It is the capital of the Autonomous Community of Galicia. Almost equidistant from La Coruña to the north and Pontevedra to the south, it is located between Mount Pedroso and Mount Viso, and surrounded by the rivers Sar and Sarela. Although the city of Santiago de Compostela originates as such from the 9th century, year 830, with the discovery of the tomb of the Apostle, the beginning of its journey is lost in prehistory, in the castros and their culture, as evidenced by the circumscribing, the Santa Susana, A Sionlla, or the Meixonfrío or San Marcos. The Romans also left their mark, as archaeological excavations have found the existence of a Roman villa and its mausoleum that lasted in time until the seventh century. Faced with the uproar of the discovery of Santiago's tomb, the Asturian king Alfonso II made a pilgrimage from Oviedo and verified and recognised its existence, declaring it the Patron Saint of the kingdom and turning the place into the centre of Christian worship capable of facing up to Muslim expansion. Also then the first church of Santiago de Compostela was built, curiously it housed in its interior the mausoleum of the Roman era. In the tenth century Muslim troops led by Almanzor devastated the city, but the tomb of the saint was saved from destruction. With the reconstruction of the city it was also provided with new moats and walls. In the year 1075 the construction of the great Romanesque cathedral begins.
At that time Santiago was the centre of a great feudal lordship, governed by the bishops of Compostela, which covered the territory from the river Iso to the Atlantic. The armed resistance against the Norman invasions was also organized from here. Santiago consolidated its political, cultural and religious importance, and in its cathedral were crowned kings like Alfonso VII. In 1181 Pope Alexander III granted him the privilege of the bull in the Jubilee Holy Year. The city also witnessed struggles between bourgeois and nobles. With the rise of pilgrimages, the writing of the Codex Calixtinus as a guide for them, the cathedral in all its splendor, in Santiago were creating population centers around new convents and outside the walls. The centuries at the end of the Middle Ages were marked by profound social, political, cultural and religious transformations, and Santiago was no stranger to them. The 16th century was established as the Plateresque century, initiated by the Catholic Monarchs in the construction of the Royal Hospital. The second half of the seventeenth century and with the economic prosperity of the chapter and the monasteries, made Santiago a true artistic center in which its greatest exponent is what has come to be called Baroque Compostela. The nineteenth century also brings literary movements and desires to restore a traditional Galician culture and in the twentieth century, when the Autonomous Communities were established, became the political and administrative headquarters of Galicia. Today, Santiago de Compostela is a cosmopolitan city in which tradition and present, past and future coexist.
To walk around Santiago de Compostela is to enter a real museum of history and art, ethnographic and sacred. Streets, squares, palaces, convents and churches give a good account of this. The Plaza del Obradoiro, the zero kilometre of pilgrimages, is the centre around which all of Compostela revolves. The visitor places himself in his centre eager to contemplate the Baroque façade of the cathedral, preceded by a staircase, and as soon as he passes through it, admire the Portico de La Gloria, walk through it with his eyes set on the great botafumeiro in the hope of seeing it fly and after embracing the Apostle and visiting his sepulchre, head for the Holy Door, also on the Baroque east façade. The Obradoiro also houses the Museum and the Romanesque Palace of Gelmirez or pazo of Xelmirez; the town hall or Palace of Rajoy, which was built by Archbishop Bartolomé de Rajoy; the school of San Jerónimo or the plateresque Hostal de los Reyes Católicos. In the Square of Platerías you can see the only Romanesque facade that preserves the cathedral and is also where you can best enjoy the Clock Tower with its Berenguela, the largest of all the bells of the cathedral. In the corner with the rúa do Vilar is located the house of the Deán from the middle of the XVIII century.
In the Square of Quintana the Holy Door opens, but this only happens in the Jacobean years. But the first square that the pilgrims see as much of the French Way as those of the North, Primitive or English is the square of the Immaculate one or of the Azabachería and in her the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario. The Market of Abastos is one of the five most important of Spain, is located between the churches of San Agustín and San Fiz de Solovio. In the old part of the city, the convent of San Francisco has been declared a Historic-Artistic Monument. The convent of San Paio de Antealtares, which through its church designed by Fray Gabriel de Casas, leads to the Museum of Sacred Art, which preserves the primitive altar that accompanied the apostolic sarcophagus. The convent of San Domingos de Bonaval, whose church was built in the 14th century, the convent's outbuildings house the Museum do Pobo Galego; the different rooms are reached through a surprising triple spiral staircase, the work of Domingo de Andrade, and an emblem of the Compostelan Baroque. The House of the Parra of the end of the XVII...Museums, hermitages, alleys, arcades and all this, the old town, the historical and monumental city, everything merges with the Eixample or new zone without losing its character.
In Santiago de Compostela there are several pilgrimages that are celebrated in spring in which the religious meaning is joined to traditional fairs and acts, the one of San Lázaro in March, in April San Marcos, or the one of San Pedro Mártir on April 29, are a good example. In May a popular Cattle Fair is accompanied by cultural events in which the Galician folklore and culture are known in their Celtic roots and of course, with tastings of the most typical gastronomic dishes of this land. But when Santiago dresses up, it is to celebrate the Holy Apostle on July 25. The day before, on the 24th, in front of the façade of the cathedral, in the Plaza del Obradoiro, a pyrotechnics castle is burnt, the famous Fire of the Apostle. On 16 August Santiago de Compostela celebrates San Roque.
Santiago de Compostela is tradition, it is history, it is mysticism, culture and knowledge, it is morriña, it is the sweet sound of its rain, it is the muse of great writers and poets....Chove en Santiago / meu doce amor / Camelia branca do ar / brila entebrecida ô sol. This is how Federico García Lorca sang it in his Six Galician Poems. It rains in Santiago/ my sweet love...
The student atmosphere of this holy city is another of the hallmarks that give it character. Its university has more than five hundred years of history. In 1495 the College of Poor Students was founded, which was the germ from which the current University instituted by Alonso de Fonseca III in 1525 would be born.
The Clock Tower, in the cathedral, houses the bell known as the Berenguela. This bell sounds with a deep Do when the clock, of the XIX century and that has only one hand, marks the hours and tells the legend that if some midnight touches 13 bells instead of 12, then it will be necessary to take shelter and to be put to good safety because the demon will have that magic hour to walk free and to make his own.
Santiago de Compostela can be reached by road through different roads that link it with the main Galician localities. The AP-9 Atlantic Motorway links Santiago de Compostela with A Coruña, Ferrol, Pontevedra, Vigo, Tui and the Portuguese border. The AP-53 motorway connects Santiago de Compostela with Lalín, where it connects with the AG-53 that reaches Ourense. Also from Lugo comes the N-547 that joins both localities, another road that reaches the same Santiago de Compostela is the N-634 from the Cantabrian highway. At the same time from Santiago de Compostela there are several roads, such as the AG-56 or the AC-406, which connect it with coastal towns such as Noia or Muxia among many others.
Santiago de Compostela has an extensive network of bus services that connect both nationally and internationally. The bus station of Santiago is located in Square de Camilo Díaz Baliño, s/n, and the telephone number for further information is 981 542 416.
Long-distance trains arrive at the Santiago de Compostela railway station, located at rúa Hórreo, 75 A, with the information telephone number 981 591 859. These daily direct service trains link Madrid, San Sebastián, Hendaye and Barcelona. And daily, but with a single transfer, you can access Bilbao, Portugal and Paris, and almost all major national destinations. Regional rail transport links Santiago, daily and at different times, with A Coruña, Vilagarcía de Arousa, Pontevedra, Ourense and Vigo, with links to Portugal.
The international airport of Santiago de Compostela is located in Lavacolla and the telephone number is 981 547 501. To get there, which is 10 kilometres from the city, you can take the national road N-634, which connects Santiago de Compostela with the N-547 towards Lugo. The detour is thirteen kilometres east of the city. It can also be accessed via the A-54 motorway that joins the Santiago ring road with the national N-547. Also several bus lines connect it with different points of Santiago as well as with the bus and train station. By bus it is also connected to nearby towns and Lugo.
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