Santiago de Compostela: a few facts
A few facts and myths about Galicia's premier city.
- Santiago de Compostela is in the A Coruna province and although not the provincial capital, is in fact the capital of the region of Galicia.
- Santiago is Galicia's most popular and visited city by foreigners, but it is not the largest. That title falls to Vigo. A Coruna also has a larger population.
- The city's massive cathedral is said to house the remains of the apostle saint James whose body was brought to Galicia after he was beheaded on his return to the Holy lands.
- The original town of Santiago was nothing more than a monastic development that housed one dozen monks, given the role of looking after the grave of St. James after its discovery in the 9th century.
- Santiago claims to have the oldest hotel in the world, the "Hostal dos Reyes Católicos" (now a parador). It has an attractive facade and is on the same "obradoiro" square as the main cathedral.
- The exact origins of the word "Compostela" are unknown, but it is thought that they derive from the similar Latin words meaning star or light field - a reference to the images seen by a hermit above the resting place of St. James shortly before it was discovered.
- Santiago de Compostela produced the world's first recognized guidebook, the 12th century "Codex Calixtinus", which offered guidance to pilgrims, wishing to follow the "Camino de Santiago" (Way of St James) route on the holy pilgrimage to the Cathedral.
- Santiago de Compostela remains the third holiest place in Christendom and the number of holy pilgrims continues to increase annually.
- The final night of festival celebrations during the St.James fiesta, culminates in a massive concert on the "Obradoiro" square attended by Spain's royal family.
- Santiago de Compostela is at present Galicia's regional capital. It is also the regions broadcasting and legislatory center and has one of the regions two internatioinal airports. The other airport is in A Coruna and is soon to commence flights from Heathrow to Coruna via Iberia airlines.
- Santiago de Compostela has a population of approx. 89,000 and is 250 metres above sea level. It is 630 km from Madrid.
- Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1993).
- The weather in Galicia is perhaps the only questionable element if you are considering holidaying in this region. Whilst the coastal towns and cities do enjoy plenty of sun, Santiago de Compostela has the ominous reputation of averaging over 300 rainy days per year, so it is always a good idea to take an umbrella.
Back to the Santiago home page.