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The Camino del Interior Vasco-Riojano (Basque Country-Rioja Inland Route)

Basque Country, Inland Route, Paintings in the Church of La Asunción, Alaiza ©Gobierno del País Vasco

El Camino del Interior Vasco-Riojano, added to the list of World Heritage sites in July 2015, has not only been an essential part of the pilgrimage routes to Santiago, but also the gateway to the centre of the Iberian Peninsula from Irún since Roman times. This route clearly shows how the most intense traffic of pilgrims adapted to changes over time, enabling different routes to open up towards the final destination, Santiago de Compostela.

The origin of this route appears to be the Sanctuary of Saint Dominic of the Way, for whom the town of Santo Domingo de la Calzada is named, where the legend of the hanged man, the cockerel and the hen tells of a miracle performed by this saint in this place on a pilgrim journeying to Santiago de Compostela, the fame of which spread throughout Europe in the 15th century. It is significant that it was precisely at the time when this legend was spread that there was an increase in the number of pilgrims who crossed into the Iberian Peninsula via the only coastal route; this passed through the French city of Bayonne and continued towards the border formed by the River Bidasoa until Irún was reached.