In recognition of the unique value of the city´s historic center, Santiago de Compostela was declared a World Interest City by the UNESCO in 1993.

The city is also home to an important number of contemporary architectural masterpieces, designed by leading architects –Eisenman, Gallego, Grassi, Hejduk, Kleiheus, Noguerol, Siza, Viaplana, etc.-
Santiago de Compostela, a pilgrimage destination since the Middle Ages.

Santiago de Compostela was an apostolic sanctuary and the destination of the Middle Ages' most important religious and cultural movement: The Way of St. James pilgrimage “EL CAMINO” The legend that St James found his way to the Iberian Peninsula and had preached there is one of several 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.

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 it arises 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 superimposed upon who knows which first stone. A wall delimiting a monotonous, vibrant square –oscillation 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