Monumental Santiago

One thousand years of art and history have honoured Santiago’s Obradoiro Square, one of the city’s most emblematic landmarks. Every year, this square receives the thousands of pilgrims who complete their quests under the gaze of the Cathedral – a place which hides many secrets. Few know that it was precisely in this spot that bull fights were staged for many years. Rising above us majestically is Santiago’s grand Cathedral. Entering this imposing place of worship through the Portico of Glory is an overwhelming experience. More than 200 granite figures decorate its three arches … offering an unforgettable welcome. Once inside the cathedral itself, we can see and embrace the sculpture of the Saint and also marvel at the spectacular botafumeiro, the largest thurible in the world, which was used in olden times to eliminate unpleasant odours in the second floor which was used at the time as an accommodation for pilgrims. A stone’s throw away lies Quintana Square, home to the Holy Doorway – with its a mixture of styles including Baroque, Renaissance and Romanic. This square was in fact a cemetery until the 18th Century, and legend has it that beneath the square lie secret tunnels which connect the cathedral to the monastery. We have to wait until nightfall however, until we are able to see the pilgrim’s shadow reflected on the wall ...Early the next morning we follow the pilgrim to the Rua do Vilar, where at the Pilgrim’s office, we can observe travelers stamping the official certificate that proves that the walk has been completed. The figure of Alonso de Fonseca greets us at the entrance to what was originally the Compostela University headquarters. Remaining true to its origins, this now is home to the University’s main library, a place for a leisurely read, stroll or simply to unwind. The Alameda Park allows us to submerge ourselves in a typically French-style enclosure of fountains, ponds and sculptures of breath-taking beauty. A clue to the kind of atmosphere generated in this place can be found in the figure of the two Marias – a comic representation of local busybodies who would stop any passer-by that they stumbled across to gossip and chit chat. This is a charming, special place with dream-like views and one which local dramatist Valle Inclán knew only too well …