The grand square in front of the cathedral's western facade earned its name (Workshop Sq) from the stonemasons' workshops set up here while the cathedral was being built. It's free of both traffic and cafes, and has a unique, magical atmosphere.
Stretching across the northern end of the praza, the Renaissance-style Hostal dos Reis Católicos was built in the early 16th century by order of the Catholic Monarchs, Isabel and Fernando, as a hostel for exhausted pilgrims. Today it's a parador (luxurious state-owned hotel) and shelters well-heeled travellers instead. Its four stately courtyards are open to visitors: the self-guided tour is well worthwhile.
Along the western side of the praza stretches the elegant 18th-century Pazo de Raxoi, now Santiago's city hall. At the south end stands the 17th-century Colegio de San Xerome, a former college for the poor that is now the rectorate of Santiago University. It has a 15th-century Romanesque/Gothic portal that was transferred from the college's earlier site.