Santiago de Compostela
According to legend, the remains of the apostle James were brought to Galicia and in the early 9th century they were discovered at Santiago de Compostela. The cathedral was built, on the spot where his remains were found, in his honour.
With it’s twin Baroque towers standing high above the Plaza del Obradoiro, the cathedral is a beautiful sight, and in mediaeval times was the third most important place of pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome.
Around the Plaza del Obradoiro are a number of historic buildings including the elegant 18th century neoclassical Pazo de Raxoi built by Archbishop Raxoi in 1766, to house children who where either in the choir and / or from the workshop. It is now home to the city’s Ayuntamiento. Also in the plaza is the 15th century Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, a pilgrim hostal founded by King Fernando & Queen Isabella. Today it is a parador hotel and regarded as one of the oldest hotels in the world.
The hotel provides free meals to pilgrims three times a day every day. Mealtimes are: breakfast at 09:00, lunch at 12:00 noon and dinner at 19:00. You must wait at the garage entrance to the left of the main hotel entrance and have a copy of your Compostella with you as proof you have completed the walk. In summer or peak times arrive early as the free meals are only limited to the first 10 pilgrims. You are entitled to take these meals within 3 days of your arrival in Santiago.
To collect your certificate, Compostela, from the front of the Catedral take a right and walk up along the side of the cathedral onto Rúa de Gilmirez and take a right onto Rúa Vilar. Casa do Deán is on the right.
As long as you have completed at least the last 100km of the camino, you are eligible to receive the Compostela. The office is on the second floor and you will need to produce your pilgrim passport as proof you have completed the required 100km.
There is a travel desk on the ground floor, that offer discounts, if you need to make any return travel arrangements.
A Pilgrim’s Mass is held each day at noon for pilgrims in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Pilgrims who received the Compostela the day before have their countries of origin and the starting point of their pilgrimage announced at the Mass. The musical and visual highlight of the mass is the synchronisation of the beautiful ‘Hymn to Christ’ with the spectacular swinging of the huge ‘butafumeiro’.
Other sites in the city include the Plaza de la Azabacheria which originally opened the legendary Puerta del Paradiso (door of the paradise), through which the pilgrims entered the cathedral. It was replaced by the neoclassical work of Ventura Rodriguez, which is still seen there today.
The impressive 16th century Baroque Monasterio de San Martin Pinario is situated in Plaza de la Inmaculada and was founded by a group of Benedictines who, shortly after the discovery of the Saint James’ remains, settled in the place called Pignario, near the Iglesia de Corticela which now forms part of the Cathedral.
Legend has it that the Convento de San Francisco de Valdediós was founded by St. Francis of Assisi during his visit to Santiago de Compostela in 1214, at the place called Val de Dios. The land was purchased from the monks of San Mariño for the symbolic annual rent of a basket of trout. St. Francis commissioned a coalman called Cotolay to build it which he was able to do thanks to the miraculous discovery of a treasure.
Nothing is left of the original Gothic building except for five arches in the cloister and Cotolay’s tomb. The Baroque monastery you see today was built in 17th century.
Getting There & Back
Albergue Seminario Menor de Belvis, Rúa Trompas. Tel: (0034) 981 58 92 00
Beds: 177. Open all year. Has laundry facilities as well as internet access.
Albergue San Lázaro, Rúa de San Lázaro. Tel: (0034) 981 57 14 88
Beds: 80 in six rooms. Open all year. Has cooking & laundry facilities.
Albergue Acuario, Calle Estocolmo 2. Tel: (0034) 981 57 54 38
Beds: 50. Open all year. Has dining & laundry facilities.
Hostal Estela *, Rúa Raxoi 1. Tel: (0034) 981 58 27 96
Hostal Barbantes *, Rúa do Franco 3. Tel: (0034) 981 58 10 77
Check here for great deals on hotels in Santiago de Compostela or check here to see if there is any budget hostel accommodation in the area
Camping As Cancela, Calle 25 de Xullo, 35. Tel: (0034) 981 58 02 66
Where to Eat
Most typical is Galician fish including hake, turbot, grouper, sea bass, sole, read bream and monkfish that you will find in abundance in Santiago’s large variety of restaurants.
Fish can be served grilled, baked, or served in succulent Galician-style stews with garlic sauce, olive oil and a lot of cayenne pepper in a Caldeirada, a fish cocktail and in Zarzuela, casserole which contains a variety of spices, potatoes, beans and prawns or clams.
Galicia ‘s many rivers also provide a lot of salmon, trout and lamprey.
Another well-known dish is Empanada Gallega, a pie of fish, meat or vegetables.
Santiago de Compostela’s famous dessert is the so-called Tarta de Santiago, whose ingredients include a combination of ground almond, eggs, sugar, butter and a little cinnamon topped by a layer of icing sugar bearing the Apostle’s cross.
If dessert isn’t your thing then there are many cheeses to choose from such as Arzúa-Ulloa, O Cebreiro or San Simón, a pointed, smoked cheese. By far the favourite Galician cheese is the Queso de Tetilla, characterised by its mild taste and distinctive conical shape.
To accompany your meal there are wines from all over Galicia to choose from. The wines of the region have a great reputation too, especially Ribeiro, young and fresh, but don’t leave out the chance to try Fefiñanes, Betanzos, Rosal, Valdeorras, Ulla and Amandi.
Tourist Information/ Oficina de Turismo
Post Office / Oficina de Correos
Post Office. Travesía de Fonseca. General Information: Tel: (0034) 902 197 197.
Santiago Post Office: Tel: (0034) 981 58 1 252.
Medical & Emergency Services
Emergency Number for all services: 112
Local Police: Pazo de Raxoi. Tel: (0034) 981 54 23 23. Emergencies: 092
National Police: Rodrigo de Padrón 3. Tel: (0034) 981 55 11 00. Emergencies: 091
Civil Guard: 062
Accident & Emergency Ward, Clinical Hospital. Vidán. Tel: (0034) 981 95 00 00.
Medical Emergencies: 061
Fire Brigade: 080
Lost Property, Municipal Office in Rúa da Trinidadee. Tel: (0034) 981 54 30 27 / 981 54 23 23.
Train Station: Calle Hórreo. Tel: (0034) 902 24 02 02 / 981 59 18 59
Bus Station: San Caetano 8. Tel:(0034) 981 54 24 16
Airport: Lavacolla. Tel: (0034) 981 54 75 00 / 981 54 75 01
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