Santiago de Compostela For Kids
01 October, 2015
As ever more families reach the city of the Apostle, James the Elder, we decided to create a post on discovering and enjoying the city in the company of children. Listed as a World Heritage site, Santiago de Compostela is small and picturesque, like a fairy-tale city. It is also quiet, safe and very pleasant to stroll through. Here are some recommendations for getting the most out of it.
Time Travel in the Inner City
The good thing about Santiago’s old town is that much of it is a pedestrian precinct. This is a boon for parents as they don’t need to have their surveillance system switched on all the time. The old quarter is quaint enough to spawn a thousand and one stories. It is criss-crossed by endless narrow backstreets, little houses and arcades and the large, old paving stones are great for playing a variety of hopscotch. The peaceful squares have loads of space to play in and there are numerous open-air café terraces. The Cathedral, the old street names and the gargoyles provide endless props to play around with.
Once immersed in the maze of streets, one useful strategy is to visit the Cathedral. This millennial building is adorned with a host of sculptures prompting as many stories, starting with that of James the Apostle, which dates back to the time of Christ’s death. That’s just one of many there! We recommend a guided tour of the stone roofing via the entrance at the Pazo de Xelmírez, Praza do Obradoiro. There you will discover stunning panoramic views of the city and its environs.
Now that gastro-contests are all the rage on television, you won’t have any trouble persuading the little ones to gain first-hand knowledge of the ingredients used in dishes throughout the Compostela area. The best way to approach this is to visit the Mercado de Abastos, open every morning except Sundays and public holidays. The market was built in 1941, although the city’s previous market had been operating for 300 years. The building is important in that it was the first time any of the various, widely scattered, markets in Compostela was roofed.
For Children, the Park is a Must
Parks are an essential resource when you’re visiting with children. It’s edifying for them get a feel for the world of culture in the form of visits to museums, cathedrals or other urban landmarks but, for them, travelling is basically entertainment and where better to have a good time than in the park? Santiago has quite a few to choose from where kids can play and enjoy nature without leaving the city. Many of them boast playgrounds with swings, sandboxes and sports areas. There is the Parque de la Alameda, the favourite among locals, which is very central. It is also ideal for relaxing while the children play. It has a pond with ducks accustomed to being admired, an interesting pigeon loft, an elegant bandstand and an unusual “sound bench” – a large, semicircular stone seat which conveys sound very clearly – among other things. The area adjoining the Campus Universitario Sur (Southern University Campus) is also a well equipped playground, while the campus itself is great for short bicycle or tricycle rides, skating or doing other sport. It has a meadow with a lot of shade and a variety of trees – white cedar, camellias, magnolias, pine, cedar, juniper, gingkos… Our favourite, however, is the Parque de San Domingos de Bonaval, on the grounds of the former Convent of San Domingos. This is a monumental, mysterious and highly alluring park offering an array of possibilities – an oak wood, a small garden, large lawns and even a desacralised cemetery. It is ideal for lying around, running about, picnicking and even taking panoramic photos, as it faces the historic town and the point where the sun sets.
Santiago de Compostela clearly offers everything a holidaying family could want. Come and discover it! Check out our flights here.
Text and images by Santiago de Compostela Turismo
01 October, 2015