Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the autonomous region of Galicia, Spain, has for centuries been an important pilgrimage site for the religious, with Santiago holidays becoming very popular. Today, it remains not only the object of many pilgrimages, but an ideal destination for tourists. The site at the top of most visitor’s list is the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, or St. James Cathedral. Located at the edge of Santiago’s Old Town, this splendid ninth century cathedral boasts medieval architecture and several masterpieces of Romanesque sculpture. The crypt, located below the church, is the burial place of St. James the Greater, one of Jesus’ apostles. The cathedral is also the location of the Botafumeiro, the largest thurible in the world. For over 700 years, this metal incense-filled censor has been swung daily by eight red-robed tiraboleiros, or keepers of the thurible.
After visiting the cathedral, take time to explore the surrounding Old Town of Santiago. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Old Town is worth devoting a full day of exploring. It’s narrow winding streets are full of historic buildings and ancient sculptures. While there, check out the Pazo de Raxoi, a beautifully designed courthouse; and spend time at the Museum of Pilgrimage, located in a 14th century building in Old Town.
Visitors that want to see the countryside surrounding Santiago can chose from several different day tours including a trip to the Galician Low Estuaries, Cape Finisterre and the Coast of Death, and the towns of Vigo, Baiona, and Valenca. Many worthwhile, guided day tours such as these can be arranged through your hotel staff. When preparing for your day tour, don’t worry about the weather. Santiago’s enjoys a mild climate year round. Furthermore, if shopping for souvenirs, make sure to carry the European Euro, the common currency of Spain.
All in all, Santiago de Compostela is a destination that should be included on every traveler’s list. No where in the world, can travelers enjoy richer history and architectural wonders. With a pleasant climate, beautiful countryside, and boundless historic sites, Santiago de Compostela is a pilgrimage worth making!