More Than a Place of Pilgrimage: Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela in north-western Spain is one of the world’s most famous places of pilgrimage. Every year, the capital of Spain’s autonomous community of Galicia draws thousands of pilgrims, as their final destination on the Way of St. James. With origins dating back to the ninth century, this majestic city features a fascinating mix of tradition and modernity, paired with generous green spaces and oodles of Galician charm – all of which make it a great holiday destination for culture fans.

Quick facts Santiago de Compostela

Flight time

2:10 h

Distance

1610 km

Time difference

None

Language

Spanish, Galician

A cup of cappuccino costs around

CHF 1.55

Beautiful and world famous

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela with its lavish exterior façade and artful sculptures is arguably the city’s most impressive and best-known edifice. The shrine of James the Apostle inside the cathedral marks the end of the Way of St. James. The cobblestoned Praza do Obradoiro in front of the cathedral is the city’s main square and an excellent starting point for exploring the charming streets of the Old Town, which boasts no shortage of cafés and tapas bars.

Tapas galore!

The Mercado de Abastos is a five-minute walk from the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela: originally built in the early nineteenth century, the market complex features more than 300 stalls and is, today, one of the city’s most popular attractions. Besides savouring typical Spanish tapas, the traditional “Pulpo a la Gallega” (made of octopus, potatoes and red wine) is a delicious must-try for fans of Galician cuisine!

Such culinary indulgences call for a postprandial walk in Alameda Park: the 16th century city park is a green oasis with a host of artful sculptures within its confines. Visitors keen on adding a little sea air to their city trip will be delighted to hear that Santiago de Compostela is less than a thirty-minute drive from Galicia’s beaches!

Galician art and culture

The Spanish cultural stronghold that is Santiago de Compostela has a plethora of museums on offer, of which several are located in former convents. One of them is the Museo do Pobo Galego, where the history of Galicia is brought to life. Admission to the museum is free on Sundays. The medieval Benedictine monastery of San Martiño Pinario also houses a museum, with religious art and a 15th century apothecary on display. Surrealist art can be admired in the Eugenio Granell Foundation that includes exhibits of Eugenio Granell’s major works as well as of other surrealist artists.

Whether religious or modern, culinary or cultural: there are so many excellent reasons to visit Santiago de Compostela!