Thursday, December 2

A Camino de Santiago without boots or shoelaces for virtual pilgrims | The traveler


Many are the roads that lead to the tomb of the Apostle Santiago. Currently, there are a total of 281 tracks that Nature, culture and history intertwine, with more than 83,000 kilometers of travel through 29 different countries. In Spain there are 49 cataloged crossings, which cover almost 16,000 kilometers. Coinciding with the Jubilee Year or Xacobeo Year —which is celebrated when July 25, the feast of Santiago, falls on a Sunday, something that has not happened for 11 years—, the Xunta de Galicia and Google Arts & Culture, the search engine’s digital platform that concentrates the wonders of the world, have created Good way!, a virtual tour of the different paths that pilgrims cross to obtain indulgence.

Accessible since last Friday, the portal offers immersive content in 11 languages ​​to embark on “a journey for the mind, body and soul.” A huge volume of documentation and practical information broken down into multiple sections, among which 108 online exhibitions stand out, more than 4,750 photographs and recordings, and 15 virtual tours with 360-degree enveloping panoramas that immerse the visitor in the interior of outstanding landmarks of the Camino’s cultural heritage, such as the ethnographic ensemble of O Cebreiro (Lugo), the monastery of Sobrado dos Monxes (A Coruña) or the same Santiago’s cathedral.

An ambitious project in which the Government of Aragon, the Santiago Cathedral Foundation and the Spanish Federation of Associations of Friends of the Camino de Santiago, and that can serve as a complement or prelude for those who are preparing to put on pilgrim boots during 2021 or 2022, since the Vatican decided that this particular holy year will last 24 months in response to mobility restrictions due to the covid.

A couple of pilgrims cross a stone bridge on their way to Santiago.
A couple of pilgrims cross a stone bridge on their way to Santiago.

A journey with the five senses

Before setting off, it is a good idea to soak up the history of the Camino, with an illustrated map that provides basic information to understand the importance of this ancestral route, which is complemented with an anecdote to discover, among other things, that the furthest point from Europe on this long pilgrimage is the city of Iasi, in Romania, 4,500 kilometers from Santiago de Compostela.

But above all, this is a trip that is enjoyed with all five senses. And to emulate the experience of being on the ground, guided by the yellow arrows —The most universal icon of the Camino— painted on roads, fences or trees, Google has carefully selected sounds and images that evoke nature, landscapes and people that open our way. As the fine and subtle rain that receives many in the Plaza del Obradoiro, the night murmur of the Galician forests, the crunch of dry leaves of laurel under the boots or the cozy sound of bagpipes during the August, the traditional festivity of roasted chestnuts in Galician villages during the fall.

This audiovisual content is reinforced with a careful selection of music of contemporary groups from the Galician rock and folk scene, which add electronic textures or sounds from other latitudes to a musical tradition rooted in the territory from medieval cantigas.

If what you want is to discover the natural treasures that the Camino hides, the best way to do it is by choosing one of the multiple routes provided by the Google tool, such as the one that ends in Fisterra and Muxía, a 150-kilometer route that connects Compostela with what was considered the end of the world in the Middle Ages. We can also choose to virtually transit the Portuguese Way, which escorts the Portuguese coast until it reaches the estuary of the river Miño and enters Spain through A Guarda; or the Primitive Way that the first pilgrims traveled in the 9th century and that connects Oviedo with Santiago. Without forgetting the most popular and busiest Jacobean itinerary, the French Way, which crosses the north of the peninsula and was declared a world heritage site in 1993.

The Korean Yoon Heesang, in his restaurant in Santiago de Compostela.
The Korean Yoon Heesang, in his restaurant in Santiago de Compostela.

Personal stories related to the Camino

In this alternative pilgrimage there is also a space dedicated to the personal stories of those whom the Jacobean journey marked for life. Como Yoon Heesang, a Korean in love with this pilgrimage route and who runs the NuMaru restaurants in Santiago de Compostela. “The Camino helped me to be brave,” says this entrepreneur. Others, long before him, they left their name marked in stoneLike Fronilde, a noble lady from Leon who made a solo pilgrimage in 1045, an unprecedented feat at a time when women traveled accompanied by their husbands. And the Camino would not be what it is today without it work of hundreds of people who magnify and broaden their fame. Thus, the Begoña’s story, owner of the Fisterra hostel, she helps to understand the true meaning of the word hospitality, another of the hallmarks of this adventure.

Third Google monograph focused on Spain

Google Arts & Culture is a digital platform that was born in 2011 in order to disseminate and preserve the works of art that house the collections of the main museums, as well as to explore the wonders of the world with the five senses and from any device with an internet connection. Thanks to collaboration agreements signed with more than 2,000 cultural institutions in 80 countries, it has never been so easy to access such a record of human knowledge and knowledge in the form of a monumental encyclopedia made up of more than six million photos, videos, manuscripts and other documents, as well as more than 10,000 digitized exhibits.

In March 2019, Google, in collaboration with the Royal Academy of Gastronomy and the chef Ferran Adrià, the creator of elBulli, for the first time valued Spanish culture and heritage with Spain open kitchen, a pairing of dishes, flavors and characters that he would join a year later Wonders of Spain, a fabulous compendium of gastronomy, music and folklore that make up the identity of our country. The Camino de Santiago now enters this great showcase of art and customs in the best possible way: leaving its mark.

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