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Things to see in Santiago de Compostela

Attractions

Museo das Peregrinacións (Pilgrimage Museum)

Small but fascinating, this museum is dedicated to celebrating the thousand-plus years of history of the famous pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela. The permanent collection includes some historic artefacts alongside various exhibitions. Note that some information can be misleading: there is an administrative building for the Pilgrimage Museum, which is separate from the actual museum listed here.

Address: , Praza das Praterías, 2, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 981 566 110.
Opening times:

Tues-Fri 0930-2030, Sat 1100-1900, Sun 1015-1445.

Website: http://museoperegrinacions.xunta.gal
Admission Fees:

Yes (free on Sat after 1430 and Sun).

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museo y Tesoro de la Catedral (Cathedral Museum and Treasury)

Housed in the lovely 16th-century cathedral cloisters, as well as the atmospheric crypt below the main entrance, the Cathedral Museum holds relics of the long history of Santiago de Compostela, as well as the Archive and Library. There’s a reconstruction of the superb Romanesque stone choir that was replaced in the 17th century, including some fine religious sculpture. The cathedral treasures stored here include abotafumeiro (giant incense box), while the tapestry galleries have splendid French and Spanish hangings.

Address: , Praza do Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 881 557 945.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-2000 (Apr-Oct); daily 1000-2000 (Nov-Mar).

Website: http://www.catedraldesantiago.es/en
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

Santiago’s glorious cathedral warms the spirit as soon as you glimpse its majestic baroque facade in mossy granite. This twin-towered city emblem was created by the Santiago-born architect Fernando de Casas y Novoa, who superimposed it on the original Romanesque plan of the basilica. Just inside is the Pórtico da Gloria, a masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture that once opened onto the square with almost 200 sculptures of Galician granite, dating from 1188.

Look for the finger holes worn into the stone over the years by pilgrims who, giving thanks at the end of their lengthy journey, prayed with the fingers of one hand pressed into the roots of the Tree of Jesse, below St James. From here, the great nave opens towards the chancel and the monumental baroque high altar, below which lie the relics of St James, in a Roman mausoleum. The crossing lantern houses the suspension mechanism for the botafumeiro. This is a huge baroque censer whose pendulum swings down the entire length of the transepts during special ceremonies, creating an awe-inspiring spectacle.

Address: , Praza do Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 881 557 945.
Opening times:

Daily 0700-2030.

Website: http://www.catedraldesantiago.es/en
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes

Centro Galego de Arte Contemparánea (Galician Centre of Contemporary Art)

This dramatic modern art gallery, just outside the Porta do Camino, was designed by the Portuguese architect Álvaro Siza. It stands next to the Museo do Pobo Galego but shows a very different aspect of Galician life, with its permanent collection of modern Galician art. There is also space for a wide variety of temporary exhibitions, normally of a very high standard.

Address: , Rúa de Ramón del Valle Inclán, 2, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 981 546 619.
Opening times:

Tues-Sun 1100-2000.

Website: http://cgac.xunta.gal/EN
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Museo do Pobo Galego (Museum of the Galician People)

Housed in a 14th-century convent, this museum is devoted to the history of the Galician people, from their Celtic origins onwards. There are extensive archaeological and ethnographic displays, exhibits of traditional architecture, as well as models and displays showing local trades and crafts. The convent's beautiful gothic chapel also contains the Pantheon of Famous Galicians. The remarkable triple helical stairway inside the museum provides one of the city’s best photo opportunities.

Address: , San Domingos de Bonaval, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 981 583 620.
Opening times:

Tues-Sat 1030-1400/1600-1930, Sun 1100-1400.

Website: http://www.museodopobo.gal
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Around the Cathedral

The paved Praza do Obradoiro faces the main cathedral facade and comprises a whole ensemble of architectural gems. Probably the best surviving example of Romanesque civic architecture in Spain, the Pazo de Xelmírez (next to the cathedral cloisters) has a perfect vaulted medieval interior behind its 18th-century facade.

On the north side of the square, the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, with its four courtyards, was built by Ferdinand and Isabella as a pilgrim hospice, and is now one of Spain's loveliest parador hotels. The Colexio de San Xerome is a smaller medieval building with a finely decorated 15th-century portal. The Colexio de Fonseca, immediately behind it, is a Renaissance college decorated inside and out.

On the other side of the cathedral, the Praza da Quintana square has a flight of steps that divide it into the ‘Quintana of the Living’ and ‘Quintana of the Dead’ – there was once a cemetery here. Adjacent to this square, the Praza das Praterías (Silversmith's Square) has at its centre the ornate Fuente de los Caballos, a fountain of four horses with webbed feet. The arcades around the square are still lined with many shops selling silver articles.

Address: , Prazas do Obradoiro and Inmaculada, ,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes

San Martiño Pinario Monastery and Church

The Praza da Inmaculada is graced on one side by the cathedral and on the other by the grand baroque facade of the Benedictine monastery of San Martiño Pinario. The monastery building, once the second biggest in Spain, is now mainly used as offices linked to the church. The church itself was completed in 1652 and is dominated by a vast, ornate Churrigueresque altarpiece that depicts its patron, St. Martin, riding alongside St. James.

Address: , Praza da Inmaculada, 3, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 981 574 502.
Opening times:

Daily 1100-1330/1600-1900 (Jun-Sep); Tues-Sat 1100-1330/1600-1830, Sun 1100-1330 (Oct-May).

Website: http://www.santiagoturismo.com/monumentos/mosteiro-e-igrexa-de-san-martino-pinario
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: Yes

El Mercado de Abastos (Food Market)

One of the more active spots in the city, the Food Market is one of the best places to feel the pulse of Santiago de Compostela (and indeed Galicia) during the morning. The market has been operating here in one form or another for over three centuries. Best of all, a number of the restaurants around the market will cook up any fresh ingredients you have bought for a nominal fee.

Address: , Rua Ameás 5-8, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 981 583 438.
Opening times:

Mon-Sat 0700-1400.

Website: http://www.mercadodeabastosdesantiago.com
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Alameda Park

Of the many pleasant parks dotted across the city, Alameda has both bustling, verdant walkways, popular with locals on weekends, and quiet contemplative viewpoints of the cathedral, making it well worth a visit. Look out for the “Two Marias” statue which celebrates two old ladies who, until well into their 90s, used to venture out into the park every afternoon at 1400 to flirt with the city’s students.

Address: , Rúa do Campiño da Ferradura, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone:
Opening times: Website:
Admission Fees:

No

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Casa da Troia (Troia House)

This is a recreation of a student boarding house from the 19th century, the likes of which was exalted in the popular novel ‘La Casa de la Troya’ by Spanish writer Alejandro Pérez Lugín. One of the more popular non-ecumenical works of art about Santiago de Compostela, this museum offers an intriguing glimpse of how the old houses around the cathedral would once have looked centuries ago.

Address: , Rúa da Troia, 5, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 981 585 159.
Opening times:

Tues-Sat 1100-1400/1600-2200.

Website: http://www.lacasadelatroya.gal
Admission Fees:

Yes

Disabled Access: Yes
UNESCO: No

Tourist Offices

Oficina Municipal de Turismo de Santiago

Address: , Rúa do Vilar, 63, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 981 555 129.
Opening times:

Daily 0900-2100 (May-Oct); Mon-Fri 0900-1900, Sat and Sun 0900-1400 & 1600-1900 (Nov-Apr). Easter: Daily 0900-1900.

Website: http://www.santiagoturismo.com

Oficina de Turismo de Santiago (Xunta de Galicia)

Address: , Rúa do Vilar, 30-32, Santiago de Compostela,
Telephone: +34 881 866 397.
Opening times:

May to Oct: Mon-Fri 0900-2000, Sat 1000-2000, Sun 1000-1500; Nov to Apr: Mon-Fri 1000-1900, Sat 1030-1900.

Website: http://www.turismo.gal

Travellers have been coming to Santiago de Compostela for centuries. As such, it is no surprise that the tourist offices have turned tourist information provision into a fine art. There are two excellent options available in Santiago, both in the city centre. The Xunta de Galicia service covers the entire Galicia region, which is ideal for anybody walking all or parts of the Camino. Meanwhile, the Municipal Tourist Office offers exemplary assistance and information about the city in a variety of languages.

Featured Hotels

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Hostal Alfonso

Close to Santiago de Compostela's city centre, this small hostal makes a big impression. Run by a husband and wife team, Alfonso has a quaint family atmosphere, with cosy rooms and friendly service. The proprietors have even written their own fantastic guide to sights and anecdotes of the Old Town that the guidebooks have missed (sadly in Spanish only). There are only six rooms here (all en suite and with TV) so book well in advance. Ask for the top floor room with the cathedral view, it's remarkable, especially at night. Breakfast is included.

Hostal Suso

This popular old-town spot sees budget travellers delighted with its hospitable management and cheap, great-value en-suite rooms with plenty of space. Downstairs is a lively café where pilgrims rest their Camino-weary legs.

San Francisco Hotel Monumento

Located in the Franciscan convent of San Francisco, this is an excellent luxury parador-style alternative to Reis Católicos, with the added bonus of being set back from the main touristic thoroughfare. This UNESCO listed building has a heated pool and Jacuzzi, while the 82 rooms are air conditioned, decked out in plush bed linens and furnishings, and offer room service in addition to the a la carte restaurant on site.

Hotel Virxe da Cerca

Set in two buildings next to Plaza de Abastos Market and close to the Cathedral, this characterful hotel has an intimate, classy feel. Rooms in the modern building overlook a private courtyard garden, and upgraded rooms set in an 18th century building feature exposed stone walls and traditional furnishings. The restaurant serves traditional Galician cuisine.

Hotel Costa Vella

Located in a quiet street above the Convento de San Francisco, close to one of the seven doors leading into the old medieval city, this small, charming hotel in Santiago boasts comfy, cosy bedrooms and a peaceful garden. A real Galician home from home, you will feel warmly welcomed here. Costa Vella represents excellent value for money and is thoroughly recommended.

Hotel Parador dos Reis Católicos

This magnificent Santiago hotel, one of the best in the country, is located in the heart of the city, right on the Praza do Obradoiro, between Santiago's splendid cathedral and the Galician president's headquarters. Beautiful rooms (each individually decorated with period furniture and fine fabrics), great facilities and exquisite service will make you feel you're being treated like royalty.