There is no compulsory starting point, although some of the traditional routes have places, such as Roncesvalles on the French Way, where many pilgrims begin. Remember that medieval pilgrims began their pilgrimage at their own front door.
You must choose the starting point according to the number of days you want to spend on the Way, in the knowledge that an average of 25 km are covered per day on foot, 40 km on horseback and 70 km by bike, although each individual has their own pace and shorter or longer distances can be covered depending on your physical condition. However, remember that a pilgrimage is not only about covering kilometres, as if it were a sporting event; you must take time to rest, enjoy the scenery, talk to other pilgrims, or even to the people in the towns or cities you pass through. You must also take into account the rules to receive the “Compostela” upon arrival in Santiago: to cover at least the last 100 km on foot or on horseback and the last 200 km by bike
The pilgrimage to Santiago ends at the Tomb of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
The Credencial is the official document on which pilgrims record their journey to Santiago. It is essential to have at least 2 sellos (stamps) per day for at least the last 100 km if walking or travelling on horseback, and 200 km if cycling, to qualify for a Compostela. The Credencial is also required if you wish to use the hostels along the pilgrim routes to Santiago.
You can get a Credencial in person from the Pilgrim’s Reception Office in Santiago or from one of the many organisations authorised to issue Credenciales on behalf of the Cathedral.
Please note that ONLY the Credencial issued by the Cathedral of Santiago through the Pilgrim’s Reception Office, or by a specifically authorised organisation, will be accepted.
Where can I get it?::
In Spain: See map
Worldwide: See map
Stamps are available in many places along the routes, particularly in the last 100 km, e.g. at churches, hostels, hotels, town halls and many other places.
Monday to Sunday 8.00 a.m. – 8.00 p.m.* (in summer: from Easter Monday to 31st October).
Monday to Sunday 10.00 a.m. – 7.00 p.m.* (In winter: from 1st November to Easter Sunday).
The Pilgrim’s Reception Office is open during these hours every day of the year with the EXCEPTION of Christmas Day – 25th December, and New Year’s Day – 1st January. If you complete your pilgrimage on these days your Compostela can be obtained in the Cathedral.
* The closing time may be advanced up to 60 minutes earlier accoding to the influx of pilgrims.
Pilgrim’s Mass is held every day at 12.00 p.m. and 7.30 a.m. In Holy Years the number of pilgrim masses increases, due to the large influx of pilgrims. If you want to find sitting room you should arrive early, as these masses are always very busy.
Priests who wish to concelebrate should contact the Sacristy of the Cathedral at least 20 minutes before Mass.
At the beginning of the Mass, and as a special welcome, a list of pilgrims who have arrived in Santiago and passed through the Pilgrim’s Office in the last 24 hours is read out, mentioning the starting points of their pilgrimage and their nationalities or the provinces they come from.
Due to restoration works inside the Cathedral, masses are celebrated in other churches in the city:
-Iglesia de San Francisco: Daily Pilgrim’s Mass – 12:00 am noon
-Iglesia de Santa María Salomé:
From Monday to Friday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 7:00 pm
Saturdays: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm
Sundays: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:00 am, 1:00 pm, 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm
-Chapel of la Corticela: Every day – 11:00 am
The Botafumeiro (‘censer’ in Galician) is one of the most famous and popular symbols of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It is a large censer that swings from the central dome of the Cathedral, from which it hangs by a system of pulleys, to the side naves. Eight men are required to move it, who are known as the tiraboleiros, as it weighs 53 kg and measures 1.50 metres; it is suspended at a height of 20 metres and can reach a high speed.
The Botafumeiro is used for liturgical purposes, in the same way any priest would use a censer at the altar, and you can see it on the following days of Eucharistic celebration
- The Epiphany: 6th January
- Easter Sunday
- The Ascension of the Lord
- The Appearance of the Apostle-Clavijo: 23rd May
- The Martyrdom of St. James: 25th July
- Mary’s Assumption: 15th August
- All Saints: 1st November
- Christ the King
- Immaculate Conception: 8th December
- Christmas: 25th December
- Transfer of the remains of the Apostle: 30th December
The Botafumeiro can also be operated to mark pilgrimages that have been requested at the Pilgrim’s Reception Office
To reserve the Botafumeiro, please send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayer vigils and meetings for pilgrims are held at the Cathedral from May to October. From Monday to Friday, prayer meetings are held in the Capilla del Santísimo.
On Saturdays, Vigils are held, departing from the Cloister of the Cathedral. Both meetings contain moments of reflection, prayer and the possibility of sharing personal experiences of the Way. At the end, there is a visit to the tomb of the Apostle.
Inside the Cathedral there is a church called “A Corticela” which is the parish church for pilgrims and foreigners.
Mass is held every day at 11.00.
The following sections provide more information for those wishing to organise a Baptism, First Communion or Marriage in A Corticela.