What is the Camino de Santiago?

Which of the many pilgrimage routes throughout the world is generally considered to be the Camino de Santiago?

The word 'Camino' is simply Spanish for 'Way' so the Camino de Santiago translates to the 'Way of St. James'.

During the Middle Ages, the Camino was responsible for the largest movement of people in Europe: millions of people, both rich and poor, made their way to Santiago de Compostela, where the pilgrim mass and certificate of pilgrimage ensured they would spend less time in purgatory.

In modern times, the Camino spirit is kept alive by hundreds of thousands of people coming yearly from almost every country and every spiritual faith in the world. The reasons people start the pilgrimage varies. A common experience many seem to attest is their pilgrimage has had healing and therapeutic benefits.

There are many different routes through Spain that all end up at Santiago de Compostela. The most popular one which people generally associate with the Camino de Santiago is the Camino Francés that starts in the French village of St. Jean Pied de Port at the foot of the Pyrenees Mountains and travels for approximately 780km/485miles (depending on any alternate routes you take).