Tuesday, June 10, 2008



Santiago de Compostela, the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia and a UNESCO's World Heritage Site since 1985, is the famous destination of one of the most important medieval pilgrimages: «The Way of Saint James", which would allegedly lead to the burial site of the apostle, James the Great. Having existed for over one thousand years, the Way of St. James was declared the first European Cultural Route by the Council of Europe in October 1987. It is said that «the tourist and the pilgrim are travellers in search of similar goals: the consummation of a miracle. They seek rest, and recognition of the hectic activity and ups and downs of the long road through daily life: they wish to earn the jubilee, plenary indulgence». The Way of St. James was one of the three pilgrimages on which a plenary indulgence could be earned...

This post is dedicated to the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, a building that was commissioned as a Royal Hospital by Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon to host the pilgrims arriving in Santiago. Pilgrims and patients first occupied the Hospital in 1509, when it would be the largest and best equipped of the many along the Camiño. After many vicissitudes, the Hospital – always a sort of hotel – was converted into a Hostal in 1958. The result is today’s «Parador», claimed to be the world's first hotel and one of Spain’s most sumptuous.

"FAÇADE - The Hostal, a «stand alone» example of Galician architecture, has a wonderful facade designed by Enrique Egas which includes sculptures, coats of arms and a series of narrow windows, and an amazing Plateresque entrance!"

"PATIOS - The Hostal has four colonnaded and interconnected courtyards within its walls. Two of these piazzas date from the eighteenth century, but the two earlier «patios» are from the sixteenth century and feature water fountains at their hearts. The later courtyards are of a baroque design and were constructed during extensive remodelling and renovation"

"ROOM 401 - A combination of old and new, gives the rooms a cozy atmosphere. No wonder that the King and Queen of Spain, Baldwin and Fabiola, the Emperor of Japan, Mário Soares, Felipe González, Camilo José Cela (and us... :-)) have chosen the Parador as home in Santiago de Compostela..."

"PUBLIC SPACES - There is an amazing combination of wood and stone throughout the Hostal and a profound respect for the presence of the past: corridors, patios, floors, doors and windows are treated with great care, and what is not craftsmanship is pure art!"

"CHAPEL - The interior of the Hostal has a beautiful gothic chapel, with pointed arches, which was declared National Monument in 1912. The chapel has a Latin cross plan, and is located between the four patios. The vault of the cruise was constructed in stone of Coimbra, Portugal, and is an absolute beauty"

"VIEW - When you get out of the Hostal to the Plaza del Obradoiro you are provided with this fantastic view of the Cathedral, but that will be the subject of another post..."


Anonymous said...

Back home, I’m starting a new series on Santiago de Compostela, which will occupy the next posts on Blogtrotter. Hope you enjoy it (and get the plenary indulgence for the pilgrimage… ;))

Shionge said...

Yo...what a beautiful place Gil. Now you must tell me what is your job that takes you all over the world my dear friend ;) I want to apply too heheheh...

I love them!!

Anonymous said...

very very beautiful!

Anonymous said...

I won't ask what Shionge has asked because I know the answer. :)

But yes, I envy you many times.

Dawning One said...

what a regal place. I so belong there! your photos bring back memories and entice me to travel again, but in style this time...

Azer Mantessa said...

Happy Portugal Day to You


Unknown said...

Hi Gil :)
Wow pictures, particularly love the first one!! and the rest are just awesome!! How I wish I could travel like this, so absolutely wonderful :)

PeterParis said...

The “Camino to Santiago de Compostella” sounds so much more attractive in my ears than the “Way of Saint James”, but it’s of course the same thing! I have been on the track here and there, in France and in northern Spain, but unfortunately never reached Santiago. Is there an “official” track to walk also from Portugal? (I guess you were driving?)

(Bravo for the 2-0! A good start!)

Ash said...

awesome images!!

Z said...

That is quite a magnificent entrance to an equally awesome interior! Seems a wonderful place to spend a few days.

JO said...

Thanks for the fantastic tour and the amazing architecture!! What wonderful eye candy!

Love the pic of you in the dinning room - that would be a fun place to have a party, huh?

 gmirage said...

When you mentioned Santiago de Compostela I recalled the movie Shrek as the character, Puss in boots (antonio banderas) mentioned it there.

What a great place just judging from your photos, I remember my dad sending photos from his visits when I was a kid in the Philippines... =)

Nikon said...

Beautiful shots, Gil. I especially like the detail in the facade of the hostal.
The vaulted ceiling of the chapel is a very nice shot.
I echo Shionge's question :)
How do I apply?

Daniel Chérouvrier said...

Même de nos jours le pélerinage à Compostel semble être fabuleux et mériter un voyage à pied.

S-V-H said...

Very nice pictures again, Gil. It's a big joy to follow your travels allover the world.

Thanks for your comment on my blog.

lyliane six said...

C'est superbe! je ne suis allée que jusqu'à San Sébastien de ce côté là de l'Espagne, mais cette région faisait partie du Portugal dans les temps anciens? en tous cas vous vous comprenez dans le langage?

Ming the Merciless said...

I absolutely love the rooftop photo of the Hostal. Something about rooftop photos fascinates me.

The little square/patio within the the Hostal is really beautiful too. It reminds me of the Cloisters (a former monastery) in Washington Heights. It has these small little squares inside the building too.

alicesg said...

Wow I love all these ancient buildings. Their architectural designs never failed to amaze me. I see you are in 2007 now. You must have many pairs of worn off shoes. :)

Anonymous said...

excellent captures. very interesting place and also very useful info. thanks for shared

Anonymous said...

That is a pretty impressive hotel.
A very beautiful place to visit.

Alex's World! - http://www.kakinan.com/alex

Steve Buser said...

Once again you are the master tour guide.

Marguerite-marie said...

c'est un rêve que j'aimerais avoir le courage de réaliser: faire ce chemin , je connais beaucoup de personnes qui le font un bout de chemin chaque année. En tout cas c'est somptueux à l'arrivée!!!

MedaM said...

This is another impressive post of yours. The beauty of Hostal façade and its wonderful architectural style really took my eye and impressed me very much but the last photo of Cathedral is really stunning.

Anji said...

As always your pictures are fascinating. My feet are itchy!

lyliane six said...

C'est jour de fête aujourd'hui au Portugal , ça va l'être doublement avec la victoire sur les tchèques, bravo!!

Anonymous said...

As usual, these are wonderful shots!


CaBaCuRl said...

GMG, how do you do it...again you seem to know where I wish to visit! However, there is little chance of that so I am happy enough to visit via your blog. What a sumptuous hotel!

Anonymous said...

Simply Fantastic shots...a lovely place & some real Awesome shots...have a nice time!

Nihal said...

Hi again Gil,
And a big warm welcome to you:) Glad to see that you're safely back to home. Oh, belated Happy Portugal Day, Sir:)
After studying so much medieval history, I’d like to actually make the walking trip to here like many pilgrims during the old times. At least today I appreciate that walking the Camino with you is an amazing experience:) The cathedral is, of course, extraordinary.
I'd love to go to those little pubs with traditional Galician live music, and the food, the weather.. One day soon being in Southern Spain is in my wish-list:)

Have a restful weekend.



Lakshmi said...

fantastic shots..truly a place where one can seek "the consummation of a miracle."


lv2scpbk said...

The first photo looks like I'm actually standing there looking out over the town.

Love the details in the 3rd & 4th photos. Wow! That must have taken along time.

The Cathedral photo at the end looks like a very old building but alot of history.

Olivier said...

l'hôtel est un vrai musé, superbe. J'adore la chapelle de ta dernière photo, vraiment impressionnante et très belle.

Beefybob7 said...

Room 401 does it for me Gil.

All the cars in Toronto were carrying Portugese flags when we arrived in Canada. Something to do with football I think.

Bye, Bob

Marie-Noyale said...

You made my day,today...
I have not seen this hotel in...40 years...but I remember it vividly...
My parents had ordered room service for my sister and I,while they enjoyed a wonderful diner downstairs..we were too young to enjoy the dining...and were not happy with the Plan!!!!

NormanTheDoxie said...

Your photos cease to amaze me.

I noticed the television in Room 401 had lines going thru it. I just took a picture off screen myself and had the same results. I know there is a reason for that to happen, but I'm not sure why.

Anyway, happy travels. My (pseudo)husband is in Belgium this week on business and I'm upstate NY enjoying the country air. Don't miss the city a bit in this warm weather.

alok said...

GMG, amazing photographs … your posts are always a reason for the big smile in my face :). Thanks a ton.

Hope you are having a great time there. I have added you in my blogroll.

You have a wonderful weekend ahead …

Tawnya Shields said...

This is a very beautiful spot. I especially love the courtyard. I am fascinated by the artwork in the older architecture. Our modern buildings pale in comparison.

Anonymous said...

*lol* the antique looking bedroom and the modern TV. Such a contrast! But I'm glad you are reporting about Santiago. I think I will not do the pilgrimage, but ... it is a fascinating idea.
You will not know, but a well-known comedian here in Germany (HaPe Kerkeling) has done it and written a book about 'el camino'. It has become a bestseller and now everybody wants to walk on his traces. I think there are too many now on this part of the camino.

Dick said...

A beautiful place, the craftmanship is art too.

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody! Thanks for your visits and comments on the Hostal post!

I’m going to repeat the answer to the young Singaporean – Clarence – who was also willing to travel around the world... ;))

«OK. Let’s try some “Rules to Improve a Young Man’s Capabilities to Travel”:
1. Begin with the reading: “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” or better “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog” will do;
2. Choose a career which allows you to travel a lot – concierge is not recommended!;
3. Start hitch-hiking – see references at “Blogtrotter Revival” or, safer nowadays, embark on a Student’s Exchange Programme;
4. Get an occupation where you get paid for travelling – for the purpose of enjoying trips, working as a travel agent seems to be only a last instance’s option;
5. Build your Travellers’ image: Marco Polo, Fernão Mendes Pinto, Vasco da Gama, Cabral, Magalhães – aka Magellan -, Columbus...
6. Like Bruce Chatwin, make choices: Sotheby’s/Sunday Times Magazine or “Have gone to Patagonia”? Buy or travel?
7. Choose your motto: “Navigare necesse est; vivere non est necesse” (Gnaeus Pompeius – 108/46 BC - aka Pompey the younger commanding frightened sailors during a severe storm – “to sail is necessary; to live is not necessary”);
8. It works? You will be able to quote Benjamin Disraeli: “Like all great travellers, I have seen more than I remember, and remember more than I have seen”;
9. Doesn’t work? Why not trying to join the Salvation Army?…» ;)))

Thanks! So glad to see you here!

OK, it’s written on my profile… ;))

Dawning One,
Travel in style is a permanent dream!

Thanks! Things aren’t running bad, up to now… ;))

Oh dear, I’m still with your Angkor trip in my eyes… ;))

Actually there is a «Caminho» from Portugal, named the « Via Lusitana». But I didn’t drive; benefits of the BA (Oneworld) Frequent Flyer Programme… ;))
Thanks! 2-0; 3-1; first in the group, regardless of the result with Switzerland! So far, so good…


It’s true that the Hostal is an excellent place to stay!

Thanks! That room was, I suppose, a meeting room, but it could be also a nice dining place… ;)

Santiago via Shrek looks amazing… ;)). Your Dad’s pictures must have been a source of great excitement, I believe… ;))

The hostal is a gorgeous building!
Now; first Clarence, then Dan, now Shionge and you… See the above reply… ;)))
Cuckoo is already aware… ;))

Il semble que le Chemin est maintenant très «in» et il y a toujours de plus de monde qui le font…

Thanks! My pleasure to land on your Charleston blog!

En fait, c’est le Portugal qui est parti du Comté Galicien-Portugais… Et la langue portugaise évolue aussi du galicien-portugais de telle façon qu’on peut dire que le Galicien moderne est le Portugais. On se comprend bien, «os galegos» et «os portugueses»!!!
Cette semaine a été très bien: 2-0 Turquie; 3-1 les Tchèques; jour du Portugal le 10; St. Antoine de Lisbonne le 13, jour férié à Lisbonne, avec les fêtes populaires et les sardines grillées… ;))

I share your interest with rooftops; cats’ syndrome… ;)).
The cloisters at the hostal are beautiful. Of course, the Cloisters in NYC (one of my favourites) are awesome, but it must be said that the building was reassembled in Fort Tryon Park with elements from five different medieval French cloisters (the interior little patios): Saint-Michel-de-Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem-le-Désert, Bonnefont-en-Comminges, Trie-en-Bigorre, and Froville, and that the collection contains approximately five thousand European medieval works of art from the 12th through the 15th century… ;))

Alice SG,
2007, not that far; and many worn shoes… ;)

Thanks! Loved to see your Prague pictures!

A beautiful place to stay… ;))

Thanks! It seems I’ve an occupation guaranteed when I retire… ;))

100 km à pied où 200 Km en bicyclette, si tu veux avoir le certificat de pèlerin… ;))

Thanks! You’ll see in the next post that the Cathedral is stunning!!

Itchy feet? Wear Aerosoles


Seventh sense… ;))

The Camiño to Santiago, Northern Spain, is an amazing experience and getting «in» nowadays… but if you get to Southern Spain, you’d better do it to the Algarve… ;))

Great place indeed!

It took some time to get the entrance of the hostal clear… ;)
The Cathedral is awesome!!

L’Hostal est «l’hôtel» à Santiago… ;)

401, checked in… ;))
Either we won against Turkey 2-0 (June 7th) or it was Portugal’s Day (June 10th) or we won against the Czech Republic 3-1 (June 11th). Your choice… ;))

I can imagine your room service party at the Hostal… That’s what may be named «travel in style»… ;)

TV lines are always there; the problem is that the camera catches what human eyes are not able to fix… ;))
Upstate New York, you remember Roth’s «Exit Ghost» to me… Brussels, not so interesting, I assume… ;))

Thanks a lot, and thanks also for the link!

I adore the medieval cloisters, and these are beautiful…

It’s true that the camiño (I always use Camiño in Galician or Portuguese – Caminho- rather than the Castilian Camino) is now «in» and actually even a bit fancy… ;)

Craftmanship is also art! OK, but Cristiano Ronaldo is different… ;))

Indrani said...

This post had some of the most beautiful shots I have ever seen. Great monuments.

Dalicia said...

the rooms are nice...it's not overly done. such comfort surely great to be royalty :D

Anonymous said...

Thanks. You're too kind...

Some may say it's boring, but I agree with you: surely great to be royalty... ;))