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“Monument to St. James” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
Praza Do Obradoiro, S/N, 15704 Santiago de Compostela, Spain
0981 583 548
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Type: Architectural Buildings, Religious Sites, Historic Sites, Cultural
Activities: People-watching, City walk sightseeing
Attraction details
Alexandria, VA
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
24 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
20 helpful votes 20 helpful votes
“Monument to St. James”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 25, 2013

A grand and extremely beautiful monument to the faith of the millions of pilgrims that have traveled across Europe to venerate St. James the Apostle.

Visited February 2013
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London
Top Contributor
131 reviews 131 reviews
59 attraction reviews
Reviews in 74 cities Reviews in 74 cities
161 helpful votes 161 helpful votes
“Would like to see it in a better Light”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed February 4, 2013

Although this is an immensely important religious shrine, we were visiting, what we hoped would be an architecturally impressive and atmospheric historic monument.

We arrived in the Plaza da Obradoiro quite early in the morning on a slightly overcast, grey, November day and were quite disappointed to see that the great West facade of the Cathedral was in shadow against a white sky and that looked do dirty and unkempt. In some places, weeds were growing out of the stonework. The impressive 18th century Baroque facade looked a wee bit forlorn, neglected and unappealing.

There were photos on sale of it floodlit at night and, by contrast, it looked stunning.

Other parts of the Cathedral, where the masonry has been recently cleaned, were very attractive and showed a wealth of interesting detail.

The inside isn't as spacious as we expected and, for the most part, is a bit dark and gloomy. Natural light is limited and the electric light is unsympathetic.

There were lots of people seated, waiting for one of the services that day. It was a Catholic holy day of obligation... All Saint's Day... the mood in the people in the church seemed to be very sombre and subdued.

Very few of those present seemed to be pilgrims. There was no signs of any priests inside but, as we left, we did see a priest on his way to the Cathedral with the Bishop. It was clear to us that, even on one if the most important days of the religious calendar and just before an important mass, the Cathedral could muster a few clergy. Almost all of the religious houses around the Cathedral had long since closed closed... their monks and nuns long gone.

The high altar, just above the shrine, was a immensely fussy confection covered in rather dusty gold leaf. However, it was very attractively appealing in a strange way.

The side chapels really did look as if they had seen better days and were seldom, if ever, used.

The shrine of Saint James the Great is in the 9th century crypt but the reliquary dates from the late 1800s. There is a constant traffic of tourists through the crypt, which must be pretty disconcerting for pilgrims keeling in prayer... More especially if they had walked to the shrine for days along the traditional pilgrimage route of the "Way of St James."

We have often visited great historic religious sites and felt very humbled by the atmosphere and by the people there but this place just didn't do it for us. We really just didn't feel that we were in such an ancient church or that it was venerated as such a special place.

Some of that may well be because we were there on such a grim day and had only a short time in the town. It really is likely that our view and impression if the Cathedral would have been much more positive had we seen it... quite literally... in a different light.

The Cathedral is worth visiting for it's historic significance and due to it's UNESCO's World Heritage site. We were glad that we visited and would probably go again... if it was a better day and we had more time.


We liked best the simplicity of the shrine in the crypt.

We liked least the poor condition of many parts of the exterior.

Top Tip: Spend an entire day in and around the Cathedral and see in in all lights... Including floodlighting at twilight.

Visited November 2012
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Berlin
Senior Contributor
21 reviews 21 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 10 cities Reviews in 10 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Amazing”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 28, 2013

Impressive catedral, even if you are not religious. It´s big, imponent and beatiful. Unfortunately, we missed the religious service for the pilgrims. A friend told us that it is very interenting.

Visited January 2013
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Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Impressive and you need not be a Catholic to think so”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 27, 2013

Very interesting from all angles and distances.

There is a roof top tour that is unique and of course you have to go into the cathedral and down the stairs to view what is believed to be the bones of St. James.

Visited January 2013
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Sofia, Bulgaria
Top Contributor
62 reviews 62 reviews
52 attraction reviews
Reviews in 17 cities Reviews in 17 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“The most famous landmark”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed January 20, 2013

I think all is already said about it. Its a must see place. Very impressive. Piligrims are all around.

Visited October 2012
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