The Best of Santiago de Compostela

Posted on 13. Jun, 2014 by in Destinations, Europe Travel, Guest Posts, Spain

Renowned for its end point of the Camino de Santiago, in recent years, Santiago de Compostela has witnessed a transformation from an exclusively spiritual pilgrimage to one of greater interest for all tourists.

While a 3-week long walk to visit a cathedral might not appeal to everyone, remember that modernity has brought with it the wonderful world of trains and buses. Many travellers now view the Camino de Santiago as cool and unique way of visiting France and Spain, with an eye to the medieval tradition in which they get to take part. Hikers especially view the weeks of walking involved as an exciting challenge. When you get there you may feel like you’ve gone straight off the map, but it’s actually not too far afield - only a five hour train ride away from Madrid according to GoEuro. Buses are also a popular way to get there but the journey is nearly 9 hours! So get on a train and go from museum hopping in Madrid to scenic and centuries old architecture in Santiago de Compostela.

The cathedral is simply a must-see. There is a reason that people have been making pilgrimages to this town for centuries, and the sheer beauty of this church’s architecture must play at least some part in that. The cathedral dates back to the 11th century and includes examples of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture that rival Europe’s best churches. While the cathedral at Canterbury may hold more cultural cachet for those of us in the English speaking world, Santiago’s is just as imposing and impressive and means that you get to visit the Spanish countryside.

While you’re there be sure to admire the Hotel Dos Reis Catolicos: a 15th century hostel that has been turned into a luxury hotel. It once housed the poor, sick and homeless who walked the Camino looking for divine aid; the historical building remains but its current guests are a little less forlorn. The hotel supposedly reserves a few rooms for people having completed the Camino but be sure to plan ahead for these fancy digs.

Santiago de Compostela obviously has a lot to offer to those more spiritually inclined travellers but even without the church and the pilgrimages the city would still make a worthwhile trip. Lose yourself in the old town’s medieval architecture: UNESCO declared it a world heritage site in the 1980s and the charming cafes, restaurants and historic buildings speak for themselves. Pop into the Mercado de Abastos just off of the main plaza in the old town and enjoy the local food and culture for a fraction of the cost. Grab a picnic of cheese and sausage and make your way over to the University for a siesta in the sun. The university in Santiago dates back to the 15th century and is ranked one of Spain’s best public universities. It’s also attached to the famous cathedral so you can imagine that it is a similarly impressive sight. The university also means that the city has a real student vibe to it, travellers on tight budgets will be totally at ease and able to enjoy all the city has to offer for a relatively affordable rate. Even better? The nightlife is a lot wilder than the religious heritage would leave you to believe. Be sure to check out the amazing tapas, Barcelona’s are delicious but Santiago gives them a run for their money with all the incredible seafood options!

Take in a truly authentic Spanish experience, Santiago de Compostela’s Galician surroundings are so beautiful that if you decided to make your way there, next time you’ll surely be tempted to try the Camino (despite the fact that it includes a minimum 3 week long walk).


Tags: , , , , , , , ,

One Response to “The Best of Santiago de Compostela”

  1. Christopher

    16. Jun, 2014

    Great post. I’ve read a lot of post on Santiago de Compostela. This one is really informative.

    Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply