2 Summer Program  
The city: Santiago de Compostela




Santiago de Compostela, a prilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages.
Santiago de Compostela was declared a World Heritage City by UNESCO in 1985, in view of its urban beauty and monumental integrity, as well as the profound echoes of its spiritual significance as an apostolic sanctuary and the destination of the Middle Ages’ most important religious and cultural movement: the Way of St. James pilgrimage.
The legend that St James found his way to the Iberian peninsula, and had preached there is one of a number of early traditions concerning the missionary activities and final resting places of the apostles of Jesus. Although the 1884 Bull of Pope Leo XIII Omnipotens Deus accepted the authenticity of the relics at Compostela, the Vatican remains uncommitted as to whether the relics are those of Saint James the Great, while continuing to promote the more general benefits of pilgrimage to the site. According to a tradition that can be traced before the 12th century, the relics were said to have been discovered in 814 by Theodomir, bishop of Iria Flavia in the west of Galicia. Theodomir was guided to the spot by a star, the legend affirmed, drawing upon a familiar myth-element, hence “Compostela” was given an etymology as a corruption of Campus Stellae, “Plain of Stars.

”As suggested already, it is probably impossible to know whose bones were actually found, and precisely when and how. Perhaps it does not matter. What the history of the pilgrimage requires, but what the meagre sources fail to reveal, is how the local Galician cult associated with the saint was transformed into an international cult drawing pilgrims from distant parts of the world.

The 1000 year old pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is known in English as the Way of St. James and in Spanish as the Camino de Santiago. Over 100,000 pilgrims travel to the city each year from points all over Europe, and other parts of the world.

As the lowest-lying land on that stretch of coast, the city’s site took on added significance. Legends supposed of Celtic origin made it the place where the souls of the dead gathered to follow the Sun across the sea.

Santiago de Compostela, a family holiday destination by Siza.
“I will go to Santiago, said my father. We walked, from square to square, around the Cathedral –a progression of spaces and levels descending the hill. Workers were repairing the pavement, and I pitied the smothered stones, uncomfortable and ancient as they were each one as precious as a Moore piece. My displeasure forgotten, before me lay the granite of Galicia: forty years had sweetened its arrises and defects. One of the squares left me disturbed, breathless. What most saddened me was that near-bear façade, almost unjustly magistral (capable of inspiring outrage, as if it had been built by no one). An enormous wall, with high, repetitive windows which were not even regular, protruding grating; a continuous stone bench –a mere detail, save its magical proportion. A high wall, opposite exquisite beauty and more precious splendour, these latter superimpoused upon who knows which first stone. A wall delimiting a monotonous, vibrant square –oscilltion between nothingness and magnetic presence. It all appeared built to glorify two or three paralysed figures: pilgrims, satellites of imperceptible movement, mute, their feet ten centimetres off the ground atop another probable cover.”

Siza 1988


links Santiago Compostela


University of Santiago

Tourism, City of Santiago

Museums, City of Santiago

Galician Contemporary Arts Center

City of Culture

Eugenio Granell Foundation

Pilgrimage Museum

Natural history, University of Santiago

Galician Museums

NASA arts






Santiago Cathedral






Santiago Cathedral

Interior. Obradoiro Square. Quintana Square. Roof.

Quintana Square




Santiago public spaces

Platerias Square. San Martin Pinario Square. Azabacheria Square. Quintana...

Eisenman, City of Culture



Contemporary Santiago

Siza CGAC Museum and FCI. Hejduk, Belvis Towers, Antón García Abril, Musichal Studies Center. Noguerol, Congress Center, Peter Eisenman, City of Culture,...


Compostela Architecture Program SPAIN mail@CAinstitute.es