Santiago de Compostela – the end of the Pilgrimage Road

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Santiago de Compostela, in the far Northwest corner of Spain, is the destination of a 490 mile pilgrim’s route from the hills of the Pyrenees mountains in France.   Click here for more details of The Camino, the Way of St James.  Needless to say, it’s a long walk, whether you start in France, Portugal or Spain.

We drove to Santiago and had energy to walk all over the town for a couple days.

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The medieval city of Santiago surrounds the cathedral.  Its narrow streets are very picturesque.

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The Cathedral of Santiago is not the largest in Spain but it is impressive.  There is a square on each side of the cathedral.  We came from the south into the plaza of Praterias, the Silversmith’s Square.

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There is a pretty fountain here.

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The Praza da Quintana is on the east side of the cathedral.  The Holy Door faces this square.

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On the north side is the Praza da Inmaculada.  This is the way most medieval pilgrims would have come.

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You can barely see the small cross and lamb between the dome and the tower.  Rick Steves’ book says this is where the clothes of filthy medieval pilgrims were burned, a ritual created to curb diseases they may have carried with them.  I could not find this mentioned in other descriptions of the cathedral.  Did they really haul these clothes to the top of the roof?  Did I read this wrong?

Across the plaza is St Martin’s Monastery.

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Finally, around the last corner, we came to the front of the cathedral and the Praza do Obradoiro.  They are doing some major renovations on the Cathedral.

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This huge plaza is the final stop on the Camino de Santiago.   

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This scallop shell in the center of the plaza marks the end of the pilgrimage that the faithful have been making for over a thousand years.  

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Across from the cathedral is the City Hall.  St. James is on the top.

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The building on the  north side of the plaza is now a hotel.  It was originally a hospital for the pilgrims, set up by Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand in 1501.  It was used as a hospital until 1952.

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At the other end of the plaza is the original University building.  The University of Santiago is now the third largest university in Spain.

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The Cathedral of Santiago (St. James) de Compostela (field of stars) began as a simple chapel founded in 813 when the long lost tomb of St. James was found here.  It has been added to for over 12 centuries.  

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St. James, dressed as a pilgrim, is at the top of the center steeple.

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You can walk through a small hallway behind the gold altar to peak over St. James’ shoulder – notice the head next to the saint.

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The Botafumeiro is a huge 120 lb. incense burner that is swung in a wide arc up and down the transept at the end of the pilgrims’ Mass. 

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The Holy Door is decorated with carvings that depict 6 scenes from the life of St. James.

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The Cathedral dominates the old city.  We could see it from our hotel.

In my next blog I’ll feature some other sites in Santiago.

About graciamc

Gracia's Travels is a photo blog. I always take too many pictures on trips so I justify my compulsion with this blog! The blog is mostly photos - they tell the best part of the story. Please contact me if you would like to use any of my photos.
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4 Responses to Santiago de Compostela – the end of the Pilgrimage Road

  1. hmunro says:

    How wonderful to see the place where so many pilgrims have ended their journeys over the centuries! For reasons I don’t fully understand, I’ve become fascinated with walking El Camino — and your beautiful post has only heightened that fascination. Thank you very much for taking the time to photograph and narrate your time there so beautifully.

  2. Janet Freeman says:

    Thank you again Gracia for a splendid tour. These cathedrals are all so singular in their detail. Also appreciate the dialogue so we don’t miss these details.

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