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Santiago de Compostela: Sightseeing

La Plaza del Obradoiro Photo
The name of this square is said to come from "Obra de Oro" (work of gold), and be that true or not it is really shining. It forms the center of a town that seems to be a museum.

Construction of the Cathedral Photo started in 1075, when the town arrived to the climax of its importance. The chapel, Capilla del Salvador, is still conserved of this oldest epoch.
The second phase, after the wedding of Doña Urraca and Raimundo of Bourgogne, shows influences of french Romanesque style, as well as a style that is all Santiago's own, the so-called Románico Compostelano. The Obradoiro Facade (to which lateron were added Barroque elements) and the towers Torre de las Campanas and Torre de la Carraca were made at this time.
Through the Obradoiro Door you enter the so-called Old Cathedral, a Romanesque crypta with the first vaults of groined arches that were ever built in Spain.
The sculptures of the Portico de la Gloria, another entrance door, are considered some of the most important works of medieval art.

Gelmirez Palace Photo, face to face to the cathedral, is a brilliant example of Romanesque civil architecture. Of particular interest are its groined arches and sculpture works.

The Way of Saint James

The Hospital Real Photo was built in 1492 to shelter pilgrims. Today this building, in Plateresque and Renaissance styles, serves as Parador de Turismo.

Rajoy Palace Photo is a huge and elegant neoclassical building of 18th century, located opposite to the cathedral.

Colegio de San Jerónimo and Colegio de Fonseca Photo are both 15th century monasteries, founded by Alfonso III de Fonseca. In the latter there is the University library, and it conserves the famous 11th century manuscript Libro de Hojas.
Plaza de las Platerias Photo
This square is named after the many shops of silver articles (Platerias) which are to be found still today under its arcades. From here you can see the cathedral's gothic portal and the only facade which is conserved in the original Romanesque style, with fantastic sculpture works, like the figure of King David.

Worth seeing are as well the Fuente de los Caballos, a 19th century fountain in the center of the square, Casa del Cabildo, of 18th century, and Casa de los Canónigos (also called Conga), another 18th century palace that separates Plaza de las Platerias from Plaza de la Quintana.
Plaza de la Quintana
From this square you see the Portico Real, Royal Door, of the cathedral, the towers Berenguela and Torre del Reloj, as well as the Puerta del Perdon. This door is opened only in a Holy Year, during the Apostle Festival.

The Monastery of San Pelayo de Antealtares Photo, with its austere facade of granite, is one of the oldest buildings in Santiago. It was founded in 11th century by Alphonse II in order to entomb the mortal remains of the Apostle James there.
The baroque Casa de la Parra Photo is another attraction at this square.
Plaza de la Azabacheria
To this square opened originally the legendary Puerta del Paradiso (door of the paradise), through which the pilgrims entered the cathedral. It was replaced by a neoclassical work of Ventura Rodriguez, which is to be seen today.

The monumental Monastery of San Martin Pinario, of 16th century, is one of the most impressive examples of Barroco Compostelana. It was built over a Romanesque church, which has been an important medieval religious center.

Legend tells us that the Convento de San Francisco was founded by Saint Franciscus of Assisi, after a revelation on his pilgrimship to Santiago, 1213 to 1215. God told him he should buy land from the monks of Saint Martin's Monastery for the symbolic price of a basket of fish, and then build there a monastery of the money some Cotolay would find in a fountain. Everything happened as predicted.
Little is left of the original gothic building. The monastery as we see it today was built in 17th and 18th century.
Around the University
The streets in the University district offer possibilities to have walks in truly poetic surroundings. In Rua del Villar Foto there are some beautiful palaces, as Casa del Dean Photo, in gothic style, Monroy Palace in Renaissance style, and Palacio de los Marqueses de Bendana, with neoclassical facade and baroque portal.

In Rua Nueva, (which means "New Street", but this one has that name since 12th century) you will find the 12th century Romanesque church Santa María Salomé. Its baroque tower was added lateron.
Close to it you may visit some interesting palaces: Palacio de Ramirans, Palacio de los Condes de Gimonde, Casa de las Pomas, and Palacio de Mondragón.

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