Improving the walkability of the Camino

Authored by: Xosé Somoza-Medina , Rubén Camilo Lois González

The Routledge International Handbook of Walking

Print publication date:  August  2017
Online publication date:  July  2017

Print ISBN: 9781138195349
eBook ISBN: 9781315638461
Adobe ISBN:


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The last few years of the 20th century witnessed the return of pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela. An ancient medieval Christian route used by contemporary men and women who wanted to walk to this historical Galician city, a World Heritage site, with motivations as diverse as those that move the complex contemporary society to which we belong (Roseman 2004; Lois-González 2013; Greenia 2014). For some, the Camino remains essentially a religious route, but for most, spiritual motivations (with the multiple interpretations that this expression may include), the landscape, heritage or the simple desire to return to slow mobility constitute the fundamental drive to go to Santiago (Maddrell 2013; Santos-Solla and Pena-Cabrera 2014). As highlighted in several recent works, walking over several days (at least four, as the genuine pilgrim must walk at least 100 kilometres), is linked to several aspects of contemporary culture; the notion that continued exercise is a healthy practice that allows you to interact with others (the idea of communitas); to contemplate the scenery in all its dimensions at a slow pace; and to reconnect with your own self (the goal of having enough time to think, to feel, which often leads to liminal practices) (Frey 1998; Coleman and Eade 2004; Lois-González et al. 2015). It is about returning, at least for a short while, to the time of our grandparents, when the world was perceived at a speed of six, ten or, at most, 40 kilometres per hour.

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