Seductive Santiago de Compostela, Spain

 

Santiago is seductive. Once referred to as “an ideal city, which is overflowing with history and timeless as well” in a UNESCO-ICOMOS report, Santiago de Compostela is one of Northern Spain’s jewels. Many consider it to be Northern Spain’s most important tourist destination. Its old quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the city is home to probably the most impressive example of Romanesque architecture in Spain. This is the incredibly beautiful Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, which is the last stop on the famous pilgrimage trail, the Camino de Santiago.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Magical medieval streets

As yet I haven’t done the Camino, as it is fondly referred to, but I have seen the friendly, beautiful old city of Santiago glistening magically in the rain. Its medieval streets can be traced back to the 11th century, when the old town was completely rebuilt after it had been destroyed by the Moors towards the latter part of the 10th century. It is packed with dazzling examples of architecture, from the Romanesque, Baroque, Gothic and Neo-Classical influences.

Taverns and restaurants where gastronomy is an art-form

Santiago de Compostela is capital of Galicia, where gastronomy is an art form, and the hospitality is normally wonderful. Gastronomy is an integral part of the culture of the city, and you can be sure of eating well, regardless of your budget. There is a superb choice of taverns, restaurants and bars.

Santiago de Compostela view from cathedral rooftop

Culture and history abound

Apart from its magnificent, famous Cathedral, Santiago de Compostela has an abundance of culture, historic monuments, contemporary architecture and interesting museums. It has also won a number of prizes because of the balance it strikes between its green spaces and architecture. Make sure you check out the city from atop its Cathedral.

Fiestas and fun

Fiestas and folklore are also an important part of the spirit of the city. A number of fiestas take place at various times during the year, which make the University city even more vibrant than normal. The highlight of these takes place in July, which has been designated to be of International Tourist Interest. This is the fiesta which honours the Apostle Santiago (St. James). It’s believed that he preached in Galicia, and that after his death in Palestine, his body was brought back and buried in Santiago. His tomb was rediscovered by Pelayo, a religious hermit, in 814 – who was guided by a star.

Santiago de Compostela pilgrim on road-1

A city that doesn’t seem to sleep

There’s nothing quite like 33,000 university students or so, to inject a special atmosphere into a city. Happiness and vitality pervade the streets, and year round, there’s an impressive program of all sorts of cultural events.

Santiago de Compostela is pulsating with entertainment, and whether it’s theatre and concerts you’re looking for, or fun party nights out, this is the perfect destination. The city just doesn’t seem to sleep.

Santiago de Compostela Church of San Fructoso at night-1

Santiago surroundings

Santiago is embraced by beautiful, lush verdant green countryside. Explore forests and mountains, and go a little further and you can see some of the Rias Baixas (fjords) of the region. When I was there last, we decided to have the best of both worlds, so we spent some time in the city, but decided to stay around 15 minutes drive away.

Casa Grande do Bachao exterior-1

Casa Grande do Bachao

We stayed in Casa Grande do Bachao, a charming, historic manor house, in a space that has been very lovingly restored. The group of buildings that make up the 18th century manor, are set on a wonderful 3 acre estate, against a backdrop of a verdant forest. At the bottom of the estate lies the River Tambre. The main building blends wood and stone perfectly together, and is full of interesting touches, that give a warm, yet stylish ambiance.

The historic boutique hotel offers a choice of 12 rooms, each of which are individually decorated, and named after historic personalities. Rooms have views over different parts of the estate and woodlands. We were warmly welcomed and perfectly treated, making our stay there very romantic and special.

Casa Grande do Bachao lounge-1

Jackie de Burca is Co-owner of Catalonia Valencia.

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Comments (19)

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  1. Mary says:

    Santiago is a nice city and according to you its a ideal city, all the places of this city like streets, historical places, hotels, parks and other locations are great and they looks very beautiful.
    I love this city. :)

    Thanks for sharing !

    Mary

  2. Thanks Mary! It is a lovely city and we found the people to be so friendly also. It is beautiful, and great for foodies. The region of Galicia is very green, so as you can imagine it does get some rainfall. For those who wish to be “almost guaranteed” of sunny Spanish weather, the months of July & August are best. However of course if you go outside of these times, there are less tourists.

  3. Anna Parker says:

    What a gorgeous part of Spain. I watched the film about the Camino a while back and is on my list of adventures I somehow need to do one day!

  4. I have explored a lot of Spain but have never been to Galicia. One thing I have heard is that it is a great place to eat Perceberes, a barnacle that is a delicacy in this part of Spain. I tried them in Madrid, and if you are a seafood lover, you will be hooked. They are expensive, the reason being that it is seriously dangerous to get them off the rocks. Gatherers time it so they can pry them loose between the never ending waves that lash this coastline. I would love to see this “harvesting” taking place. Nerve wracking and beautiful I am told!

  5. It is Anna. And me, as well, I really would love to do the Camino. Not sure what the film said, but it is tough for many people by the way. I kind of “spiritual coming of age” if you like. :)

  6. As a keen hiker and a Catholic it’s definitely on my list to walk the Camino and it sounds like there’s also plenty to keep me busy once I get there.

  7. Michael, thanks for a great and very useful comment. I know them also, my other half is Portuguese, and the Portuguese of the north consider themselves & the Galicians to be almost the same. :) Super comment, thanks so much. I hope you get to Galicia, I have no doubt that you will like it a lot.

  8. Paul Johnson says:

    I’m heading to northern Spain this Summer, but going to be based further east, in Cantabria. I hadn’t included Santiago de Compostela in our plans, but it really sounds like I should aim to squeeze it in if I possibly can!

  9. Heather, it is something that I really want to do also. It is a question of time for me, but I will do it one day for sure. Let me know if you manage to arrange it. :)

  10. Hi Paul,
    Great that you are going to Cantabria, it is also beautiful. Will you be going to Santander, or do you know your plans yet? It depends of course on your itinerary, but if you get the chance, yes I would try to tie in Santiago for sure :)
    Thanks
    Jackie

  11. Erin says:

    Isn’t Spain so beautiful? I love that first picture, the history in Europe is just spellbinding. I like the look of the historic place to stay as well, history is my favourite!

  12. And me Erin! The place was so lovely, I really hope you have the chance to get there sometime. :) Santiago is so worth the visit.

  13. Thanks Jackie! Really want to get to Galicia and Portugal. My better half is from Madrid, so been in Spain many times but can’t believe I still haven’t been to Portugal! Have to get there sooner than later!

  14. Paul Johnson says:

    We are getting the Portsmouth-Santander ferry and will be spending a significant chunk of our time somewhere near Santona (about midway between Santander and Bilbao) for a sailing event. Not finalised on accommodation just yet, but think we will need to do that soon as things are booking up already!

  15. You definitely should Michael :) My other half is Portuguese so I have spent time in Lisbon and Oporto, but there is still much more I would like to see, for example Peniche. I hope you plan your trip soon.

  16. Sounds interesting Paul. Yes you are obviously going at a very busy time of year. I will be curious to hear about your trip afterwards. :)

  17. Noé says:

    Galiza, although is part of the Spanish state, is one of the areas with strong identity and political differences as well as own language and culture (Galician Language is very close to Portuguese). We are a proud country that you could identify as the Iberian Scotland… Bagpipes, Celtic traditions, countryside, charming towns and cities and unforgettable landscapes make a huge difference and separate us from the Spanish stereotype. We don’t dance flamenco or so bullfighting at all. Completely recommended. It’s a trip to not forget!

  18. Sonja says:

    We have visited Santiago twice before and look forward to spending two nights there in August after the Tall Ship Race that ends at A Coruna. On a previous visit I loved being there after the tourists had gone and we met fellow motor home campers, from France, in the very handy Motorhome park and walked down into the city and shared tapas sat out in the street. Friends can be made with tapas, music and Travelling. Great memories. We hope to do part of the Camino one day.

  19. Jacomijn says:

    I’m going to walk a part of the Camino this year so I’ll be going to this great city! Thank you for showing its charm!

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