The four façades of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, built over the supposed resting place of the Apostle James/Santiago, is one of the most incredible medieval buildings on earth.  I, quite frankly, love it.  The first time I entered it was on a late evening in August 2016, after a friend from America and another from Germany andContinue reading “The four façades of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela”

The Camino and the Spanish Civil War (part 6 – Santiago de Compostela)

At the east end of the cathedral (the ‘back’, so to speak) the square known as Praza da Quintana is divided into two levels, the lower Quintana de Mortos (‘Square of the Dead’) used to be a cemetery until the end of the eighteenth century, and above the steps lies the Quintana de Vivos (‘SquareContinue reading “The Camino and the Spanish Civil War (part 6 – Santiago de Compostela)”

Compostela — ‘Field of the Star’?

In a previous post I mentioned seeing the Perseid meteor shower about halfway between Burgos and León and it got me thinking about the origins of the name Compostela, which some suggest comes from the Latin Campus Stellae ‘Field of the Star’. Etymologies — the origin and explanations of names — can be fun.  ForContinue reading “Compostela — ‘Field of the Star’?”

The botafumeiro: the oldest swinger in town

Apologies for the bad pun in the title, but one of the most impressive of all sights for pilgrims who reach Santiago de Compostela is the swinging of the botafumeiro — the great incense burner that hangs from the ceiling of the cathedral.  The botafumeiro (‘smoke expeller’) is essentially a version of the thurible (hand-swungContinue reading “The botafumeiro: the oldest swinger in town”

Yellow arrows and the Shell symbol

The yellow arrows and the scallop shell vie with each other for the honour of most recognisable symbol of the Camino and I think every perigrino’s heart has lightened on seeing them on those rare occasions when we’ve gone off the beaten track.  While the shell has a long association with the Camino, the yellowContinue reading “Yellow arrows and the Shell symbol”