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12. O Toural Square

12. O Toural Square

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12. O Toural Square

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12. O Toural Square
12. O Toural Square
Pazo de Bendaña
Pazo de Bendaña
Glazed balcony
Glazed balcony
Rúa das Orfas and Convent
Rúa das Orfas and Convent
Rúa da Caldeirería
Rúa da Caldeirería

This square was the old point of sale for cattle and a water supply. Its stately houses with wrought-iron balconies still feature, in their coats of arms and glazed balconies, a wide range of traditional Compostela architecture.

Facing the fountain built in 1822 we can see Pazo de Bendaña, an urban palace from the 18th century built by Clemente Fernández Sarela. Crowning the façade is a sculpture of Atlas holding the vault of heaven. It now houses the Fundación Granell and its museum, containing the legacy of the surrealist artist Eugenio Granell.

A huge glazed balcony stands out in one of the houses. Visitors coming from the north of Spain will find it familiar, since this element is characteristic of Northern Spanish architecture, especially in fishing villages. Its functioning is very simple and is based on a similar principle to that of greenhouses. During the winter it is used to heat the room, for which it is necessary to leave the communicating doors open, so that the sunlight comes in, while the windows are kept shut. It is not necessary to open the windows in summer either. Letting the air circulate through the small side windows while the doors are kept closed, is sufficient to refresh the air in the adjoining room.

One of the corners of O Toural leads us to As Orfas street, so called due to the presence of a convent founded in the 17th century, in which orphan girls in the city received their education. Its baroque façade surprisingly appears among a series of shopping streets, such as that of As Orfas and Calderería. The name of this last one reminds us that Santiago was, and still is, a city of fine artisans, who were influenced by artisanal traditions that arrived from all over Europe along the Way of St. James. Their products include gold and silver works, candles, religious images, ceramics, engravings, decorative wrought-iron objects, glass, enamels, fabrics and leather.

This intense artisanal activity left its mark on Compostela’s map. This is the case of the Concheiros and Pelamios districts, where shell sellers and leather tanners, respectively, were located or the squares of Platerías and Azabachería. Moreover, one of these trades gave rise to the traditional nickname for Compostela residents, “picheleiros.” The name comes from “pichel,” which means “tin jug”, and suggests that working this metal for its use in barrels, churns and houseware was long established in the city, probably in this street called Calderería.