Until recently, Santiago was divided into two nighttime areas: the old and the new. This differentiation not only referred to location but also to the type of atmosphere, music and clientele –more ‘folk’ in the old town and more ‘modern’ in the new town- and the closing hours –earlier in the monumental quarter. Today, these connotations no longer apply, since a night out in the old town is now more diverse and its closing hours are later. Therefore, although people still speak about two areas, they only refer to their situation within the city.
The old town’s streets are full of people during the evening. In almost all of them we can find a club, a bar, a café. It is therefore difficult, and unnecessary in part, to name specific streets since they are easy to identify –a good guide is to follow the crowd through the monumental quarter’s narrow streets and squares.
The entire old town specialises in wines, ‘tapas’ and portions, although the largest concentration of such establishments is in O Franco and A Raíña streets, in A Troia street, and in Rúa de San Pedro and the surroundings -Porta do Camiño, Rúa Travesa, Plaza de Santo Agostiño, San Roque, etc-.
In summer, for coffee or the first drinks, San Paio de Antealtares street, full of pavement cafés, is a good choice if we like busy places. More tranquil are the ones in Plaza de la Quintana, in the main ‘rúas’ or streets -Rúa do Vilar and Rúa Nova- and in Rodrigo de Padrón. And there are also cafés with inner courtyards and gardens, hidden among the heritage of delightful places.
From there, in a line running from Rúa Nova –passing through Xelmírez, Conga, Acibechería, Troia and San Martiño Pinario- as far as Casas Reais –including the surrounding streets: Plaza de San Miguel and the two Algalia streets, Rúa Travesa, Entremuros and the Mercado de Abastos area- and continuing along Virxe da Cerca, there are clubs with different types of customers, music and atmospheres. Some of them prepare, when ordered in advance, the typical and spectacular ‘queimada’ -flamed eau de vie, sugar and lemon-.
Although each club in the old town has its own decoration and personality, they all share common features: small size, determined by the limited space and respect for the historical building’s original layout, and the inescapable presence of Compostela’s characteristic granite walls –where many people place coins expressing their desire to return- which are usually combined with wooden floors, ceilings and furniture.
In the new town or ‘Ensanche’ –the name given to the neighbourhood built between 1950 and the 1980s- the wines, beers and ‘tapas’ are to be found in a few streets very close to one another: Carreira do Conde, Montero Ríos, Alfredo Brañas and República de El Salvador, and further south, around Plaza Roxa, Santiago del Estero and Santiago de Chile.
Here there is a different club concept: the premises are more spacious, the decoration varies more from one place to another and is, in general, more theatrical and illusionistic. This area is full of students during the academic year. The main club streets are Alfredo Brañas, República Argentina from one end to the other, Santiago de Chile and Fernando III el Santo.