Cathedral. Even if we didn’t know where it was, we would still get there, it seems that the whole city is directing us towards it. Being a center of pilgrimage must have magnetic qualities. In addition, the towers are the highest points in Santiago, and can be seen from afar.
The arrival at the Obradoiro Square always impresses, no matter how many times we have been there. It is the perfect size to admire the monumental complex that makes it up from a distance.
The Cathedral began to be built in 1075 and was consecrated in 1211 as a basilica. It carries with it the best Romanesque, but it changed over time. Styles were added, such as the Renaissance in the cloister and annexes, and the great baroque touches: main chapel, organs, Obradoiro façade, closure of the apse… From neoclassicism we have the new façade of the Acibechería.
We cannot miss the visit to the Pórtico de la Gloria, recently restored with the recovery of the original colors. At the feet, the figure of Master Mateo, in which croques can no longer be given. Visits to museums, rooftops, night views, etc., are paid, but at the Portico we can request free invitations seven days in advance.
The Old Town. Since 1985, it is not only a heritage of the city of Santiago, but of the entire Humanity, according to UNESCO. It encompasses the old intramural enclosure and the historic neighborhoods. Barely 170 hectares full of monuments, monasteries, churches, country houses… with many centuries on top.
The core, obviously, is the Obradoiro Square. It is closed by very significant buildings: the Cathedral, the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, an old pilgrims’ hospital and now a hostel, the Colexio de San Xerome, seat of the rectorate, and the Pazo de Raxoi, seat of the town hall.
The Cathedral is surrounded by several squares. On the north façade, the Inmaculada Square, which is overlooked by the Convent of San Martiño Pinario and the Pazo de Xelmírez. At the head of the cathedral, where the Holy Door is, the A Quintana Square, with its Quintana de Mortos, downstairs, where there used to be a cemetery, and the Quintana de Vivos, upstairs. This square overlooks the Convent of San Paio Antealtares, the Casa da Conga and the Casa da Parra, with a baroque façade full of vines and stone branches. To the south, we have the Praterías Square, with its 19th century fountain. Here is also the Casa do Cabildo and, starting on O Vilar street, the Casa del Deán, both from the 18th century.
The main streets of the old town are O Vilar, A Nova and O Franco. Along the way, many noble houses: Monroi, Vaamonde, Bendaña manor houses… and theatres, institutions, bars and traditional shops.
Other important squares are O Toural, Cervantes, where the Casa de la Troya is, or Mazarelos, where the only remaining arch of the old wall is. In the surroundings of this, the Faculty of Geography and History, the Market, the Church of San Fiz de Solovio and the Convent of San Agustín.
Alameda Park. It is the most important urban park in Santiago, located between the South Campus and the Old Town, with an area of 85,000 m2. In it we distinguish three parts: the Paseo da Alameda, the Carballeira de Santa Susana and the Paseo da Ferradura or dos Leóns. At the same time that it surrounds a part of the historic city, it shows us very good views, such as those from the viewpoint of Paseo da Ferradura, with the Cathedral in front.
There are some buildings, such as the Chapel of Santa Susana, the Church of O Pilar, the dovecote or the bandstand. There are also statues and a great variety of plants. Over time, extensions and restorations were made. The park is equipped with fountains, ponds, a children’s playground, public toilets… Among the urban furniture, the benches with wrought iron backs made in the first ovens of Sargadelos stand out.
Museo do Pobo Galego. (Museum of the Galician People). It was born in 1976, with the idea of researching, preserving, disseminating and promoting Galician culture. It is run by a board of trustees and works with public and private contributions. It occupies the old Convent of San Domingos de Bonaval.
It has permanent and temporary exhibitions. The permanent collection is made up of objects from everyday life (more than 15,000 pieces!). There are also publications, conferences, concerts, courses…
It has a specialized library and an Archive of documentary, graphic and audiovisual material. There is also a department of education and cultural action to reach all types of public.
By the way, nothing to take the elevator. You have to go up and down the famous Baroque helicoidal staircase by Domingo de Andrade, the authentic emblem of the museum. And it’s not Monday, they close…
Food Market. So much walking through Santiago ahead, normal that we open up our appetite. Well, all we have to do is go through the Mercado de Abastos (Food Market), between As Ameas street and A Virxe da Cerca street, on the edge of the Old Town. It is a symbol in Santiago, the communion of the rural and the urban. There has been a market here since 1873, but the current building is from 1941, designed by Vaquero Palacios, who took advantage of something from the old one. It is made up of eight naves that open onto a central square with a fountain. And it has a timeless air, pulling Romanesque.
Since 2000, the square has been managed by a cooperative of merchants that promotes the produce of the land. It is open from Monday to Saturday morning, although the busiest days are Thursdays and Saturdays.
The nave 5 is dedicated to restoration. In the outer part of the market there is also a great variety of gastronomic offer, animated by the activity of the square.
The service is traditional but up to date: home delivery, phone and internet orders, vacuum packaging, luggage storage, and even personal shopper!