Let me start this post with an explanation of why we are in the city of Santiago de Compostela…..
Several years ago a friend suggested that we watch a movie called “The Way” which is about a man who follows the pilgrimage route (Camino) thru France and Spain to visit the Church of St. James, called the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, where tradition says that the remains of St. James are buried.
At the end of the movie, he reaches the cathedral and observes the tradition of the Botafumeiro, which is a famous thurible found in the church. The thurible is 4 feet high and filled with charcoal and incense. It is then hoisted into the air and swings back and forth, filing the church with wonderful aroma.
After we had decided to visit the city, I was disappointed to find that the Botafumeiro is only used on certain holy days, but I was still excited to see it. It was hanging magnificently in the sanctuary…..
The main part of the cathedral is ornate….
….but what I truly enjoyed were some of the smaller chapels that lined the outer edges of the building. One was particularly pleasant with earth tone colors and interesting stone murals on the walls…..
I loved the perspective view that it portrayed!!
Of course, the magnificent tiled floors added to my enjoyment as well…..
Michael and I walked around the church while Roy and Diane attended a Mass in a small chapel. Afterwards, we left the church but were told that we couldn’t re-enter thru the main door because the 10:00 am Mass was about to start. Not to be deterred, Michael continued walking around the sides of the church until he found a door that we were welcomed to enter. We immediately saw a line forming and joined in. It was worth the wait as it wound around behind the main altar and the view from there was enchanting…..
….although these giant cherubs were a bit scary…..
We followed the line into another small chamber where the reported remains of St. James were interred…..
While we were standing in line, we could hear the Mass being held in the main chapel. At one point, they started speaking English and we heard the Priest say that today was a special day, that it was the Birthday of the Church. When we heard this, Diane wondered aloud if that meant that they would perform the Botafumeiro.
Sure enough as we re-entered the main chapel, we saw several red robbed men standing near the pulley hoist……
YES…..we were going to get to see it really happen!!! I found a spot near the back of the church and stood mesmerized…. with camera in hand of course!! Here is the video……
I stopped filming so that I could just stand and enjoy the spectacle!!!! It was a truly moving experience and I am so thankful to have been able to experience it!!
The courtyard was filled with Pilgrims, many wearing the Shell, symbol of the Camilo trail…….
We continued on into a Camino museum where we enjoyed learning about the history of pilgrimages around the world. Mostly, I just enjoyed looking at the various statues and paintings……
These are all supposed to be renditions of what St. James looked like.
This next piece was interesting as it was carved/embossed from metal but had an opening for a painting where the face would be……
We split up from the Carrolls and returned to the street where we were both drawn to a busker playing a haunting, but strange looking, instrument. We asked about it and he told us that it was called a “Hang” (which is German for hand), and was created in 2000.
We decided to return for more Tapas, but this time we were going to order for ourselves!!! We knew some of what we ordered but guessed on the rest. The first thing out was bread and peppers……
…..so far, so good. Then the next course arrived…..
Now, this wasn’t exactly what we thought we had ordered but it was wonderful. It was an omelet with onions and cheese and went perfectly with the Padron peppers!!!
Next was the same steak dish from yesterday. We thought that we had ordered yet another course but nothing else showed up and, honestly, we were glad because we were already full!!!! We did order desert….
…..a soft cheese served with a thick jam slice…..delish!!!!
We sat closer to the serving area and realized that the kitchen was actually upstairs and all of the food was sent down in a dumbwaiter…..
This is our waiter from the first meal. He was so sweet and even stopped us in the street to talk later in the day!!!
Now we needed a walk to work off some of the food so decided to take a long walk. We were headed to the Cultural Center that we could see in the distance. In reading about this building, I had seen that it had been started but money had run out so many of the buildings were not completed. However, there were a few exhibits there including one that looked like a fiber exhibit, so we made it our destination.
After walking down one road (and I do mean DOWN), all the time discussing the ramifications of this descent, we ran into a few street vendors and had to stop and look. This gentleman was selling herbs and teas that were touted to cure everything…..
….from acne to cholesterol!!!
We looked down a side street and found the entrance to a small, local Medieval Festival…..
….forget the Cultural center…..we are going in!!!
There was food…….
….and more food……
There were roving minstrels…..
……hand cranked kiddie rides…..
….kids playing all sorts of games (without an electronic device in sight)……
…..and crowds of happy people……
….with a wonderful church in the background!!!
….enjoying the fact that we had found something that was designed for the locals and not just for the tourists.
By now, we had walked off our lunch so sought out something cold and sweet….maybe a gelato bar???
We met up with Roy and Diane again and made one last quick trip to the Cathedral…..
Reluctantly we left, knowing that our time in this beautiful city was coming to an end……