Traditions to Celebrate the End of Your Camino in Santiago

Camino landscape

After miles of walking, endless discoveries, and moments of reflection, you finally arrive at the heart of it all – Santiago de Compostela!

As you reach Santiago de Compostela, the sight of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela seems to welcome you into the city. But not only that – it’s a moment of triumph as you realize you’ve made it to the journey’s end.

So – what now? Let’s dive into the traditions and rituals awaiting you in this city.

The Pilgrim’s Mass: A Celebration of Community

The most popular tradition is stepping into the Cathedral for the Pilgrim’s Mass. It’s not just any service; it’s a special gathering dedicated to pilgrims like you. Although it’s especially relevant for Catholic beliefs, the energy is electric for everyone – as you will be accompanied by fellow travelers, sharing stories and smiles.

Check the mass schedule published on the Cathedral’s webpage to figure out which time works best for you. As a welcome, at the beginning of the sermon, the pilgrims who have come to Santiago and who have received their Compostela within the last 24 hours are mentioned. Besides their name, their nationality and the place from which each pilgrim began their pilgrimage is mentioned.

Holy doors around the world queue at Santiago

Walking the Camino on a Holy Year will offer you an extra tradition: passing through the Holy Door!

If you are lucky enough to arrive in Santiago de Compostela on an Año Santo (Holy Year), you’ll find this Door open. According to Jacobean tradition, pilgrims who pass through this special Door into the Santiago Cathedral are forgiven all their sins.

The Botafumeiro Ceremony

I’ll start by saying the Botafumeiro is not something every pilgrim gets to see – It’s a ceremony that occurs only on Fridays (except Good Friday) at the 7:30pm mass, an homage to the pilgrim by the city of Santiago and in some other special occasions.

If you can be there, don’t hesitate and watch this giant incense burner swinging through the cathedral, leaving trails of sweet-smelling smoke in its wake. It’s a sight to behold, and you can’t help but feel a sense of wonder at this ancient tradition.

Tiraboleiros preparing El Botafumeiro

The Compostela Certificate

The Compostela is a pilgrim certificate that serves as proof that you’ve completed the Camino de Santiago, and it’s more than just a piece of paper. It’s a symbol of your determination and perseverance, something to cherish for years to come.

compostela certificate and credential at pilgrim's office

Now, let’s celebrate!

Once the pilgrimage is complete, it’s time to let loose and celebrate! Santiago de Compostela is alive with energy, with cozy cafes and bustling streets inviting you to indulge in delicious Galician cuisine. Raise a glass with newfound friends, and soak in the joy of achievement. You’ve made it!

compostela certificate and credential at pilgrim's office

Pause and Reflect

As the festivities wind down, don’t forget to take a moment to reflect on your journey. The Camino can be walked for religious reasons or with other motivations, but it’s always worth reflecting on. Wander the charming streets of Santiago de Compostela, let the memories wash over you, and feel gratitude for the lessons learned along the way. Taking some time for introspection and gratitude can be the perfect ending to your Camino adventure.

Still Want More? Walk to the End of the World!

The Jacobean Way comes to an end in the city of Santiago. However, many of the pilgrims decide to extend their journey to the ”Costa da Morte”. The Camino passes remote, hilly villages and finishes at the steep cliffs of Spain’s western-most point: Fisterra, aka Finis Terrae “The End of the World”. Beautiful scenery and amazing legends and history will complement your walk.

a picture of a milestone in front of the lighthouse

Pilgrims of the past have been known to throw their shoes into the sea here to symbolize their new beginning in life after finishing the Camino.

Not there yet?

There’s a long walk ahead before you reach Santiago de Compostela, and even that isn’t just the end – the Camino can be a new beginning, filled with memories to last a lifetime. Begin your adventure planning your first Camino or reaching out to one of our Camino planners.

¡Buen Camino!


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