Exploring Santiago de Compostela

With regards to the tourist industry within Spain, Northern Spain and in particular Galicia especially have been very much a hidden treasure and hidden within lies a further particular treasure called Santiago de Compostela. Of all of the autonomous regions of Spain Galicia is considered the most remote and therein lies the charm of Santiago de Compostela hidden away longing to be discovered.

Galicia has always been seen as a poor rural region, whose economy was dependent upon agriculture and fishing and did not lend itself to modernisation and yet as far as tourism is concerned it is this constant contact with the past that gives the region its appeal and charm.

The Galicians are fiercely proud of their culture and language and their Celtic heritage; it is what makes them unique (they feel) within modern day Spain.

Galicia always seemed to be a very closed and inward looking area being fiercely resistant to any formal external invasion and in many ways this degree of isolation was very much driven by the geographical location of the region.

In what has been a mountain to climb slowly but surely Galicia is now trying to manage successfully the twin track of its regional lifestyle with a much more modern society and thankfully this appears to have had very positive results with regards to tourism with little sign of negative effects..

What can be said about Santiago de Compostela that probably hasn’t been said already? As the location for allegedly the third most visited pilgrimage site in Christendom, you can imagine that to that end an industry has risen alongside and to serve what has now become a major tourism attraction.

Of the many sights to see in Santiago (and there are indeed a great many) perhaps the Cathedral is the most impressive and the one sight that greets most Pilgrims travelling the Way of Saint James as they near the City.

For those not familiar with the background to the pilgrimage site in Santiago the story and legend is as follows. Apparently or according to legend the apostle St. James was responsible for bringing Christianity to Spain. Now this is actually open to question because the generally accepted convention is that the apostle James was martyred in Palestine in AD 45 but it apparently before his death he apostle James had in fact visited Spain to bring the stories of the Gospel to her people. The story then goes on to say that allegedly after his martyrdom, the apostles body was later brought to Spain on a ship by angels.

The story then goes on to claim that apparently in 814, a hermit was guided to rediscover the Apostles hitherto undiscovered tomb in a cave in a secluded hillside in Galicia by a shower of stars (the word Compostela literally means “shower of stars”). The local Bishop at the time declared the bones to be genuine – how he accomplished this all without the help of modern day technology is actually probably more of a miracle than the discovery of the bones themselves and hey presto a legend was born and over the years the site has risen to become one of the most visited shrines in all Christendom.