Welcome to Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the Autonomous Community of Galicia; declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO thanks to its monumental beauty, extraordinary conservation and as the final destination of a thousand-year-old pilgrim route: the Way of St. James, which, since the 9th century, has transformed this finis terrae into a meeting place of Western faith and thinking. Santiago de Compostela is a stone apparition in the midst of the green forests of Northwest Spain and the nearby Galician “rias”. It was originally a stopping point on a Roman road, but the discovery of the Apostle James‟ tomb at the beginning of the 9th century gave rise to a place of workshop in the corner of the Iberian Peninsula, which was then dominated by the Moors. From then on all of Europe started walking towards Santiago, a holy city of Christendom where the grace of plenary absolution awaited them. A Romanesque cathedral then arose there, with the following centuries adding the sobriety of the Renaissance style and the majesty of a Baroque style that eventually characterised the city‟s monumental image, made from the granite of its monasteries, its pilgrim hospitals, its numerous churches, its stately houses and its squares, where time stands still. Tradition is still alive and the continent‟s spirituality still looks towards Compostela, as shown by the last Holy Years. The city‟s visitors will find its treasures exhibited in sixteen museums as well as the surprising richness of its contemporary architecture, designed by Eisenman, Hedjuk or Siza, surrounded by Galicia‟s largest area of parks and gardens. This setting is alive with cultural expressions – annual music, cinema and theatre festivals, permanent and travelling exhibitions and traditional festivals- organised by the public and private sector, led by the five-hundred-year-old University of Santiago de Compostela‟. Its inhabitants are also joined, throughout the year, by several million visitors. Those who arrive exhausted, motivated by devotion; those who are attracted by the monumental wonders; those who come to participate in language courses or those who choose Compostela as the venue of their professional events: they all end up immersed in the permanent celebration that is the city‟s life, especially during the Apostle Festival, declared of International Tourist Interest. Santiago takes care of its visitors by means of a network of hotels with more than 15,000 beds –apart from 5,000 seats available in specialised infrastructures designed for meetings and congresses- and a gastronomic range capable of satisfying those with a discerning palate and all kinds of budgets.
A few facts and myths about Galicia's premier city.
· Santiago de Compostela is in the A Coruna province and although not the provincial capital, is in fact the capital of the region of Galicia.
· Santiago is Galicia's most popular and visited city by foreigners, but it is not the largest. That title falls to Vigo. A Coruna also has a larger population.
· The city's massive cathedral is said to house the remains of the apostle saint James whose body was brought to Galicia after he was beheaded on his return to the Holy lands.
· The original town of Santiago was nothing more than a monastic development that housed one dozen monks, given the role of looking after the grave of St. James after its discovery in the 9th century.
· Santiago claims to have the oldest hotel in the world, the "Hostal dos Reyes Católicos" (now a parador). It has an attractive facade and is on the same "obradoiro" square as the main cathedral.
· The exact origins of the word "Compostela" are unknown, but it is thought that they derive from the similar Latin words meaning star or light field - a reference to the images seen by a hermit above the resting place of St. James shortly before it was discovered.
· Santiago de Compostela produced the world's first recognized guidebook, the 12th century "Codex Calixtinus", which offered guidance to pilgrims, wishing to follow the "Camino de Santiago" (Way of St James) route on the holy pilgrimage to the Cathedral.
· Santiago de Compostela remains the third holiest place in Christendom and the number of holy pilgrims continues to increase annually.
· The final night of festival celebrations during the St.James fiesta, culminates in a massive concert on the "Obradoiro" square attended by Spain's royal family.
· Santiago de Compostela is at present Galicia's regional capital. It is also the regions broadcasting and legislatory center and has one of the regions two internatioinal airports. The other airport is in A Coruna and is soon to commence flights from Heathrow to Coruna via Iberia airlines.
· Santiago de Compostela has a population of approx. 89,000 and is 250 metres above sea level. It is 630 km from Madrid.
· Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (since 1993).
· The weather in Galicia is perhaps the only questionable element if you are considering holidaying in this region. Whilst the coastal towns and cities do enjoy plenty of sun, Santiago de Compostela has the ominous reputation of averaging over 300 rainy days per year, so it is always a good idea to take an umbrella.
How to get here
Santiago de Compostela boasts and international airport, the most important one in its area, located at a distance of 10 Km / 15 minutes by car from the city centre, in Lavacolla. It has recently received the name of the most famous Galician female writer, Rosalía de Castro.
Currently 24 national and international destinations can be reached by direct fly from Santiago de Compostela, with 11 airlines operating regularly throughout the year.
Alicante, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Basel-Mulhouse, Bilbao, Frankfurt, Geneve, London, Paris, Sevilla are only some of the cities linked with Santiago de Compostela.
Santiago’s train station is near the city centre. Direct daily trains link up with Madrid, San Sebastian/Hendaya and Barcelona. With just one stopover, there’s daily service to Bilbao, Oporto and Paris, as well as many other Spanish cities through Madrid. It is also possible to travel within Galicia.
There is also a bus station in Santiago, located in the outskirts of the city and well-connected with the town centre. Some of the long-distance routes from / to Santiago are Madrid, Bilbao, Seville and international destinations in France, Belgium Germany and so on.
Santiago is also easily reachable by road, through the Atlantic Motorway AP9, the Northwest dual carriageway A-6 or Cantábrico Dual Carriageway A-8. Most of the hotels in the city have parking area (extra charge) but it is also possible to park on the street, since it is a very safe city.
Where to Stay
Accommodation offer for congress attendees with a wide range of hotel categories and rates, coming soon.
Some useful links: