Around the Cathedral

sights / Squares & plazas

Around the Cathedral information

Lonely Planet review

The cathedral is surrounded by handsome plazas that invite you to wander through them. The grand Praza do Obradoiro earned its name from the stonemasons' workshops set up there while the cathedral was being built. It's free of both traffic and cafes and has a unique atmosphere. At its northern end, the Renaissance Hostal dos Reis Católicos was built in the early 16th century by order of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, as a refuge for pilgrims and a symbol of the crown's power in this ecclesiastical city. Today it shelters well-off travellers instead, as a parador (luxurious state-owned hotel), but its four courtyards and some other areas are open to visitors. Along the western side of Praza do Obradoiro is the elegant 18th-century Pazo de Raxoi , now the city hall.

South of the cathedral, stop in cafe-lined Praza de Fonseca to look into the Colexio de Fonseca with a beautiful Renaissance courtyard; it was the original seat of Santiago's university (founded in 1495).

Around the corner, Praza das Praterías is marked by the Fuente de los Caballos fountain (1829), with the cath­edral's south facade at the top of the steps. Curiously, the Casa do Cabildo , on the lower side of the square, is no more than a 3m-deep facade, erected in 1758 to embellish the plaza.

Following the cathedral walls, you enter Praza da Quintana , lined by the long, stark wall of the Mosteiro de San Paio de Antealtares , founded by Alfonso II for Benedictine monks to look after Santiago's relics. Inside its entrance at the top of the plaza steps, the Museo de Arte Sacra contains the original altar raised over the Santiago relics..

The cathedral walls continue northwards to Praza da Inmaculada , where pilgrims arriving in Santiago via the Camino Francés (French Route) first set eyes on the cathedral. Opposite looms the huge Benedictine Mosteiro de San Martiño Pinario , an austere baroque seminary.