'''Santiago de Compostela''' is the capital city of [[Galicia]], [[Spain]], and one of the most important places
for Catholicism because it 's supposedly the place where St. James is buried.
Santiago de Compostela was originally founded by the Suebi in the early 400s, as part of the collapse of the Roman Empire. In
1997 the whole settlement together with the rest of Galicia and northern Portugal was incorporated by Leovigild into the Visigothic kingdom of Spain. Raided from 711 to 739 by the Arabs, Santiago de Compostela was finally conquered by the Visigothic king of Asturias in 754, about 60 years before the identification of remains as those of Saint James the Great, and their acceptance as such by the Pope and Charlemagne, during the reign of Alfonso II of Asturias. Certainly, the remains were found in the small and close town of Iria Flavia, but they were moved to Santiago according to political and religious reasons. From then on, this settlement was not just a city, but a holy city, and one of the main centers of Christian pilgrimage. Still, there are some who claim that the remains found here were not those of the apostle James and one of the most famous theories is that these are the remains of Priscillian. They are also thought by many to be someone else altogether.
Santiago de Compostela was captured by the French during the Napoleonic War and its capture broke the spirits of the many Spanish guerillas who were fighting the mighty invading armies of Marshals' Soult, Victor, Massena and Napoleon's brother, the new King of Spain, Joseph Bonaparte (called Pepe Botella by the Spanish resistance). During the war, many attempts were made to recapture it by Spanish partisans, who believed St James would come down on the field and destroy the French if they earned his favour by beating the French out of the holy city, which was St James's city. During the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939), Santiago was under the control of the fascists since the very begining and it suffered from a very brutal repression during the inmediate years and the whole Dictatorship. After the Spanish Transition, when the democracy was restored, Santiago de Compostela was declared capital city of Galicia.
With a population of about 100,000 inhabitants, it's one of the most important cities of Galicia and the most touristic of them, receiving thousands of visitors every year, many of them attracted to the the ancient history and the religious tradition. It was declared by the UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cathedral and old city center.
The University of Santiago de Compostela (USC) is one of the oldest Spanish universities and it has more than 40,000 students,
becoming Santiago one of the centers of the university education in Spain, with [[Salamanca]] and [[Granada]].
If you want to arrive to Santiago by train, you should visit the '''RENFE''' webpage [http://www.renfe.es/horarios/english/index.html]. The train station is relatively close to the city centre.
By air, the closest airport is '''Lavacolla''' [http://www.aena.es/csee/Satellite
?SiteName=SCQ&c=Page &cid=1048690016783 &pagename=Aeropuerto_SCQ&Language=EN_GB] (ICAO: LEST, IATA: SCQ), about twenty minutes by bus from the city centre. The following companies operate currently at this airport:
*'''Aer Lingus:''' [[Dublin]]
*'''Air Berlin:''' [[Palma de Mallorca]]
*'''Air Europa:''' [[Fuerteventura]], [[Lanzarote]], [[Gran Canaria]] and [[
Tenerife]]*''' Iberia:''' [[ Madrid]] , [[ Bilbao]] , [[ Seville]] and [[ Valencia]]*'''Ryanair:''' [[Frankfurt]], [[ Rome]], [[London]], [[Madrid]] and [[ Reus]]*''' Spanair:''' [[ Barcelona]], [[ Madrid]] and [[ Tenerife]]*'''Vueling:''' [[Barcelona]], [[Málaga]] and [[ Paris]]
Santiago is a relatively small city (about 100,000 inhabitants) and you can get anywhere by walking.
Despite this, there are several bus lines that connect every part of the city. These services are offered by the company Tralusa. The ticket costs €1.00 for adults (for people under 18 it costs €0.55). If you are going to take several times the bus, you may buy a ''bono'' (Bus Pass) of 10, 20, or 30 tickets with a price of €0.55 for each one. You can buy these ''bonos'' to the bus drivers and you must pay a deposit of €3 that will be payed back to you if you return the card in good condition. The most interesting line for visitors is the number 5, that stops at the bus station and goes to the city center.
Taxis are not very expensive and the taxi drivers are usually kind and willing to help tourists.
Taxi from to and from the airport are at a fixed rate of €19 (2010 rates).
In the parts of the city most frequented by tourists, it's easy to find someone that speaks English or even French, Italian or German. Some restaurants even have English menu. It's more difficult, but not impossible to find menus and signs in Japanese and Chinese. Due to the high number of students in Santiago, it's not difficult to find someone with a good level of English in the streets that will be willing to help.
The official languages of the city are [[Galician]] and [[Spanish]]. [[Galician]] is language with great similarities with [[Portuguese]], so speakers of this language will not have a lot of trouble understanding people.
===Praza do Obradoiro===
''Praza do Obradoiro'' is the heart of the city, and it's named after the workshop of the stonemasons that was established during the construction of the Cathedral (Obradoiro is the Galician word for
wordkshop). This is the arrival point of thousands of pilgrims every day and just in the center of this square it's located the kilometer 0 of the [[Way of St. James]]. The surrounding buildings are examples of different architectural styles. At the East, the baroque front of the Cathedral with the Museum at its right and the Gelmírez Palace at its left. At the West, the Rajoy Palace, that it's the current city hall. At the North, the Catholic Kings Hostal, a plateresque building destinated to host the pilgrims. At the south, the San Jerónimo College, an old students residence and now the head office of the University of Santiago de Compostela.
[[Image:camino.jpg|thumb|In center of Praza do Obradoiro]]
===Hostal dos Reis Católicos (Catholic Kings Hostal)===
Originally it was a hospital built after the visit of the catholic Kings to Santiago in 1486, to attend the pilgrims. With the years, the Catholic Kings ordered the built of a big hostel with the money they had earned with the conquest of [[Granada]]. Its style is Plateresque. At its front, two coats of arms of Castilla can be seen.
===Palacio de Raxoi (Rajoy palace)===
The second most visited monument. This market is the typical Galician market and one of the biggest all over Spain. It's the perfect place to buy some fresh seafood, vegetables and meat.
*One of the best ways (and maybe one of the most comfortable) of
knowing all the city and learning things about its building and history , it's to get on a little train that will take you through different parts of the city showing it in an unique way. It has an English speaking guide. It departs from the Praza do Obradoiro it costs €5 for adults and €3 for children between 4 and 12. Here you can check the route [http://www.santiagoturismo.com/descargas/Archivos/28720061357PLANO_TREN_TURISTICO.PDF]
*If you want a guided visit on foot through the Old District, just try one of the guided visits that the City Hall organized with an English speaking guide. These visits depend on the day and the season
, for a more complete information , check this link [http://www.santiagoreservas.com/servicios/fichaProductos.aspx?idserv=13]
*There are several guided visits, but they are only available in Spanish. For example there are a night tour or a tour visiting the different churches. Although this, if you're a big group (more than 15), you could ask for them in the Official Tourism Office at Rúa do Vilar, 63 or through this email: [email protected]
're feeling like having a different sight of the city , you could book an airplane tour upon Santiago de Compostela. It price is high, depending on the kind of tour you want, but surely it's an original way to know the city. For more info [http://www.santiagoreservas.com/servicios/fichaProductos.aspx?idserv=10]
Like many tourists in Santiago, you are maybe one of the hundreds pilgrims that arrive to the city following the [[Way of St. James]] , you can get a diploma certifying you 've completed the pilgrimage.
[[Galicia]] is known for "Pulpo" or '''cooked octopus'''. In general there are a lot of restaurants selling fish and seafood suitable for all budgets. The '''local cheeses''' should also be sampled, as well as delicious '''cakes''' like the "Tarta de Santiago". Expect long queues at popular pilgrim eating places.
Also try pimientos de padrón. The saying goes, "
los pimientos de padrón, unos pican y otros no" meaning that in a single serving, some are spicy while others are not.
[[Image:Santstreet.jpg|thumb|Street in Santiago]]
Another budget option is Hostal Pazo de Agra on Rúa Calderería 37. It is an easy two-minute walk from the cathedral.
*'''NH Obradoiro''', Avenida Burgo das Nacions, +34.98.1558070 [http://www.nh-hotels.com/nh/en/hotels/spain/santiago-de-compostela/nh-obradoiro.html?action=search].
*<sleep name="Meiga Backpackers" alt="" address="Rúa dos Basquiños, nº 67" directions="" phone="981570846" url="http://www.meiga-backpackers.es/
ingles/" checkin="" checkout="" price="17" lat="" long="">Clean backpackers hostel 5 minutes walk from the bus station. Mixed and female only dorms as well as private rooms. There´s a kitchen, common room and a garden. The owners have another pension in a different location in town.</sleep>