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Link to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela page

Link to Puerta de las Platerias Photos

Compostela's Pilgrims and the Praza do Obradoiro

Restaurants and Hotel


About the Camino de Santiago and its Pilgrims

Spanish Roads to Santiago de Compostela


Return to Camino de Santiago / Camino Frances Photo and History Galleries





In the 830s a wandering hermit named Pelagius discovered a tomb which was taken to be that of the Apostle James the Greater, and the rest is history!  A small church was built to house the tomb but was destroyed by the awful al-Mansur on one of his rampages in 997.  The dreadful little man then had Christian slaves carry the church bells from Compostela to the Great Mosque of Cordoba.  240 years later, in 1236, Fernando III ("The Saint"), King of León and Castile (1198 -  1217 (King of Castile) - 1230 (King of León) - 1252 (54)), probably another dreadful little man, captured Cordoba and had Muslim slaves carry the bells back to Santiago.


The present cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was under construction from 1060 for 150 years.  Later (sadly in Paradox's view) the Facade and all but one of the Romanesque portals were "improved", but one of the joys of the church is that when you walk in you are greeted with a well-proportioned almost pure old Romanesque navescape with no view-blocking choir, and it's not nearly as huge as you might think.




More Photos of Compostela's Pilgrims and the Praza do Obradoiro




The facade of the Compostela Catrhedral fronts one side of the huge Plaza Obradoiro.  Above all Compostela is about pilgrims, or more generally walkers (and some cyclists), and this is where they make a beeline for before anything else - often whipping out the mobile to announce their achievement to the world!  There is a bouncy "we made it" vibe - amplified by inclement weather!  And if you got here by other means than walking, you can always buy a pilgrims' staff and painted scallop shell, and rough them up a bit to look as though they have had road experience.







Inside the cathedral doors there are three pleasant surprises - firstly you are unexpectedly (after the facade) in a classic clean-lined Romanesque space, secondly it's much more intimate (smaller) and friendly than words like "great pilgrimage cathedral" lead one to expect, and lastly the removal in earlier times of the old Romanesque choir (to the huge monastery of St Martin Pinario across the road) and the dismantling of the screen has revealed an attractive "full nave" vista which would previously have been blocked as it still is in most English cathedrals.  Plus we have now (early 2009) adjusted the photo with newly discovered lens distortion correctors and it looks as good as when we experienced it live.


Lots more Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela photos





Santiago Puerta de las Platerias



Fish carrying mermaid pierced by a Sagittarian arrow


The south side Puerta de las Platerias (Goldsmiths' Portal) is the only 1100s Romanesque portal left - and includes our old friends Adam (here with Spanish moustache) and Eve (below) along with the waterproofed post pilgrims' Sunday mass throng. 


A medieval students' challenge to university freshmen was to climb the steps two at a time - an impossible task as there are an odd number of steps.


More photos of the Puerta de las Platerias





Santiago Cathedral - North Front



The north side of the cathedral.





The great Monastery of St Martin Pinario faces the north transept of the cathedral.  On top is the pennant hemmed pilgrim at Amiens watching a pudgy looking St-Martin of Tours on a wooden looking horse, cut off half of his cloak to give him (below).  Up the road and round the corner, the church of the huge monastery has a better horse drawing attempt (below below). 


Link to more images of St-Martin cloak splitting across Europe.







Santiago de Compostela - Restaurants and Hotels



O Dezaseis


O Dezaseis (Rua San Pedro 16, tel 981 56 48 80 - closed Sunday) is a large very popular medium priced restaurant which specializes in the local cuisine - particularly wholesome soups and casseroles!!  Try for example garlicky pigs' trotter soup with turnip tops (that's the green foliage), potatoes, and possibly toast and an egg floater (most wholesome stews round here seem to have dunked toast and eggs) !  The restaurant's size and popularity do not seem to detract al all from the food or service quality - a fun place.



Restaurante Marisqueria Fornos


For the "night out" with outstanding fish, shell fish, crustaceans and wine and a more significant bill, go to the Restaurante Marisqueria Fornos which is to be found at Hórreo, 24 - Bajo y Plaza de Galicia, No 3 (Tel 981 56 57 21) and is probably the top seafood restaurant around - try the scallops in a garlic sauce (not just boring garlic butter) and ....... over to you!





La Casa del Buen Pulpo


A plate of Buen Pulpo Gallego - boiled octopus garnished with oil and cayenne pepper - in Bar Los Sobrinos del Padre - "La Casa del Buen Pulpo" - run by Juan Masejo Rey and his son (also Juan) - dad shown temporarily without cigarette and complete with "pencil on marble" tablet bill computational technology.  Note also the ceramic "wine glass" - another local tradition.  Closed Monday.


Also served was a local style scallop, after the consumption of which Juan kindly cleaned the shell up so it could be mounted in the Paradox Peugeot to make her feel more like a pilgrim.






The book in the background  is by Derry Brabbs

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Hotel Altair, Santiago de Compostela





Hotel Altair / Hotel Costa Vella


The Bar Los Sobrinos del Padre is just down the road from Dom P's outstanding hotel (The Hotel Altair tel 981 55 47 12), a newly (2006) opened hotel in an old stone walled building that has been stripped out and superbly rebuilt with extensive use of wood and modern fittings (and in 2006 incorporating  free wi-fi). 


The Altair and the nearby Costa Vella hotel (tel 981 56 95 30) are owned and run with panache by a sister and brother team - members of the Liñares family.   


The hotels are relatively easy to drive up to (and will be even easier when they put a better map on their web site) and are, we think, optimally located on the (best) side of the traffic free centre of this attractive little town, just a five minute walk away from the cathedral.



Camino Santiago Map

Map from "The Roads to Santiago de Compostela" published by MSM


Link to Medieval Pilgrimage Roads of Spain     and France     Books about Medieval Pilgrimages



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