I’ve had a great time poring through the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela’s statistical pages and have come up with some interesting lessons. Fig. 1 shows the large percentages of pilgrims who start at Sarria, the minimum (100 km) distance required to earn a compostela in Santiago.
The fact that fully 37% of pilgrims begin in the last 100 km confirms that the Camino Frances gets more crowded the closer a pilgrim gets to Santiago. It’s also surprising how spread out the starting places are, and how many people begin in places like Leon, Ponferrada and O Cebreiro.
Interestingly, Sarria is the most frequent starting point by far for pilgrims who finish in all but four months — May, June, October and November. This suggests that local, short-walk pilgrims flood the Camino Frances during the high summer months, while long-walk pilgrims make up larger numbers in the shoulder months of spring and autumn.
A caution with these stats from the Cathedral at Santiago — they reveal only the eight largest starting points each month. The result is that some important starting points like Astorga, for instance, sometimes show significant numbers but sometimes aren’t recorded at all since they don’t make the top eight consistently. Astorga and other, smaller starting points are included in “other” in each chart.
I’ll look in future postings for country of origin among pilgrims to see how or if that has changed over the years.