UNESCO SitesWestern Europe Summer 2011

A Town of Pilgrims – Santiago de Compostela – UNESCO #11

Main Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela has long been a destination for Christian pilgrims from across Europe, and the world. Considered one of the holiest cities of the Christian faith, Santiago was constructed around the tomb of St. James the Greater in the beginning of the 9th century. The city was destroyed during the struggles between Islam and Christianity at the end of the 10th century, but was quickly rebuilt over the course of the proceeding century.

Danielle and I arrived late in the evening and proceeded to hunt down the hostel we had emailed earlier in the day, as we had heard a lot of places were full. The place we stayed was anything but a normal hostel, and although it might not be my first choice in accommodation again, it was an interesting experience as we found ourselves amongst the modern day pilgrims traveling to the city. Many of them had walked from France or beyond, so our 11 hour train ride paled in comparison. The pilgrims continue to flock to the city on a daily basis, and in fact, in the first photo, you can see pilgrims (and also some leftover protestors) resting and enjoying their accomplishment in front of the main cathedral.

The main part of the cathedral was built in 1211 and different additions have been made over the recent centuries. Below you can see a few photos of the inside of the church and the main altar. Needless to say, it was a beautiful cathedral, and although all of the historical and religious importance might not have completely rubbed off on us, it was definitely great to imagine the joy that many people have when they finally enter the cathedral.

Inside the Cathedral

Cathedral Altar

For the official description of this UNESCO site visit the official UNESCO page.
Click here for a complete list of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites I’ve visited.

    1. Matt

      Haha, no, no they don’t

    1. Matt

      Thanks! Honestly the history was more interesting to me than the sights itself. To be totally honest, if I walked there from France I might have been slightly underwhelmed 😉

    1. Matt

      Yea it was definitely interesting. A lot of the present day Pilgrims actually continue on past Santiago towards the coast to an area that is called “The World’s End”

  1. inka

    I read this with great interest, having visited last year and seen all the sites, modern day pilgrims included. I found Cap Finisterre a lot more intersting than Santiago.

    1. Matt

      We didn’t make it there, but it definitely sounded for interesting than Santiago. Outside of the old city there just wasn’t much there.

  2. Patricia

    great article, Matt!!

    yes, it’s cool u catch a bit the “religious” atmosphere there, although last years, this pilgrim route has become also just a touristic thing, in the beginning was maily cos any religious reason to do it.

    did u hear about the “Codex Calixtino” ? it’s a priceless and great book that was stolen from the Cathedral some days ago. Awful thing!

    1. Matt

      Wow no we didn’t hear about that. That is a really crappy thing to have happen…

  3. Lisa

    What a gorgeous cathedral! I would enjoy seeing that. I imagine those on the pilgrimage would treasure it’s beauty and serenity to rest after long hours of walking.

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