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Santiago de Compostela and Galicia…

Santiago de Compostela is the capital of the autonomous community of Galicia and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the northwest of Spain in the Province of A Coruña, it was the "European City of Culture" for the year 2000. The city's Cathedral is the destination today, as it has been throughout history, of the important 9th century medieval pilgrimage route, the Way of St. James (Galician: Camiño de Santiago, Spanish: Camino de Santiago).

Nevertheless, Santiago is a small city with only 92, 000 inhabitants (250, 000 people within the metropolitan area). The population of Galicia is about 2, 800, 000 people (5th Spanish region).

Santiago de Compostela is located near the very heart of Galicia, the Spain’s northern- and westernmost region, with Portugal at the south, the Atlantic Ocean at the west and the Cantabrian Sea at the north.

Our region is part of the “Green Spain” (with Asturias, Cantabria, and Basque Country). It’s rich in forests, rivers (is called “the land of the thousand rivers), wild nature spaces and its coast has 1,000 km of length.

Its landscape composed of green hills, cliffs and rias (fiord-like indentations on the coast) is very different from what is commonly understood as Spanish landscape.

Up to one hundred beaches recognized as in excellent conditions for bathing with the “Blue Flag” (1st region in Europe) are waiting for you!

Let’s discover a different and legendary land!

Galicia…”terra meiga”…(Witch land)

More information:


The humid oceanic climate guarantees mild temperatures throughout the year. The annual mean temperature is around 15ºC, with an average of 8ºC in winter and a pleasant summer with temperatures ranging from 20 to 27ºC. Most of the rain falls in winter, with variable amounts in spring and autumn.

The prevailing wind from the Atlantic and the surrounding mountains combine to give Santiago some of Europe's highest rainfall: about 1,900 mm (75 inches) annually.

Brief History

Origins Until the 9th century, the city of Santiago did not exist as such. However, archaeological excavations have shown that the present-day location of the old town was the site, in antiquity, of a Roman town that acquired certain importance and remained until the 7th century, forming part of the Swabian kingdom during some time. In the 1st century, alongside the walled enclosure of the Roman “civitas”, a pagan mausoleum was erected that subsequently gave rise to the cathedral. It has been demonstrated that, in that same century, three Christian martyrs were buried in the mausoleum, which became an established centre of worship, as shown by the nearby Christian cemetery that was used until the 7th century.

The City´s foundation During the early 9th century (the year 813 is the most probable), the bishop of Iria Flavia, Teodomiro, was taken by a hermit called Pelagio to examine the mausoleum, which he recognised as that of the Apostle James; he based his opinion on the oral tradition according to which St. James had preached in Spain’s “finis terrae”, thereafter being martyred on returning to Palestine. His disciples Atanasio and Teodoro brought his decapitated body back; according to legend, they disembarked in Iria Flavia, 20 km away, and took it to Monte Libredón, where they buried it in a stone chest.

The Asturian king Alfonso II travelled from Oviedo with all of his court and recognised the existence of the Apostle James’ tomb. At that very moment, he made James the patron saint of his kingdom, turning the place into a centre of worship capable of uniting Western Christendom against the Moors’ expansion. The city’s foundation dates from the year 830. Santiago’s first church was also built –a simple construction housing the mausoleum from Roman times.

Where is the hosting and boarding?

Usually in summer time the hosting is in the University students’ residence. Depending on the month, the hosting may be in students’ flats located, almost always, in the Santiago’s new area.

“Residencia Universitaria Burgo das Nacions”

Campus Norte

Avenida Burgo das Nacions s/n

Santiago de Compostela

The residence is 45 minutes walking from the Hospital. You can take a bus to get there in 15 minutes.

The City Centre is 15-20 minutes walking from the hospital.

Accommodation details:

  • A single room with bathroom.
  • Clean service twice a week.
  • Toilet paper.
  • Bed sheets.
  • WIFI connection.
  • Computer Lab.
  • Gym.
  • Laundry room.
  • Kitchens.
  • Bicycles (in summer time we can lend you a bike with a deposit of 20€).
  • There are 3 supermarkets close the student residence. (DIA, the cheapest one, Gadis and Arbol).

Hosting conditions:

  • No couples and relatives.
  • No pets.
  • You have to get since the 1st of the month and you have to leave the room until last day of the month before the 12pm (afternoon).

Boarding: Breakfast and lunch will be provided at the hospital cafeteria (5th floor) from Monday to Friday.

About the Hospital and the Health System

“Hospital Clínico Univesitario de Santiago de Compostela (CHUS)” at Rua da Choupana.

The hospital is 20 minutes from the city centre and 45 minutes from the Residence by walk.

You can take the bus line C4 to get there from the bus stop behind the residence. The bus line C2 take you back to the residence from the hospital.

The hospital was built 10 years ago, has about 1,700 beds and is part of a Hospital Complex composed by 3 hospitals (Hospital Clínico, Hospital Gil Casares and Hospital Provincial de Conxo). There are every Medical and Surgical departments where are remarkable departments as Cardiology, Pathological Anatomy, Gastroenterology, Endocrinology, Internal Medicine…

Hospital conditions:

  • You have to wear white coat or scrub and comfortable shoes. The stethoscope is obligatory in several medical departments. (You have to bring your own coat, scrub and stethoscope).
  • The timetable depends on the Department. The usually timetable is in the morning since 8am until 3pm.
  • You have to do medical practices from Monday to Friday.
  • You can not miss more than 4 days per month of practices.
  • If you want a locker in the Hospital, please bring a padlock.

About our Health Care System

In Galicia, as in the rest of Spain, the most important Health Care System is the Public one that is financed by the Government with public funds. It covers every costs of diagnosis, hospital stays, treatments (a percentage of the drugs)… It is a universal access system. Everybody from Spain and Europe (countries with the European Health Card) has free access to this Health service.

It also exist Private Health Services covered by several private insurances companies. For example, in Santiago there are two private Hospitals: “La Rosaleda” and “Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza” and a lot of private Physicians clinics and offices.

About our Medical Education and School

Our faculty was created in the XVI century. It was one of the first universities in the Iberian Peninsula and is one of the most important and ancient Faculty of the Universidade de Santiago de Compostela.

We have 6 years of Medical studies and after the national exam “MIR” we start the specialization. Our academic year is from October to June.

Within the different departments, are specially remarkable, because of their important research works and publications, the departments of Physiology, Forensics and Genetics, Biochemistry, Pathological Anatomy and Pharmacology.

Concerning the Bologna Plan of the European Space of Superior Education, our Faculty is now in process of adaptation. The new Medical Studies Plan is expected to be implemented in the next academic year 2009-2010.

MEIGA is the local committee of IFMSA-SPAIN in Santiago de Compostela. The office is in the second floor of the medical school (near Obradoiro´s square). Address: Rua San francisco s/n.

How to get to Santiago de Compostela?

By Plane:

Airport of Santiago de Compostela Location: Lavacolla Distance: 10 KM (15 min. by car) Tel:(+34) 981 54 75 00 / (+34) 981 54 75 01 AENA

Airlines operating out of Lavacolla Airport

There are another 2 airports: A Coruña and Vigo where operates: Iberia, Spanair, Air Europa and Clickair.

Airport Bus service

Airport Taxis Approximate price Airport-City: 17€

Airport Taxi Stand: (+34) 981 591 575

Radio-Taxi: 981 56 92 92

Vehicle hire

  • Atesa

Tel:(+34) 981 599 877

  • Europcar

Tel:(+34) 981 547 740

  • Avis

Tel:(+34) 981 547 831 / (+34) 981 547 830

  • Hertz

Tel:(+34) 981 598 893

By Bus: Santiago de Compostela Bus station Location: San Caetano Tel:981 54 24 16 Bus station

  • Enatcar Internacional (Intercar/Alsa + Dainco)

Connections with Madrid, Gijón, Bilbao, Irún, Zamora, Salamanca, Cáceres, Seville, Algeciras, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, France and Switzerland. ALSA

  • Socitransa

Connections with Belgium, Germany, France, Holland, Switzerland, Romania and Portugal. Socitransa

By Train: Santiago de Compostela Train Station Location: C/ HÓRREO, S/N Tel:902 24 02 02 / 981 59 18 59 RENFE

Routes Long-distance: Direct daily trains link up with Madrid (TALGO and Expreso), and one with Bilbao and Hendaya. Changing train once, there is a daily service to Barcelona, Hendaya and Paris, as well as nearly all of Spain’s main cities. Regional: Every hour there are trains to Galicia’s main destinations (A Coruña, Vilagarcía de Arousa, Pontevedra and Vigo) with connections to Portugal. There is also a direct train to Ourense several times a day.

By Car: Access by road

Atlantic Motorway AP-9: links Santiago de Compostela with A Coruña, Ferrol, Pontevedra, Vigo, Tui and Portuguese border.

Northwest Dual Carriageway A-6: links Galicia with the rest of Spain via Lugo province (links up with Santiago via the AP-9 near A Coruña).

Rías Baixas Dual Carriageway A-52: links Galicia with the rest of Spain via Ourense province (links up with Santiago via the AP-9 in Vigo or by means of the N-525 road in Ourense).

AP-53 Motorway: currently links Santiago with Lalín, connecting with the N-525 road to Ourense and Madrid.

N-634 Road: links Galicia with France via the Cantabrian coast (links up with Santiago via the Northwest Dual Carriageway A-6).

Urban Transport

The most commonly used way of transport by the students in Santiago is walking as it’s a small city. But if you prefer, you can take the Public Bus or a Taxi:

  • There are 4 bus lines (C2, C4, 5, 15) from the bus stops that are very close the Residence.

The price for one Bus ticket is 0.90€ but if you get the Bus Card (only paying a deposit of 3€ for the card) the tickets will cost you 0.55€ (we recommend you this option).

The timetable and the Bus Card are available at the buses or at the Bus Station (City buses).

  • Taxi is not very cheap.There are several taxi stops, near the residence, by the Faculty, by the Hospital… The price starts about 2€ (from 8am to 23 pm) and a ride of 5 km may cost you 7-8€.
  • The other new option is Bicycle cause in summer time we can lend you a University bike with a deposit of 20€. It’s a really good option offered since the last year.

Cultural aspects

Galician people are part of those who say that Spain is more than the spanish south and the Mediterranean coast, highly known around the world. Our country, Galicia (also Galiza), was an ancient Kingdom before the creation of the Spanish state, and was one of the Iberian territories not invaded by the Moors.

We have an own roman language, Galego (Galician) that is the brother of the Portuguese cause they were born as a unique language, the Galego-Portuguese. Our language is understood and spoken by about 2, 500, 000 people from Galicia, Asturias and Leon.

A typical prejudice about the Galician people is that we are distrustful, but the truth is that if you keep contact with us you’ll realise that Os Galegos (Galician people) are usually friendly people; you will feel our hospitality and our kindness, and if you get a Galician friend you will have a friend for the rest of your life!

Greetings We usually greet people giving two kisses or shaking the hands.

Some useful and short sentences are:



Bos días!-¡Buenos días!-Good Morning!

Boas noites!-¡Buenas noches!-Good evening!

Qué hora é?-¿Qué hora es?-What time is it?

É un pracer coñecerte-Encantado de conocerte-Nice to meet you

Adeus, ata logo!-Adiós, hasta luego!-Bye, see you later!

Gastronomy Compostela's gastronomy has become another highlight of the visit of those who appreciate good food and generous portions.

The most famous Galician dishes are:

  • Empanada (is a meat or fish pie. It has Celtic influence).
  • Caldo Galego (a hearty soup whose main ingredients are potatoes and a local vegetable named grelo (Broccoli rabe)).
  • Lacón con Grelos (pork shoulder boiled with grelos).
  • Pulpo á feira (Octopus boiled with olive oil, salt and spanish pepper).
  • A lot of different kinds of Seafood (Centolla- king Crab, Percebes-Goose barnacles…).
  • Several regional varieties of cheese (Arzúa-Ulloa, San Simón, Vilalba…).
  • Different remarkable types of white and red wine: Albariño, Ribeiro, Valdeorras…

Meals The important meals are: breakfast (7-10am), lunch (13.30-15.30 pm), and dinner (20.30-22.30pm). But sometimes people have another 2 little meals: in the morning as a “second breakfast” (11-12h) and the “merienda” in the afternoon (18-19pm).

Smoking It’s forbidden in public buildings except in the restaurants, bars and clubs with license.

Tourism and entertainment activities

Tourist places in Santiago

  • The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
  • “Praza do Obradoiro” (Obradoiro’s square).
  • “Casco Vello” or “Zona Vella” (Santiago’s old town UNESCO World Heritage Site)
  • There are a lot of parks. (Alameda, Bonaval, Belvis, Área Central, Auditorio de Galicia, Monte Pedroso...)
  • There are a lot of churches. (san Francisco, Salome, San Fernando, San Martin Pinario...).
  • Campus Norte, Campus Monumental and Campus Sur.
  • There are a lot of museums:
 -Museo do Pobo Galego (Galician People    Museum)
 -Centro Galego de Arte Contemporáneo (Contemporary Art Museum)
 -Galicia Dixital (interactive museum about Galicia)
 -Natural History Museum

Travelling Staying in Santiago you have a lot of options for travelling around our region. You can visit the big cities of Galicia: A Coruña, Vigo, Ourense, Pontevedra, and Lugo. The best ways of transport for these are:

Train From Santiago to:

  • A Coruña-5, 25€
  • Vigo-8€
  • Pontevedra-5, 25€
  • Ourense-6€

(20% discount with the <26 Euro Card)

Bus There are bus connections to different cities and villages of Galicia every day and the prices are from 4€ to 12€. If you like beach, the nearest one is in the village of Noia, 30 minutes by bus from Santiago.

Some possible trips are:

  • A Costa da Morte (Death’s coast), the wildest and one of the most beautiful coasts of Galicia. Here you will find a lot of Nautical Sports, incredible gastronomy, awesome beaches…
  • Islas Cies (Cies Islands), a National Park in front of the Vigo´s coast where you will enjoy “the best beach in the world” (according to a recent british classification). We organise this trip every summer.
  • Northern Portugal. You can visit Porto, Braga, Valença do Minho, etc.

There are buses from Santiago and trains from Vigo for these destinations.

Some Interesting public holidays

  • Easter
  • Ascensión´s Week in May. It’s the other great local party.
  • 25th July- Galicia´s Day (Apostle Santiago’s Day). Thousands of people come to Santiago this day! Magic summer night…

Some Interesting traditional Parties/Festivals

  • Festival Folk de Ortigueira (Lugo) - 1st week of July. One of the most important folk festivals in Europe!
  • Noroeste Pop-Rock. Several pop and rock concerts in different Galician cities and villages during the summer.
  • Romaría Vikinga (Viking Invasion) in Catoira (Pontevedra) 1st Sunday of August.
  • Festa da Arribada (Columbus´ arrival commemoration) in Baiona (Pontevedra).
  • Festa da Auga (Water Party) in Vilagarcía de Arousa.
  • And hundreds of Concerts and Gastronomic Parties!!!

Security Advices

Santiago usually is a very safe city but as every city has its dangers.

You must be aware of the pickpockets at the tourist sites but the thefts are not common.

At night, the best is going out in groups of people, although the old and new centres are really safe.

Don’t forget!

Remember! Bring your Euro<26 Card or your ISIC (International Student Identification Card) because you’ll get important discounts in cinemas, museums, transports…

Almost every museum has free access or has a student discount.

If you have the International Hostelling Card bring it with you. It’s possible you need it for the lodging in some trips.

Useful phone numbers

  • Emergency Number: 112
  • Local Police: 092
  • National Police: 091
  • Ambulance: 061
  • Fire Department: 080


Aarón Barreiro Mallo (Local Exchange Officer)

Cassia Cristine da Silva (Local Officer on Research)

Lara González Gómez (Summer Exchanges Coordinator)

Last update of data: august of 2010