The History of the Camino De Santiago Trek

Camino de Santiago Trail
Image: rei.com

A self-employed occupational and preventive medicine physician in Oklahoma City, OK, William D. Jones, MD, concurrently serves as secretary/treasurer for the Oklahoma College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. William D. Jones, MD, is planning to complete the famous Camino de Santiago hike in Spain.

Far more than an ordinary hike, the Camino de Santiago began in the Middle Ages as a path worn by pilgrims on their way to the holy city of Santiago de Compostela, the legendary resting place of martyred Christian saint James the Great. The Christians who have completed this trek look forward to a shorter time in purgatory during the afterlife.

Although some continue to walk the Camino de Santiago for this specific reason, far more are on the path for enjoyment and the rich experience it offers. Because Santiago de Compostela originally drew pilgrims from throughout Europe, it ultimately consists of multiple routes. Its principal paths were lost to historians until a couple of decades ago, when a wealth of information on the Camino de Santiago was published, thus sparking international interest.

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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.