Introduction to Pilgrimages
Pilgrimages have played a significant and prominent role in religions across the world for thousands of years. Evidence of Christian pilgrimages to the Holy Land date back to the 4th Century with pilgrim walks first made to sites associated with the Life of Jesus and latterly to those associated with Saints.
In recent years, pilgrim walks have been increasingly popular with people around the world looking for a way of reconnecting with themselves, nature, history, religion or simply enjoying a peaceful and freeing journey across some of the most historic and beautiful scenery in Europe. Monasteries.com has accommodation across Europe, many who offer deals or discounts to visitors undertaking a Pilgrimage.
One of the most famous Pilgrimage journeys is the Camino De Santiago, Spain (the Way of St James) which incorporates a network of walkways across Europe leading to the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain. Most commonly completed on the French Way, there are many routes across Spain that pilgrims can choose from, including Camino Primitivo, Camino del Norte and Via de la Plata. The Camino Portugues runs two routes through Portugal, starting in Lisbon while Camino Ingles allows English Pilgrims to travel by boat across the Bay of Biscay to A Coruna before continuing on foot to Santiago.
Rome is another of Europe’s most prominent pilgrimage sites with one of Europe’s most famous pathways, the Via Francigena, Italy, running from Canterbury Cathedral in southern England, crossing France, Switzerland and Italy before culminating at the iconic St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican City. Via di Francesco honours the sites of famed Saint Francis, running the spine of Italy from Florence through his hometown of Assisi to Rome.
Four French routes converge across the country to be incorporated with the Camino de Santiago into Spain, most notably the Via Podiensis. Other tributary routes include walkways to the iconic Mont du St Michel or into Italy, linking with the Via Francesco or Via Francigena.
There is a network of pilgrim paths across England, Scotland and Wales, most notably the start of the Via Francigena, which begins at Canterbury Cathedral. Pilgrim’s Way traverses the south of the country from Winchester to Canterbury, while North Wales sees Pilgrims walk the coastal path to Bardsey Island. In Scotland, St Cuthbert is honoured with the St Cuthbert’s Way path starting at Melrose Abbey in the Scottish Borders, running to the tidal Holy Island of Lindisfarne, burial place of the Saint, off the coast of Northumberland.