Churches of the Camino

Written by Mikayla Journee
Photos by Ben & Mikayla Journee

Because the Camino de Santiago is a Catholic pilgrimage after all, and there would be no Camino without them. We went to a few catholic masses during the Camino - some were beautiful and moving, and others were flat and sometimes soulless. There were always the same few figures in the pews - pilgrims like us in their sportswear, and older Spanish women in shoulder padded blazers, with hair worn short or pulled back at the nape of the neck. That was about it. Towns that seemed to have barely any economy aside from the handful of pilgrims that come through each day would still have overwhelmingly adorned and gilt churches. And even when the 'flocks' were small, the churches were still the heart of the towns. I'm not going to examine the Catholic church, and I definitely don't mean to define the Camino by its churches - because it's so much more than that - but these sites remain super important for the Camino as it's known today, and many were absolutely beautiful.

Eglise Notre-Dame du Bout du Pont, Saint Jean Pied de Port

Eglise Notre-Dame du Bout du Pont, Saint Jean Pied de Port

Eglise Notre-Dame du Bout du Pont, Saint Jean Pied de Port

Eglise Notre-Dame du Bout du Pont, Saint Jean Pied de Port

Eglise Notre-Dame du Bout du Pont, Saint Jean Pied de Port

Eglise Notre-Dame du Bout du Pont, Saint Jean Pied de Port

Real Colegiata de Santa Maria de Roncevalles, Roncevalles

Real Colegiata de Santa Maria de Roncevalles, Roncevalles

Real Colegiata de Santa Maria de Roncevalles, Roncevalles

Real Colegiata de Santa Maria de Roncevalles, Roncevalles

Church of San Pedro de la Rua, Estella

Church of San Pedro de la Rua, Estella

Church of San Pedro de la Rua, Estella

Church of San Pedro de la Rua, Estella

My favourite Saint James in the Church of San Pedro de la Rua, Estella

My favourite Saint James in the Church of San Pedro de la Rua, Estella

Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro, Estella

Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro, Estella

Church of Santa Maria, Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria, Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria, Los Arcos

Church of Santa Maria, Los Arcos

Saint James in Church of Santa Maria, Los Arcos

Saint James in Church of Santa Maria, Los Arcos

Parroquia de la Asuncion de Santa Maria, Viana on the day of the town fiesta and running of the bulls

Parroquia de la Asuncion de Santa Maria, Viana on the day of the town fiesta and running of the bulls

Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, Navarrete

Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, Navarrete

Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, Navarrete

Iglesia Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion, Navarrete

Collegiate de Santa Maria del Manzano, Castrojeriz

Collegiate de Santa Maria del Manzano, Castrojeriz

Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

This tiny, beautifully restored, 12th century church of the Church of Saint Michael in El Acebo, which is too small for Google Maps! The roving padre gives mass here very rarely and usually has only one devotee come (the total population of the town is only 40). We took a visit with the albergue hospitaleros well past dark (and after we'd all done the dishes from the shared meal).

Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

Saint James in the Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

Saint James in the Church of Saint Michael, El Acebo

The massive Burgos cathedral (1221-end 13th century), built over the remains of an old Romanesque temple

The massive Burgos cathedral (1221-end 13th century), built over the remains of an old Romanesque temple

Burgos cathedral

Burgos cathedral

Camino3-47.jpg
Burgos cathedral

Burgos cathedral

Iglesia de San Nicolas de Bari, Burgos

Iglesia de San Nicolas de Bari, Burgos

Live guitar concert in Iglesia de Santa Maria del Camino, Carrion de los Condes

Live guitar concert in Iglesia de Santa Maria del Camino, Carrion de los Condes

Iglesia de Santa Maria del Camino, Carrion de los Condes

Iglesia de Santa Maria del Camino, Carrion de los Condes

Parish Church of Compostilla, near Ponferrada

Parish Church of Compostilla, near Ponferrada

The Virgin at the Parish Church of Compostilla, near Ponferrada

The Virgin at the Parish Church of Compostilla, near Ponferrada

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, completed 1211

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, completed 1211

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

The central dome of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela contains the pulley mechanism to swing the famous Botafumeiro. It was created by the goldsmith Jose Losada in 1851. It's the largest in the world, weighs 80kg, is 1.6m high and takes 8 men to pull!

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela