The Medieval World, C. 400–1300

Romanesque Europe

What is the connection between Romanesque art and pilgrimages?

During the eleventh and twelfth centuries, religious pilgrimages across Europe were extremely popular. On journeys that could last over a year, pilgrims walked along established pilgrimage routes, visiting important churches and religious sites. One of the most famous pilgrimage routes connected Paris with Santiago de Compostela in Spain, nearly one thousand miles away.

Pilgrimage churches, such as St. James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, were specifically designed to accommodate large groups of visitors. Additional aisled transepts, ambulatories, and radiating chapels were designed to aid the flow of pilgrim traffic, as well as ensure enough space for church officials to do their work. The doors of St. James were always open for visitors exhausted after a long journey.


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