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You don't have to be a pilgrim to enjoy the wonderful city of Santiago. Its historic centre is widely accepted as one of the most beautiful old towns in Spain, if not the world, and it is where visitors wish to spend most of their time. Wander through narrow streets among ancient stone buildings and be greeted by history at every turn. Santiago is considered to be one of the spiritual capitals of Christendom, on par almost with Jerusalem and the Vatican. The city has been shaped around the spot where the relics of the disciple James – Santiago – are said to be found in a field almost 1,000 years ago, sparking the religious pilgrimages in the Middle Ages. But Santiago has a modern side to it as well. It is home to over 40,000 students that breathe fresh life into the city, giving it lively nightlife and strong cultural and artistic tones. Add to that hip shopping and an innovative culinary scene, and you have one of northern Spain's most interesting and beautiful destinations.
This old city in the north east of Spain has a lot to offer. The 40,000 students that live here make the city what it is today, a lively and modern metropolis set among an Old Town teeming with history. Santiago is a unique blend of old and new, with innovative art and culture and a fascinating history of pilgrimage, visible on every corner.
As the region’s capital, Santiago is the hub for Galician culinary experiences. Seafood is one of the main specialities and some of the best offerings can be found on Rúa do Franco as well as Rúa do Vilar. Besides fresh fish, local specialties include charcoal-grilled meat, cured ham and beef and other cold meats like chorizo, salchichón and morcilla. Local cheeses include Cebreiro, Arzúa, Tetilla and San Simón.
Small enough to be strongly influenced by its university, Santiago de Compostela revels in a continuously refreshed influx of youthful energy and creativity that treats the grand stone structures as the most magnificent stage. Wander the streets of Santiago and rest your legs at one of the cosy cafés over a hot cup of coffee.
The Old Town of Santiago is full of lively bars, and the best way to fully enjoy your night out is to go from bar to bar, trying different drinks and talking to the people you meet. The university ambience in Santiago de Compostela makes the nightlife of the city very active, and the over one thousand years of pilgrimage from all over the world has given the nightlife a mix of cultural influences.
Santiago de Compostela has two particular local crafts – silverware and a black gem called jet stone, used for jewellery and amulets. The shops in the area around the Cathedral has a good selection of these and of other handicrafts. The rest of the Old Town is full of shops of all kinds. The streets or ’Rúas’ Nova, Vilar, San Pedro, Caldeirería, Preguntoiro and the squares Toural and Cervantes, along with the ones surrounding the cathedral, are the main shopping areas in the old town. You can find international brands, prestigious Spanish franchises, Galician fashion, food shops and gift shops, among many other offerings.
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