Ever since remains attributed by tradition to the Apostle St James were discovered in Compostela in the ninth century, each year thousands of pilgrims make their way to this destination.

There are several different historic routes that will take us to this World Heritage Site city. Whichever we choose, with each step, we’ll feel the heartbeat of Jacobean magic.

We’ll enjoy a day in Santiago de Compostela, visiting its stone structures and hot springs

We’ll discover some of Galicia’s most picturesque fishing villages on the way to Fisterra. There, we’ll watch the sun sink into the Atlantic.

More information...
-Pilgrim’s Office (Santiago). www.peregrinossantiago.es
-Cathedral of Santiago. www.catedraldesantiago.es

Day 1

Monumental grandeur, gastronomy and hot springs in Santiago

Entering Compostela after following the Way of St James after travelling for so long – sometimes even weeks or months – will give us a one-of-a-kind feeling.

An endless number of beautiful streets and squares
We’ll head off to the Porta do Camiño, where long ago Camino Francéspilgrims entered the walled city of Compostela. Santiago’s mediaeval walls no longer stand, although in the city names such as Mazarelos Porta, Porta Faxeira, Mámoa da Porta and Porta do Camiño continue to be used.

We’ll go up Rúa das Casas Reais, where we’ll have a chance to look at some façades with noble family crests that do honour to the street’s name. We’ll cross the charming Praza de Cervantes square before diving into the Rúa da Acibechería, named after the guild of craftsmen who carved jet stone. Even today we’ll find numerous metal smiths who will offer us their creations.

Before arriving at Compostela’s majestic basilica, we’ll leave to our right the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario, which was founded by Benedictine monks in the tenth century. One of the most powerful in Galicia, the complex – which occupies about 20,000 square metres – is one of the largest buildings of its kind existing in Spain.

Praza do Obradoiro square is one of the most beautiful in the world

A mysterious stone arch allows us to cross underneath the twelfth-century Palace of Archbishop Xelmírez, the most famous in Santiago’s history. All at once, we’ll come faceto- face with the marvellous Praza do Obradoiro square, kilometre zero of all Jacobean routes.

A sublime moment in time, we’ll surely share our joy with dozens of pilgrims who are amazed at seeing so many works of art. On one side we’ll find the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, – a Renaissance work whose construction was ordered by Isabella of Castile and Ferdinand of Aragon – and, on the other, the College of San Xerome, a late Gothic work dating from the fifteenth century. Behind us is Pazo de Raxoi,the current city council building and a neoclassical recreation of balanced shapes.

While facing us is the stone symphony of the Obradoiro’s fascinating baroque façade, called thus due to having been the worksite of the stonemasons who carved the Galician granite, transforming cold stone into exquisite plastic shapes. We’ll feel overwhelmed as we contemplate this square, one of the most beautiful in the world.

San Martiño Pinario Monastery,
which occupies some 20,000 square metres,
is one of the largest
in Spain

We pick up our “Compostela” and tour the cathedral
Before entering the cathedral, we suggest that you head over to the Pilgrim’s Office, where they’ll certify your pilgrimage with a mediaeval-era document known as the “Compostela”. You can leave your backpacks here and enjoy a more relaxed tour of the city.

Noon Mass is dedicated to the pilgrims and, during the Holy Year or on certain liturgical dates, the enormous censer known as the botafumeiro is made to work. Seeing this will take our breath away and remain forever in our fondest memories.

The Cathedral de Santiago offers us a plethora of treasures. The most universal of these is the Pórtico da Gloria, the culminating work of Romanesque art, carved in stone by Maestro Mateo and his school of masons. You simply must visit the crypt where Apostle’s tomb is located, and do the traditional embrace of his image, which presides over the central altar.

The most exquisite delicacies of Galician cuisine
It’s time to look for a restaurant and sample the highly appreciated Galician cuisine. On the nearby Rúa do Franco – its was named thus to identify the pilgrims, mainly of French origin, who settled there – we’ll find a wide variety of establishments specialising in the fresh, local products of the native cuisine. Fish, seafood and meats are on public display in refrigerated showcases, capturing the attention of passersby, especially outsiders, who are often surprised by this culinary exhibition. This will also be a good opportunity to sample the famous torta de Santiago, a cake made of crushed almonds.

After lunch, we can take a tranquil stroll through the city’s Old Town. The Rúa do Vilar, the Rúa Nova, the squares surrounding the cathedral and the remaining mediaeval streets will gradually reveal their secrets to us. We’ll easily find a charming café to have a rest while witnessing the spectacle of continuously wandering tourists.

Relaxing at a hot springs or other type of spa
To finish off the day, we suggest a relaxing option designed to relieve the fatigue of our pilgrimage. In Santiago, we’ll find several options for establishments with different kinds of spas as well as a hot springs spa or two with certified micromedicinal waters. A thermal circuit, followed by a massage, will be the best way to end our day. Dinner at our hotel-spa will be the finishing touch.

Day 2

Fishing villages on the way to Fisterra

Santiago de Compostela is the traditional end of the pilgrimage to Santiago. However, thousands of people decide to continue their path of spirituality until they reach Fisterra, the “end of the earth” as the Romans called it.

We’ll spend this second day getting close to the seafaring world of Galicia through its most picturesque villages. We propose that you hire a car for an excursion in search of the place where the sun sinks into the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean.

Noia’s Old Town
The first stop will be in the small town of Noia. We can take a walk around its Old Town with its mediaeval layout and stroll over to the Church of Santa María A Nova to have a look at the collection of guild-related tombstones on display there. These are tombstones with marks or signs carved on them identifying the guild to which the deceased belonged (sailors, blacksmiths, masons, shoemakers, and so on). At times, these signs were interpreted as dark symbolic messages.

In Muros we’ll sample the very best fish and shellfish
From Noia we’ll continue on our way to Muros, along the coast of its estuary, discovering breathtaking seascapes at every turn. In this town, we’ll find fine places to sample seafood from the Galician sea, a selection filled with freshness and flavour that class them among the best in the world.

During the Middle Ages, Muros – which was founded in the tenth century – was one of the most important of Galicia’s ports; it was declared a historical/artistic complex in 1970. Its waterfront, surrounded by inviting colonnades, is the starting point of narrow streets that will lead us to solidly impressive buildings along with others that are more rustic and seafaring. We’ll take the opportunity to visit the “maritime” Gothic Church of San Pedro de Muros, or the Hermitage de San Roque, situated at the town’s highest point, from which we’ll have a lovely view of the entire region.

The River Xallas’s waterfall
into the sea,
a unique phenomenon in Europe.

Granaries, waterfalls and the taste of the sea
Along this coastal route we’ll find places that invite us to stop our vehicle and will gift us with extraordinary views and landscapes of lighthouses and untamed beaches. It is said that Carnota is home to the Galicia’s largest granary whose spectacular beauty deserves our visit.

In the small village of Ézaro, we’ll discover another natural wonder: the River Xallas’s waterfall emptying directly into the sea, a rarity in continental Europe. From the viewpoint at the top of the waterfall, we’ll contemplate one of the most beautiful maritime images of Galicia.

Later, it’ll be worth the effort to make a brief stop in Corcubión, before ending our outing in the village of Fisterra. This is a very picturesque setting offering all the authenticity and seafaring-flavoured atmosphere of Galician coastal villages. We’ll sample the delicious plaited bread with egg, made here with great skill.

Sunset over the sea at Fisterra
A visit to the Fisterra Lighthousewill be the day’s most anticipated moment. If we’ve calculated the time right, we can stop here long enough to watch the mesmerising scene of the setting sun that from time immemorial has led to religious rites taking place here, and which has been identified as an “ara solis”, an ancient solar altar. After the last light, it will be time to return to Santiago de Compostela or to take the opportunity to stop at one the many local restaurants to treat our weary bodies to a delicious dinner.

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