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More stories...

  • Marta Pomati...

    Marta Pomati...

    "This time, I'm walking along alone and I'm not well physically, which is why it's so hard for me to walk the Way..."

  • Roger Dubief and Lucie

    Roger Dubief and Lucie...

    "The Way of St. James is a special experience because of what we are, not what we do in life..."

  • David Kurten

    David Kurten...

    "When I walk four or five days, with only my backpack, I feel the peace and quiet of nature..."

  • Gabriela Ayestarán, Pilar Miranda and Andrea Torroba

    Gabriela Ayestarán, Pilar Miranda and Andrea Torroba

    "On the Way you learn a lot and it enables you to distance yourself from life forever. The atmosphere is incredible..."

  • Darvy Scott

    Darvy Scott

    "Walking the Way, I found an inner peace that comes out, and you realise you're completely in agreement with what you're doing..."

  • Adela González, Fernando Piedrafita and Fernandito

    Adela González, Fernando Piedrafita and Fernandito

    "When you get to Santiago, you are happy to have arrived, but you feel sorry because you've finished..."

  • Carlos Calafell Brucart and Carlos

    Carlos Calafell Brucart and Carlos

    "And the first time I did it, I realized what a person can do if you try..."

  • Joaquín Ibáñez

    Joaquín Ibáñez

    "I'm 60 years old, the fatigue takes its toll and my feet hurt, and maybe I'm a bit inconsistent, so I always intend to finish the Camino..."

  • Lidia Cuasés and Antonia Campos

    Lidia Cuasés and Antonia Campos

    "Antonia encouraged me, I got curious and came to see. My intention is to meditate, but it is not easy..."

  • Lola and Javier

    Lola and Javier

    "This time it was an opportunity to learn more about Lola. To live an experience on the edge, but of a certain harshness..."

  • David Domínguez

    David Domínguez

    "There are very hard times, too. Last year my bike broke down three times, and I was on the verge of walking away..."

  • Marie Danielle and Marie Pierre

    Marie Danielle and Marie Pierre

    "The Way is an experience of simplicity and joy, communion with nature and with all the faces or beings that live in my heart..."

St James Way...

Arrival in Santiago

Nowadays, when the traveller, pilgrim or tourist arrives in Compostela and looks up to the sight before them of the Obradoiro facade, they can only exclaim, “It’s been worth it”. Such a simple sentence has never meant so much. The city of Santiago possesses an unparalleled series of monuments. Its monasteries, churches, palaces, old streets and typical popular constructions, combined with its spiritual and cultural significance, have given it its deserved inclusion in the list of World Heritage Cities.


The history of Santiago began at the beginning of the IX century, when the Bishop of Iria, Teodomiro, confirmed the discovery of the sepulchre of the Apostle Saint James in the village of San Fiz de Solovio, which would end up becoming the city of Compostela. News of the discovery spread quickly across the whole of the Christian world, threatened at that time by the Islamic invasions. A grand basilica was built over the Apostle’s sepulchre, and a continual coming and going of travellers and pilgrims was established between Santiago and the rest of Europe. Faith, culture, trade and politics converged along the Way.

Four magnificent squares open up before the four doors of the basilica. The main one was given the name of Obradoiro, for having had for nearly ten years, between 1738 and 1747, the obradoiro, or workshop, where the stones for the Baroque facade were cut and carved. It was the work of the Galician architect Fernando Casas e Novoa, and it replaced the early Romanesque facade. The towers reach a height of 74 metres. Alongside, the Palacio de Gelmírez still survives, built in the XII century at the same time as the early Romanesque cathedral. The canons’ residence, on the opposite side, now houses the Cathedral Museum.

Another three buildings, of diverse periods and styles, close the square. Firstly, the College of San Xerome, founded by Bishop Fonseca, with a Romanesque-ogival portal; The Palacio de Raxoi, of XVIII century neo-classical style, which was built as a confessors’ seminary, a choirboys’ residence and town hall for the city. And finally, the Hospital Real, ordered to be built by the Catholic Kings to take in pilgrims and sick people. It is a fantastic example of Plateresque style, quite uncommon in Galicia, and is today a Tourist Parador.

The Plaza de la Acibechería is the first square encountered by the traveller entering Santiago by the French Way. This façade of the Cathedral was known as the Puerta del Paraíso, but was replaced by the present neo-classical style square in the XVIII century. The craft of jet working, closely linked to the Pilgrimage, prospered in Santiago from the XV century on. The workshops and stalls were here in the square.

On the opposite side, the door of the southern arm of the cathedral’s cross aisle preserves all the iconographic richness of the Romanesque art of Compostela’s golden age. It is the puerta de las Praterías. Alongside it stands the Torre del Reloj (Clock Tower), or the Berenguela, of Baroque style, as are the other buildings surrounding this square. Behind the cathedral is the wide expanse of the plaza de la Quintana. The Puerta Santa, which faces this square, is only open in the Compostela Holy Year, when the Apostle’s festival, the 25th of July, falls on a Sunday.

The buildings, towers and facades, which were added throughout the centuries, hide the great Romanesque cathedral. Construction began in 1075 at the order of Bishop Diego Peláez. The Pórtico de la Gloria, with its two hundred superbly carved figures, represents one of the most valuable works of universal Romanesque art. The central nave is a model of harmony, sobriety and grandiosity. In the nave of the cross aisle we can see an incredible spectacle, a gigantic censer, the Botafumeiro, one and half metres high and fifty kilograms in weight, which swings from one end to another of the transversal nave during the great religious ceremonies. The ritual is as old as the cathedral itself, and was written about in the Guide to the Pilgrim by Aymery Picaud in the XII century. At the head, with its beautiful apse aisle which opens out into ten apsidal chapels, a chaotic baroque altar surrounds the Romanesque sculpture of the Apostle to which the ritual embrace is given. Below the altar is the crypt containing the chest in which the mortal remains of Saint James are kept.

Before taking an entertaining and inspiring stroll around the network streets surrounding the cathedral, with their religious and civil monuments, we will collect the Compostela, the document certifying a completed pilgrimage. The certificate is only given to those who can prove with documentary evidence that they have come to Santiago on foot or on horseback from over 100 kilometres away, or over 200 by bicycle, in either a religious spirit or with a spiritual concern. It is handed out in the Casa do Deán, at 1, Rúa do Vilar street, a Baroque building which is also a pilgrims’ refuge. 


My trip

A miña viaxe

Preparing the trip...

Stores all necessary information to organize your trip: museums, monuments, attractions, lodgings, restaurants...

Once you do, you see the map of your route, save information in PDF or export your GPS locations

During the trip...

Already enjoying Galicia, here you see the map of your route, save information in PDF or export your GPS locations

If you have a phone with GPS poderás see your location on the map.

After the trip

Now you're back, you write that you think what you visited, and also mark that you could not see, to not forget the next!

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