Route around squares, “rúas” and secluded spots.
Plaza del Toral-Rúa de O Vilar-Rúa Nova-Plaza de Mazarelos-Rúa de Sae Se Podes- Church of As Animas-Plaza de Cervantes-Rúa da Troia & Rúa de Xerusalem-Plaza de San Miguel & Pinario-Terrace of Costa Vella-Sarela River Walk-Pazo de San Lorenzo de Trasouto
Not-to-be-missed streets for walking along, not-so-well-known squares that must be visited, secluded spots, bucolic walks without leaving the city, an itinerary that can take a day if followed unhurriedly.
Rúa do Franco
It is the Vicus Francorum of the city at the end of the Way of St. James. The location of Frankish traders, who came from beyond the Pyrenees centuries ago. A showcase for the gastronomic senses due to its extensive range of restaurants; you will not have time to try them all, but visiting “Pousada de Compostela’s” two establishments in the area will be more than enough: Restaurante Porta Faxeira and Taberna O Boteco.
Plaza de O Toural
A well-loved place in the city. A very cultural, tribute-paying square that is, above all, characteristic of Galician and Compostela architecture. Galleries, arcades, crowned in the centre by a fountain, which was used by female water carriers to distribute water to the bourgeois houses in the surrounding streets. It is dominated by the “Pazo” (mansion) that belonged to the Marquis and Marchioness of Bendaña and now houses the Museum of Eugenio Granell, the surrealist painter that donated his work to the city of Santiago. Do not hesitate to look for an excuse to visit the Bescansa pharmacy, a gem as an old Compostela apothecary.
Not to be missed
Rúa de O Vilar
A historic thoroughfare full of bourgeois houses and urban “pazos” (mansions), linking the emblematic squares of O Toural and Praterías. As a curiosity, look at the old peepholes at the top of the arcades (the only way to know who was knocking on the door), or see a knocker in which a snake is eating a frog, made by the sculptor Asorey, at no. 59 in the street (Casa de Vaamonde, which houses the “Consorcio de Santiago”). Right beside it is the lane called Entrerrúas, one of the city’s narrowest streets linking Rúa del Villar and Rúa Nova. Do not miss the details in the coat of arms, balconies and engraved cast-iron drainpipes, chimneys (symbol of wealth), capitals on top of the columns, etc. The old hat shop halfway along the street adds a vintage touch. When you reach our hotel called Airas Nunes, you will have a good view for taking a photo of the Cathedral’s Berenguela Tower.
It features, apart from urban “pazos” (mansions), two theatres, arcades and even a hippy market, the Church of Salomé, the only church in Spain dedicated to the Apostle James’ mother, crowned by the curious figure of a pregnant virgin. And inside, look for little angles wearing glasses, one of the first images that certify the reference date of its existence (15th century).
Plaza de Mazarelos
A university square, surrounded by stately bourgeois houses and featuring the Church of A Universidade and the Geography and History Faculty. Formerly a fish market, as we can see in one of the stones in the church’s side masonry work, and the entrance used by wine merchants, who came along the Way of St. James from the El Bierzo region, it is now the only existing gate in the old defensive wall that surrounded the city: the Arco de Mazarelos gate.
Rúa de Sae Se Podes
“Sae Se Podes,” which means “exit if you can,” is the appropriate name of a curious picturesque lane. Nearby is a street that narrows as it leads you to a beautiful pilgrim church called Santa María do Camiño. If you want to eat all kinds of mushrooms, the Gamela is the place for you.
Church of As Ánimas
A beautiful neoclassical church, closely linked to Galician mythology, featuring perfect masonry work framed by two Ionic columns with a beautiful sculpture of suffering souls. It is worth going inside to see this beloved church. The square of the “Conservatorio” (music school) and “Pazo de Fondevila” are some places of interest in the area.
Plaza de Cervantes
A historic square and witness of the French Way pilgrims that have passed by throughout the centuries, crowned by a fountain dedicated to the famous writer after whom it is called; it used to be called Praza do Campo, where the old market was located. What is now the renovation office (a house cornering the square) used to be the old City Hall, which is why one of the neighbouring streets is called Preguntoiro, since it was where the town criers (“pregoneros”) announced municipal edicts. History also allowed the Inquisition’s acts of faith to be carried out in this square, in which the Church of Sant Bieito stands out along with a beautiful modernist building that closes the square.
Rúa de A Troia and Xerusalem
It is difficult to find an olive tree in the middle of the historic city centre, but there is one in this street whose name indicates the location of Santiago’s old Jewish quarter. Running parallel is the street and Museum House of A Troia, immortalised by Pérez Lugín’s novel, which has been adapted for film on several occasions and reflects Santiago’s deep-rooted university tradition. Excellent pavement cafés in this street for Compostela watching.
Plaza de San Miguel & Pinario
Just a few metres from the area of pavement cafés in Rúa da Troia, this peaceful square on which the entrance to the impressive Church of San Martín Pinario, the Church of San Miguel and the Casa Gótica converge (the Gothic style has a limited presence in this pre-eminently Romanesque and baroque city).
Terrace of Costa Vella
The beautiful garden of this bourgeois house, now a hotel called after the street leading to San Francisco, ideal for a relaxing drink, a good breakfast, a nice cup of tea, coffee, a beer or gin tonic, which can provide an unforgettable moment for starting or ending a day of sightseeing.
Sarela River Walk
Nature without leaving the city of Santiago. A nice walk surrounded by waterwheels, houses bordering a small river, trails for strolling along as far as a bridge connecting with the Way of St. James to Fisterra. Although requiring some upkeep, it is still worthwhile.
Very close to where the Sarela River walk ends is the “Pazo de San Lorenzo de Trasouto.” Belonging to the Count and Countess of Altamira, what stands out in this former Franciscan property is the visit to its church, with a tremendous altarpiece made of Carrara marble, its halls, its gardens featuring camellias and magnolias and, above all, its cloister, with its enigmatic geometric garden carved in boxwood, one of the oldest in Spain, full of mysterious symbolisms in the carved shapes. This alone makes a visit to the “Pazo” worthwhile (Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11 am to 1 pm and from 4 to 6 pm).
telephone: 00 981 552725