SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

The cathedral, the main atraction

Santiago de Compostela is a perfect destination for a short break in your daily life.
Santiago is unavoidably connected to the cathedral. It is the high landmark of the city and an impressive monument that never disappoints, despite of the cleaning and restoration works that have been taking place in the recent years.

The present building is the third construction after being destroyed twice. The King Alfonso II ordered to build the first church where the first pilgrims in the Camino started to arrive in the middle Ages. Due to the flow of pilgrims, the first church became too small and during the Kingdom of Alfonso III El Grande, the second church was built.
In the X century, Almanzor (from Al- Andalus) and his troops destroyed the church and part of Santiago city. The tomb of Apostle Saint James was respected that allowed the continuation of The Way. After this terrible demolition, the construction of a big cathedral was started for King Alfonso VI.

The architectural style of the present cathedral is a mixture of various styles due to the different periods of construction and the maintenance of some of the original elements.
The Old Town of Santiago and the cathedral were named World Heritage Site in 1985. This recognition is based on the influence of different styles which can be appreciated along the city, inside and outside the cathedral. The UNESCO considered that “the result of this mixture is a city where the original Galician architecture, with its typical wooden galleries and traditional materials, like stone, wood, or iron, combines with great monuments that constitute a splendid tour across the history of European and universal art”.

The cathedral is located in the Obradoiro square, the main one which is surrounded by three majestic buildings: the City Hall (named Pazo de Raxoi), the Reyes Católicos Hotel (The Parador) and the college of San Jerónimo. This impressive square is the final destination of the growing flow of pilgrims, they have to walk during at least one week or 100 kilometres to receive their Compostela stamp. Every day, this place is witness to the emotions of people who go into the square for seeing the cathedral and celebrate their arrival.

OBRADOIRO SQUARE/ PAZO RAXOI

This side of the cathedral is the main facade which is the most photographed. Everybody wants to take a picture in front of this impressive monument in spite of the construction scaffoldings. This facade of Obradoiro consists of two Romanesque towers: The Tower of Las Campanas, on the right, and the Tower of La Carraca, on the left. The current baroque facade was projected by the architect Fernando de Casas Novoa. In the central area the figure of the Apostle Saint James and at a lower level, their disciples Atanasio and Teodoro are located.

Besides the Obradoiro square, the cathedral is integrated in an area where three squares gain prominence: Platerías square, Quintana square and Inmaculada square. From each one, it is possible to contemplate the different facades of the cathedral of Santiago with the different architectural styles:

Facade of Azabachería (Inmaculada square): The north square is more popularly known as Azabachería. Its name come from the antiquity, when numerous workshops of jet were located in this square.
It is the entrance of different routes of the Way of St. James (French Way, English Way, North Way and Primitive Way) and it is the first facade of the cathedral seen by the pilgrims from this routes. It combines Baroque and Neoclassical styles.

Facade of Quintana (Quintana square): Located in the eastern side of the cathedral, this facade is the place where the Porta Santa is situated. This special door only opens in Holy Years (when 25th July is on Sunday). The last Holy Year was in 2010 and the next Holy Year will be in the year 2021 when this Holy Door will stay opened along that year for devotees and pilgrims.

Facade of Platerías (Platerías square): It is located in the South of the cathedral and it is the only Romanesque facade, a result of adding different Romanesque figures and elements from the north facade along the centuries. Its name is due to the concentration of workshops of silver in the antiquity. From here, it is possible to see the Clock Tower (Torre del Reloj) that it is more known as Berenguela where the bigger bell of the cathedral is located.

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TURISMO GALICIA

Things to do in Galicia

If you have decided to visit Galicia during the next Easter or another time, I’m going to give you some information and useful tips for making your vacation time the best you can imagine.
Plans for a real vacation in Galicia for a week:

• 1ST DAY:  A CORUÑA

Start your trip in Coruña city. The Glass city as it is known is a beautiful area with an oceanfront promenade and beaches. The landmark you can’t leave without a visit is The Tower of Hércules, a big lighthouse, which is the most ancient in the world that is still working nowadays. It deserves a visit inside and going up to the top where you can appreciate an amazing panoramic view to the city. Due to the proximity, you can take the opportunity for visiting the San Antón Castle.
After recovering energy in some of the nice and typical restaurants of the old town, walk for a while along the historic streets: visit María Pita square –where the City Hall is located-, Méndez Núñez Gardens, Real Street… Following the sea promenade on foot, you will arrive at the “lift” (seems like a cable car) located at the feet of Monte San Pedro, buy a ticket to get on and enjoy another impressive view of this coastal City.

2ND DAY : LUGO AND CATHEDRALES BEACH

Take a bus or train for going to another Galician province: Lugo. The provincial capital is the city of Lugo which has a big Roman Wall that will make you love it. Explore the old town, the cathedral and of course, make a walk on top of the walls (it is more than 2 kilometres).
After a visit, you will need to taste some tapas for continuing the tour. Lugo is one of the best places for eating; the gastronomy here is magnificent!
For the rest of the day, you can visit some coastal villages in the area called “Mariña Lucense”. There is only an inconvenience: you will need a car for driving to the majority of places. Anyway, there are some buses that allow you go to the main tourist points from Lugo city. You need just to choose what places you want to visit.
My personal recommendation is visiting Cathedrales Beach or Praia das Catedrales, if it is possible (it’s necessary to go at low tide).
Villages like Viveiro or Burela are other interesting options. Near to Viveiro village, there is a recent place to sightsee which is causing “furore” in social networks for the awesome pictures it is possible to take on it. The name of the area is “Fuciño de porco” where you can enjoy the amazing landscapes with wooden walkways over the cliffs. It’s a little complicated to arrive there, but nothing is impossible with Google Maps app or asking local people. The only problem it is that you will need a car for sure, but it is worth it.

• 3RD DAY : OURENSE

From Lugo to Ourense through the inland villages for getting to the city of Thermas and Bridges: Ourense.
You can use public transportation that connects both cities, but if you have the opportunity, take a car to visit unknown places along the route.
Ourense is the city of thermal springs, so don’t forget your swimsuit, you will need it! There are diverse thermal areas: Chavasqueira, Muíño da Veiga, Outariz… so you only have to decide which you prefer. The bigger and more conditioned Thermas for a real thermal experience could be considered the baths of Outariz, but any of them, will be an excellent choice.
The Thermal springs are available without charge in the free area, or by paying a price of 5,50€ for 2 hours of relaxed time. It is not so expensive for the experience, so there is no reason to not try it!
It does not matter the order of the visit, but you don’t forget to walk to the historical city centre: visit the cathedral of Ourense, the Burgas and tasting some tapas or menu in any bar or restaurant along the way. As you may have noticed, Galician gastronomy is a must-have of any place you visit!
Finally, for ending the day, have a walk on foot for enjoying the view of the five bridges which cross the Miño River and divide the city into two areas. Pay special attention to the Roman Bridge (the most ancient) and the Millenium Bridge (the most recent, built in 2001).

• 4TH DAY : RIBEIRA SACRA

Continuing in Ourense city, you should visit the Ribeira Sacra, beautiful landscapes formed by canyons over the Sil river. It deserves a visit by boat to enjoy the magnificent mountains where the grapes from which extract the most delicious wines are cultivated. Don’t miss the opportunity to taste some of the fantastic local wines under the Certificate of Origin Ribeira Sacra. There are some organised tours on foot for visiting some the most beautiful viewpoints and balconies over the canyons. An inmeasurable beauty for your eyes.
After enjoying the nature in its purest form, if you want to rest one night in one of the most beautiful monasteries in Galicia, drive to San Estevo de Ribas de Sil and there you will find a monastery which one part has been restored as a hotel of Paradores chain.

• 5TH DAY :  RÍAS BAIXAS

After the inland villages of Ourense province, you can go on your Galician trip to the Rías Baixas zone. This coastal area has an immense number of small villages which constitute one the best option for knowing the south of Galicia. Due to its location in the south the weather used to be warmer than the North area (e.i. A Coruña region).
One of the places, I would like to recommend to you is Combarro, a little coastal stone village. This one is mostly included in all ranks as one of the most beautiful villages of Spain. So, do not hesitate to visit, to walk around and to have lunch in any terrace with a view over the sea.
If you are an passionate about wine, Cambados could be your 2nd stop of the day.
In this area the wine with the Certificate of Origin “Rías Baixas” is cultivated. There are a huge number of wineries and vineyards which offers tourist visits for seeing first hand all the land, the infrastructure and the different process for getting this tasty drink.
For the lovers of beaches, A Lanzada in the Grove Village is one of the most popular. A large and sometimes wild beach with medium waves. There is a small hermitage nearby over the sea.
Traditionally, places like Sanxenxo, Portonovo or A Toxa Island are the villages more known to sightsee, especially during summer months.
So, as you can see you have a lot of villages for choosing what deserves your attention!

6TH DAY : ISLAS CÍES

A paradise for all senses is located in Galicia: Islas Cíes. Every year, the National Atlantic Island Park -which includes Islas Cíes, Islas Ons and other little islands- obtain a bigger number of visitors who desire to enjoy a paradise in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. The beautiful beach Rodas was rated by a British magazine as the best beach of the world some years ago. Since that moment, Islas Cíes is increasing its popularity to become one the most important tourist attractions in Galicia mainly in high season.
I don’t know if it is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, but I’m sure that this paradise you won’t find it in another place. Beyond The Rodas Beach, Islas Cíes has other charms: one big lighthouse located on the top which you need to walk for some kilometres with an impressive view along and another smaller lighthouse that offers a similar view.
On the other side of the island, you can walk for some kilometres to reach the place called as “O Alto do Príncipe” which the panoramic view of the sea is absolutely amazing.
For going to Islas Cíes is necessary to book in advance from some of the shipping companies authorised for visiting this National Park. There is a limit on the number of people who can visit the Park every day and this capacity is covered quickly during summer and Easter. If you would like to visit, do not wait for buying your tickets!
The departures of ships going to Islas Cíes are from Vigo city, Bueu and Sanxenxo. Excellent options if you follow the given itinerary, and sleep the preceding day in the area of Rías Baixas.

• 7TH DAY :  FISTERRA- MUXÍA- CARNOTA-ÉZARO

The last day of this busy and active trip take part in Costa da Morte, a wild coastal area where the cliffs are everywhere. The sea is very stormy in this zone painting beautiful and savage landscapes. A tour of this territory must include some of the landmarks frequently visited for pilgrims following the way to the “end of the earth”, the place called Fisterra/Finisterre. People from all over the world arrives to this beautiful village for climbing to the Lighthouse and stare at one of the most beautiful sunsets which they never forget. A marvellous ending for a long pilgrimage. Savages beaches are common in the area standing out Langosteira Beach or O Rostro Beach. Besides, the village of Muxía and its sanctuary “Virxe da Barca” are reaching the popularity of Fisterra as an extension of the way. Hundreds of people decide to extend their pilgrimage experience doing this particular way along the coast. In the past, these two coastal villages were unexplored places. Today, it has all the services, facilities and lodgings for tourists.
However, Costa da Morte is much more than Fisterra and Muxía. Other places that awaken interest are Carnota with its enormous Hórreo (typical ancient Galician construction for piling granary) or Ézaro Waterfalls, the only one in Europe which flow into the sea.

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If you think you will be able to complete all this itinerary…Let’s go, pack your suitcase and do it!
Maybe, others can consider that it is a little bit ambitious tour, because it includes a lot of places to visit which implyes a huge amount of money in means of transport if you don’t have a car. This is only a proposal that you can adapt to your own preferences. As we all know, sometimes, it’s better quality that quantity.
Besides your preferences, don’t forget, the weather will be a determining factor on your excursions.
If you cannot do the whole plan, it doesn’t matter. You will have an excellent excuse to come back to Galicia in another time, because I’m sure you will repeat it!

 

THE WAY

Santiago and the Way: the origin

Welcome to this online corner!

If you have just arrived here, it is probably that you would like to visit the city of Santiago de Compostela, start one of the Santiago way or maybe you are here just to satisfy your curiosity about this beautiful town. In any of these cases, you are in the correct place, so let’s begin!!

First of all, Santiago de Compostela is a small town located in the northwest of Galicia. We are in a corner of Spain, the country which the rest of the Santiago de Compostelaworld know as “paella, tortilla, sangría”, but I can confirm that it’s more than that and in Galicia, these stereotypes don’t work. Here, people are more identified with octopus and seafood.

Galicia has a huge variety of landmarks for all kinds of tourists. Monumental and historical buildings, towers, bridges, walls…. take part in the majority of cities and villages from this beautiful and, sometines “forgotten” zone: Torre of Hércules (A Coruña), Wall of Lugo, Romanic Bridge and Millenium Bridge in Ourense and Santiago’s cathedral in Compostela are only some examples of the Galician Patrimonial riches.

Amazing landscapes are all over the region with places so impressive as Fragas do Eume (Ferrol), Os Ancares (Lugo), Corrubedo Lagoons and Dunes (A Coruña), National Atlantic Islands Park (Cies and Ons Islands mainly), or Cathedrales Beach (Lugo).

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But, at this point, I’m going to concentrate all my attention in this first post on my blog to share with you some of the things that make me love my city.
Santiago de Compostela is enigmatic and transparent, lively and quiet, affable and distrustful, cold and warm, rainy and sunny, reserved and open-minded, it will be what you want it to be. Why? It’s easy, Santiago is all these adjectives and you can find it when you stay here, you only need to decide how you want to enjoy it!

Santiago is the final destination of an ancient pilgrimage called the Camino de Santiago.

It’s one of the three pilgrimage city in the world with Rome and Jesuralem.
The pilgrimage started during the Middle Ages (around IX century) when the mortal remains of the Apostle Saint James, one of Jesus’s disciples were found. Santiago Apóstol had made a pilgrimage to the present-day Spain to announce the Word of God around the World.
After spreading the Christian Faith in the Iberian Peninsula, he was beheaded by King Herod Agrrippa on his return to Jerusalem in the year 44. There are a huge number of legends about how his remains got to arrive in Santiago city.
One of the most popular legend says that the body of Saint James Apostle was transported from Jerusalem to the northwest coast of Spain: a small coastal village called Iria Flavia. According to the tradition, his remains were stolen by his disciples Atanasio and Teodoro and transported in a stone boat to the place he had preached the Word of Jesus.
In the year 813, the hermit Pelayo was witness of a meteor shower on top of the lands where is located the present, Santiago de Compostela city (the ancient Monte Libredón). Immediately, Pelayo informed Teodomiro, the bishop of the place of Iria Flavia and they moved to the zone and discovered the concrete place where Saint James Apostle and his disciples had been buried. After a few days from this strange episode, the bishop Teodomiro notify the authorities about the incredible discovery. People could admire a big number of lights, leaving from the burial chamber which it is said to be the origin of the Milky Way.
Legends or not, the appearance of Saint James remains, was the starting point to The Way. The King Alfonso II “El Casto” ordered to build a small church, – now the cathedral-, in the place where the remains were found for giving the people the opportunity to honour this disciple of Jesus.
This church would be the first one, but not the last we know nowdays. During the wars, the cathedral was destroyed twice. The basilica we know in the present is the third building constructed, although it conserved some parts of the original churches.

As time goes by, the flow of pilgrims is growing every year until what we know at the present-day, when the Camino de Santiago is known all over the world. People from all parts come to Santiago in a hard but a gratifying pilgrimage.

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Pilgrims in The Way