Fonseca Palace in Santiago de Compostela

It was pouring with rain as we opened the curtains on our second day in the Santiago de Compostela. It wasn’t gentle English rain, but bucketloads of water running in rivers down the streets. Even a dash across the square resulted in wet shoes and trouser bottoms! It was going to be a challenge to stay reasonably dry and comfortable. Undaunted, we set off to see some of the many palaces in Santiago de Compostela.

Fonseca Palace

‘..Alonso III Fonseca (1475–1534) was a Galician archbishop and politician. He was archbishop of Santiago de Compostela from 1507, and archbishop of Toledo from 1523. The Archbishop was a major supporter of the University of Santiago de Compostela. He was the son of the archbishop Alonso II Fonseca and María de Ulloa..’. An extraordinary man, Fonseca was active, powerful, and erudite, a Patron of artists and in communication with Erasmus.

Fonseca Palace, one of two palaces in Santiago de Compostela
Alonso III Fonseca
Alonso III Fonseca
Alonso III Fonseca
Cloister garden in the Fonseca Palace, one of two palaces in Santiago de Compostela
Cloister garden in the Fonseca Palace

The University of Santiago de Compostela dates back to 1495 with the establishment of a school in Santiago. Permission for a University came in 1504 and by the mid-1550s the University was exploring fields of learning apart from those followed in the Monasteries. Fonseca, as Archbishop of Santiago, donated land for the Fonseca College. The College was the centre of university until the mid-18C, and today it houses the University Library.

Cloister of the Fonseca Palace
Cloister of the Fonseca Palace

Pazo de Raxoi

Archbishop Rajoy comissioned Lucas Ferro Caaveiro to design a building in the Plaza del Obradoiro in 1760. It was to be multi-purpose, housing the Local Council, the prison and the Confessors Seminary. Curiously it was a French engineer, Charles Lemaur, who began the work in 1767. Today this is the Town Hall.

Pazo de Raxoi
Pazo de Raxoi

College of St Xerome

The College of St Xerome opens on to Obradoira Square and is also attached to the Fonseca College. Today it houses some of the University offices. Originally Archbishop Fonseca created a University ‘hostel’ in 1521 on Azabacheria Square. Only the doorway was saved and today it is attached to the building of 1656, the College of St Xerome on Obradoira Square.

Romanesque doorway on the Pazo de Raxoi
Romanesque doorway on the Pazo de Raxoi

We had so little time in Santiago de Compostela! Two days is just not enough to see the palaces in Santiago de Compostela, let alone any of the other sites or open spaces. I think you could happily stay in the town for at least four to five days and soak in the atmosphere.

Further information

College of Fonseca
University of Santiago
Santiago de Compostelo
The Life and Acts of Don Alonzo Enriquez de Guzman
Pazo de Ulloa, Cambados