Millions of people from all over the world come to Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia, many of them reaching the end of the Way of Saint James pilgrimage route. The historic centre has been declared a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO.These are just some of the many reasons to visit Santiago de Compostela.
If there is one outstanding thing in this ancient city, it is its stunning buildings and monuments. Be sure to look at the palaces, churches, alleyways and squares in the historic centre: here you will find a series of narrow streets, squares and granite buildings with centuries of history. Many of them date from the Middle Ages. The Cathedral is particularly outstanding. Its majestic façade towers above Plaza del Obradoiro square. During a visit to this architectural gem you can attend the midday pilgrim's mass. In addition, if it is a Holy Year, during the service they swing the botafumeiro, a gigantic incense burner, from the ceiling of the church. Watching this spectacle from close to is a memorable experience. Make the most of the occasion to head up to the roof of the cathedral and look out over the whole city.
There are other monuments equally worth a visit such as Santiago University, with its emblematic Geography and History faculty building. If you feel like a pleasant stroll, there is nothing better than heading to one of the many parks and gardens in the city. On the one hand, the central Alameda Park is a highlight, close to the old town. The park dates back to the 19th century and is, to this day, a privileged vantage point over the old quarter. On the other, there is Santo Domingo de Bonaval, located in an old cemetery with a truly peaceful atmosphere.
There are several options for museums in Santiago de Compostela such as the Museo do Pobo Galego (Museum of the Galician People), and the CGAC (Galicia Contemporary Art Centre) – two venues where you can see priceless works of art.
Santiago is not a cultural destination only on account of its heritage and monuments, but also thanks to its impressive year-round programme of events: music, conferences, theatre, film, concerts, exhibitions, festivals... Entertainment and art are always to be found, in the city's museums and at a host of other venues too.
The Galician capital is synonymous with the Camino (declared World Heritage by the UNESCO), an ancient pilgrimage route, born in the 9th century, that has linked the city with the 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 destination is the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, one of the sacred cities of Christendom. This is, without a doubt, an unusual, unforgettable way to travel through Spain.
Customs and folklore play an essential role in popular celebrations in Santiago de Compostela. Music, colour, dance and games fill the streets and squares on the most emblematic dates. Above all, however, the celebrations in honour of the Apostle Saint James stand apart. They are in the month of July and have the International Tourist Interest designation.
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