The cathedral and the old town, both declared World Heritage Sites, are the main hallmarks of Santiago de Compostela, but the Galician capital has much more to offer to everyone who visits it. Below we propose three places that will allow you to enjoy a different perspective of a city in which history, tradition, nature, culture and modernity go hand in hand.
Mount Pedroso is the viewpoint par excellence of Santiago de Compostela. It is just three kilometers from the town center and can be climbed on foot through a route that crosses an environment of great natural value. Ideally, go at sunset on a clear day, when the last rays of the sun illuminate the facade of the cathedral. If you have your own vehicle, it is also a good option to go at night to see all the lights of the city. At the foot of the mountain is A Granxa do Xesto, a recreational area with a children’s playground, a lake and a hotel establishment. At this point a pedestrian route starts to go up to the viewpoint. You can easily reach A Granxa do Xesto on foot or by car through Calle Casas Novas. Line 9 of urban transport reaches Santo Ignacio do Monte, half a kilometer away.
Cidade da Cultura
At the top of Mount Gaiás is located the Cidade da Cultura, a complex made up of four buildings (and a fifth under construction, the Fontán Building) that constitutes one of the best examples of contemporary architecture. Designed by the American architect Peter Eisenman, the floor plan of the buildings simulates the shape of a scallop through which the streets of the historic center of Compostela run. The Cidade da Cultura offers the visitor a wide range of activities: from leisure to nature, passing through gastronomy, culture or art. In this last area, the Gaiás Center Museum stands out, which behind its 43-meter-high facade houses exhibitions of all kinds. Close to it are the Hejduk Towers, whose night lights are an icon of Santiago as they can be seen from many points of the city. Currently they host the artistic intervention Uncultivated Landscapes, by Cristina García Fontán, which turns them into a miniature Galician forest.
The surroundings of the Cidade da Cultura offer green spaces, ideal for sports or simply taking a relaxed walk. The Galicia Forest, with its 34 hectares of extension and its 5 km of pedestrian and cycling paths, is one of the best options to go to the Gaiás. The Lake Park has almost 5,000 m2 of extension and is equipped with benches and sports equipment for a running circuit. The lake area stands out, as its name suggests, for its beauty with the silhouette of the Eisenman buildings in the background.
The Cidade da Cultura can be accessed either on foot or by bike (through the Galicia Forest or Manuel Fraga Avenue); by car (along Manuel Fraga Avenue or through the direct exit of the AP-9); and by urban bus, through line 9. Although the site is open every day, the museum closes on Mondays.
Galician Center for Contemporary Art and Bonaval Park
Located next to the Museo do Pobo Galego (on Valle Inclán street), the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea (CGAC) is another of the symbols of modernity and love for art and culture in Compostela. Designed by the architect Álvaro Siza in 1988, the building combines the modernity of its lines, shapes and volumes with the Galician tradition, represented through the granite that composes it, the most common stone in Galicia.
At the moment there are three exhibitions that can be visited at the CGAC: Crebas, by Francesc Torres; Caosmos, by Antón Patiño; and Wonder Women, a compilation of the works of various artists. In addition, there is a permanent collection with more than 1,200 pieces acquired with the museum’s annual budget or thanks to donations from individuals, institutions or artists. It is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
The CGAC building was built in such a way that it serves as access to the Bonaval park. This green place is one of the most cared for in Compostela. It offers surprising views of the rooftops of the city, and from the highest point the majesty of the cathedral towers stands out. It has an old cemetery and many fountains, which causes the water to be heard running at all times. It is ideal for a picnic or to lie in the shade of one of its trees to read a book or listen to music. It is easily accessible on foot from anywhere in the city, but there is also a car park nearby.