Santiago de Compostela

In the morning, we took a tour of the coastal region around Santiago de Compostelo known as the Rias Baixas. We saw the Ria de Arousa, one of the deep fjord like estuaries of Galicia. It was raining but that did not stop the local fishermen from looking for cockles and crabs in the beaches at the low tide (photos). The clams are seeded to maintain a sustainable source and some other fish farming is done on islands in the river. The coastal scenery was quite beautiful. We stopped in one town to visit a typical Galician granite “Pazo” grand manor house of the old aristocracy (photos). Part of it is still inhabited by some of the family and part contains the shop for the sale of liqueurs produced on the estate. After our return to Santiago and time for lunch, we toured the significant religious buildings in the old town. We started with  the grand square, Praça do Obradoiro, which contains the Cathedral (photo), the neo-classical Pazo Raxoi built in 1766 and now the town Hall and seat of regional government (photo), the Antiguo Hospital Real built in the 16th c. for the care of pilgrims and now a hotel, and the Hostal da los Reyes Catolicas (photo), a former pilgrims hostel and now a church residence. We first visited the Cathedral Museum to see some of its treasures and then the inside of the Cathedral itself to see the tomb of St James under the High altar and the thirteenth century gilded effigy of Saint James (photo).  The faithful can pass behind the ornate high altar to touch the statue.   While there we saw groups of pilgrims who were finished their journey and going to get their Credencial or pilgrim’s passports stamped (photo). Over 200,00 pilgrims were registered to have completed the route last year and the numbers are growing.  Tomorrow we head for Oviedo.


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