Santiago de Compostela has one of the most beautiful and best-preserved monumental cities in Europe. Picture perfect, Compostela’s old town offers film professionals a wide range of locations, where the weight of history and the mystery of its misty climate bestow added value on audiovisual projects.
The squares of monumental Compostela are many and varied, each with its own personality. From the spectacular nature of squares such as Obradoiro or A Quintana to the seclusion of small, hidden squares such as Los Gatos or Las Campanas de San Juan.
Wandering around Santiago’s monumental quarter is like entering a stone labyrinth that surprises as at every turn. From regal arcaded streets bordered by palaces and churches, such as Rúa do Vilar or Rúa Nova, to secluded, narrow lanes hidden to the eyes of the uninitiated, such as Salsipuedes or Entrerrúas.
The old town is made up of streets, squares and buildings that may be considered a compendium of the history of art. Although it is a medieval city covered with a baroque layer, the truth is that we can find examples of all the architectural styles. From the grandiose Romanesque style, both religious (inside the Cathedral) and civil (Palacio de Xelmírez), to the more modest and intimate Romanesque of the Church of San Fiz de Solovio or that of Salomé. The Gothic style has several exponents, such as the Church of San Domingos de Bonaval (religious) or the house of the king Don Pedro (civil). Renaissance, baroque, plateresque, Neoclassicism –all of the different styles have left their mark on singular buildings throughout the centuries: convents, churches, palaces, university faculties, libraries, ...
Although the old town is generally in good condition, there are some abandoned buildings or ruins that may be of interest to certain productions.
Special mention should be made of the interiors of monasteries, cloisters, stairways, palaces, faculties, libraries and museums. Due to its status as a university city during the last five hundred years, Santiago has academic elements of singular interest, such as centuries-old libraries (American Library, History Faculty Library), assembly halls, auditoriums, etc. Due to its status as a cultural city, it has acquired magnificent architectural buildings throughout the centuries, featuring solid and expressive interiors reminiscent of times past, such as the Monastery of San Domingos de Bonval, which harmoniously shares the same location as the Galician Contemporary Art Centre, a modern building that Álvaro Siza designed with light interiors and a well-defined style.
Hotels, Cafés and Shops
Monumental Compostela offers a wide range of accommodation and eating establishments, although most of them reflect the flavour of their surroundings. From the luxury of the Hostal de los Reyes Católicos to the spartan nature of a cheap lodging house. From elegant restaurants to humble bars. From hundred-year-old cafeterias to busy taverns. From local clubs featuring the sound of folk to the most avant-garde with the latest trends. Granite and wood are the characteristic features of such premises, since most of them are located in centuries-old settings, like the stables of an ancient palace.
As the final destination of a pilgrimage route bringing people from all over Europe to Santiago, Compostela’s shopping tradition goes back over a thousand years. The medieval organisation based on guilds has reached down to our days. Thus, streets and squares such as Platerías, Acibechería and Caldeirería contain shops and small workshops grouped together according to their type of activity. Shops with a venerable atmosphere, such as hat shops or wax and candle shops, coexist with modern premises featuring avant-garde designs. And 19th-century made-to-measure tailor’s shops with the latest fashion.
“ENSANCHE” (URBAN EXPANSION AREA)
Santiago de Compostela is really two cities. Two clearly differentiated centres of population: the monumental quarter and the “Ensanche”. While the passing of the centuries has gradually left its mark in the case of the former, the rapid urban development boom of the sixties has created an architectural hodgepodge in the case of the later; however, this may be of interest for certain locations. It is a one hundred percent urban, dynamic and modern area, with heavy vehicle and pedestrian traffic, dazzling shop windows, neon lights and rushing executives.
In squares such as Praza Roxa or Praza de Vigo, urban development’s “ugliness” reaches its maximum splendour, to the delight of those seeking this type of aesthetics. The streets are straight, narrow and bordered by tall buildings. The ground floor of these buildings house, in many cases, modern shops and avant-garde cafés and restaurants.
An effort has recently been made to humanise certain streets, such as Alfredo Brañas, A Rosa or Xeneral Pardiñas. These now feature wide pavements, designer street furniture and top-quality materials, resulting in an attractive, urban and modern appearance.
Santiago de Compostela has two million square metres of strategically situated green spaces. The 19th-century Alameda park features a variety of itineraries from which we can contemplate the cathedral and old town, from a privileged perspective. The Alameda is crowned by the Santa Susana “carballeira”, a dense oak grove housing a bucolic chapel. The university campuses (north and south) are also privileged green spaces, sprinkled with faculties, halls of residence and other buildings of interest. The parks of Bonaval, Belvís or “Música en Compostela” are only a few of the city’s green spaces, each of which has its own style and unrepeatable spots.
Near the city centre there are locations representing the past, present, future and nature. The convents of Conxo or Belvís take us back to times past. The present abounds in any of the neighbourhoods surrounding the city, which may be modern or renovated and traditional, urban and rural, conflictive and peaceful. It is worth highlighting the As Fontiñas neighbourhood, which was created in the nineties from scratch. One of its main features is Área Central, an enormous mall housing flats, shops and offices. Its covered streets and huge central square provide evocative camera locations.
The future is materialised in a series of exceptional buildings that have been erected recently. The Media Studies Faculty, the Auditorium of Galicia, the Congress Hall, the “Multiusos del Sar” stadium and the University Clinical Hospital bear the signature of prestigious international architects, to the extent that they are now reference points of contemporary architecture.
Compostela is surrounded by nature. The nearby Monte Pedroso, with its leafy pine forests crossed by narrow paths, can be seen from all over the city; from its summit there is an exceptional panorama of the city and the surrounding area. The rivers Sar and Sarela provide bucolic landscapes, while within a radius of not more than five kilometres, we can find small villages in which it seems that time has come to a standstill, where you would never think that we are so close to a capital city.
Although full of history, Santiago is a modern city equipped with the characteristic attributes of a present-day capital: international airport, train and bus stations, motorway, industrial estate… From the Middle Ages to the 21st century without leaving the city.
Santiago de Compostela is world famous for its monumental quarter; however, it has a lot more to offer as regards an audiovisual production. It is difficult to find such an extensive range of locations in a single city.