Although it was the journey – the Camino from Ferrol to Santiago de Compostela – rather than the destination that was important, the historic city in Galicia, in Spain’s northern region, is both beguiling and intriguing. For it manages to balance the thrust of an increasingly secular modern world, with its deeply religious ethos. Each year, more than 200,000 pilgrims take part in one of the various pilgrimage routes of more than 100 kms, many walking (or riding) considerably more than that. Once there, visitors wind down by wandering through narrow streets and passages that suddenly unfurl into wide squares. Restaurants open late and the evening air resounds with music and chatter. Everywhere there is the past confronting and confounding the present. It’s a heady mix that creates a unique atmosphere.
The Church of San Francisco, founded by St Francis of Assisi when he went on a pilgrimage to Santiago. Since the major restoration works to Santiago Cathedral it has become an increasingly important location with the daily pilgrim’s mass held there.
A seemingly quiet afternoon turns into an impromptu showcase for Galician music and dance.
Ancient entry ways ..
… stunnning churches
The modern University of Santiago is inextricably linked to the city’s past.
An intrinsic part of life in Santiago is the endless series of cafes and restaurants ranging from haute cuisine to the traditional Galician street food.
Street art …
To ancient carvings at Santiago Cathedral/
The exquisite and highly complex semicircular dome with the Jerusalem Cross at its apex at the Church of Saint Fructuoso also known as the Church of the Anguished. San Fructuoso was a highly educated and wise monk who founded 20 monasteries on the Iberian Peninsula.
Every external panorama seems to present a new aspect to Santiago.
And every internal view, like the current extensive renovation work inside the Cathedral whilst disrupting the usual close links with the pilgrims arriving it remains a place of deep spiritual importance.
The city boasts the most narrow of streets …
… to elegant broad boulevards.
And wide welcoming plazas.
Ancient markets …
A city thriving on the pilgrims, putting one aching foot in front of the other.