The Challenges of the First European Cultural Itinerary: The Way to St. James

Mª Ines Gusmán Correia, Lucrezia Lopez, Rubén C. Lois González, Xosé M. Santos

Abstract


The pilgrimage route to St James is one of the oldest religious itineraries. The Camino (Way) came into being as a major pilgrim route in the Middle Ages. Although, in later centuries, it saw long periods of neglect, in the last fifty years, its potential has been rediscovered. It received formal and institutional recognition from the Council of Europe on 23 October 1987, as the first European Cultural Route, then, in 1993, it became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Throughout this time, the final destination has remained the same, the city of Santiago de Compostela (declared a World Heritage Site in 1985), but the itinerary has turned into a polysemic cultural, tourist, monumental, spiritual and sport route. In view of such complexity, we examine how its original religious essence is undergoing semantic changes, which make it attractive for groups of different faiths and creeds, and with varying motivations. For this purpose, we study the tangible (huge monumental heritage) and intangible heritage (rituals and practices) that enriches and characterises this pilgrimage route. In explaining its polysemy, we will demonstrate why and how the Camino can satisfy the needs of pilgrims and tourists with different motivations and expectations. Finally, we set out the factors that determine the transferability of practices from the Way of St James to other European Cultural Itineraries, for instance the Via Francigena. 


Keywords


Way to St. James; Pilgrimage; Territorial Polysemy; Heritage; Cultural Itineraries

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References


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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2036-5195/6034

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Copyright (c) 2017 Lucrezia Lopez, Mª Ines Gusmán Correia, Rubén C. Lois González, Xosé M. Santos Solla

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