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The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago

Book Review
Continued from page 1

Excerpt from the book:

book cover"Our book is not a route guide. The Road to Santiago is so well marked now that it's hard not to find your way west without getting lost. You may have already chosen a route guide. For hikers, the translations of the Millán Bravo Lozano or the Valiña Sampedro guides and the shorter guide by the British Confraternity are all popular. There are special guides for bikers and motorcyclists, and new guides seem to come out every other day. Neither do we suggest hotels or restaurants. That sort of information goes out-of-date almost as fast as it is printed. And besides, with the modern boom in the pilgrimage, the numbers of refugios sprouting up all along the Road make it easy to find lodging almost anywhere.

"What you are holding is your Handbook to the cultural contexts of the pilgrimage. It is meant to accompany your route guide, to be the second item you put into your knapsack. From the Pyrenean border between France and Spain we will walk with you, providing useful and interesting information about the history, people, natural environments, and artistic monuments that you are passing. At the back of the book you will find a timeline of monarchs and handy glossaries of the saints, artists, and artistic styles you will encounter every day. With luck, by the end of your pilgrimage you won't need the glossaries anymore. We have concentrated on things you would have seen if you had been a pilgrim in the Middle Ages, but we don't completely ignore modern times either. As you walk, it is what you see that engages your attention, so it will come as no surprise that our book focuses on the visual, particularly the splendid art arrayed along the Road. Since understanding what you see is a function of what you know, you will also find information about the historic, literary, and religious contexts of the pilgrimage and the pilgrimage Road.

"So, as you pack up your gear, a couple of reminders. In the outside compartment of your knapsack, along with your water bottle, your route guide, and this book, stash a lightweight pair of binoculars and a small flashlight with a strong, focused beam for looking at monuments. Don't neglect to get your pilgrim's credential, or passport, which will admit you to the pilgrim refugios. The [American Pilgrims on the Camino will be] pleased to supply you with one. Or you can pick one up at St.-Jean-Pied-de-Port or Roncesvalles, if you wish. If you are traveling other routes, you should be able to acquire one in one of the early larger towns or refugios. Don't forget to carry some money. But, most of all, fill your pockets with curiosity."

David M. Gitlitz and Linda Kay Davidson
The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago
St. Martin's Griffin, New York

Next page: Santiago de Compostela Web links

In this article:
Book review Santiago Web links
Book excerpt  

Also see:
Santiago de Compostela travel guide (with photos)
Galicia - Index of articles