The Reyes Catolicos built a hostel for pilgrims in 1499 and today this is the Parador in Santiago de Compostela. The Catholic Kings, Isabella I of Castile and Ferdinand II of Aragon, commissioned the Hostal de los Reyes Catolicos to house pilgrims from all over Europe who had completed the camino. Santiago remains the destination of the Mediaeval Pilgrim Routes across Europe, an increasingly popular undertaking by people of all ages and all nationalities.
Exterior of the Parador in Santiago de Compostela
This wonderful building is on the Praza de Obradoiro, alongside the Cathedral. The busts of Ferdinand III and Isabella I are above the entrance to the hotel, on a wonderfully carved doorway.
The pilgrims’ hostel
The Hospital of 1499 was planned in the shape of a Latin cross with two cloisters. Male pilgrims were accommodated on the left, with a refectory, kitchen, and apothecary. Female pilgrims had similar quarters on the right side of the building where there was also a prison and an orphanage. The hospital wards were on the floor above, as were quarters for the administrators. Pilgrims were allowed to recover for 3 days in the summer and 5 days in the winter. Essentially this was a state-run hospital, the equivalent of the NHS today.
Patios in the 15C building
The Patio San Marcos is on the left side of the 15C building and this was the part of the building reserved for the male pilgrims.
The Patio of San Juan is on the right side of the building and was part of the quarters for female pilgrims, and part of the 15C building.
Patios added to the original building
The Patio San Lucas and the adjacent Patio San Mateo date from the 1800s.
Chapel in the Parador in Santiago de Compostela
The Chapel is part of the original pilgrims’ hostel. It is unlit and so these photographs are just small taste of appearance of the building.
There are engravings of the cross in various places in the buildings, which is what you would expect in a place of pilgrimage.
Parador in Santiago de Compostela at night
Staying in the Hostal is a wonderful experience, and it is a privilege to see the Cloisters in the dark.
There are many other wonderful rooms, chapels, corridors and sights in the Parador in Santiago de Compostelo. I do not have many good photographs. Instead, I have wonderful memories of this hotel to which I could happily return in the future. [Re-edit of article posted in November 2014]