Santiago, is the third pilgrimage destination for the Catholic religion after Jerusalem and Rome. Every year, hundred of thousands of pilgrims follow the traditional path of Santiago by foot, bicycle or horseback to reach the Cathedral where the Holy Sepulcher is.
Santiago de Compostela main 2 tourist attractions
The Camino de Santiago has long been a challenging physical and spiritual journey that people of all walks of life have undertaken to achieve enlightenment and “test their metal”. The walk takes days to complete on foot and can be grueling at points, but the connection to nature and to one’s inner voice that you will experience is well worth the effort. Enjoy this complete guide of El Camino to prepare your trip. … Read More
University of Santiago de Compostela and Fonseca
This is one of Spain´s oldest universities since Santiago de Compostela shares with the city of Salamanca and Alcala de Henares near Madrid being one of the first university cities in Spain (and Europe) It was founded in 1501 though the present building was built between 1769 and 1805. It was designed by Melchor del Prado and altered by famous architect Ventura Rodriguez. The building was extended at the end of the XIX century. The great hall contains fantastic frescos, and the library (late 18th Century) has Ferdinand I´s book of hours (a Mozarabic manuscript from 1055 with miniatures).
Some of the colleges that shape the university of Santiago de Compostela are also very interesting. The Colegio Mayor de Fonseca was founded in 1525 and built-in plateresque and renascence style. It holds a fascinating portal and cloister.Colegio de San Jerónimo and Colegio de la Compania (formerly a jesuit college) are also exciting buildings. One of our favorite sights in Santiago!
The university environment. Santiago’s university welcomes 33,000 students each year. This university spirit spreads joy and vitality throughout the city giving it a very special atmosphere.
Santiago food market (Mercado de Abastos)
This colorful permanent market is a vibrant space where locals and tourists alike mingle every day. The Mercado de Abastos or Santiago de Compostelamarket is open every day except Sundays and on holidays.
The food market of Santiago was established 3 centuries ago, and it was always in the same location. The current building was built in 1941 after the demolition of the previous city market in 1937.
After the Cathedral of Santiago, this market is the second most visited attraction in Santiago. In its different shops, you will find a complete range of local Galician food. The market is very well-known for the quality of seafood and fish available, but you will also discover local Galician cheeses, wine, and liquors, honey or local artisan bread and pastries (the famous empanadas gallegas)
The market is managed today by a system of co-ownership. Seventy food producers co-owned the space. There is a rich mixture of stalls. Local ladies sell traditional Galician vegetables like Padron peppers or grelos (green leaves of turnip)
You will find many bars and restaurants near Mercado de Abastos. So the market has evolved not just into a food market, but also a place in which you can enjoy a glass of wine and tapa before you continue your visit to Santiago de Compostela.
Alameda Park in Santiago de Compostela
There are many Parks in Santiago de Compostela and, as a matter of fact, you will be able to spot greenery from many of the streets of the old quarter.
Out of all the parks, la Alameda, as locals refer to it, is probably the most accessible and interesting for tourists. It is very close to the Cathedral of Santiago and the old quarter. It is probably its privilege location, with spectacular views of the beautiful western façade of the Cathedral, bring many tourists seeking fresh air and a bit of urban nature.
The Alameda park in Santiago consists in reality of 3 parks: Paseo de la Alameda, Carballeira de Santa Susana and paseo de la Ferradura.
A complete tour of the park will take you some 30 minutes.
One of the highlights of the park is the sculpture of As Marias. This is, after the Cathedral and Plaza del Obradorio, probably the most photographed attraction in Santiago de Compostela. We recommend you get to visit As Marias and take yours! The sculpture portraits two sisters whose family was prosecuted during the Franco regime. The 2 sisters used to stroll in the Alameda park with colorful dresses that stand out at that time. They would always take their daily walk at 2 pm. It is believed that they suffered from some sort of mental disorder, and they used to tease university students. They were very much loved by locals, and after their death, a colorful statue was put in the Alameda park.
Hospital Real (hostal de los Reyes Católicos)
Located on the northern side of the Plaza del Obradoiro this hospital was founded by Ferdinand and Isabella. For centuries this was a pilgrim hostel and then it was changed into a Parador (luxury hotel chain owned by the Spanish state) . The lovely portal, with plateresque features, is the work of French artists. Of interest are the chapel (late Gothic and Renaissance) the two courtyards on either side of the chapel.
The chapel and courtyards can be visited but in high season a guided group is needed. This is one of the top attractions in Santiago de Compostela and has lots of history of El Camino on its back!
San Martin Pinario Monastery
This monastery is opposite to the north façade of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. It is the second-largest monastery in Spain after the Monastery of El Escorial near Madrid. This monastery is closely linked to the history of Santiago de Compostela. Built as an oratory in 912, it was extended in 1109 by Gelmirez. For a time, it ruled 32 other monasteries. The complex was extended on several occasions and, as such, is built on different styles. The monastery façade dates back to the 16C. There are three cloisters and a baroque fountain. The monastery accumulated a good amount of wealth during the XV Century, and this enabled the construction of the church.
The impressive tripartite façade bears 15 statues in niches between the columns. Inside there is a splendid high altar retable, which is a stunning example of Galician baroque. The aisles at San Martin Pinario Monastery have fine churrigueresque altars. There is also a remarkable choir. This is a less visited attraction in Santiago de Compostela and one that will please above all art, architecture and history lovers.
Bars, restaurants and wines
The gastronomy of Santiago is an active cultural part of the city and one of the top attractions in Santiago for sure, specially for foodies. The range of restaurants in Santiago de Compostela, bars and taverns is spectacular with prices to suit all budgets and a common denominator of quality. Try the local produce, especially seafood, fish and Galician beef.
The Galician wines can be sampled at the many tapas bars of Santiago. One can taste wines from the five Galician Denominations of Origin. The ‘Albariño’ of the Rias Baixas region are among the best whites in the world. The ‘Godello’ (D.O. Valdeorras) is beginning to stand out for its quality. Among the reds is the ‘Mencia’ (D.O. Ribeira Sacra) born 20 centuries ago to satisfy the palates of the Roman emperors. And finally the two wines of Orense, the ‘Ribeiro’, which offers both white and red, and the ‘Monterrei’ wines with low acidity.
And of course, don’t miss Santiago by night when bars, pubs and nightclubs open their doors. At night, special lights are cast on the streets of the historic city. The nostalgic yellow lighting embellishes monuments, softening the edges and contributing to the timeless atmosphere of Santiago.
As you have seen in this list with top attractions in Santiago de Compostela, there are many reasons to visit city 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.
The historical center has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO with its streets and squares full of monuments from various architectural movements. Beginning with the most outstanding work of Romanesque art such as the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, followed by the plateresque portal of the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos 1501, a current state-run hotel (Parador Nacional), and finally, the former Renaissance style San Roque Hospital connected to its baroque church, and the nearby baroque convent of Santa Clara. Convents, monasteries and medieval churches complete the monumental heritage of Santiago.
Santiago is the capital of Galicia, the door to the Galician community and the city with a wider offer of accomodation in the region. Galicia is a place in which nature and gastronomy delight tourists along with its wealth of monuments, extensive historical heritage, mountain landscapes and stunning coastlines where magical legends of sailors and mermaids are hidden among the cliffs. The cathedrals of the sea, the Tower of Hercules, the cliffs of Vixia Herbeira, or the Cies Islands are just a few of Galicia’s treasures.
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