The City of Culture of Galicia came to be in 1999, when American architect Peter Eisenman entered a contest put on by the Parliament of Galicia for the purpose of finding the best design for a new cultural center. Many other prominent architects participated, but in the end, Eisenman’s design was chosen for its most pleasing visuals and how they fit in with the landscape. Up until 2013, Eisenman and his team of architects worked on this project and completed all but two buildings.
With something for everyone, from a 1500 seat music theater to a library, the Cidade da Cultura de Galicia is something worth going to, and I hope you do!
For more information on Cidade da Cultura de Galicia, click here.
≈ Comments Off on Hidden Gem: Old Town Santiago de Compostela
The city of Santiago de Compostela has its own hidden gem: Old Town. This is the center of the city where most (if not all) of the major historical events have occurred throughout history. Within the confines of this area lies several significant buildings, of varying architectural styles, resulting in a remarkably preserved and gem of a city that was named a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO in 1985.
The important features of the town include the Santiago Cathedral, the Obradoiro, the Quintana, the Azabacheria, the Platerias, and a multitude of other buildings such as museums and old homes/businesses.
The Obradoiro, Quintana, Azabacheria, and Platerias are the four squares that are situated around the Cathedral. Each one faces a different architectural style of the city and Cathedral. These architectural styles include Romanesque. Baroque, Gothic, Renaissance, and Neoclassicist.
The Cathedral is the big form of Romanesque architecture in the city while the Baroque western façade of it is considered the be the “authentic symbol”. This side faces one side of Obradoiro square and is the side that has the incredible display during the St. James Festival.
Other fascinating architectural features of Old Town is the combination of influences from outside the region (as mentioned above) with the traditional Galician materials and galleries. Over time, dominant architectural styles have shown their influence and reach in cities all over Europe and the world that end up mixing with the styles of local areas, producing this amazing mix of fascinating and bold with old school and local.
The roads throughout this section of Santiago de Compostela are not made for cars, rather they are still very dependent upon walking around and it is more common to see cobblestone roads and paths than it is a vehicle while going through town. If you decide to visit Old Town, it is best to block off at least one day, if not two (or more!), in order for you to fit as much as possible in the time you have.
≈ Comments Off on Food, Fireworks, Fiestas: St. James Festival
The St. James Festival in Santiago de Compostela is the biggest festival of the year and takes place during the last two weeks of July. It is said that St. James’ tomb was found in the city which produced the Camino de Santiago and the building of the Santiago Cathedral.
The festival combines a mixture of religious features with traditions of the Galicia region where Santiago de Compostela is located. Throughout the two week period, people gather for celebration and engage in activities such as parades, local music, theater plays, and more. On July 24th, there is the long anticipated fireworks display with the subsequent display upon the side of the Cathedral.
The festival is meant to commemorate St. James and within the span of it, falls St. James Day on July 25th. This is the day that the Cathedral hosts its High Mass for anyone to attend, often including a member of Spain’s Royal Family.
For the years that July 25th lands on a Sunday, it is referred to as a “Holy” or “Jubilee” Year and the amount of people who attend the population grows as many more embark on the Camino de Santiago. It is often recommended that you plan to end your pilgrimage around this time of July so that you can experience the immense amount of culture and love that occurs in the city during the festival.
The St. James Festival has many names that it is often referred to as such as the Feast of St. James or St. James Feast Day so be on the lookout for the variations when you are researching where to go and what to do. The festival ends July 31st with another marvelous fireworks display.
Located in Praza do Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela, Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, is a 5-star luxury hotel with a rich history. It was constructed in 1486 by Isabel and Ferdinand originally a religious work. It is the oldest operating hotel and has been called the “most beautiful hotel in Europe”. It was used to house those that completed the Way of Saint James, also completed by Isabel and Ferdinand in the late 15th century. They wanted to show how devout they were to Catholicism, so they began a program to improve infrastructure and support services on the pilgrimage trail. They had built new hostels, bridges, churches, and public wells.
Hostal de lost Reyes Católicos served as a hospital and hospice. Pilgrims were able to recover after completeing their pilgrimage. The staff was multilingual and doctors, nurses, and priests were on call 24/7. They were allowed to stay at the Hostal for three days during the summer and five days in the winter. As of 2014, free services were provided to a select number of pilgrims.
The construction was observed by Enrique de Egas. The Hostal has four colonnaded and interconnected courtyards inside. The style is Plateresque and has some gothic inspirations.
It attracted many doctors and scholars since it was a huge state-run hospital. In the 20th century, Francisco Franco stayed at the Hostal during his time as caudillo.
Come to the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos and learn more about the history of the building!
Do you like cheese? Are you an amateur cheesemonger, or just someone who enjoys the finer cheeses in life? Whether you are either of these things or not, you may find it worth it to give tetilla cheese a try! Now, the name tetilla may resemble that of tortilla, but rest assured, they are not related. Tetilla actually means “nipple” in Galician (the region that this cheese belongs to), and now that you know this, it makes a lot of sense when you look at a wheel of this creamy and buttery soft cheese!
Queixo de Tetilla is made from the milk of Friesian, Brown Swiss and Galician Blonde cows, and the process begins fairly soon after the cows are milked by curdling the cheese with an enzyme called rennet (which can be found in many cheeses) or other cultures. Then, the curds are cut down to very small pieces and washed, then placed in a mold that resembles the shape of the finished product. It is aged for just seven days minimum, but this can be extended up to thirty days.
Places to Acquire Queixo de Tetilla:
A couple of great places you can go to experience queixo de tetilla in the wonderful city of Santiago de Compostela include, but are not limited to: Casa Pepe, which is a restaurant and bar where you can partake in not only the consumption of various cheeses, but also wine, meats, and more! This nice spot is also just a short walk from the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, which is an important pilgrimage site for Catholics.
Another great place to get queixo de tetilla is Máis Que Queixos (which translates to “more than cheese”). This market is a great destination to get some quality tetilla cheese, as well as other great items such as wine, liquor, meats, and cakes. I hope you give this uniquely named cheese a try!
For more information, including how to keep tetilla cheese fresh, click here.
≈ Comments Off on Historical University of Santiago de Compostela
The University was founded in 1495. The future of the university was unknown because it didn’t have great economic resources. In 1504, Pope Julius II recognized the institution and allowed the institution to be a part of the “Gramatic Academy” for higher education by issuing a Papal Bull. The main fields of study were Theology, Grammar and Arts, and later on Law (ecclesiastical law) and Medicine. Ecclesiastical law is also known as canon law, and it is defined as the body of codified laws and governing affairs of the Catholic church.
In the 18th century, the University went through a huge transformation. They lost some of their autonomy to the Spanish Monarchy. Charles III granted the title “Regia” to the University. The University escaped the religious orders from the Catholic Church. They added Experimental Physics and Chemistry to their offered degrees, which had previously only been given to certain religious congregations.
In the 1980s, USC added university campuses in A Coruña and Vigo. About ten years later, they became independent universities.
Experience a Medieval place of meeting, market, and more at the Plaza de Cervantes! Walk around the bust of Don Quixote that crowns the top of a beautiful fountain as you visit nearby stores and restaurants! As you walk this part of the city, imagine yourself walking around a vital part of the city during Medieval times as it is more than just a street with a statue!
A Brief History
This street functioned as many things throughout history from a place of executions and city council to now a place where tourists, pilgrims, and residents pass through every day. In the medieval era of Spain this popular meeting spot was known as the “Forum.” The town crier would use it as a place to spread news and such that pertained to the town and peasants would use it as a mercantile center. This resulted in it being given the name of Plazo de Campo, which means plaza of encampment, at one point in time. It was later abandoned by these merchants as the construction of the “Mercado de Abastos” commenced. It was then renamed in the 19th century to what we know it as, the Plaza de Cervantes.
Around the Statue
With the center piece being the fountain with the center rising to the bust of Don Quixote, there is more to see around this that adds to the history and beauty of this medieval forum. The neoclassical column with the bust of a famous Spanish writer is surrounded by stone wall buildings which is traditional around Compostela. Seen from the statue, there is the Renaissance San Benito Church to the colonnade. It is even said that you can hear your steps echo under the colonnade of the church. This area holds a rich history and beautiful buildings that depict the character of Santiago de Compostela perfectly!
≈ Comments Off on Experience a Place of Pilgrimage
The end of a pilgrimage and a place of rich history, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela has something for everyone! Located in the A Coruña province within the community of Galicia, visitors can get general admission to see the site, or can find many different tour options that include different opportunities and learning experiences!
A Brief History
The supposed burial ground of St. James is one of three remaining churches in the world built over a tomb of an apostle of Jesus. Construction commenced in 1705 under Alfonso VI and was built under the directions of Bishop Diego Peláez. Construction lasted for several years as it was added onto many times by different people for different reasons. Since the early Middle Ages, the site has marked the end of the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrimage route. The site is of great significance to many whether they view it as a site of religious pilgrimage, a site of architectural beauty, or a site of historical importance.
While there is a rich history to learn from the building, there is also something to learn from the tangible structure as well. The Romanesque architecture with later Gothic and Baroque additions is decorated with 200 figures representing the apocalypse and the figure of Saint James to welcome the pilgrims. Inside, is one of the most important elements, the Botafumeiro. This is a large censer that disperses incense amid the congregation. It is one of the largest in the world weighing 117 lbs and measuring 4.9 ft high suspended 65 ft in the air. This and many more aspects of the Cathedral are some of the things that draw tourists in from all over the world.
Padron peppers are a vibrant green pepper from the Galician region of Spain. They are typically pretty mild in spice, but maybe you could bite into a pepper with the spice of a jalapeño. In tapas bars in Spain, they are mostly served with huevos rotos or to accompany other dishes.
To make the dish yourself, you would only need Padron peppers, sea salt– for the best flavor–, and olive oil. To get the best outcome, use a cast-iron skillet. The dish is meant to be oily and the better the olive oil, the better the peppers will taste at the end.
≈ Comments Off on La Tarta de Santiago: The Galician dessert you should try
Have you ever tasted one of the most delicious Spanish desserts? Would you like to learn about the curiosities of the most famous cake in Galicia? La Tarta de Santiago is one of the most emblematic and delicious desserts in Spanish cuisine. It is native to Galicia and is consumed mainly by pilgrims who arrive to Santiago de Compostela after their long journey. It is a cake made with eggs, almonds, butter and sugar. No flour, no gluten, but yes, a delicious aroma that gives a perfect ending to a good meal.
The origin of the recipe is not known for sure, however, it has existed since the end of the Middle Ages. The interest in serving his customers better and in making a quality product that was attractive at the same time, was possibly one of the objectives of José Mora Soto, founder of the Compostela House. In 1924 he decorated his almond cakes with a silhouette of the Cross of Santiago. According to his descendants, he sought to give a different touch to a traditional product, typical of the city and specialty of the house. This idea achieved great success by combining a traditional product such as cake with the popular symbol of the city, the Cross of Santiago. The initiative was soon followed by other people from Santiago de Compostela and in line with the growing popularity of this cake, it spread throughout Galicia.
Today it is a symbol that represents a reward for the efforts of pilgrims who arrive to Santiago de Compostela after having traveled hundreds of kilometers. The authentic Tarta de Santiago is covered with icing sugar and decorated with the symbol of the Order of Santiago: a cross that simulates a sword. There is a great gastronomic tradition on the Camino de Santiago. In order to serve the pilgrims, people established inns that offer home-made food while preserving the customs and ingredients of the region. Although you can find the Tarta de Santiago along the way, arriving to the city and eating it as a reward has become a custom for visitors. But you don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to taste it. Preparing it is quite simple and the creators made it gluten-free in case you have any restriction with flour. Go ahead and try it!
Did you think the Tarta de Santiago is the only Galician food that is worth it? That’s because you haven’t tried traditional Galician dishes like “El Caldo Gallego” or the “Pulpo A Feira”.
The “Caldo Gallego” is a traditional dish of Galician cuisine, it is made with turnip greens, cabbage or collard greens, white beans and potatoes. If you want you can add pork meat. A delicious dish. Pulpo a Feira is a very typical Galician dish, it consists of cooked octopus cut into slices, this is placed on a wooden plate, drizzled with olive oil, coarse salt, sprinkled with peppers and can be sweet or spicy depending on personal taste. Now you can say that you know the most famous traditional dishes in Galicia. When you go to Santiago de Compostela you already know what you have to try to enjoy Galician cuisine. This city has a very important history thanks to the Camino de Santiago, but the gastronomy will leave you more than satisfied!