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Santiago De Compostela Mini Guide
What can you Tell me About Santiago de Compostela?
It is the destination of the most famous Catholic pilgrimage route in the world, The Way of St James. The apostle is believed to have been buried under the site of the 9th century cathedral after making his way to Spain from the Holy Land to carry out missionary work. Today, thousands of Catholics walk at least part of the way from France
along the accepted route, the Via Regia. The cathedral itself is breath-taking and is a must-see whilst you’re there. Also of note is the Praza Obradoiro, the square in front of the cathedral and the meeting point for the thousands who complete the pilgrimage. Around the rest of the square you’ll find many more architectural treasures linked with the pilgrimage.
How do I get to Santiago de Compostela?
You can do the 450 mile walk or arrive on horseback as many pilgrims did. Others cycle it but the majority come in by plane to the local airport. Handily, the route passes right by the airport terminal. The airport, also known as Lavacolla is just on the outskirts of the city and transport into the city centre is easily obtained.
What is There to see and do in Santiago de Compostela?
Most of the places to see are ecclesiastical buildings or buildings related to them. The place of pilgrimage spawned many churches, resting places, schools etc. over the centuries and each now has a place in the history and architecture of the city. Moving slightly away from the architecture, the cathedral museum will give you the story behind all the glamour from the arrival of St James to his place in legend fighting the Arabs to the history of the modern day pilgrimage. If all this religion is getting too much then try the Museum of the Galician People whose history and culture seems to have taken second place to that of the saint. Finally, there’s the Galician Centre of Modern Art for a look at how the lives of the people and the surroundings they live in has influenced modern art in the region.
What Should I buy Whilst There?
You have so many choices of things to buy connected with the Pilgrimage; walking sticks, staffs, traditional water bottles and the shell associated with the walk. There’s also the local distinctive ceramics and the jewellery made locally in a strangely Celtic style.
What Should I eat in Santiago de Compostela?
Galicia is world renowned for its cuisine. In Santiago the most popular dish is called ‘pulpo’ and is cooked octopus. There are also the delicious cheeses of the area and the pastries called ‘Tarta de Santiago’. A lot of the food is served with pimento peppers which can be spicy or not, leading to your meal being a little of a taste lottery!
What About Festivals and Celebrations?
As you’d imagine the celebrations there are of a mainly religious kind and revolve around the feast day of St James. A week-long celebration of the saint ensues with processions, food, drink and music. It’s riotous but fun.
- One of the biggest events in the Santiago de Compostela religious calender is nearly upon us. From the 16th to the 20th May the Ascension Carnival takes place with parades of huge mannekins through the streets, music, dance food and more.
- The city is named after St James, the son of Zebedee and one of Jesus' disciples. His saints' day, July 25th, is a big day in the city. It's a public holiday and everyone comes out to enjoy the traditional Galician bagpipe music, the performances and the street parties as well as going to the special church services.