Santiago de Compostela
The traditional way of getting to Santiago de Compostela is by walking about 780 km from St. Jean Pied-de-Port in France, on the Way of St. James. Try it, it's great! It is just as traditional to arrive on horseback, though considerably more difficult in terms of facilities. You may be able to stable your horse with a local farmer, but virtually no hostels provide this service. Cycling is also popular, but by far the greatest number of travelers (alas) arrive by coach, or only walk the last 100 km.
Iberia, Spanair, Ryanair and Vueling all offer air travel into the city. You can take either a cab or bus into the city from the airport.
The supposed burial place of Saint James, brother of John, Santiago de Compostela has been a site of pilgrimage for over a thousand years.
The tomb of Santiago ("Saint James") is located under the Cathedral. On regular occasions the church shows its "Botafumeiro", a huge solid silver incense burner which is swung from the ceiling of the church by a team of energetic men ("tiraboleiros") hauling on ropes.
The Obradoiro Square which is bordered by the Cathedral, the former Royal Hospital (now Hotel or Hostal dos Reis Catolicos), Raxoi Palace (Town Hall) and San Xerome Palace (which houses the offices of the University's Rector or President and has a lovely Romanesque archway), got its name because when the Cathedral was being built, workers were set up withe their tools and materials in the area.
Attached to the Cathedral is the Palacio de Xelmírez and there is also a museum in the Cathedral which is worth visiting.
O Museo do Pobo Galego is located in the Bonaval Church and is the burial site for several important Galician figures, o Panteón dos Galegos Ilustres. The museum has a nice assortment of objects that are illustrative of Galician popular culture, much of it now a thing of the past.
With your "credential" that proves you walked at least the last 100km, or biked at least the last 200km, you can obtain a diploma certifying completion of the pilgrimage. In the daily ceremony in the Cathedral at 12 it will be said how many people arrived and their country of origin.
The town is now a very important center for pilgrims. You can find all sorts of souvenirs related to "the camino": walking sticks, the typical water-bottles, and the shells that are typical for the camino.
The modernist ceramics of Sargadelos (Rua Nova, 16)
Galicia is known for "Pulpos" or cooked octopus. In general there are a lot of restaurants selling fish and seafood suitable for all budgets. The local cheeses should also be sampled, as well as delicious cakes like the "Torta de Santiago". Expect long queues at popular pilgrim eating places.
Try the Albariño wine.
- Licorcafe is a popular local liqueur, which tastes strongly of coffee.
- Crema de orujo is also a popular local drink.
For a quiet beer and a couple of tapas, try Agarimo, just off Plaza de Cervantes, or Restaurante San Jaime (not really a restaurant), a couple of minutes' walk from the cathedral. For dumb anglo-saxon beer-addicts feeling homesick, Moores Irish pub across from Parque Alameda.
Later in the evening, head in to the new zone for cheesy clubs galore- Meia, Blaster, Apollo... The list is endless. For a more chilled atmosphere, the old zone is full of little bars- Atlantico and Casa das Crechas are both good.
Just outside of Santiago is a small town called "Monte do Gozo". Some Pilgrims stop there before entering the city. It's a huge center and has almost 2000 beds. There is a frequent bus line that will take you to walking distance of the town center.
People with a bigger budget can stay in the luxury "Hotel Dos Reis Católicos", the former medieval pilgrim hostel, situated on the same square, O Obradoiro, as the cathedral. It is owned by the Paradores group, a large hotel-chain which operates hotels exclusively in historic buildings.
There is a 3 stars hotel near the cathedral, called Hesperia Gelmirez with very good rates.
For the budget traveler you can try Hostal R Mexico located at Republica Argentina 33. It's just a few blocks away from the train station.
- NH Obradoiro, Avenida Burgo das Nacions, +34.98.1558070 .
70km out of Santiago is the town called Finisterre. Before the Americas were discovered, people believed this was the end of the world (finis = end; terra = earth)
This page was last edited at 09:22, on 24 February 2009 by Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel. Based on work by Marius Mollersen, Wikitravel user(s) Texugo and Cacahuate, Anonymous user(s) of Wikitravel and others.