Santiago de Compostela is the Capital of Galicia region and is well known all over of the world as a lively city. Santiago it is not only popular with the tourist because its cafes and surroundings but also its architecture, museums, gastronomy, and of course El Camino de Santiago (The Way of S. James). Visitors interested in culture should not miss out the Ciudad de la Cultura de Galicia.
The Old City of Santiago de Compostela is a monumental and well preserved medieval city and its ancient buildings were constructed around the tomb of Apostle Santiago. In fact, in 818 Alfonso II king of Asturias, known as the Casto ( 760-842), ordered to build a church in the same site where the hermit Pelayo had found the tomb of the Apostle in 814. Although the city was destroyed by Almanzor in 997 it was rebuilt in the 11th and 12 th centuries. Moreover in the following centuries emblematic buildings were constructed in this city which was declared a World of Heritage site in 1985.
Santiago de Compostela is situated in the north-west of Spain and has about 96.000 inhabitants. It takes about two days to visit Santiago of Compostela city. You can arrive in Santiago by car, by bus, by train, by air, and of course, on foot because the most people make a pilgrimage to the Way of Saint James.
Route: The Old City of Santiago de Compostela
Actually there are so many interesting buildings in this baroque city that the best option is to stroll along its pedestrian streets and squares admiring its architecture, such as Obradoiro Square which is the most famous site of the city, here tourists can see: the Cathedral, the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, Colegio de San Xerone and Palacio de Raxio all them worth a visit. Surrounding the Cathedral visitors will find other three squares and several streets all are must-see places.
Bordering the Cathedral visitors will find other three squares: The Inmaculada Square with the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario in baroque style. The north facade of the Cathedral features baroque and neoclassical elements, it is a perfect place to take a rest. The Quintana Square with the Monastery de San Paio of Antealtares, the Cathedral’s Clock Tower which has one of the most big bell in the world that can be heard from 20 kilometres around, and the baroque Holy Door facade in the east of the Cathedral. Finally, Platerias Square is bordering the Clock Tower. In the Romanesque south facade of the Cathedral, it’s located La Casa del Dean (the Pilgrims Office), and in the middle of the square is the Fountain of the Horses.
Following the walk through its medieval streets and squares visitors will enjoy baroque, romanesque, renaissance and neoclassical buildings in Rua do Vilar, Rua Nova, Rua Tras Salome and Rua Franco which is well known by its traditional restaurants, taverns and bars where people can have a drink or try their traditional tapas. Before going to Cathedral visitors should visit Colegio de Fonseca where they can stare a breathtaking cloister. By the way, most tourists will like to experience the pilgrim mass and watch the botafumerio in action, so they should know that it is at 12 midday in the Cathedral.
It takes 3 hours to visit the old city on foot, however, if people want to attend the pilgrim pass it will take about 5 hours.
Tourists will enjoy the city more if they have free time to take a rest or have a drink and eat some tapas in the taverns and bars before entering the Cathedral.
What to visit in Santiago de Compostela
– The Cathedral of Santiago of Compostela is the largest Romanesque church in Spain it was constructed between 11th and 18th centuries, (in Romanesque, Gothic, renaissance and baroque style) its great beauty, design, splendor let us imagine its history. Therefore, a must for people who arrive in Santiago is the Cathedral and its spectacular facades: the Obradorio in the west and Holy Door in the east are baroque style , the Platerias in the south is Romanesque style, and Inmaculada in the north is neoclassical style, to add the four squares around the cathedral which have interesting buildings.The inside of the Cathedral is spectacular and although you have heard a lot of tourists talk about the outstanding Cathedral until you see it yourself it is impossible to imagine.
Do not leave the Cathedral without seeing its museum, cripta (crypt) and claustro (cloister). If you have free time do not miss out going up the rooftops of Cathedral you will like the breathtaking view of the city and surroundings. By the way, if you want to attend the pilgrim mass it is at 12 midday. Do not forget it is the destination The Way of S. James’ pilgrims.
– Mercados de Abastos (Food Market): is the most visited market in Santiago by citizens and tourists who can buy the best fresh seafood and market’s bar will cook it while shoppers look around and wait for their lunch. In a friendly way tourist will enjoy the traditional market where people can taste the delicious fruit, fish, cheese, honey wine and so on. It is placed in the Old City.
– The Alameda Park, which is near the old city, has a lot of facilities for tourists, citizens and children, being an ideal place for all family with its drinking fountains, picnic area , benches for resting is the most visited park in Santiago for the walks and leisure, Moreover this park has the best points to taking beautiful photographs of the cathedral above all at sunset.
– Way of St James. Pilgrimage routes: Most visitors to Santiago are here to experience the Way of S. James. Because it is the final destination of the pilgrims. It was declared a World Heritage site in 1993 by UNESCO
Read also our post with the best cities and monuments to visit in Spain.