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22 Beautiful Places You Will See On The Camino De Santiago

Grab your hiking boots, start walking, and remember: it's about the journey, not the destination.

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1. The Ancient Abbey Church of Vezelay

900 years ago an abbey was built atop a rough hillside in Burgundy. Some genius architect decided to set the axis of the church so that when the sun rises in the morning the interior is blazed in light. From Vezelay to Santiago de Compostela it's about 1,600 km, or 1,000 miles.

3. The Soaring, Aesthetically Perfect Cathedral of Bourges

Imagine walking into a building that soars 38m (125 feet) above you, with an endless nave flanked by two correspondingly smaller vaults to either side. What do you do? You take a seat and let your mouth hang open, transfixed by this 800 year old marvel of epic geometry.

4. This Impossibly Quiet Forest near Chateauroux

"Woods are not like other spaces. To begin with, they are cubic. Their trees surround you, loom over you, press in from all sides. Woods choke off views & leave you muddled & without bearings. They make you feel small & confused & vulnerable, like a small child lost in a crowd of strange legs. Stand in a desert or prairie & you know you are in a big space. Stand in the woods and you only sense it. They are vast, featureless nowhere. And they are alive." - Bill Bryson

11. This Superbly Carved Hunter About to Kill a Leaping Tiger

When you visit the amazing abbey church of Saint Sever, make sure you walk a little down the aisle and then look up to your right. You won't know what hit you.

13. The oh-so-charming foothill village of St. Jean-Pied-de-Port

It has a really cool fortress at the top of a hill, steep cobblestoned streets, and it's nestled in a valley, literally "at the foot of the gate" of the Pyrenees.

14. Crossing the Pyrenees from France into Spain

Take a steep mountain, add a cloud-covered valley below, a perfect sunrise, and the thousand-years-plus history of the Camino de Santiago and not only is this place beautiful, but it's pretty badass as well.

16. All the Food and Wine in Logroño

Logroño is the capital of La Rioja, the most famous wine-growing region in Spain. It's a city that you should see--but not with your eyes. Let your mouth do all the looking.

17. The Gaudy and Ostentatious Cathedral of Burgos

This cathedral houses El Cid, who was pretty much the Chuck Norris of medieval knights in Spain. Make sure to tremble when you pay this place a visit. You wouldn't want El Cid to think you didn't respect him.

18. The Desolate Meseta

You actually walk through the Meseta for about a week, so it does start to look the same. But the boredom is more than worth the searingly beautiful loneliness of this desert-like plain.

19. The Misty, Cloud-Covered Cruz de Ferro

Pilgrims take something from home and leave them here. Photographs, rings, seashells, rocks with names on them--you name it, someone has brought it. This place is beautiful because of its location in the mountains, and also because you can feel the weight of so many memories left here by people over many hundreds of years.

20. The Isolated Footpaths of Dragonte

Dragonte is not for the faint of heart, nor for the faint of body. Most pilgrims choose a different, lesser path that skips the multiple ascents and descents that make Dragonte so difficult. Yet the steep, difficult terrain of Dragonte is also the most rewarding in the end.

21. The Monastery of Samos, Nestled into A Valley

The final part of the Camino crosses through Galicia, a region known especially for its torrential rains. So chances are when you see this beautiful monastery tucked into the valley below, your heart will soar at the prospect of shelter from the cold, wet rain.

22. This Quiet Road on Your Last Day

On the last day of your Camino, you will be tired of sharing the road with people. Trust me on this--it's cool meeting other pilgrims and getting to know them, but when you've walked about a thousand miles and are finally on the last stage, you'll be appreciative of one final empty section of the road to keep to yourself. For me, that was here, at first light, in the village of Salceda. Soon the road becomes crowded with others, but savor the beauty of solitude one final time before you make your way into Santiago de Compostela and finish your epic journey.

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