Destination of thousands of pilgrims and monumental center of Santiago de Compostela, the Plaza del Obradoiro is a true marvel surrounded by spectacular buildings, among which the Cathedral stands out with its spectacular façade.
The name of the square possibly comes from the stonemasons’ workshops that worked on the construction of the façade of the Cathedral, the most famous monument in Santiago.
In addition we also have other buildings, witness to the history of the square over more than 700 years.
The main places to visit in the Plaza del Obradoiro
1. The Obradoiro Facade
It is without a doubt the greatest architectural work in Santiago de Compostela, and the fact is that the Obradoiro Facade makes the Cathedral one of the main monuments to see in Galicia.
The Obradoiro Facade is located on the place where the tomb of the Apostle Santiago appeared and where the cathedral was built from the year 1075. This facade is located in front of the Pórtico de la Gloria, a great Romanesque masterpiece that before could be view from the square itself.
The towers on the façade are truly spectacular. They are 74 meters high and contain an impressive stone altarpiece and large windows that let light into the interior of the cathedral. The figure of the Apostle dominates the set represented with pilgrim attire, cape and hat.
From the Plaza del Obradoiro to the interior of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela, it can be accessed thanks to double stairs, from the 17th century, which leave access to the crypt inside.
To the right of the façade is the cloister of the Cathedral, in the Gothic-Renaissance style. It is one of the largest in Spain, built in the 16th century to replace another Romanesque cloister.
To the left we find the Palace of Xelmirez. It is an archiepiscopal residence that was built by the first archbishop of Santiago, Diego Xelmírez. The palace where he used to live was destroyed in a popular revolt and he ordered the construction of a new one, in Romanesque style and which can be visited if you purchase a ticket from the Cathedral Museum.
2. The Hostel of the Catholic Monarchs
After the visit of the Catholic Monarchs at the end of the 15th century and seeing first-hand the deterioration that existed in the old hospital that attended pilgrims and citizens of Santiago, they decided to build the Royal Hospital, whose first stone was laid in 1501 and whose style It is halfway between Renaissance and Gothic.
The façade of the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos is spectacular, in the Plateresque style, and invites you to go inside and enjoy the Gothic chapel and the four patios that surround it.
The building functioned as a hospital, with rooms distributed by sex and social class, until 1954 when it became a Parador Nacional, where free breakfast, lunch and dinner are offered to the first pilgrims who arrive each day following a centuries-old tradition.
We recommend this guided tour of the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos, different from any guided tour you have done.
3. Pazo de Raxoi
The last of the buildings that we must highlight in the Plaza del Obradoiro is the Pazo de Raxoi, neoclassical in style and which was the last to be built in the square in the 18th century by order of Archbishop Raxoi.
It was built to be a seminary for confessors and a residence for the choirboys of the Cathedral, although it was even an ecclesiastical and civil prison. But finally it became the City Council of Santiago and today it is also the seat of the Presidency of the Xunta de Galicia.
Of its impressive façade, we must highlight the relief of the Battle of Clavijo, where the Apostle appeared to fight against the Muslims and whose image crowns the building.
4. The College of San Xerome
Another of the buildings that we must admire in the Plaza del Obradoiro is the Colegio de San Xerome, current headquarters of the Rectorate of the University of Santiago de Compostela, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities in Spain.
It was built in the 16th century by order of Bishop Fonseca to accommodate art students with few economic resources, as an annex to the Colegio Mayor de Fonseca.
It is a Renaissance building and we must highlight the statues that we can find on its facade.