Enjoy the History That is Santiago De Compostela

By: Stephen Stewart

Northern Spain and Galicia particularly has long been an undiscovered jewel in the whole of the Spanish tourism industry and within that undiscovered jewel in particular we are going to take a look at Santiago de Compostela.

Overall of all of the autonomous regions of Spain possibly Galicia is the most remote and this makes Santiago de Compostela even more of an undiscovered treasure.

Traditionally, Galicia was seen as a poor agricultural region, whose economy did not lend itself to modernisation and yet as far as tourism is concerned it is this constant contact with the past that gives the region its appeal and charm.

The Galicians, whose origins are Celtic, are fiercely proud of their culture and language; it is what makes them unique (they feel) within modern day Spain.

It absorbed little in the way of outside influence being fiercely resistant to all forms of outside intervention (and we mean all forms of outside intervention), was never conquered by the Moors, and in the Middle Ages fell under the control of the kingdom of Asturias.

Thankfully slowly throughout the 20th century Galicia has begun to develop a way in which to manage the traditional lifestyles with a modern community to ensure that none of its rich history is lost and this is now starting to show very real and tangible benefits as far as the local tourism economy is concerned.

What can be said about Santiago de Compostela that probably hasn't been said already? As the location for allegedly the third most visited pilgrimage site in Christendom, you can imagine that to that end an industry has risen alongside and to serve what has now become a major tourism attraction.

Of the many sights to see in Santiago (and there are indeed a great many) perhaps the Cathedral is the most impressive and the one sight that greets most Pilgrims travelling the Way of Saint James as they near the City.

For those not familiar with the background to the pilgrimage site in Santiago the story and legend is as follows. Apparently or according to legend the apostle St. James was responsible for bringing Christianity to Spain. Now this is actually open to question because the generally accepted convention is that the apostle James was martyred in Palestine in AD 45 but it apparently before his death he apostle James had in fact visited Spain to bring the stories of the Gospel to her people. The story then goes on to say that allegedly after his martyrdom, the apostles body was later brought to Spain on a ship by angels.

The story then goes on to claim that apparently in 814, a hermit was guided to rediscover the Apostles hitherto undiscovered tomb in a cave in a secluded hillside in Galicia by a shower of stars (the word Compostela literally means "shower of stars"). The local Bishop at the time declared the bones to be genuine - how he accomplished this all without the help of modern day technology is actually probably more of a miracle than the discovery of the bones themselves and hey presto a legend was born and over the years the site has risen to become one of the most visited shrines in all Christendom.

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