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A Traveler's Highway to Heaven

Exploring the History and Culture of Northern Spain on el Camino de Sanitago

A Traveler's Highway to Heaven by William J. Bonville
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The history in this book focuses on the famed pilgrimage road, El Camino de Santiago, the Way of St. James. It is an ancient route that courses through rugged mountains and across often-desolate plains for eight hundred kilometers, from the French border to a few steps from land’s end at the Atlantic Ocean. A thousand years ago that pilgrimage brought all of Europe plodding across Northern Spain in search of salvation at the tomb of an Apostle of Christ. Salvation was the promise, and for the faithful the Way was and remains a Highway to Heaven. For others it is simply a fascinating route to follow through a region awesome not only for its extremes of topography and climate, but also for its people, toughened by being on the front line of civilizations in head-to-head conflict for thousands of years. That conflict defined the essential psychic character of the peoples of northern Spain. It was forged by centuries of life or death defense of their beleaguered mountain retreats, fending off a succession of foreign invaders —Carthaginian, Roman, Vandal and Goth, and Arab worst of all. For these mountain folk it was a millennium-long experience of "enslave or be enslaved, kill or be killed, destroy or be destroyed." The birth of modern Spain was midwifed in the violence of pitched battle high amongst the gray cliffs and jagged peaks of the Picos de Europa in Asturias. This book takes us there. The nation came of age as the mountain folk fought their way down into the fertile valley of the Ebro and onto the high plateau —the dry Meseta of bieges and browns that is the dominant geographical feature of central Spain. This book takes us where the mountain people hacked out the kingdoms of Navarra and León and the turbulent County of Castile. And finally it takes us to the Tomb of the Apostle, perhaps to taste the fruits of the promise of this Traveler’s Highway to Heaven.
SynergEbooks; August 2005
211 pages; ISBN 9780744309454
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Title: A Traveler's Highway to Heaven
Author: William J. Bonville