Not all the pilgrims that have made the way of Santiago are anonymous people. On the contrary, this route has been walked by many distinguished and honorable people along the history, including members of Royal Houses and Church, writers, artists and even politicians.
The Camino is getting more and more popular and we realize that this is becoming real when important people have made up their minds to hike it although it just means a symbolic acting. In this way, this summer we have been surprised of finding out the president of Spain, Mariano Rajoy, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who was on a two-day visit to Galicia, preparing for a European Union summit to decide who gets the top jobs in the 28-nation bloc for the next five years. The short hike together under the bright sun of a summer day meant a highly symbolic show of German support on Spain and its arduous path to economic recovery.
Fortunately, not all the famous people walking the Camino have political intentions although they are likely to be good intentions. Maybe we can´t guess their own objectives: spiritual comfort, religious purpose, nature connection…
These are some of the famous people who have traveled the Camino:
- AYMERIC PICAUD, a French monk, is one of the most famous pilgrims who made the Route to Santiago. Around 1140 he wrote the “Pilgrim Guide to Santiago de Compostela”, which is included in the 5th book of the “Codex Calixtus”, also called “Liber Sancti Jacobi”. Picaud´s work is considered the first tourist guide ever written.
- ANTHONY QUINN. Among the many personalities that have travelled by the route to Santiago is one of Hollywood living legends, Anthony Quinn, who did so in 1999. He was not a plain pilgrim, but a member of the cast of a TV production about the route. The filming took place along the route, which gave the actor the opportunity to learn a lot about it during his “pilgrimage”.
- SHIRLEY MACLAINE. In 1994 she was spotted walking along the route, just like any other pilgrim. The star, who was facing a personal crisis, set out on the way from France. She walked 20 km a day, spoke with other pilgrims, visited some churchs and stayed at hostels. After the journey she wrote “The Way, a Spiritual Journey”, where she offers her personal vision of the itinerary from the physical and spiritual points of view. In the book she explains that the object of the world-famous pilgrimage, which has been made for centuries, is to find the deepest spiritual meaning of being and to make decisions about inner conflicts.
- MARTIN SHEEN and his son EMILIO ESTÉVEZ. They experienced the Camino when the film The Way was being filmed in 2009. The Way is a powerful and inspirational story about family, friends and the challenges we face while navigating this ever-changing and complicated world.
In Martin Sheen words, the idea of The Way came because “My father was born just outside of Santiago, so I grew up knowing about it. I always had that fantasy that I would walk the Camino de Santiago. In the summer of ’03 when we were on a break from ‘The West Wing,’ and Emilio’s son Taylor was working for me as a young assistant. We were [driving] on the Camino and we stopped at a little restaurant along the way, and Taylor met his future wife — they’re married now. Her mother’s name is Miracle (in Spanish), and I thought “Hmm … there’s something going on here.” I came home and had some explaining to do about why his son wasn’t with me. Emilio picked it up from there and had his own journey with it.”
5.PAULO COELHO. Paulo Coelho walked the Camino Francés the first time in 1986 and twenty years after he experienced it again with Monica Oien, a Norwegian journalist and TV presenter. Most people think the first book by Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho wasThe Alchemist. They are wrong, it was The Pilgrimage. It was walking El Camino de Santiago that inspired Paulo Coelho to write The Alchemist. Many of his early books have their origins somewhere along El Camino de Santiago. When he walked El Camino de Santiago, it had fallen into disuse, maybe 400 pilgrims a year. Since publication of the Pilgrimage, the numbers have risen exponentially, with peaks in Holy Years.
- ANDREW MCCARTHY. Former Hollywood Bratpacker Andrew McCarthy’s life changed forever while walking the Camino de Santiago in 2012. In an extract from his first book,The longest way home, he describes how that led to a second career as a travel writer.
- STEPHEN HAWKING. The British physicist visited Galicia for a week in August 2008 and completed a symbolic section of the Camino de Santiago in his wheelchair.
There are more popular people who walked the Camino or visited Santiago: Pope John Paul II visited twice (in 1982 and in 1989); Jenna Bush (George Bush´s daughter) hiked the pilgrimage route with some friends when she was 22. Spanish popular people have also walked it: the singer David Bisbal, the bullfighters Jose Ortega Cano and Manuel Dias el Cordobes or the Spanish football coach Irureta.
Maybe I have missed somebody you remember. In this case I would like to complete my list with your help. Thank you
Buen camino amigos!