Santiago de Compostela became famous as a result of the great medieval pilgrimages to the tomb of the apostle James the Great. Around the middle 9th Century the rumour spread that the tomb of the apostle had been discovered in the Cantabrian coast in the distant kingdom of Galicia.
The rest of Spain was under Moorish rule at that time, but that was not the case of Galicia. The pilgrimage fell in importance after the 13th century, but there has been a revival of the Camino since the 1990s, and Santiago de Compostela is today a vibrant university town, with lots of heritage, fantastic gastronomy and the end of El Camino.
Santiago de Compostela is located 35 kilometers from the Atlantic ocean in the North West coast of Spain. The former head of the kingdom of Galicia, it is now the seat of the Galician region (Comunidad autonoma) and home of one of the oldest universities in Spain.
Santiago de Compostela is dominated by Monte Pedro, which is 2,400 feet above sea level. Excavations have revealed the presence of Romans in Monte Pedro.
The old quarter of Santiago de Compostela is walkable and cars are not permitted in most areas or there is limited parking. There are a good number of public undergrojund parkings in the fringes of the old district. They are the best option in case you travel by car and wish to visit the old quarter.
An average of 150,000 pilgrims arrive every year to Santiago de Compostela. Please bear in mind we refer to certified pilgrims (the ones that get their stamps at different stages of El Camino. Santiago is packed with students and many more tourists. Most local and international tourists arrive in July and August. At that time of the year, few students stay.
After Easter vacation is over, halfway through spring, the city turns into the bride of the world, and for this, the streets tidy up with perfume and orange blossom flowers. It puts on a flamenco outfit, striped white, red and green, with frills to celebrate the Seville April fair.
Only on the French way, you will find around 300 hostels, which helps a lot when it comes to preparing your itinerary for El Camino. Places to stay overnight, the parochial hostels and the religious orders were the first to open their doors. This reality has evolved a lot today
The “pilgrims mass” is a service you will be able to enjoy in a lot of the towns that you will go through. This is a service held normally at 8 pm if there are mass officiants available. These Pilgrim masses are specially destined for pilgrims. The Pilgrim Mass also takes places in Santiago de Compostela upon your arrival at the end of El Camino
From the 1000km of the Plata way that arrives from the west from Andalucia to the 44km of the Sea route that climbs up the Arousa sea inlet and the Ulla River. There are a lot of other paths (LINK) that pass by Spain, France or Portugal until getting to Santiago de Compostela.
La Compostela is the certificate that gets stamped during El Camino de Santiago and which certifies that you have at least made the last 100km by foot or the last 200km by bike or by horse. La Compostela, the “ pilgrims credentials”, gets stamped along the journey.
There are many reasons to visit Santiago in addition to it being the final destination of the pilgrimage. Besides its main tourist attractions of monuments and museums, the city has an incessant cultural agenda with arts, entertainment and leisure time activities offered throughout the year such as music, lectures, theater, cinema, concerts, exhibitions and festivals.
There are two different types of pilgrims of the Camino de Santiago; Christian pilgrims who are walking the path as a spiritual journey, and those who simply want to live the Saint James tour experience. In either case, there are clear differences in the motiviations of pilgrims and we can actually speak of a segmentation. We share it with you in this article so you can identify which is your style.