Top Historic Sights in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Explore the historic highlights of Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James the Great, the apostle of Jesus Christ. It is also one of the only three known churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus. According the legend, the tomb of Saint James was rediscovered in 814 AD. The king Alfonso II of Asturias ordered the construction of a chapel on the site. This was followed by the first church in 82 ...
Founded: 1075 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Pazo de Raxoi

At the beginning of 1760, Archbishop Rajoy comissioned Lucas Ferro Caaveiro to design the plans to erect a building in Plaza del Obradoiro, to house the Local Council, the prison and the Confessors Seminary. Claims brought by the Hospital Real delayed the work and caused a change in architect and a modification to the extension and height of the building. Finally, the French engineer Charles Lemaur began the work in 1767. ...
Founded: 1767 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Monastery of San Martiño Pinario

The monastery of San Martiño Pinario is the second largest monastery in Spain after San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Little remains of the original medieval buildings (founded around 899 AD), as the monastery has been largely rebuilt since the sixteenth century. Throughout the Middle Ages the monastery grew so that by the end of the fifteenth century the monastery became the richest and most powerful of Galicia. This brought ...
Founded: 1587 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Monastery of San Paio de Antealtares

King Alfonso II founded the Monastery of San Paio de Antealtares in the year 830. It fell into decay at the end of the 13th century, and in ruins, the Catholic Monarchs eliminated it and included it into S. Martín Pinario. In 1495, Gómez de Marzoa´s efforts to set up a college for poor students led to the monastery becoming Compostela´s first school and the origin of Galicia´s Renaissance University. The Order of ben ...
Founded: 1599 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Convent of San Domingos de Bonaval

Convent of San Domingos de Bonaval is located in Santiago de Compostela, but outside the old walled city on the slopes of Mount Almáciga, near the place known as Porta do Camiño, which was one of the gates by which pilgrims entered the city. The convent was founded by St. Dominic de Guzman (who went on pilgrimage to Santiago in 1219) in the early thirteenth century. The oldest document which cites the convent, with ...
Founded: c. 1228 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Church of Santa María a Real do Sar

Church of Santa María a Real do Sar was built in the 12th century on the outskirts of the city. Interesting elements on the exterior are the small tower on the façade and the sturdy flying buttresses built between the 17th and 18th centuries. It has a basilical floor plan with three naves, separated by composite pillars decorated with plant motifs. It is covered with barrel vaults reinforced by rib arches. The sanctuary ...
Founded: 12th century | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Castle da Rocha Forte

Castle da Rocha Forte was built by Archbishop Juan Arias around 1240 and has since served as an archbishop's and cabildo's residence, witnessing much of the medieval history of Santiago. In the year 1255 appears the first documentary mention of the fortress in relation to the capitular constitutions of Juan Arias. The castle was situated in a strategic location by road from Padrón village to Santiago. Pilgrims followed t ...
Founded: c. 1240 | Location: Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Abbey of Saint-Étienne

The Abbey of Saint-Etienne, also known as Abbaye aux Hommes ('Men"s Abbey'), is a former monastery dedicated to Saint Stephen (Saint Étienne). It is considered, along with the neighbouring Abbaye aux Dames ('Ladies" Abbey'), to be one of the most notable Romanesque buildings in Normandy. Like all the major abbeys in Normandy, it was Benedictine.

Lanfranc, before being an Archbishop of Canterbury, was abbot of Saint-Etienne. Built in Caen stone during the 11th century, the two semi-completed churches stood for many decades in competition. An important feature added to both churches in about 1120 was the ribbed vault, used for the first time in France. The two abbey churches are considered forerunners of the Gothic architecture. The original Romanesque apse was replaced in 1166 by an early Gothic chevet, complete with rosette windows and flying buttresses. Nine towers and spires were added in the 13th century. The interior vaulting shows a similar progression, beginning with early sexpartite vaulting (using circular ribs) in the nave and progressing to quadipartite vaults (using pointed ribs) in the sanctuary.

The two monasteries were finally donated by William the Conqueror and his wife, Matilda of Flanders, as penalty for their marriage against the Pope"s ruling. William was buried here; Matilda was buried in the Abbaye aux Dames. Unfortunately William"s original tombstone of black marble, the same kind as Matilda"s in the Abbaye aux Dames, was destroyed by the Calvinist iconoclasts in the 16th century and his bones scattered.

As a consequence of the Wars of Religion, the high lantern tower in the middle of the church collapsed and was never rebuilt. The Benedictine abbey was suppressed during the French Revolution and the abbey church became a parish church. From 1804 to 1961, the abbey buildings accommodated a prestigious high school, the Lycée Malherbe. During the Normandy Landings in 1944, inhabitants of Caen found refuge in the church; on the rooftop there was a red cross, made with blood on a sheet, to show that it was a hospital (to avoid bombings).