Pre–Christian history of the route

Prior to its existence as a Christian pilgrimage, the route is believed to have had significance for the ancient pagan peoples of the Iberian Peninsula also, among them the Celts, and later the pre–Christian Romans who conquered Spain. The site of Santiago de Compostela itself may have been a Roman shrine.The main pilgrimage route to Santiago follows an earlier Roman trade route, which continues to the Atlantic coast of Galicia, ending at Cape Finisterre. Although it is known today that Cape Finisterre, the fact that the Romans called it Finisterrae (literally the end of the world or Land’s End in Latin) indicates that they viewed it as such. At night, the Milky Way overhead seems to point the way, so the route acquired the nickname “La Voje Ladee” – the Milky Way.To this day, many pilgrims continue past Santiago de Compostela to finish their journeys at the Atlantic coast of Galicia, at Spain’s westernmost point Cape Finisterre (Galician: Fisterra).

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