Picture courtesy of the Tourist Office of Santiago de Compostela
PROVINCE: A Coruña
AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITY: Galicia
DISTANCE TO SANTIAGO: 0 km
Local council website
LINKS OF INTEREST
- Health Centre: [+34] 981,950,000
- Civil Protection: [+34] 981 542 323
FESTIVALS & OTHER EVENTS
- Xenerais da Ulla: traditional rural carnival. Dates change from year to year.
- “Magostos” and chestnuts street festival: in November
Capital of Galicia, it was declared a World Heritage Site for the beauty and conservation of its monuments and for being the end point of the Way of Saint James, the thousand-year-old pilgrimage route that since the 9th century turned this town into the capital of faith and Western thinking.
It stands amidst the green forests of the Spanish Northwest and Galician “rías” (estuaries). Initially it was a place of passage along a Roman road, but the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle Santiago at the beginning of the 9th century gave rise to a place of worship. A Romanesque cathedral emerged, to which Renaissance and Baroque elements were subsequently added. In addition, it is home to beautiful monasteries, pilgrim hospitals, churches and stately homes.
The fact of being the last city on the Camino makes hospitality the prevailing characteristic of the city.
- Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela: King Alfonso II the Chaste of Asturias and Bishop Teodomiro ordered the construction of the first sanctuary over the tomb of Saint James in the 9th century. Alfonso III the Great built a much more beautiful basilica at the end of the same century, which Almanzor, Muslim vizier of Al-Andalus, destroyed in 997. Although he did not violate the tomb of the Apostle, Almanzor seized the bell and had Christian prisoners carry it to Córdoba. Then, two centuries later, when king Fernando III defeated the Muslims in 1236, he had Islamic prisoners take the bell back to Santiago. Around the year 1000, the cathedral was rebuilt by Alfonso V, but since it grew too small, expansion work began with Bishop Diego Peláez in 1078. Part of the new temple was consecrated in 1105, and the rest in 1211. In successive centuries new works were carried out until the Baroque façade, started in 1715 by Antonio Monroy, was completed in the 18th century. The notorious Portico of Glory is one of the few elements from the ancient cathedral that remains.
- Plaza del Obradoiro: it is the monumental centre of Santiago de Compostela. Its name in Galician seems to derive from the stonemason workshops that worked on the construction of the Baroque façade of the Cathedral, which presides over the square and welcomes the thousands of pilgrims who arrive along the Camino de Santiago.
- Pazo de Raxoi: opposite the west façade of the Cathedral, it was ordered to be built by Archbishop Raxoi in 1766, as a residence for the children of the choir and a seminary too. The long open façade with its elegant arcade gives the building a marked horizontality. The centre of the façade has a pediment with a marble relief depicting the Battle of Clavijo, crowned by an equestrian statue of Saint James. Inside, the Rococo-style staircase is one of its highlights. Currently it is the seat of the City Council of Santiago de Compostela, the Department for Culture and the of the President’s Office of the Government of Galicia.
- Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago: it occupies the building of the old Bank of Spain, which closed its doors in 2004. It is located in the Plaza de Platerías, a few metres from the south façade of the Cathedral. The ground floor has 5 arches supported by columns that form arcades. From the large skylight on the second floor, you can see the Cathedral with its impressive Berenguela Tower and a large part of the old town. The remodelling was designed by Manuel Gallego Jorreto, one of the most prestigious architects in Galicia. In 2010 he was awarded the Gold Medal for Architecture.
- Monastery and Church of San Martiño Pinario: it was the most influential and largest of the Benedictine monasteries in Galicia and the second in size in all of Spain after El Escorial. The ticket to the museum includes a visit to the church, of which the Baroque altar and choir stalls stand out (the Renaissance-style upper choir dating from the 17th century was originally in the Cathedral). In addition, the museum has different halls displaying the collection of paintings, sculpture, goldsmithing, archaeological remains, etc., as well as objects that speak of the daily life of the monks who inhabited it.
- Hostal dos Reis Católicos: the building currently occupied by the Parador hotel was ordered to be built in 1501 by the Catholic Monarchs to care for the sick and pilgrims of Saint James, as the Latin caption on the upper frieze of the front reads. It has a beautiful Plateresque doorway flanked by the coat of arms of Castile. The twelve apostles appear aligned on the frieze of the doorway. In the pendentives above the arch we can see medallions with the busts of Isabella and Ferdinand. Above the frieze is the window of the Royal Apartment, reserved to the monarchs and flanked by images of Christ, the Virgin, Saint James, Saint John the Evangelist, Saint Peter and Saint Paul. The cornice is decorated with a detailed chain from which grotesque and obscene gargoyles protrude. The interior is structured over a rectangular plan with four patios. The interior of the establishment houses a beautiful pointed chapel, declared a National Monument in 1912. The most interesting part of this chapel is the transept which is accessed through a beautifully crafted iron latticework.
- La Alameda Park: a very welcoming spot that consists of three well-differentiated parts: the Paseo de la Alameda, the Carballeira ("oak grove") of Santa Susana and the Paseo de la Herradura. Its privileged location made it the main garden in town, in addition to the variety and size of native and ornamental plant species, such as oaks, splendid eucalyptus trees or the pergola with a view made up of chestnut trees in the Paseo de la Herradura.
- Cidade da Cultura de Galicia: the City of Culture of Galicia is a large cultural facility with several buildings occupied by museums, a library, a newspaper and periodicals library, an opera house, as well as study and research centres. Eisenman's project proposes a “topographic” building in which the undulating roofs of the different buildings emerge as part of the relief of Mount Gaiás, furrowed by deep grooves through which visitors circulate around and access the different volumes. The formidable size of the complex, which is equal in extension to Compostela’s historical district, its architectural value and its varied cultural offer complete the determination to turn Santiago into an indispensable point of reference in the international cultural scene.
Track O Pedrouzo-Santiago de Compostela
NEARBY POINTS OF INTEREST
- Mount Pedroso: located to the west, is the city’s most emblematic mountain. Any time is a good time to climb it, but at sunset it becomes special, because that is when the last golden rays of the evening sun bathe the cathedral. From the city you can get to the top after a 40 minutes walk that starts at Ponte Asén, in Galeras Park.
- Granxa do Xesto Park: located at the foot of Mount Pedroso, this a public green area halfway between an urban park and a forest that has small artificial lakes and a quiet café made of wood, from where you have a very good view of the city.