When someone mention Spain to you, the first thing that gets to your mind are cities like Barcelona or Madrid, am I right? But for sure it’s not Santiago de Compostela.
Well, let’s change that. Today I’m taking you to Santiago de Compostela.
So, why Santiago?
Because I’m living there since summer 2017. And I wanted to share some tips about Santiago with all my readers.
Santiago is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia in north-western Spain.
When you google Santiago de Compostela, or you ask someone about it, first thing that you’re going to get like an answer is – Camino, St. James Way or famous “El Camino”.
The legend that St. James found his way to the Iberian Peninsula and had preached there is one of a number of early traditions concerning the missionary activities and final resting places of the apostles of Jesus.
- Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela
The cathedral is the main point of Santiago and the biggest success when you’re done with your Camino. In front of it is the square where all “pilgrims” meet.
There are a few ways – camino ways. The most famous is the French one. The reasons of doing camino are for another discussion, some people do it for religions ways, others want to lose weight, some of them go just because they want to feel spirit of adventure and adrenaline.
No matter which way you choose, when you’re a part of camino, we are all the same there and on the end all people are there for the same reason on the end.
- Pazo de Raxoi – city hall and office of the President of the Xunta of Galicia
In front of the city hall and office if the President of the Xunta of Galicia, the most value thing are the cathedral and all people who you can meet there.
The most beautiful thing for me there is to see all pilgrims and they hang out there, cry together, dance and share their emotions.
Everyone have their own way how they decide to do it. Some people walk, some of them do it by bicycle or on horses.
It’s interesting to sit there and watch all that emotions and situations – there is nothing that I can compare with it.
- Park Alameda
This park is one of my favourite places in Santiago. Maybe it’s not the most peaceful – but it has a soul for sure.
One of the most interesting things in park for sure are two Marias of Santiago de Compostela.
Around them you can see people taking photos and it’s really hard to get your turn sometimes or even it’s harder I can say to “catch” a picture them alone without people.
The story about them starts like this.
The statues are replicas of the Spanish sisters Maruxa and Coralia Fanino Ricart. Although brightly dressed and offering an open hand in a worn gesture, the faces have a solemn undertone representing their troubling story and how they become the Two Marias of Alameida park.
The sisters were raised in a family of 13 siblings. During the regime of Franco, three of the brothers had an active role in the Confederacion Nacional del Trabajo, an organisation fighting against the overeignty of the Spanish general. The story goes, the brothers were arrested and detained in the early 1950s and experienced consistent emotional abuse, torture and excessive physical brutality. Upon release, a brother passed due to injury whilst the other two went into hiding. The family was consistently interrogated as to their where abuts as well as persecuted for harbouring fugitives. The impact of this led to the death of the women’s parents and many of the siblings.
Both ladies were trained as a seastress; however, because of the pressures and attention on the family, they were often unable to find work. Many of the locals were known to donate food and other items to the women. In the early 1960s, it was reported that a storm tore down the roof of their home and the town collected 250,00 pesetas in donations which at the time was enough money for the ladies to purchase a new flat.
Along with another sister who later died, the ladies would habitually enter Alameda Park at 2 PM dressed in bright clothing, high heels and even brighter make-up. They would gallivant around and flirt with the local university students. Many locals suggest the women experienced poor mental health due to the trauma which led to this exuberant behaviour. Whilst others thought the women were simply trying to find some enjoyment in their troublesome life. The women were regularly seen until the 1980s when Maruxa passed. Coralia left the town of Santiago and died three years later.
The statues were laid by sculptor Cesar Lambera in 1994 in memory of the two women. Many locals depict the Two Marias as unwell and flirtatious; whilst others view their lives and statues as a symbol of the fight against oppression and inequality. Following your Camino de Santiago, if you have any steps left in you, go and visit the Two Marias and decide for yourself.
Whether you see the ladies as freedom fighters or tarty older women; the ladies definitely continue to impact the modern-day town of Santiago de Compostela!
So, if you find yourself in Santiago de Compostela – feel free to contact me for more tips and tricks! 😉
And for all those who are staying at home for a little bit more, be ready to read my new adventures from Santiago soon.