Santiago de Compostela is not just the final point of the Camino de Santiago, it is a fantastic place to explore, wandering around its alleys and quaint granite streets. It is quite pocket-sized too, so make sure you dedicate at least a couple of days to soak in the city’s vibrant atmosphere. And July is and ideal month because it is when the Festas do Apóstolo (Apostle Festivals) are held to celebrate Saint James Day and Galicia’s National Day. These are the main celebrations in Santiago, with outdoor concerts and many other events taking place, some of them free of charge.
As some Galicians say, more than a city, Santiago is a ‘big village’. The city population is just around the 100,000 mark but with nearly 40,000 students settling there for the academic year and thousands of pilgrims walking into town every year, Santiago de Compostela gets a very special mix of people, made up not only by its dwellers and students, but also by the thousands of pilgrims who arrive to its cathedral, whose Pórtico de la Gloria restoration has recently been finished.
The cathedral is Santiago’s most famous building with a Romanesque structure and later Gothic and Baroque elements. At the Cathedral, check out the Pórtico da Gloria (the original Romanesque porch entrance by Mestre Mateo), the Botafumeiro (its giant thurible) and, if you are not scared of heights, take a guided tour of the Cathedral’s rooftop to enjoy fantastic panoramic views of Santiago (they run every day from 10am to 8pm and it lasts one hour approximately).
If you want to enjoy fresh air, take a breather at the Alameda, Santiago’s most emblematic green space. Go for a stroll along the Paseo da Ferradura, get a nice tree-framed view of the Cathedral, sit by the statue of writer Valle Inclán or take a picture with the statue of ‘As Marías’, the two Fandiño sisters dressed in their colourful outfits.
The visitor can’t leave Santiago de Compostela without trying its worldwide famous dish: octopus. The Galicians call it octopus fair style (‘pulpo á feira’) as it used to be a dish eaten on market day; while Spaniards like to call it octopus Galician style. Whatever your choice of words, you must try it at least once before you go back home!
Of course you can enjoy a city like Santiago de Compostela in a comfortable way, by hiring one of the tours that tourtravelandmore.com offer to their customers and guided by experts on this marvellous and historical city which will make you enjoy each and every corner.