Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Santiago de Compostela - another pilgrimage

Our ship docked in Ferrol, in itself a historical port with probably lots to see.  But we chose to take the two hour bus trip to Santiago de Compostela, if not on a pilgrimage at least to see what we're missing.  It turned out I attended the pilgrim mass and the botafumeiro (giant incense burner) was set in motion as a special favour (to whom I didn't know but I was told someone paid for it otherwise it would be done only on Holy Days and Feast Days).  I also joined the lineup to see the relic of St. James and passed through the Holy Door.  It turned out to be quite a pilgrimage.

Before the mass we were taken on a tour of the old town with its narrow streets.  The University of Santiago was in a handsome medieval building.  I left the tour early to attend the pilgrim mass which was standing room only.  It was amazing how no photos were allowed during mass but as soon as the botafumeiro was lit, everyone's cellphone was out!  And was it ever spectacular!  The giant burner swung from one side of the altar to the other, over the pews on each side - it required four people to manage it.

We were taken to an unusual venue for lunch before going back to the ship.  This was at the Hostal dos Reis Catolicos, built in 1486, a stunning medieval building complete with courtyard and fountain.  We were served lunch in the chapel with an open second floor balcony where the sick used to be able to hear mass.  This was built as a hospice and hospital to serve the pilgrims at the end of the trail.  It is now a five star hotel - the Parador, widely considered the oldest continuously running hotel in the world.  It was a delicious lunch but as usual the architecture distracted from the main theme. ;-)

The Cathedral seen from the bus terminal
The crowd all heading towards the cathedral square

Cathedral front under restoration

The Camino shell of St. James

Entrance is through the side entrance

The botafumeiro swung on both sides of the altar - standing room only inside

The swinging botafumeiro

The botafumeiro - when it is not swinging

The highly gilded altar

The dome

The line up to see the relic of St. James in front of the Holy Door

Carved door at entrance

The relic

Fountain in the square beside cathedral
The University of Santiago de Compostela with the statue of its founder Alonso III de Fonseca, an erudite Renaissance man

Streets of old town Santiago

Hostal dos Reis Catolilcos - the oldest continuously running hotel in the world

The beautiful courtyard and fountain

The dining room set up in the chapel with its lovely windows

Something else for the pilgrim - cake shop!

The Square beside the cathedral side door

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