Santiago de Compostela Visitor information
An introduction to Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela is situated in the A Coruña province and since 1982 it has been the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia, housing the Galecian parliament. In 1985 the city's Old Town became a World Heritage Site. Almost entirely destroyed by the Muslims at the end of the 10th century, the city was completely rebuilt during the course of the following century. With its roman, gothic and barroque architecture, the city’s old town, with its many narrow winding streets full of historic buildings, is considered to be one of the most beautiful urban areas in the world.
The St James’ Cathedral in the city centre is an extremely popular destination, due to the fact that since the 9th century it has been a part of the medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James (Spanish: Camino de Santiago). In terms of Christian pilgrimages, it is considered by many of similar importance as Jerusalem and Rome. Santiago is also the site of the University of Santiago de Compostela, with a rich history of over 500 years and because of this, the city has a tremendous university town vibe. Santiago’s wholesale food market is counted among the five most prominent ones in Spain and as such is the city’s second most frequented visitor attraction. The current market dates back to 1941 and sits on the site of the previous one, which first opened in 1870.
Accommodation in Santiago de Compostela’s student residences
The city is the home of the prestigious University of Santiago de Compostela and there are numerous independent student residences assigned to the university and offering a wide range of accommodation. It should be understood that these residences are designed primarily for students and not children or adults expecting a high level of luxury. However, with this in mind, the halls do meet a level of comfort that we expect most visitors to be happy with, and we will welcome any feedback where this is not the case.
Getting around Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela has its own airport, which is situated about 10km from the city centre with excellent rail and bus links. There are plans in place to connect the city to Madrid via a network of highspeed AVE trains. Local buses are operated by Tussa, who have 24 lines and provide services in the city centre and its surroundings.
Santiago de Compostela History
A short history of Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela was founded originally by the Suebi in the beginning of the 5th century as a result of the fall of the Roman Empire. Later on, in 584 AD the whole settlement, as well as the rest of the Galician territory and the northen part of Portugal became a part of Spain. The Arabs raided the city in the middle of the 8th century but it was the beginning of the 9th century that would be the start of the city’s fame, as it was then that the remains of supposedly Saint James the Great were identified and accepted by the Pope. From that point in time, this settlement was not just a city, but a holy city and soon became one of the major centres of Christian pilgrimage, second only to Rome and Jerusalem itself.
Following the fall of the Moorish state in 1492, the Spanish prosecution of Muslims by the Christians is in fact still visible today, with local residents often showing antipathy towards those who are visibly Muslim. During the Napoleonic Wars, the city was captured by the French. During the war, the Spanish partisans made many attempts to recapture it, since they believed that St James would emerge on the field and destroy the French if they drove the French out of his holy city. As suggested already, it is probably impossible to know for sure exactly whose bones were actually found at the site, nor precisely when nor how. The 1000-year-old pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James contained within the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is known in English as the Way of St. James and in Spanish as the Camino de Santiago. Each year, over 100,000 pilgrims travel to the city from every part of Europe as well as other more remote parts of the world.
Universities in Santiago de Compostela