In Santiago de Compostela, northern Spain, you have a date with history. As soon as you enter its old town, which has the UNESCO World Heritage designation, you will see that this is no exaggeration. The capital of Galicia has some of Europe's best conserved monuments, in surroundings that call to mind historic times. This is the city, the final stop on the Camino de Santiago, the first route to be designated European Cultural Itinerary.
Santiago de Compostela is synonymous with art and culture. However, if there is one outstanding thing in this city in Galicia, it is its impressive heritage of historic monuments, most of which are concentrated in the old town. This can be seen in the palaces, churches, narrow streets and squares to be found in this part of the city. The beauty of its historic centre is hard to match. At each step along the way there are real artistic gems of different architectural styles. Buildings with centuries of history that give the capital of Galicia a unique appearance.
The best way to see all this is to take a stroll through the cobbled, granite streets and squares of the old town. Many of these monuments date from the Middle Ages. The Cathedral is particularly outstanding. Its majestic façade towers above Plaza del Obradoiro Square. Try to attend the pilgrims' mass if you can. It takes place daily at midday and you will see the "botafumeiro", a huge censer that swings down from the cathedral ceiling. Make the most of the occasion to head up to the roof of this Romanesque masterpiece and look out over the whole city.
Strolling through Santiago you will have the feeling that time has stood still. Nova, Vilar, San Pedro and Preguntoiro Street; Plaza Toural, Cervantes and Praterías Squares… they are all witnesses to a splendid past and a living present reflected in the animated student atmosphere that fills the city streets, thanks to its University.
It is impossible to talk about Santiago without mentioning the Camino: an age-old pilgrimage route that was born in the 9th century and has linked the city with rest of Europe ever since. Every year many thousands of pilgrims set out on foot, by bike, or even on horseback, to live this experience that combines adventure and spirituality. The final goal is the Cathedral in Santiago, a sacred city in the Christian faith.
However, Santiago is much more. Be sure to sample the delicious gastronomy of Galicia; stroll through the many parks and gardens; visit any of its museums, and make the most of its busy, year-round cultural agenda: music, conferences, theatre, concerts, exhibitions, festivals... are you coming?
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Santiago de Compostela