On a recent trip to Spain, my friend Julia and I found ourselves traversing the narrow winding roads through the Galician countryside. Located in the northwestern part of Spain, geography here is particularly hilly, and given the heavy accumulation of rainfall, the countryside is verdant and green. Arriving in Galicia’s capital of Santiago de Compestela, we made our way to the main plaza of this ancient yet well-preserved city. Standing majestically at the plaza’s entrance is the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. With construction of this Romanesque wonder beginning in 1075AD, this Cathedral is renowned as the reputed burial place of St. James the Great.
According to historic legend, the apostle St. James the Great made a pilgrimage across Europe (Camino de Santiago or The Way of St. James) to Galicia to introduce Christianity to the Celts of the Iberian Peninsula. The Camino is a now series of pilgrimage routes that network and stretch throughout Europe. These routes are frequently traveled by people wishing to re-live the progression and spiritual experience of pilgrims who found their way to Santiago de Compostela and the burial tomb of St. James many hundreds of years ago. An excellent site for information on charting a pilgrimage trip, is “Following the St. James Way”. http://www.followthecamino.com/
Julia and I wandered along the streets of the main plaza, pausing only for a deliciously steaming cup of cafe au lait. This ancient city is quintessentially charming with sidewalk cafes sporting colorful umbrellas which line the main travel corridors, which trail off in no particular direction to smaller, equally quaint streets leading to more cafes and boutiques. The main plaza and cathedral is elevated, making it a prime location to enjoy panoramic views of red-tiled roofs and the hills of the Galacian countryside in the distance. This charming medieval village, especially the splendid Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela made for a memorable visit to one of the many divergent regions for which Spain is famously recognized.