Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, or the Cathedral of St. James, is located in the town that bears the same name on the northwestern coast of Spain. It is the terminus for the Camino de Santiago, a pilgrimage route that has been in continuous use since the 9th century. The first cathedral was built in 819AD over the site where the relics of St. James the Apostle were discovered. It was destroyed in 997AD and the present cathedral was constructed between 1060 and 1211AD.
The cathedral is open year-round; however the hours vary according to the season and the mass schedule, so it is best to call ahead before planning your trip. There is no admission charge, but donations are always welcome.
When you go to the cathedral, start by looking at the amazing Baroque façade. It was added in the 18th century and is liberally covered with reliefs of St. James and his scallop badge. There are three arched entranceways to the cathedral: Purgatory, the Last Judgment, and Christ in the middle. Below Christ is a statue of St. James with the Jesse tree. So many pilgrims have prayed at that spot that they have worn divots in the marble.
The interior of the cathedral is in the Romanesque style. St. James' relics can be seen in a silver coffin either from the crypt or beneath the high altar. You can also tour the adjacent late Gothic cloisters and visit a small archaeological museum that houses some of the original stonework from the cathedral.
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral