Basque Country Highlights of the Camino de Santiago

Camino de Santiago Trail
Image: rei.com

Serving the needs of occupational health patients, William D. Jones, MD, maintains an established Oklahoma City, OK, practice. Having traveled extensively, William D. Jones, MD, had the opportunity to traverse the Camino de Santiago this summer. The ancient pilgrimage route stretches from southern France near the Spanish border to the medieval Spanish city of Santiago de Compostela in Galicia.

The beginning point of the trail is located in traditional Basque country, which has a unique cultural character and language that is distinct from both French and Spanish. Highlights of the area include Albaola in Pasai San Pedro, which is the site of a historic shipbuilding center. The working museum currently features artisans crafting a 16th century era whaling ship, employing labor-intensive shipbuilding techniques of the era.

Basque country is also a particularly biodiverse area that harbors the wetlands of Urdaibai, which are set aside as a Biosphere Reserve and provide species, such as spoonbills, urasian bittern, and fish eagles, with a critical habitat on the Iberian Peninsula.

Those in search of the historical roots of the region can explore the Monastery of Zenarruza, which is a thousand year old national monument at the the base of Mount Oiz. This steep stretch of the Camino de Santiago is one of those made up of “original road,” or cobblestones that have settled unevenly over time and are challenging to traverse.

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