Santiago de Compostela

Santiago Cathedral, its square and the labyrinth of harmonious and often moss covered granite streets and buildings around it having originated over a thousand years ago is one of the most beautiful old cities in Spain. The medieval core is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and most of which is pedestrianised can easily be enjoyed on foot.

Santiago Cathedral & Plaza Obradoiro

It is in Santiago Cathedral which still dominates the whole city’s impressive setting with its majestic presence where the shrine of St. James (Santiago) the Apostle lies in a crypt under the High Altar. The festival of St. James is on 25 July to celebrate the saint and his shrine. The last holy year was in 2010 (when the festival happens to be on a Sunday) and the celebrations are especially significant. Pilgrims still flock to the shrine throughout the year but this reaches a crescendo on 25th when the festival is in full swing.

Inside Santiago Cathedral!

The Cathedral and its giant Obradoiro facing facade with bell towers and statues of St. James is undoubtedly one of the most wonderful sights in the world. Much of the current building dates back to the eleventh/twelfth centuries although its origins are much earlier than this. When entering from main Obradoiro entrance its customary to place a hand onto the central granite column of the Portico de la Gloria which has created a hand-shaped indentation caused by similar acts of pilgrims over the centuries and to express gratitude and make a wish! The cathedral is impressive dominated by the Statue of St.James in centre of the silver, High Altar.

The rest of the old city comprises a series of magnificent buildings including the Hostal de los Reis Católicos, numerous university buildings, palacies,monasteries, convents, churches and museums. All of the setting of the city can be easily appreciated from the elevated, expansive and enchanting public gardens to the south- west and a walk along the promenade here at the Paseo da Ferradura (all street signs are in Galician) is a very special experience.
Views looking across Santiago

Santiago is a vibrant city thanks to its large student population and the university is one of the oldest and best in Spain. Every building appears to a house a traditional bar or restaurant and the drinking circuits during student terms especially on a Thursday night are famous throughout Spain. Food is good, plentiful and cheap and local specialities include the breast shaped cheese, the soft and rich queso de tetilla and tarta de Santiago (almond cake). There are also still some bars which have old outside, medieval toilets which have to be seen to be believed! Santiago is also the place to hear the traditional folk music with Celtic music played on bagpipes (gaitas) and hurdy gurdy (zanfona). It is also one of the wettest cities in Europe although the winters are normally significantly milder than in northern Europe.In relation to Santiago and St. James Way there is further information in the Regional Info page

Typical Street in Santiago

The photos above have been taken by the following authors:

Photo 1: by Contando Estrelas @

Photo 2: by Souter Mike SouterMedia.Com, @ Picasa

Photo 3: by disgustipado @

Photo 4: by mark0s @

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