The origins of the cult of Santiago in Roman Hispania are unknown, although it is believed that in the year 812 they found the relics attributed to the apostle. At the end of the ninth century it extended to Christian Europe. In the 11th century the number of pilgrims increased considerably thanks to the cultural relations between the European countries.
Alfonso II, king of Asturias, had a church built in the place where, according to the voice of tradition, the remains of the apostle Santiago rest. In the 15th century, this church became one of the main places of pilgrimage of Christianism and what currently is now Road de Santiago.
The pilgrims did not wait. All Christians wanted to visit the tomb of the Apostle, especially after the Turkish invasions that interrupted the pilgrimage to Jerusalem just when in Santiago, in 1078, the Romanesque cathedral was being built. Thus, began the golden era of pilgrimage to Compostela and the route was consolidated and better endowed by kings and ecclesiastical authorities: The Road to Santiago.
The most famous symbol is the scallop shell that the pilgrims carry along the way. There are several theories about what it symbolizes:
- They say that the man who carried the dead body of the apostle Santiago fell to the sea and came out unharmed covered with scallop shells
- The shell is like the mark left by the hollows when walking. La Oca is present throughout the path. La Oca is like a metaphor of the road and of life.
- The shape of the scallop shell represents multiple paths that converge in a point, as the different roads that lead to Santiago.
Today the road to Santiago is made by people from all over the world.
Each pilgrim performs it with a unique intentionality.