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Santiago de Compostela

Santiago de Compostela is in the Northwest of Spain and is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia. It is one of the most famous destinations worldwide for Catholic pilgrims, who have been coming here since the 9th century.

Legend has it that the remains of the apostle James were brought to Galicia for burial. The cathedral was built on the spot where his remains are said to have been found. The tomb of Saint James sits inside the cathedral and forms the final destination for pilgrims walking The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James). The way of St. James is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes that stretch across Europe and terminate here. The most popular route is The Camino Francés which stretches 780km across the top of Spain from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port in France. I saw several pilgrims arriving during my visit to the cathedral and to some of them, having just come great distances by foot, the whole experience appeared overwhelming, to say the least. Historically, Santiago de Compostela became a symbol in the Spanish Christians' struggle against Islam; it was destroyed by the Muslims at the end of the 10th century and was completely rebuilt in the following century. With its Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque buildings, the old town is excellent to explore on foot. The city also has one of the oldest universities in Spain and with more than 40,000 students, one of the main centres of university education nationally. The old town of Santiago de Compostela is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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