It is not possible to understand Galicia’s capital without its cultural history. It has a number of important institutions, including the Cidade da Cultura (City of Culture) and a prestigious university with over five centuries of history, as well as more modest yet highly dynamic organizations in the various neighbourhoods that are active throughout the year. Culture is the city’s raison d’être.
In 1985, Santiago de Compostela was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site: ‘An extraordinary ensemble of distinguished monuments grouped around the tomb of St. James the Greater, the destination of all the roads of Christianity’s greatest pilgrimage from the 11th to the 18th century, Santiago de Compostela is beyond the shadow of a doubt one of the world heritage’s most obvious properties...an ideal city which is overflowing with history and timelessness...’
In 1987, the Council of Europe named the Way of St. James the First European Cultural Route. Thirteen years later, in 2000, the city was chosen as the European Capital of Culture in recognition of its cultural dynamism and its work of cultural dissemination throughout history.
It would therefore be impossible to understand Santiago without this profound and permanent cultural significance. The city is also the capital of the Autonomous Community of Galicia, making it home to the seat of the Xunta de Galicia (Government of Galicia) and the Galician Parliament. This administrative vitality is thus added to its creative and educational power.
A university with five centuries of history
Founded in 1495, the University of Santiago is one of the oldest educational institutions in Europe. Its student body numbers some 23,000. The Colexio de Fonseca and Paraninfo are two of its cultural treasures.
The University of Santiago, with more than five centuries of history, is one of the oldest educational establishments in Europe and a leading academic institution. Many of its cultural assets are open to visitors, including the Colexio de Fonseca building, the School of Geography and History’s fine Paraninfo (auditorium) and the university church.
City of Culture of Galicia, exterior at sunset
Auditorium at the University of Santiago (Faculty of Geography and History)
Cloister of the Colexio de Fonseca building, University of Santiago
With a student body of some 23,000 (including the Lugo Campus) and academic options that include more than 60 official qualifications, the University of Santiago is an integral part of the fabric of Compostela.
From major cultural institutions to an extensive network of small privately run spaces with programming throughout the entire year, as well as international film, music and art festivals.
The Galician capital boasts a good number of major cultural institutions. These include historic venues, such as the Teatro Principal (1841) and Salón Teatro (1920), the Museo do Pobo Galego (Museum of the Galician People, founded in 1976) and more recent establishments, including the Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea (Galician Centre of Contemporary Art), Auditorio de Galicia (Auditorium of Galicia) and the Conference and Exhibition Centre. Important 21st-century additions include the Cidade da Cultura de Galicia (City of Culture of Galicia), a spectacular building atop Mount Gaiás which offers regular ongoing programming; the Museo das Peregrinacións e de Santiago (Museum of Pilgrimage and Santiago); and the Casa do Cabido (chapterhouse) on Praza das Praterías, open to the public since 2012.
Outdoor performance at the City of Culture of Galicia
Interior of the Auditorium of Galicia
Teatro Principal, built in 1841
Triple spiral staircase, San Domingos de Bonaval Monastery (Museum of the Galician People)