Santiago (full name - Santiago de Compostela) is the capital of the region of Galicia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is situated in the north west of Spain in the Province of Galicia.
The city's Cathedral is the most popular attraction today, as it has been throughout history, partly because of it's size and grandeur, but more importantly as a place of pilgrimage. It draws over 100,000 pilgrims each year from both Europe and world-wide. The legend that St James found his way to the Iberian peninsula, and had preached there is one of a number of traditions concerning the missionary activities and final resting place of this apostle of Jesus.
Although the 1884 Bull of Pope Leo XIII Omnipotens Deus accepted the authenticity of the relics at Santiago de Compostela, the Vatican remains uncommitted as to whether the relics are those of Saint James the Great, while continuing to promote the more general benefits of pilgrimage to the site. According to a tradition that can be traced before the 12th century, the relics were said to have been discovered in 814 by Theodomir, bishop of Iria Flavia in the west of Galicia. The 1000 year old pilgrimage to the shrine of St. James in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is known in English as the Way of St. James and in Spanish as the Camino de Santiago.
There is more to Santiago from just the Cathedral, which incidentally borders the main plaza of the old and well-preserved city. Across the square is the Pazo de Raxoi (Raxoi's Palace), the town hall and seat of the Galician Junta, and on the right from the cathedral steps is the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos, founded in 1492 by the Catholic Monarchs, Isabella of Castille and Ferdinand of Aragon, as a pilgrim's hospice (now a parador).
Santiago city is also the site of the University of Santiago de Compostela, established in the early 16th century.
Within the old town there are many narrow winding streets full of historic buildings. The new town all around it has less character though some of the older parts of the new town have some big apartments in them.
Santiago de Compostela has plenty of nightlife which is divided mainly between the new town and old town areas. Its not unusual to find a mix of middle-aged residents and younger students running throughout the city until the early hours of the morning.
Radiating from the centre of the city, the historic cathedral is surrounded by paved granite streets, tucked away in the old town, and separated from the newer part of the city by the largest of many parks throughout the city, Parque da Alameda. Whether in the old town or the new town, party-goers will often find themselves following their tapas by dancing the night away.