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Santiago de Compostela - A travel report by Martin
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Santiago de Compostela,  Spain - flag Spain
6644 readers

martin's travel reports

Santiago de Compostela, city of churches

  8 votes
Santiago is the goal of many christian pilgrims that goes there to visit the grave of St. James (spanish Santiago, german Jakobus). It is the third most important christian pilgrim place after Jerusalem and Rome.

As said in the introduction is Santiago a important christian place, where the cathedral has the main roll, it also dominates the old city center. The legend says that apostle St. James was, after his death in Israel, brought and buried here by a group of christians that where lead by an angel. During the reconquest of Spain from the Moors the search of the grave began in the second half of the 8. hundred, they found an marble coffin and built an church. As early as in the 1100 century was the path to the grave where very popular, pilgrims coming from different countries in Europe. Every year comes pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, the main celebration is on 25th of July, if the 25th is on a sunday it is a hole year with extras. / The cathedral (dimensions: 97 m tall, 65 m wide, the dome is 32 m high and the tower 70 m) has been rebuild and changed quite a few times over the years, and has some interesting details. Like that behind the baroque west front the portal is in romanesque and counted as one of the most important ones for that period of architecture. The west side itself turns in to gold colour when the evening sun falls on it. This side is on the main Plaza, Plaza del Obradorio, where people and artists always are doing something. Santiago de Compostela is also capital of Galicia so there are governmental buildings too, beside all religious ones. There are about 100.000 habitants and a lot of university students leaving in Santiago, making it a young and cheerful city.

Favourite spots:
My favourite spot is the plaza Platerías on the west side of the cathedral. Here you are almost in the middle and it is also nearby the pilgrim office, so many people are stopping by here. The view up to the cathedral with the tower is beautiful. On this side of the cathedral there is a double portal in romanesque style.

What's really great:
To walk around, and try to find all buildings that the tourist information map showed (it was not always easy as I tended to walk to fast and read the map wrong). But anyhow, walking along the streets looking at people and take it easy over something to drink. The whole old center is built up with stone and even if I have seen stone towns before was this more and somehow overwhelming.

There are alot of hostels and hotels in Santiago de Compostela, no problem to find one that is either in the center or just outside of the downtown. I had a room at Santa Catalina, about 50 m from the cathedral, Rua de Xelmirez 18 – 2°.

To relax I can recommend Cafe Casino in Rus Villar 35, a cafe with a special atmosphere. If you like Mojito or would like to try, I do recommend to go to Rua de San Paio de Antealtares 22 (I do not know the name of the place). But, They serve the best Mojitos I have had outside of Cuba, lovely! Nearby there is a small plaza with other places, they are crowded from midnight on.

There is an vegetarian restaurant (Rua de Aller Ulloa). A little of from the center, near Convento Santo Domingo. Good vegetarian food. In the street Raíña 14 the restaurante Los Caracoles (the snail) has a good kitchen and my last recommendation is the tapas bar A taberna do bispo in Rua de Franco 37B. Here you will find good tapas and alot of them, but it is not cheap.

Other recommendations:
The market Mercado de Abastos at Plaza del Abastos, built in granite stone. I like markets, I can see what the local people prefer and if I would like to try everything. Sometimes the locals eat strange things.

Published on Saturday September 4th, 2004

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Fri, Jan 28 2005 - 06:07 AM rating by davidx

Call it a quirk in me if you like - but I don't like the cathedral, much as I like some of the architectural detail. However this is a really good report and, with pics, would be worth 4/5*

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