Reserved but friendly people
We are really reserve but friendly. No particular local custom. However there are one main activity (25th of July. St James) really busy but a bit overcrowded. Some cultural tips. There´s always an intense cultural life in the city. Local hidden treasure. Get at San Pelayo, at 8:00 religious services and at the end....a superb nuns chorus will take you to heaven.
Museo de las Peregrinaciones
The Pilgrimage Museum shows the importance, for European culture and Hispanic America, of the pilgrimage and worship of Santiago.
Rúa de San Miguel, 4
- Fax: (+34) 981 58 19 55
The Cathedral of Santiago
The Cathedral of Santiago, conceived as a small city of stone centred on holy relics and endowed with its own life, has evolved with vitality through the years, resulting in today's heterogeneous building of different historical styles and artistic tendencies that have been successively superimposed. The Romanesque Cathedral, designed according to the French model of pilgrimage churches, was erected (1075-1211) on the site of the first churches that were built in the place where the Apostl's ashes appeared, the last of which was destroyed by Almanzor in the summer of 997. The boom of the pilgrimages and the riches of one of the Iberian Peninsula's biggest feudal estates enabled the beginning of the cathedral's construction. The building has a traditional Latin-cross ground plan with three naves.
Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares
Originally a Benedictine monastery, built by Alfonso 11 to look after the remains of St. James. It was converted to a nunnery in 1499.
This convent/church has a museum of Sacred Art-admission according to my guide book is £1.50
Open Mon - Sat 11 - 13.30 or 1400hrs and 1600 - 1900 hrs.
I didn't get to see the museum, but each night the nuns sing during mass at 19.30 hours, then at about 20.00hrs they chant Benedictine vespers.
On the Friday night, I arrived at just before 20.00hrs in order to hear the nuns singing. Entering through the door (above which is a stone statue of the child saint San Paio, depicting his throat being slashed in recognition of his martyrdom)! I found that mass was still in progress. (I'm not a Catholic, and wasn't entirely sure of the procedure, so I sat at the back of the church)
When mass was over - The nuns sang vespers for about 20 minutes. Although I'm not particularly religious, I did find this quite moving, especially as there were only myself and 3 members of the congregation there, so it felt quite atmospheric.
Earlier in the day, I'd visited an exhibition in the former Bank of Spain, in the Plaza de las Platerias, which was intending to educate the public about the previously hidden lives of the nuns who live in enclosed orders, including the convent of San Paiou.
Apparently it is possible to purchase cookies, freshly baked by the nuns, from a hatch situated further along the Via Sacra. You enter a small entrance hall through a door which has a carving of the Virgin Mary on a donkey. I'd found this by accident earlier in the day, and had wondered what the revolving cupboard in the wall was for. I'd read somewhere before about mothers abandoning their unwanted babies at convents in similar contraptions, and assumed that it was part of its purpose. When I asked the girl at the Tourist information office, when I was enquiring about the vespers, she neither confirmed or denied this!
Catedral de Santiago (12/14): The Façades (2/4)
The fachada de la Inmaculada (northern façade), leads to Praza de la Inmaculada, where El Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) coming from France, ended at the Francigena (also called Gate of Paradise), the Romanesque portal built in 1.122 by Bernard, treasurer of the church. This gate was demolished in the 17th century. On top of the façade stands a statue of Santiago from the 18th century.