My Rooftop Tour of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is one of the most known cathedrals, and is, for many pilgrims, the end of their pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago. It is believed that the remains of the apostle Saint James the Great are safeguarded in the cathedral. I have been inside the cathedral more than 30 times, opting to spend hours sitting and reflecting on my many journeys to this amazing location.

santiago de compostela, cathedral, naveDuring my second journey and volunteering experience in Santiago, I opted to take the rooftop tour offered throughout the day in multiple languages. I must admit I had no idea that such tours were available, and it seems other well-known cathedrals such as Milan’s Duomo, Exeter’s, St. Peter’s, St. Stephen’s and Seville Cathedrals.

On the day we took the tour, the sun was strong and the temperature so high I could feel the heat of the roof through my sneakers. We were warned not to sit or touch the stones for fear of burns. Our group was small and the tour guide asked how many of us were pilgrims. Turned out most of us were, and those who were not heard a lot about the Camino during the tour.

Our first stop was inside the cathedral on the gallery level where, in medieval days, pilgrims slept. The location provided a beautiful bird’s eye view of the central nave.

Upon completion of our ascent to the rooftop, we were met with amazing views of the area, including a one of the Plaza De Platerias.

Santiago rooftop views, cathedral

The architecture of this cathedral is quite amazing. The first stone of the present cathedral was placed in 1075.  The cathedral consecrated in 1211. The cathedral was expanded and embellished with additions in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries and is currently undergoing extensive restoration.

Santiago Cathedral rooftop

The cathedral is of Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architectural style. It was built mostly in granite. I was quite surprised to see random plants and flowers growing in various corners and surfaces.

rooftop of the Santiago Cathedral in Spain

The photo on the left is a fire pit where, in medieval times, pilgrims would burn their one robe, and were given a replacement robe for their walk back to their home. The robes were sewn by the local nuns who took care of the pilgrims during their stay in Santiago. The photo on the right shows the back of the Western facade with the statue of St. James with his cloak and staff.

Santiago Cathedral in Spain

If you ever find yourself in Santiago, I hope you get the chance to take the rooftop tour. It is one of the best tours I have taken in Spain.

Have you taken any cathedral or church rooftop tours? Tell us about it!

 

 

apptraveler

Retired exec consultant who traveled for more than 4 decades, both corporate and leisure. I appreciate my travel experience and want to share tips, photos and stories with readers! I live in Ottawa Canada and have traveled to 31 countries.

30 thoughts on “My Rooftop Tour of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

  • September 19, 2017 at 11:34 pm
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    You had not shared these photos before. What a view. I would not have been able to go up this high!

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    • September 20, 2017 at 12:05 am
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      oh Monique – I have many photos and stories yet unshared… I must admit, this tour is not for those who do not like heights! Thanks for your comments!

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  • September 20, 2017 at 8:37 am
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    Looks like an interesting activity to try! I’ve never taken a church rooftop tour before

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    • September 20, 2017 at 2:28 pm
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      Hi Nancy, this was my first rooftop tour – and if I’m ever in a city that has rooftop tours, I will certainly take those tours – it gives a great different perspective of the city! Thanks for your comments

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  • September 20, 2017 at 3:54 pm
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    I have never done a rooftop tour! This looks wonderful!

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:12 pm
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      Thanks Holly for your comments, it was indeed a wonderful tour!

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  • September 20, 2017 at 3:55 pm
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    Love this post! Your pictures are wonderful. The view from the rooftop of the cathedral seems to be unique and awesome! I’ll try to be there someday and capture beautiful pictures.

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm
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      Thanks Hannah for your kind comments. I expect all cathedrals have their special unique beauty!

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  • September 20, 2017 at 4:46 pm
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    That’s a great article! Thank you for sharing.

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  • September 20, 2017 at 6:36 pm
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    I have never taken a church rooftop tour before, but what a great perspective. I love the details you were able to see.

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:09 pm
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      Hi Tanya, I appreciate your comments! This was my first rooftop tour and hopefully not my last!

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  • September 20, 2017 at 8:13 pm
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    What an amazing opportunity you had to visit there! I would love to see this in person, but for the meantime I will enjoy your awesome photos… thanks!

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:09 pm
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      Hi Eloise, Thanks for your lovely comments, I hope you do get to see this cathedral or others in the future!

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  • September 20, 2017 at 8:40 pm
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    Love places with so much history! I’ve been to church tours before but never to the roof. I’ve been missing a lot!

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:08 pm
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      Hi Joline, I had no idea there were rooftop tours! It was a great experience, and now I will look for other tours of other cathedrals during my travels. Thanks for your comments

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  • September 20, 2017 at 10:19 pm
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    I had no idea there was a rooftop tour! My husband and daughter have each walked the Camino but I don’t think either one of them did this. Will have to share this with them!

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:07 pm
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      Hi Lois, so excited to hear that both your hubby and daughter walked the Camino, I hope their experiences were positive! Thanks for your comments

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  • September 21, 2017 at 12:06 am
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    It’s gorgeous. I love your photos. We plan on visiting Spain next year. <3 I will have to add this to the list.

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:06 pm
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      Hi Jessica, so excited to read that you are headed to Spain next year, please let me know if you have any questions – I’ve spent some time there, and I really like to share my experiences with readers. Thanks for your comments, and if you can remember, let me know where you went and what you saw! Viva Espana!

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  • September 21, 2017 at 12:28 am
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    It is really cool to get different perspectives and views on things, literally! Getting to see the architecture up close would be so cool.

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:05 pm
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      Hi Jen, I have to admit the tour was much too short of time to really admire the details of the architecture, but I can always go back! Thanks for your comments

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  • September 21, 2017 at 11:54 am
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    Beautiful pics and the tour looked amazing. Thanks for sharing as I was so happy to see it through your eyes!

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:04 pm
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      Thena, Thank you so very much for your comments, and I am happy to share the memories with my readers!

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  • September 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm
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    Your trip to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is incredible! The photos are completely inspiring! I can only image what you would really feel experiencing this first hand. A roof top tour and the perspective would be a forever memory!

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    • September 21, 2017 at 5:03 pm
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      Thanks Debbie for your comments – I’m glad you liked the photos, and you are so right, the tour was a great memory!

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  • September 21, 2017 at 9:30 pm
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    Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela looks like a neat place to visit. The buildings and pictures are so beautiful.

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    • September 23, 2017 at 12:23 am
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      Thanks Glenda for your comments. That particular cathedral is beautiful and is a very important location for those walking across Spain (or biking) on their pilgrimage.

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  • September 22, 2017 at 1:23 am
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    Your photos are gorgeous! I am supposed to visit Spain late this year. This post is right on time.

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    • September 23, 2017 at 12:21 am
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      Hi Brandi, Thanks for your comments. If you have any questions about Spain, please let me know. I’m far from being an expert, but having walked the northern part multiple times, and studied there when I was younger, I have some knowledge to share. Feel free to ask any questions you may have, and have a great trip!

      Reply

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