Why Travel to Santiago de Compostela?
A visit to the capital of Galicia is a must when travelling to this region of Spain. Located in the north-western part of Spain, in the province of A Coruña, known for being the final destination of one of the most important pilgrimages in the world, Camino de Santiago (The Way of St James). The old quarter of the city, the different Christian pilgrimage routes and the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985. A city where thousands of travellers and pilgrims visit every year especially during the Holy Year - Xacobeo (also called the Jacobean Year) which takes place when the day of St. James, July 25th, falls on a Sunday. That is the case of this year 2021, a perfect time to visit this monumental city.
Santiago de Compostela has a unique charm that no other city in the world can match. Its old cobbled streets, the numerous churches with different mixtures of architecture, and the granite buildings make you wonder if you have gone back to the medieval times.
A Spiritual and Religious City
The history of Santiago de Compostela begins around the year 813 when the hermit Paio (Pelayo), noticed lights and brightness in the place - an old Celtic fortress - where he found the tomb of the Apostle St James and of his disciples Athanasius and Theodore. The name of the place and origin of the city - Campus stellae, field of stars - refers to those that guided Paio (Pelayo) there.
The city of Santiago de Compostela is one of the three holy cities in the world where numerous pilgrims come to earn the absolution of all their sins and plenary indulgence, the other two are Rome and Jerusalem. There are a few routes that you can follow when you decide to do the Way of Saint James (Camino de Santiago) some of those important pilgrimage routes are: The French Way, The Northern Way, The Silver Way, The Portuguese Way, The English Way, The Portuguese Coastal Way, The Primitive Way and The Finisterre Way to land’s end.
Also mention the importance of the scallop shell worn by the pilgrims and located on the streets of the city, the lines of the shell symbolize the different ways leading to the tomb of Saint James.
Admire the Majestic Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is one of the most imposing and exceptional structures in the world built in Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque styles. It is also the last stop of all the different Ways of St. James, which has brought many pilgrims to the apostle’s sacred tomb.
Today, the massive Cathedral covers an area of around 10,000 square metres, capable of captivating with its powerful spirituality the faith of travellers, and with its beauty visitors from all over the world.
The Capital of Galicia Food and Wine
Santiago the Compostela offers a wide variety of places where you can taste the best galician gastronomy and the finest wines of the region. Enjoy some tapas in the old town paired with delicious wines like the red Mencia and the white Albariño or visit the splendid market, Mercado de Abastos, the second most visited place after the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral where you can see and learn about the fresh fish, seafood, meats and vegetables of Galicia.
Don’t forget to try the typical traditional galician dessert from Santiago de Compostela, Tarta de Santiago (St. James Almond Cake) a delicious cake that has been baked over the years since the 19th century and marks the end of the Jacobean route. This almond cake is a delicacy that you must try as soon as you get to Santiago de Compostela.
Our food experts have chosen the best tour operators offering tours with food, wine, and walking holidays in Santiago de Compostela. You can check our full list of top food tours to Santiago de Compostela and recommended boutique hotels in the sections of this Santiago de Compostela travel destination guide.
Population: 97,848 inhabitants