The Scallop Shell

The Scallop Shell
Photo: Merlin

The scallop shell is the traditional symbol for Christian pilgrimages. It is associated mostly with the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia (the other two main pilgrimage sites being Jerusalem and Rome). The shell can be seen as small badges worn on clothing or on signposts or on buildings along the way. The traditional one is up top; one of the modern ones is below.

Photo: Skarabeusz.

Why a scallop shell? Although there have been mythological explanations, the most likely seems to be that scallops once were found on the coast here and they became scooping tools for pilgrims. A useful site: Of course there is also Botticelli's famous painting The Birth of Venus on her half shell - see this page: Titian's Venus of Urbino.

In terms of what the pilgrimage route looks like today, a couple of representative images are below or you can check out the map here. The second image shows pilgrims on the bridge over the Órbigo River.

Photo: Oula Lehtinen
Photo: Green Cardamom