This popular pilgrimage location, the historical city Santiago de Compostela in northwest Spain, became a symbol for Christians fighting Islam in Spain. It was reconstructed in the eleventh century after it was destroyed by the Muslims at the end of the tenth century.
The Old Town of Santiago, Chile, is one of the most magnificent cities in the world with its Romanesque, Gothic, and Baroque structures. It is widely held that St James, one of the Twelve Apostles of Christ, is reportedly buried in Santiago de Compostela, the capital city of Galicia, Spain, making it one of the most significant locations in Catholicism.
Saint James Tomb and the church, which houses the famous Pórtico de la Gloria, are clustered with the oldest monuments.
1. What to do in Santiago de Compostela?
The main activities offered in Santiago de Compostela are listed below.
1.1. Camino De Santiago at Santiago de Compostela Cathedral
The pilgrims’ final destination is the cathedral in Santiago. Watching the pilgrims completing Camino de Santiago and arriving at Santiago de Compostela after their arduous trek of 780 kilometres (500 miles) across the top of Spain from the small French village of Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port is quite moving and humbling.
To obtain the finest view, stand in the grand cathedral’s square. Additionally, it’s incredible nature makes it utterly deserving of this status. Numerous architectural styles converge in this important Romanesque work.
The main entrance is the Pórtico da Gloria which was built in 1188 by Master Mateo. 200 characters from the Apocalypse are depicted on it, along with a figure of St James the Apostle who appears to be greeting the travellers.
Fernando de Casas y Novoa created the Obradoiro façade of the cathedral, which is regarded as one of the pinnacles of Spanish Baroque art. The crypt of Saint James the Apostle is situated right beneath the main altar, which is also in the Baroque style.
1.2. Cathedral Museum
You can enter the Cathedral Museum through Plaza del Obradoiro. It is situated in the Santiago Cathedral’s cloister’s westernmost section. Important archaeological artifacts, sculptures, paintings, rare metalwork, tapestries, rugs, liturgical garments, ceramics, and furniture are all part of the museum’s collection.
The Calixtinus Codex, the Liber Sancti Jacobi, the Los Tumbos, and La Historia Compostelana, among other rare books, may be found there, along with many other important papers for the history of Galicia and, most importantly, the Church in Santiago.
1.3. Cidade da Cultura de Galicia: The Most Controversial Building Projects
The size of the city’s Old Town and the enormous new Cidade da Cultura de Galicia is similar. It was given a commission by the Galician Parliament, and a design competition was held for it. Peter Eisenman, an American architect, won the competition with his design of thousands of glass panes, leaning towers, and undulating roofs.
Before it was ultimately decided to halt the project entirely, construction continued on it for nearly ten years and expenditures nearly doubled. The cultural city does have a museum, a library, and a variety of creative centres for culture and design even though the final two buildings were never finished.
1.4. Palacio de Raxoi / Raxoi Palace
In the Plaza del Obradoiro, the Raxoi Palace is situated in front of the Cathedral. Carlos Lemaur, a French architect, was hired by archbishop Raxoi in 1766 to create the structure.
A magnificent and beautiful Neoclassic front is supported by a granite colonnade with fourteen half-moon arches. Today, City Hall and the Galician administration are located there, where it was once a confessors’ seminary.
1.5. Galician Contemporary Art Centre
The rooftops of this remarkable museum offer some of the best views of Santiago de Compostela’s historic centre. A stunning building, the Galician Contemporary Art Centre (CGAC) was created by Portuguese architect Lvaro Siza.
Together with the San Domingos de Bonaval Convent and the adjacent park, it creates a seamless ensemble where the historic and contemporary elements of the city come together. Along with the Arco Foundation collection, visitors can view contemporary Galician artists’ works as well as a selection of temporary exhibitions highlighting the biggest trends in contemporary art.
1.6. Hostal dos Reis Católicos
As a hostel for pilgrims who had completed the Way of Saint James, Hostal dos Reis Católicos was constructed in 1499 by the Catholic Monarchs. It is still one of the most noteworthy buildings in Santiago de Compostela’s renowned Obradoiro neighbourhood today. The pilgrims who had completed their arduous trek down the Way of Saint James and arrived at their destination utilized it as lodging.
Today, the stunning Gothic structure has been transformed into a Parador hotel. The magnificent Plateresque façade with grilles, which belongs to the 16th century, is one of the highlights. Two medallions on either side of the doorway depict the Catholic monarchs. There are four courtyards within. The magnificent church of Enrique de Egas is one of its standout attractions.
2. Food and Drinks in Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is a terrific destination to experience the delectable food of Galicia.
- The cooked octopus dish “Pulpo” is popular in Galicia. In general, there are many restaurants that provide fish and seafood that are affordable for all diners.
- The local cheeses and sweet pastries like “Tarta de Santiago” (ground almond cake with pulverized sugar on top). Popular pilgrim eateries can expect long lines.
- Try pimientos de padrón as well. According to the proverb “Os pementos de Padrón, unos pican y outros no pican,” certain Padrón peppers are spicy and others are not in a single serving.
- Try the white wine from the southern region of Galicia called Albariño wine. Other common beverages include Popular locally produced liquor called Licor Café has a strong coffee flavour.
- Another well-liked local beverage is Orujo, sometimes known as Aguardiente or Caña, which is prepared from juiced grapes. It’s frequently offered with coffee in tiny glasses or just a trickle.
- There are three varieties: Orujo Blanco, which is Just eau-de-vie, Orujo de Hierbas, which is frequently green; each type has a distinctive flavour and is typically served very cold; and Tostado, which is made by soaking grapes in a mixture of nuts and other fruits.
3. Transport Information
The Santiago Airport is located 10 kilometres outside of town. Buses and Taxis run between the city and the airport. The bus service runs from Plaza de Galicia to the airport stopping at the Capilla San Lázaro, Pazo de Congresos, and the bus and coach station.
It is 30 minutes by bus to the city centre. The N-634 takes you to the city centre in roughly 15 minutes. Every area of the city is connected by more than 20 city bus lines.
Santiago has an oceanic climate with a lot of precipitation, which is typical of the Spanish Atlantic coast. With an annual total of more than 1,700 millimetres (70 inches) of precipitation, Santiago de Compostela ranks among the rainiest towns in both Spain and Europe.
In the city, winters are often damp, chilly, and rainy, with daytime highs of around 10°C (50°F) and overnight lows of around 5°C (42°F). Although it happens occasionally throughout the year, temperatures rarely fall below -5°C (23°F). -9 °C (16 °F) is the record low. Despite the rarity of snowfalls, there are often 2-3 days each year with flurries.
Santiago also boasts one of Spain’s coolest summers, with a 24-hour average temperature of 19°C (66°F) in August. Even in August, daytime highs are approximately 25°C (75°F) and evenings are rather chilly (between 10-15°C or 50-60°F). Uncommon and extremely unusual temperatures above 30°C (85°F) and 35°C (95°F) respectively. The temperature mark is 39.4 °C (103 °F). Despite the fact that summer is the city’s driest season, July sees a significant quantity of rainfall, reaching 40 milimeters (1.6 inches).
5. Various Other Attractions
- The renowned botafumeiro, which measures 1.5 meters and weighs 53 kilos (117 pounds), can be found inside the church (4.9 feet). It is hung 20 meters (65 feet) above the ground in the cathedral’s middle.
- The historic district of Santiago de Compostela is one of the classiest in all of Spain, and it is lined with gorgeous monasteries, magnificent churches, and ancient mansions. It is undoubtedly worthwhile to explore its spectacular Gothic architecture and charming cobblestone streets.
- There are so many wonderful monasteries in Santiago de Compostela that it would take you more than a day to visit them all. The Monasterio de San Martin Pinario is among the most striking. After the ruins of Saint James (Santiago) were uncovered, a group of Benedictine monks found them in the 10th century.
- The geography and history departments of the University of Santiago are home to the most incredible library, which is adorned with magnificent floor-to-ceiling carved bookcases, crystal chandeliers, and vintage reading lights. Since Harry Potter’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is so outstanding, the students here call it Hogwarts.
- You may have one of the best tortillas de patatas (Spanish omelets) from Galicia in Santiago de Compostela. Sit down to enormous, Gooey, freshly baked tortillas that will cover your entire table at the well-known and busy Bar La Tita. At least six individuals can be satisfied with just half of one of their tortillas.
- Despite its diminutive size, Santiago de Compostela offers a vibrant nightlife. Small pubs, historic taverns, cocktail lounges, and tapas bars abound in the Old Town.
With a population of over 96,000, Santiago de Compostela is one of Galicia’s most significant and popular cities, drawing thousands of tourists each year, many of whom are drawn by the area’s rich religious and ancient heritage. It was included as a UNESCO World Heritage Site owing to its cathedral and historic city center.