Holy Week ("Semana Santa")
In Santiago de Compostela - as in many other cities of Spain - the year's most important week for Christians is dominated by processions. The associations and brotherhoods ("cofradías, hermandades") organize the processions and their "nazarenos" with hoods of varying colors pass through the narrow alleys of Santiago's old town by day and night.
It's quite a spectacular event when the "tiraboleiros" swing the heavy censer through the transept of the cathedral of Saint James at a speed of approximately 65 km/h. Plenty of curious data can be found about age, material, size and weight of the Botafumeiro. You will find reliable information available here.
The Scallop Shell
Even though the scallop shell (Galician: vieira) cannot only be found in the city of Santiago it does appear frequently all over the Galician capital. It doesn't only show up in restaurants where its meat is prepared in various ways and not only as an emblem on the backpacks of pilgrims walking to and fro the cathedral. It's also used as a musical instrument and even as weather protection. ...more
Jewelry from jet ("azabache")
Jet is geological material of organic origin with a black velvet-like gloss which can be enhanced by polishing and remains permanently. It's because of this fact and because it's easily shaped that already the Romans produced ornaments and amulets from jet. Traditionally, the vendors of jet ("azabache") were located outside the northern gate of the cathedral on a square to which they gave the name, "Azabachería".
Tarta de Santiago
The Saint-James-Cake is the star of the desserts of Santiago de Compostela. Its most important ingredient is the ground almond to which the various producers add sugar, eggs or margarine, flour, lemon and further substances according to their own taste. The cakes surface is covered by powdered sugar leaving only a part in the shape of the cross of Saint James uncovered. The Tarta de Santiago is offered in nearly all restaurants and shops in the old part of Santiago.
Tree of Sciences
Who walks along the Calle Franco / Rúa do Franco towards the cathedral will pass by the Colegio de Fonseca on the left and reach the Instituto Padre Sarmiento de Estudios Galegos (just before entering the Obradoiro square). In the institute's facade, right next to its entrance, there's a display with the "arbol scientiae", the tree of sciences. It was traditionally used by the youth to solve the question of what to study at university. To figure out the appropriate subject one has to face away from the tree and grab a branch reaching back over one's shoulder.