Good history, good eating and great living in Galicia

This article from Monica Adorno takes us to Galicia in Spain where she visited Santiago de Compostela  for the Feast of St James, wandered around the old streets, visited the famous cathedral and ate some goose feet at the best restaurant in town.

Good history, good eating and great living; Spain is famous for doing these things and Galicia, with her fierce Gaelic heritage and her shire-like landscape, is no exception. Sometimes you visit a country or a region where there’s a palpable sense of identity; where the locals are inherently proud of their roots, and the feeling is contagious. If you’re lucky, something will click and you’ll connect with a place to which you had no previous ties. The region of Galicia, Spain, that sits at the north-west corner of the Iberian Peninsula, is one such place.

Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela

My boyfriend and I arrived in Santiago de Compostela last July. We arranged the holiday so that it coincided with the Festival of St James, celebrated each year on July 25. Last year the festival fell on a Sunday meaning that the dramatics and the exuberance were tripled. This doesn’t happen often and the next one, known as a Holy Year, is due in 2021. The festival was marked by an impressive fireworks display and other symbolic gestures. The local families who can be more reserved here than in other parts of Galicia were out enjoying the day’s activities and it was clear to see that it’s a fiesta that brings people together.

Santiago de Compostela is famous as a place of pilgrimage that millions have travelled to for over a thousand years to pray to the apostle St James whose remains, legend has it, were taken there for burial (Chaucer’s Wife of Bath made the trip). Neither the boyfriend nor I are particularly religious and like many others we made the trip to enjoy the magnificent Baroque and Romanesque architecture, the art, the history and the museums. The entire city is a World Heritage Site, which is a testament to its medieval beauty.

Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela

Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela

On our first day, having made no arrangements, we decided to spend the afternoon exploring the city. It would be a shame not to get lost in the maze of winding arcaded streets and granite buildings. We walked to the Old Quarter where the pièce de résistance is the magnificent cathedral. Described as the ‘Romanesque jewel within a Baroque case’ it looms impressively over the Praza do Obradoiro, flanked by giant bell towers. We went into the cathedral (entrance is free) and did a guided tour of Las Cubiertas, the cathedral roof. The guide took us through the upper floors of the cathedral interior and once on the roof, the boyfriend and I took in a panoramic view of the labyrinth below.

winding roads at Santiago de Compostela

winding roads at Santiago de Compostela

Back outside and feeling peckish we went in search of some tapas and strolling along la Rua Nova we came across Don Gaiferos, which locals and tourists describe as one of the best restaurants in the city, next to the Church of Santa Maria Salome. I ate estofado de carne, a delicious local stew, and the boyfriend, ever the adventurer, ordered the exotic sounding percebes which translates as goose barnacles. His plate arrived piled high with what looked like small dragon feet which he had to suck the meat out of. These claws don’t come cheap at 30€ for a small portion but they’re a local delicacy and worth buying if only to say you ate dragon feet (though that wouldn’t be strictly true).

Bodegas Irache near Santiago de Compostela

Bodegas Irache near Santiago de Compostela

Dining in Galicia can be pricey but the food is fresh and everything is so good that to deny yourself these pleasures is sheer madness. For a quick snack try the cheekily titled Queso de Tetilla which literally translates as cheese of small breast and are shaped like them too. The boyfriend, rather predictably, couldn’t resist bringing a bag home.

Author Bio: Monica Adorno is a snowsports writer living and working in London. She spent her university days hitch hiking across Central America and South East Asia. She plans to conquer Mount Everest and marry explorer Bruce Parry!

My thanks for this sponsored post to MyDestination Galicia, where you’ll find comprehensive information on all things Galicia

Photo Credits: Cathedral by bernavazqueze, other photos from MyDestination Galicia

This article is originally published at Heatheronhertravels.com – Read more travel articles at Travel Blog Home

You’ll also find our sister blog with tips on how to build a successful travel blog at My Blogging Journey

Subscribe to Heatheronhertravels Don’t miss out – subscribe to Heather on her travels

You Might Also Like


  • Reply
    Barbara Weibel
    April 28, 2011 at 2:37 pm

    The photo of the cathedral must have been taken at the golden hour – late afternoon as the sun was lowering. It is stupendous! Definitely a corner of Spain I’d like to investigate.
    Barbara Weibel´s last blog post ..Not Your Typical Slow Boat to Laos

  • Reply
    April 28, 2011 at 8:20 pm

    Stunning photos! I agree about the “golden hour” lighting. I found the town of Santiago de Compostela so charming — and visiting the cathedral very emotional. I will remember it always.
    Abby´s last blog post ..Why I traveled 5070 miles to go to TBU

  • Reply
    Best Travel Articles of the Week — LandingStanding
    May 2, 2011 at 11:04 am

    […] go back to Spain and visit Galicia! Cancel […]

  • Reply
    May 5, 2011 at 1:57 am

    Great photos- and I too love the “golden hour”… it makes everything more beautiful and romantic!

  • Reply
    Julio@Mountain bike
    May 7, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    I liked the the photos and the spirit of the post.
    Two of them specially, Santiago de Compostela and winding roads at Santiago de Compostela, seems they transport you back in time. Kind of impression…..
    I can add, Spaniards are kind and lovely people.
    Thank you for the post.

    The father of my children….

  • Reply
    May 14, 2011 at 2:42 am

    LOVED!!!!!!!wow every time i see that there are places in the world that remained natural and simple it take my breath away!
    wish i could be able to live in such place… but i cant it is just too slow for me ….nice to dream about it

  • Reply
    Eve Foss
    May 27, 2011 at 2:00 pm

    Awesome photographs. They hit my “OMG! I have to see this place!” button! I think I am putting Galicia on my list of places to visit next summer. That cathedral looks like it would make the trip worthwhile all by itself!
    Eve Foss´s last blog post ..Dining in St Augustine

  • Reply
    May 29, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    The Cathedral at Santiago de Compostela looked very beautiful. I wouldn’t wonder if it is the world heritage site since the site looked splendid with its Medieval theme. I wish I could go to Galicia someday.
    Florence´s last blog post ..6 Self Help Tips

  • Reply
    Bluegreen Kirk
    July 7, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    Sounds like a great place with wonderful people. I dont think I would even bother trying to deny myself the food. More than likely I would have been like your boyfriend and ate some and brought some home.

  • Reply
    Isabel Balquin
    August 24, 2011 at 10:14 pm

    Thanks for your article. I wish I could’ve been there for a Holy Year, must have been wonderful fyi, Bodegas Irache are just outside Estela, Navarra, Spain, near the beginning of the Camino de Santiago (Camino Frances.) Happy Travels!

  • Reply
    Three Can’t Miss Summer Spots in Madrid | Heather on her travels
    June 15, 2012 at 10:00 pm

    […] and La Latina by chusoart.More Spanish sunshineWhere to find truly great tapas in Barcelona Good history, good eating and great living in Galicia The Moorish charms of the Alhambra in Granada – SpainThis article is originally published at […]

  • Reply
    See another side of Spain in La Rioja | Heather on her travels
    November 6, 2012 at 1:49 am

    […] are also well worth a visit for those wanting to soak up some culture.More places to visit in SpainGood history, good eating and great living in Galicia From Malaga to El Chorro in the rain – Spain A visit to Ojén – the Pueblos Blancos of […]

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge