Whether you’ve travelled the Way or not, our route now brings us to the Galician capital, Santiago de Compostela, a Christian pilgrims’ destination since the 9th century.

From as far afield as the Baltic or the North Sea, thousands of pilgrims came on foot to the shrine of St James in Galicia, carrying their symbolic scallop shells along all the roads leading to Santiago, veritable paths of faith. To this we must add the fact that during the Romanesque and Baroque periods the shrine at Santiago de Compostela had a decisive influence on the evolution of architecture not just in Galicia, but throughout the whole of the north of the Iberian Peninsula

Before stepping inside the cathedral, the ideal thing to do is to stroll through the narrow streets of the Old Town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and colloquially referred to as “the almond“. The Rúa do Franco, with its characteristic restaurants, or the Rúa do Vilar, with its porticos, will lead you to the cathedral itself. When you get there, take the time to visit the Praza do Obradoiro and take a good look around you: the Pazo de Raxoi, home to the City Council; the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, now a state-owned Parador; the colexio de San Xerome, home to the University Vice-Chancellor’s Office and the Cathedral combine to constitute an unparalleled framework that makes you feel small in comparison with such splendid old buildings. The strains of a bagpipe in the background, coming from under the archway leading to the Pazo de Xelmírez, will further enrich the experience (if such a thing is possible), so keep an ear out for the music!

As you enter the Cathedral through the magnificent Pórtico da Gloria, the work of Master Mateo, you will be welcomed by the mason’s likeness (known colloquially as the “Saint of Bumps“) and the knowing smile on Daniel’s face. Wander round the inside of the building in a spirit of absorption, taking in the magnitude of this great work of architecture, before you visit the Apostle’s tomb. Spend time in front of each side chapel, and notice all the small details of the stunning high altar. Stay to listen to Mass, and if you’re lucky you’ll see the botafumeiro, a huge censer swinging high above your head, in a rite unique to Santiago. You too will undoubtedly feel the inner peace and emotions of a pilgrim, a sensation of finally having reached a goal, of having fulfilled a desire …

Don’t forget to visit all the different squares that surround the Cathedral, with names like Praza da Inmaculada, Praza da Acibechería, Praza da Quintana and Praza de Praterías, the latter giving on to the cathedral’s sole surviving Romanesque front. The names of two of these squares derives from the old medieval guilds, perpetuated in the present day in the form of shops where you can buy items made of silver or jet, a perfect souvenir of your stay in this city.

After this magical tour, you can’t leave Santiago without having something to eat in one of the characteristic restaurants that line the Rúa do Franco, each with its splendid window display of the best that Galicia’s coast and fields has to offer: goose barnacles, octopus, spider crab, sea bass and veal, to name but a few. And what better than one of the region’s fine wines to accompany your meal, which you can round off with a slice of the local dessert, an almond tart known as torta de Santiago.The ideal end to your stay in Santiago is to walk up to the Alameda and its Paseo da Ferradura, which offers a magnificent view of the Cathedral; there can be no better way of saying goodbye to the capital of Galicia.

For tour information...
- Find out more at... www.santiagoturismo.com

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