Santiago de Compostela City Information
History: Archaeological excavations have found that the old town of Santiago de Compostela was a Roman town until the 7th century, forming part of the Swabian monarchy of the time. But not until the 9th century did the city actually exist as it is known today.
Legend says that King Alfonso II, of Asturias, recognized the tomb of James the Apostle and therefore pronounced him the patron saint of his kingdom. His plan was to overrule the Moors' expansion by creating a center for worship of Christianity. The city's foundation dates back to 830, when the first church was constructed. Soon after, the city was of great religious importance to Western Europe. The pilgrimage became popular as well and was made by people of varying cultures.
But, the Moors eventually invaded the city and it was destroyed into the late 10th century. However, the Moors did respect the sanctuary of St. James. During the reconstruction period Santiago took on a more urban look, including new forts outlying what is now old town. In 1075 the building of the Romanesque cathedral commenced. It was not until the 13th century, though, that the cathedral was completed. The cathedral increased the attraction of the pilgrimage among Christian worshipers, as well as the completion of the French Way, one of the most important roads leading to Santiago.
In the 14th and 15th centuries there was fighting between the middle class and the power of the church in Santiago. At the end of the 15th century, a school was opened (the university today stands on that same site) and from then on Santiago started to be recognized as an academic city.
Throughout the following centuries, Santiago de Compostela saw many transformations and updates, specifically of the Renaissance and Baroque movements. Neoclassicism added facades and stone paved streets to the city's appearance, and those elements can still be found today.
In the 19th century Santiago acquired the Plaza de Abastos (a market) and the Alameda Park, the walls once used to protect the city were also dropped. These drastically changed the appearance of the city.
Around 1980, Galicia became an autonomous region of Spain; at this time, Santiago became the designated seat for the Galician government. This boosted the city as a cultural and commercial city, it was redefined into what it is today.
Attractions: Santiago de Compostela is full of culturally important sites, monuments and museums. The most famous attraction would have to be the Cathedral, though. Even for those not interested in the religious aspect, it is a highlight to see this grand cathedral, since it has been called a city made of stone, it is recommended to set aside a few hours to explore this supposed home to St. James' remains.
The Mercado de Abastos is an exciting site to take in. This lively, outdoor market always has people bustling around. It's a great way to take in all the flavors and scents of some of the best food produced in the region.
There are several parks and gardens to take a stroll through in Santiago. They can be recommended as a nice lounging spot to take in the amazing sunsets.
Monte Pedroso is a hill in the city that offers the most excellent overlook of the city and a great view of the cathedral. Again, this site is highly recommended to take in a sunset. The summit is about a 40 minute walk from the city center.
This city, given the title “European Capital of Culture” in 2000, has something for everyone.
Going Out: This Spanish city, much like most others, offers a variety of nightlife and there is always something happening. It is said that Santiago is never totally asleep, it's even quite normal to go out for drinks on Sunday or Monday nights. With the large university in the city there is a very student-oriented atmosphere. It is easy to walk throughout the city from a restaurant to a bar, then later to a nightclub. By roaming the streets you might find some music artists in Plaza del Obradoiro or Plaza de la Quintana. In Plaza de Platerías you can see a improvisation show being put on. There are really two main areas that people refer to for going out, old town and new town. In recent years, the two have become quite similar in the diversity of places to go as well as closing hours. In old town you can find a bar or club on almost every street. It can be suggested just to follow the crowd and find a place that suits you. In Ensanche (new town) the tapa's bars, clubs and restaurants are found in closer proximity to each other. Wander around the streets called: Alfredo Brañas, República de El Salvador, Carreira do Conde, and Motero Ríos to find some of the best. You can also find some places to go out near the Plaza Roxa.