Santiago de Compostela Tours: St James Cathedral

Saint James Cathedral from Santiago de Compostela in Northern Spain is an iconic symbol of the city of Santiago and the final point for many pilgrims walking or cycling the Camino de Santiago. The Cathedral welcomes pilgrims from all over the world.

Over the centuries, thousands of pilgrims worldwide have made their way to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, in Galicia. The pilgrims’ routes here are known as the Camino de Santiago, the ways to Santiago.

Discover the cultural riches and unspoiled landscapes of northwest Spain as you walk or cycle the Camino.

St James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain


Situated in the northwest part of the Iberian Peninsula, Galicia is part of Spain, and yet it is a world away. The temperate climate and plentiful rains have given this land a grassy landscape that’s in contrast to the rest of Spain. Here you’ll find thundering rivers bordered with dense forested valleys, and an overall lushness that has earned this corner the title of “Green Spain”.

In the far North West corner of Spain, for centuries now the Celtic land of Galicia has much to offer to today’s tourists. Apart from its rich heritage, the city of culture of Galicia is a beautiful coastline and an interior with many little-known wonders. For the foodies there’s plenty to taste with Spain’s best seafood and some fantastic white wines as well as good meat and garden produce.

Here you’ll find the historic city of Santiago de Compostela: the resting place of Saint James the Apostle, and the final stop on Europe’s most legendary pilgrimage trail.

Monastery of San Martino Pinario in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Convent and Church of San Francisco in Santiago de Compostela, Spain


It has been said and many people are convinced that the Cathedral is the resting place of the Great Saint James, who was an apostle of Jesus Christ. So, in this cathedral, in a silver jar in the catacomb beneath the Main Altar, the remains of Saint James and of two of his disciples are kept safe.

The artifacts of St. James transformed Santiago De Compostela into an important destination for many pilgrims globally

St. James Cathedral is one of the most visited places in Spain and when getting here the reason becomes evident.

St James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Sculpture in Santiago de Compostela, Spain


The beauty of Santiago de Compostela is the medieval city. Once completely walled, the city boasts its original narrow and circular streets that add charm, while at the same time they are confusing the visitor. The most important point of the city is the grand cathedral.

The Way of St James (Camino de Santiago) was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO

The beauty of its architecture is beyond doubt. So, there is no wonder why this architectural miracle gathers annually thousands of visitors worldwide.

La Catedral de Santiago de Compostela is without doubt one of Spain’s most important religious points of interest. Moreover, it is surrounded by numerous historic buildings like Rajoy Palace, the Gelmirez Palace, or Catholic Kings Hostal.

Once you step inside, you’ll most likely be shocked at how different the interior is from the outside. That’s due to the fact that most of the façades were reworked seven centuries after the church’s construction. Semicircular arches are everywhere, and heavy barrel-vaulted ceilings required the load-bearing walls to be thick and sturdy.

St James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
Tha Palacio Raxoi in Santiago de Compostela, Spain
The Camino de Santiago is the best known Spanish pilgrimage trail. And the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela It is the final destination of this pilgrimage.

Santiago’s cathedral was designed with pilgrims in mind. Following the layout of similar pilgrimage churches, the architects extended the aisles on either side of the main nave where worshippers gather and wrapped them all the way around the apse, the east end behind the altar. This way the pilgrims can walk around the entire church without interrupting religious services.

The beautiful cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and represents a truly grand finale to this pilgrimage
St James Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela, Spain

The Cathedral of Santiago gives the opportunity for the pilgrims to walk around some extended aisles, to pay homage in chapels or pray while Mass is being held in the center of the building.

In this cathedral a Pilgrim’s Mass is taking place every day while the immense incense burner is swinging a smoky way above the heads.

One of the things that draws the attention of pilgrims while visiting La Catedral de Santiago is the high altar which is located above the crypt and where the relics of Saint James rest. The altar here is Baroque, brighten with gold and it has above a statue of the saint that Pilgrims can embrace thanks to a special opening.


Bagpipes are a type of musical instrument that uses a reed, in addition to air provided by the player, to create a pleasant, distinctive, and melodic sound which is the bagpipe music. Bagpipes have been around for many hundreds, if not thousands, of years and some trace the origin of this instrument back to the snake charming pipes of the Middle East.

Bagpipes are difficult to harmonize with other instruments, so they are usually played in small groups or bands made up entirely of pipes, or maybe pipes and drums. Their construction is complex, and yet, they have been a favorite instrument in Europe for quite some time.

As a musical instrument, bagpipes are unique

Perhaps because of the ancient nature of the sound they make, the Galician bagpipes present a lyric, almost magical quality in the tone they create. They are an honored instrument as they manage to express emotions.

Galician Bagpipes Music: "Gaita Gallega"

The “Gaita Galega” or Bagpipes

The Galicians call the bagpipes “gaita galega” and these instruments can be traced back to the Middle Ages (as far as the 13th and 14th centuries).

These instruments are similar to the bagpipes found in Scotland and Ireland, but there are some small differences. The two versions of the “gaita” are: the first one with a regular “mouth” blown bag and the other one needs a “bellow pump”.

Besides, what produces the sound (the “drones”) are distinct in type and number when it comes to the British and the Irish bagpipes. This means that there are different ways to carry and play the pipes as well. Another important difference is the color and the pattern of the fabric. Normally, the Galician “gaitas” have three drones.

When you are in Santiago de Compostela it is very likely to hear the sound these instruments produce and enjoy their music.



Most of the guided tours heading Santiago de Compostela and Saint James Cathedral include access to the cathedral museum, which contains cool artifacts and religious art.

By choosing this tour you will have the opportunity to find yourself and your inner peace while enjoying the views of the magnificent Galicia.

¡Buen Camino!

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

Other experiences that may be of interest…

The Gothic Cathedral, Barcelona (Spain)
La Giralda Seville, Spain
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