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Overview

An awe-inspiring journey

For over a thousand years pilgrims and penitents have journeyed across France and Spain to Santiago de Compostela to pay homage to Saint James.

While devout pilgrims still endure the purifying hardships of this ancient road, we take a different tack: walking amid spectacular scenery, visiting picturesque villages, medieval monasteries and Romanesque churches along the way; sampling the local cuisine at quaint restaurants and during gourmet trailside picnics; and staying at centuries-old convents and castles that are now luxurious lodgings. With faculty leader Barbara Pitkin and trail guide Peter Watson, join us for one of the great journeys of the world, Stanford-style!

Dates

June 8–21, 2022

Duration

14 days

Price

From $8,995 per person

Trip size

32 participants

Minimum age

18 years

Faculty leader

A different kind of classroom

With renowned Stanford faculty and scholars leading the way, every Travel/Study trip is a one-of-a-kind educational experience.

Barbara Pitkin

Religious Studies

Barbara Pitkin is a senior lecturer in religious studies at Stanford, with a particular emphasis on the religious thought and culture of late medieval and early modern Europe.

Itinerary

A walk along the Camino de Santiago

Join Dr. Barbara Pitkin and trail expert Peter Watson to traverse northern Spain on foot, following the Way of Saint James to Santiago de Compostela, as revered today as it was by pilgrims in the Middle Ages.

  • Bilbao, Spain

    Upon arrival in Bilbao, transfer to our hotel. This evening join fellow walkers at a welcome reception at our hotel followed by dinner at leisure.

    Accommodations:

    Hotel Carlton

  • Bilbao / Ainhoa, France

    This morning stroll through Bilbao to admire its contrasting old and modern buildings. Then drive to the town of Ainhoa in France to get your fill of typical Basque architecture. Dine tonight at the hotel’s excellent restaurant.

    Accommodations:

    Hôtel Ithurria

    Included meals: Breakfast and dinner
  • St.-Jean Pied de Port / Pamplona, Spain

    Travel the short distance to the ancient town of St.-Jean Pied de Port, the traditional meeting point of the three northern pilgrimage routes through France. From here pilgrims began their trek through the Pyrenees into Spain. Leave town by the Gate of Spain along the old Roman road. Cross the Ports de Cize and the border into Spain. After a picnic lunch, descend to the hamlet of Roncesvalles, the scene of countless historical events, from the death of Roland in 778 to Saint Francis of Assisi’s entrance into Spain. Visit the hamlet’s monastery and church before heading off to Pamplona.

    Accommodations:

    Gran Hotel La Perla

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Pamplona

    Our walking tour of Pamplona reveals the treasures of this ancient capital of Navarre. Sights include the cathedral, medieval fortifications and the route of the famous running of the bulls during the festival of San Fermín each July. Set out on a trail among rolling green hills and end the day back in Pamplona.

    Accommodations:

    Gran Hotel La Perla

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Pamplona / Santo Domingo de la Calzada

    Start the morning at the octagonal Romanesque church of Santa María de Eunate, the thousand-year-old pilgrim bridge at Puente la Reina and the medieval town of Estella. Continue to the extraordinary Pantheon of the Kings of Navarre at Nájera and then on to the pilgrimage center of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Spend the night in an ancient pilgrims’ hospital, now a four-star parador.

    Accommodations:

    Parador de Santo Domingo de la Calzada

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Santo Domingo de la Calzada / Burgos

    After marveling at the town’s cathedral, explore Villafranca Montes de Oca and the shrine of San Juan de Ortega, one of the most revered saints of the pilgrimage road. Following a picnic lunch, drive to the handsome city of Burgos, capital of the former kingdom of Castile and Franco’s headquarters during the Spanish Civil War. Pause at the Charterhouse of Miraflores, a Carthusian monastery that contains exquisite alabaster carvings, then check in to our hotel, a former convent.

    Accommodations:

    Palacio de Burgos

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Burgos

    Spend the day getting to know Burgos. Visit the impressive Gothic cathedral and the center of the city before strolling out along the Arlanzón River, where El Cid, Spain’s celebrated Castilian knight, camped before leaving the city. After our picnic lunch, enjoy a free afternoon in this delightful city.

    Accommodations:

    Palacio de Burgos

    Included meal: Breakfast
  • Burgos / León

    The pilgrimage continues as we journey through the Meseta Central, the flat interior plateau of the Iberian peninsula. After a picnic lunch, hop in our motor coach to cross the plateau, pausing at one of the great pilgrimage churches in Spain. This evening we arrive in León, capital of the ancient kingdom and current province of the same name. Stay tonight in the refurbished five-star parador.

    Accommodations:

    Parador de León

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • León

    A morning excursion in León introduces us to this magnificent city. Delight in León’s cathedral; its stained glass windows rival those found at Chartres in France. Also admire the Romanesque Basilica of San Isidoro and its adjoining Pantheon of the Kings of León, famous for its 12th-century ceiling frescoes, and the Casa Botines, designed by the iconoclastic 20th-century Catalán architect Antoni Gaudí. There is free time this afternoon to explore the old center of town.

    Accommodations:

    Parador de León

    Included meal: Breakfast
  • León / Villafranca del Bierzo

    Venture to Hospital de Órbigo to stride across the magnificent medieval stone bridge, scene of the joust that inspired Cervantes’s novel Don Quixote. In Astorga view the Episcopal Palace, a Gaudí creation, and the baroque cathedral. Travel to the edge of the León Mountains and hike from the summit to the village of Molinaseca through some of the wildest natural scenery of our trip. Board the motor coach to Ponferrada, home of the Knights Templar and, according to some, the resting place of the Holy Grail. Motor on to Villafranca del Bierzo and stay the night at a lovely vine-covered parador.

    Accommodations:

    Parador de Villafranca del Bierzo

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Villafranca del Bierzo / Portomarín

    Our walk today leads us from Villafranca del Bierzo to the village of O Cebreiro at the border of Galicia and another possible secret repository of the Holy Grail. Following a picnic lunch, drive to the monastery at Samos, one of the oldest Benedictine abbeys in Spain. Proceed to the river port of Portomarín for the night. This town was moved, stone by stone, to its present site when the river valley below was flooded by a dam constructed across the Minho River in 1956.

    Accommodations:

    Pousada de Portomarín

    Included meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Portomarín / Santiago de Compostela

    Our goal is near as we navigate the most interesting sections of the ancient road to Santiago de Compostela. We stop first at the church of Vilar de Donas in Palas de Rei to pay tribute to the Knights of Saint James buried there. Continue to the center of Santiago de Compostela and walk the final section through the medieval streets to the shrine of Saint James. We spend our last two nights at perhaps the most beautiful hotel in Spain; this five-star parador was built at the end of the 15th century as a pilgrim hospital.

    Accommodations:

    Parador de Santiago de Compostela

    Included meals: Breakfast and lunch
  • Santiago de Compostela

    Enjoy a day at leisure in Santiago, with plenty of time to explore this lovely medieval city. Start with the cathedral, one of the finest examples of Romanesque and baroque architecture in Spain, then head to the bishop’s palace, the Pazo de Xelmírez, on the grounds of the cathedral. Other highlights include the Pilgrimages Museum and the Galician parliament building. Tonight attend a special farewell reception and dinner at our hotel.

    Accommodations:

    Parador de Santiago de Compostela

    Included meals: Breakfast and dinner
  • Santiago de Compostela / Home

    Transfer independently to the airport for flights home.

    Included meal: Breakfast

Trip details

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picturesque view over valley

Pricing

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The price of your trip covers a comprehensive educational program in addition to meals, accommodations, tours and excursions. Continue reading for a full list of what’s included.

picturesque view of bridge over river and church in background

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