Santiago de Compostela was the supreme goal for countless thousands of pious pilgrims who converged there from all over
Europe throughout the Middle Ages. To reach pilgrims had to pass through France, and the group of important historical monuments included in this inscription marks out the four routes by which they did so. Spain
Criterion ii: The Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela played a key role in religious and cultural exchange and development during the later Middle Ages, and this is admirably illustrated by the carefully selected monuments on the routes followed by pilgrims in
. Criterion iv: The spiritual and physical needs of pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela were met by the development of a number of specialized types of edifice, many of which originated or were further developed on the French sections. Criterion vi: The Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela bears exceptional witness to the power and influence of Christian faith among people of all classes and countries in France Europe during the Middle Ages.
Pilgrimage Route of Santiago de Compostela played a key role in religious and cultural exchange and development during the later Middle Ages, and this is admirably illustrated by the carefully selected monuments on the routes followed by pilgrims in . The spiritual and physical needs of pilgrims travelling to Santiago de Compostela were met by the development of a number of specialized types of edifice, many of which originated or were further developed on the French sections. France
Jerusalem was captured by the Caliph Omar in 638, Christians were hesitant about going to the as pilgrims. Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, where the tomb of the apostle St James the Great, who brought Christianity to the Iberian peninsula, had been founded around 800, benefited from the decline of Jerusalem as a pilgrimage centre. Holy City
The four main pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in
France began at Paris, Vézelay, Le Puy, and respectively, and each of these was fed by a number of subsidiary routes. Thus, the start of the Arles Paris route saw the convergence of routes from Boulogne, Tournai, and the Low Countries, while routes from Caen, Mont-Saint-Michel, and Brittany joined it at intermediate points such as Tours, Poitiers, Saint-Jean d'Angély and Bordeaux (the port for pilgrims coming by sea from England and coastal areas of Brittany and ). Le Puy was the link with the Rhône valley, whereas those coming from Normandy Italy passed through . The three western routes converged at Ostabat, crossing the Pyrenees by means of the Ibaneta pass, while the eastern route from Arles Arles used the Somport pass; the two routes joined in at Puente-la-Reina. Spain
The places of worship along the pilgrimage routes in
France range from great structures such as Saint-Sernin at or Amiens Cathedral to parish churches. All are included either because they figure on the guide produced by Aymeric Picaud (Saint-Front Cathedral at Périgueux or the Church of Saint-Léonard de-Noblat) or because they contain important relics and other material that connect them directly with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Certain churches exhibit architectural characteristics that permit them to be given the appellation of 'pilgrimage churches'. Sainte-Foy at Conques, Saint-Sernin at Toulouse, and the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela itself in particular have in common large transepts and apsidal chapels ranged round a spacious ambulatory, designed to meet the liturgical needs of pilgrims. Toulouse
Pilgrimages in the Middle Ages imposed considerable hardships on the pilgrims, such that they were often in need of medical treatment and care. Few of these survive intact on the French sections of the route and are included in the World Heritage site. A number of bridges are known as 'pilgrims' bridges', and that over the Borade at Saint-Chély-d'Aubrac even has the figure of a pilgrim carved on it. Of special importance are the Pont du Diable over the Hérault at Aniane, one of the oldest medieval bridges in France, and the magnificent 14th-century fortified Pont Valentré over the Lot at Cahors.
While the course of the different routes is generally known, very little of them survive in anything approaching their original form. The seven stretches included in the site are all on the Le Puy route, and cover a little over 20% of its total length. These are relatively minor roads whose course has not changed significantly since the Middle Ages; they are also lined with monuments associated with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, such as crosses and modest places of worship.
Jerusalem was captured by the Caliph Omar in 638, Christians were hesitant about going to the as pilgrims. Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, where the tomb of the apostle St James the Great, who brought Christianity to the Iberian peninsula, had been found around 800, benefited from the decline of Jerusalem as a pilgrimage centre. Holy City
With the start of the Reconquista during the early decades of the 11th century, the shrine became a centre to which goods of all kinds flowed. In this way the cathedral was endowed with immense treasures, making it capable of underwriting the needs of
and of the rulers of León and Castille. It was from this time onwards that pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela reached its apogee. Thousands of pilgrims, among them kings and bishops, travelled long distances to pray at the tomb of one of Christ's closest companions. Rome
This flowering coincided with that of the Cluniac Order, which encouraged the worship of relics by publishing Lives of the Saints and Collections of Miracles. As a result other sanctuaries of less importance developed at this time, but without eclipsing the splendour of Santiago de Compostela. From the 11th to the 13th century "staging post" churches developed along the pilgrimage route, and in particular in France. Each of these was proud to house holy relics; indeed, the cult of relics was the mainstay of medieval pilgrimage.
At the same time there was renewed fervour for the cult of the Virgin Mary. Pilgrimages to shrines such as Notre-Dame du Puy, Notre-Dame de Chartres, and Notre-Dame de Boulogne, which had been renowned since the early Middle Ages, experienced a spectacular renaissance in the 12th century as a result of the growth of pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. Of the three churches, that at Le Puy in the
Auvergne was most closely linked with . It was identified in Book V of the Codex Calixtinus, the description of the pilgrimage routes prepared around 1139 for Pope Calixtus II by Aymeric Picaud, as the starting point of one of the four routes in Santiago . It was, of course, the episcopal see of Godescalc, one of the first foreign pilgrims in Santiago de Compostela, and so was probably the first to be established. France