Santiago de Compostela is the cultural heartbeat of the beautiful province of Galicia. A medieval city that remains small in size, grand in its heart and busy in its beat, mixing modern life with antique heritage like no other Spanish city. Santiago’s sheer wealth of important sites and priceless artifacts can sometimes seem overwhelming and guided tours and historical guidebooks are readily available to help you appreciate these - our guide is a snapshot of the best of Santiago de Compostela; starting with the four squares that surround the Cathedral.
Despite its size - one can quite easily get a little lost in Santiago, so it's worth grabbing your bearings and remembering that the facade of the cathedral faces west. To the front and back of the cathedral are its two main squares 1) Plaza de Obradoiro, to the front of the cathedral is the place to be for main events and concerts and has a constant swarm of people admiring the cathedral from every conceivable angle. 2) To the eastern square - Plaza de la Quintana is overlooked by the rather imposing monastery of Antealtares. the second oldest building in the city and still housing nuns today. Quintana forms a wonderful natural auditorium and often hosts free concerts during the summer nights. 3) The north side of the cathedral hosts a small square called Plaza de Inmaculada, a natural meeting point for the local students and musicians taking advantage of the tunnel acoustics that reverberate from the passage to the main square. 4) On the south side is Plaza de las Platerías which hosts the famous "Fountain of the horses" - new arrivals to the city are told to find the back legs of the horses (which don't exist) - upon inspection they then get splashed with water and have been officially baptised by the city of Santiago.
Before exploring the medieval maze of cobbled streets, hidden alleyways, old world churches, beautiful boutiques, tucked away taverns, and peaceful parks that become the city, take a little time out to visit the Cathedral Museum (access from Plaza del Obradoiro) and enjoy the many artefacts that have contributed to the cathedral's history and then exit onto the gallery of the 3rd floor that offers fantastic bird's eye views of the Santiago's main square.