Saturday, March 9, 2019

The Camino Portuguese

The Camino Portuguese, or Caminho Portuguese or Portuguese Way is the general name given to the numerous routes and variations for the trek from Lisbon to Porto and later Valencia in Portugual through to Santiago de Compostela Spain.  As with Camino associated with St. James, the pilgrimage concludes at the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela where tradition maintains that he is buried.

The Portuguese Way follows the North-South route – generally proceeding along the Roman Via Lusitanta established in the 12th century - along the length of Portugual into Galacia Spain.  It begins in Lisbon, the capital city of Portugal, though many pilgrims start in the northern town of Porto instead owing to the industrial nature of the region around Lisbon and the smaller number of pilgrim facilities available between Lisbon and Porto.  In Portugal the Camino is not primarily a single pathway but instead includes a number of distinct route variations and alternatives including – the Coastal Route, Camino Fatima, Central Route, the Variante Espiritual, and the Senda Litoral.

The Caminho Portuguese is noted to be the second most traveled route – after the increasingly popular Camino Frances.  As such it is considered to be a quieter hike.  As of 2018, according to the Pilgrim’s Office in Santiago the Camino Portuguese has just more than 20% of the pilgrims on it – compared to the Camino Frances which has over 55% of the hikers on it.  Given this, the Portuguese Way is not as developed, as its Spanish counterparts, and unlike the Camino Frances the route of the Portuguese Way is primarily on pavement and cobblestones rather than wilderness trails.  Indeed, this lack of pilgrim services is most evidenced in the sparse number of pilgrim directed accommodations between Lisbon and Porto, the result of which has been that more pilgrims en route to Santiago in fact begin in Porto or Tui.

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