo Toribio he terminus of final destination of this Camino, also opens a special gate during a Holy Year. Want to know more about this special Camino
  • Camino Inglés: This English Route was originally a path for British and pilgrims who arrived in Spain from Northern Europe by boat. A magnificent and classic pilgrimage full of history 

5. Our last tip: walk or cycle other parts of a Camino where you do not arrive in Santiago. For some pilgrims it is precisely the goal, arriving in Santiago. Understandable! But in a Holy Year you can consider to walk or bike a part of a Camino to avoid the crowds in Santiago. For example:

  • A piece of the Camino Frances from Sant Jean Pied de Port to Logroño. This route has everything: authentic atmosphere, picturesque villages and beautiful nature in Spain's best gastronomic regions. This part of the Camino de Santiago is very varied and absolutely commendable
  • The first part of the Camino del Norte. This is a little bit difficult, but so authentic and beautiful along the north coast of Spain. This famous coastline has beautiful beaches with cliffs, great restaurants, idyllic fishing villages and fantastic cities
  • Another idea is to start your camino in Santiago. Yes, why not? The Camino de Finisterre is the only route that does not end in the Galician capital, but starts there. Burn your clothes and your walking shoes at the "end of the world" while the sun disappears into the Atlantic Ocean. A memory that you take home and carry with you all your life! 

Of course it is also possible for cyclists to compose a route without arriving in Santiago. Contact us for more information.

With these tips you are ready for a new Holy Year in Santiago. Do you have questions or do you want a tailor-made advice, please feel free to contact us

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