It’s raining in Santiago

Santiago de Compostela, in north west Spain, has been one of the Christian world’s main pilgrimage destinations for over 1000 years, based on the belief that it is the burial site of one of the disciples, St James (Santiago in Spanish).

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The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and an intriguing, hospitable and welcoming place, with narrow winding streets to explore. The grand cathedral is the ultimate goal of the pilgrims who have travelled the Camino de Santiago from faraway places.

Santiago is the capital of Galicia, and the region is quite different from most other parts of Spain in terms of culture, music, language (Galician) and climate.

Unlike much of Spain, Galicia is wet. Santiago is said to experiences some rain on more than 300 days per year.

Galicia is considered to be one of the seven Celtic nations (along with Scotland, the Isle of Man, Ireland, Wales, Cornwall and Brittany) and its music reflects this heritage. Bagpipes (called gaita gallega) are a common feature of Galician music. My favourite Galician band is Luar na Lubre. A link to their song Chove en Santiago (It’s Raining in Santiago) is here.

This is my contribution to Tiffin’s A-Z Guidebook, this month starting with the letter ‘S’.

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On your knees in Rocamadour

Rocamadour, in south-west France, became famous in mediaeval times as a place of pilgrimage, and an important stop on the pilgrimage path to Santiago de Compostela in Spain (the Camino de Santiago, or St James’ Way). One of Rocamadour’s main religious attractions is its wooden Black Madonna.

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Today, Rocamadour’s 600 residents are joined by around one million visitors yearly. Pilgrims of the past climbed the steep 216 stairs to the top of the village on their knees. Now, visitors who don’t wish to climb by stairs have the option of a lift.

This is my contribution to Tiffin’s A-Z Guidebook, this month starting with the letter ‘R’.

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