Origin of the yellow arrows of the Way of Saint James

Posted on April 24, 2020

The yellow arrows are a symbol that evokes the Way of Saint James. We can see them in a lot of pictures. When we finally reach the Way and embark on our magical and mystical adventure we see them in many corners: on stones, in villages, inns.

But do you really know the origin of these arrows? Without a doubt they serve to mark the “Way to Santiago Apostle”, especially for those pilgrims who make this journey without a guide. Today we want to tell you a little more about their origin and history.


The Yellow Arrows, Symbol of the Camino de Santiago

The origin of the yellow arrows of the Camino de Santiago dates back to 1984, when a priest named Elias Valiña, remaining as an international icon, delimited the areas where the pilgrims had to pass to finish any of the routes, using both the arrows and the sea shells, which are also a classic. Before that date, the theme of getting one’s bearings and reaching the end of the route was more rudimentary.

Such has been its fame, that the arrows were not only for practical use, but in the Codex Calixtinus is named a Jacobean symbol, so that both the arrows and the shells become important symbols for the history of the Way of Saint James. This even goes beyond the fact that for many years a shell has been given as a reward for having completed the entire route, in addition to the corresponding credential.

What are the yellow arrows for?

The origin of the yellow arrows of the Way of Saint James and their purpose are very clear, they are the only way to reach the nearest refuges or restaurants, signalling the route to be followed without having to be written down, so whoever arrives can fulfil this goal.

The priest Elijah undoubtedly had an excellent idea, buying paintings from the workers who painted the stripes on the streets, being the perfect way to help the pilgrims who were looking to reach the tomb of St. James the Apostle, so today these marks are the reference to know that you took the perfect way. That was the purpose of spending whole days painting the whole Spanish road, without worrying about tripping over the police, he took advantage of his car to make his parish a tourist spot as well.


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