Camino de Santiago: A Scenic Pilgrimage Ancient Trail

A specialist in occupational and preventive medicine, William D. Jones, MD has since 1996, managed his private practice in Oklahoma City, OK. During his medical career, he served as the medical director, Department of Occupational Medicine at Norman Regional Hospital in Norman, OK. William D. Jones, MD loves hiking and intends on hiking the Camino de Santiago again when Covid-19 restrictions are lifted in France and Spain.

The Camino de Santiago in Spain is a well-known ancient hiking trail that attracts pilgrims from all over the world. Camino de Santiago in English is known as the Way of St. James. All Camino pilgrimage routes end up at Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain where it is believed the remains of St. James were discovered in the ninth century. In the 10th, 11th, 12th centuries, the pilgrimage was widely visited before becoming popular again in the recent years. The Camino Francés (the French Way) is the most popular trail because of its diverse scenery and good infrastructure. The route begins from St. Jean Pied-du-Port in France and passes through Burgos, Pamplona, Leon and numerous smaller towns and villages. The entire route is about 500 miles long.

While some people visit Camino de Santiago for spiritual purposes, others do it recreationally. Receiving more than 100,000 visitors annually, the adventure attracts people who like walking and cycling. The trail has numerous Spanish historic sites and monuments that enable visitors to interact with a wide variety of cultures, allowing walkers to meet and interact with other people from around the world.

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.

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.