Catedral de Santiago (St. James' Cathedral), Bilbao

4.0
#3 of 13 in Historic Sites in Bilbao
Catedral de Santiago (St. James' Cathedral) is the final destination of pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago, an ancient route that, during the Middle Ages, was believed to allow the faithful to halve their time in purgatory. Pilgrims still hike for weeks to reach this Cathedral, which legend tells it houses the tomb of St. James, known as Santiago in Spanish. He is thought to be responsible for spreading Christianity throughout the Iberian Peninsula. After his beheading in Jerusalem, his remains purportedly were carried to Galicia on a stone boat. The first church was constructed on the site of his tomb in the ninth century, after the hermit Pelayo saw unexplained lights in the night sky. The Romanesque church that stands there now dates back to 1075. Stop by the Visitor Center and pick up an audio guide, or just download it on your phone. Gazing up at the lofty apses and intricate stained glass, and soak up the atmosphere and history of this mystical site. Before you visit Bilbao, use our trip planner to discover what you can do and see there.
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Catedral de Santiago (St. James' Cathedral) Reviews
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  • My wife and I saw this beautiful Gothic church and enjoyed all the details of the church. We also went to the cloister and saw the little garden there. It is a bit overgrown and the plants need trimmi...  more »
  • Well worth a visit. The small entrance fee grants you access to this building and San Anton Church. You get an audio guide when you first go in, which is interesting and insightful. You get the full h...  more »
  • The Cathedral is very beautiful inside and out. The audio guide of laziness, the explanations are very long and not very interesting
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  • This church was not originally built to be a cathedral, and so retains some of the local parish essence. It is right in the middle of the old town, and the facade is not too ornate. There is a neat "porch" off to the side, where you can visualize towns people meeting and greeting. The interior is gothic, yet not too ornate. you do derive sense of quiet and calm
  • Belleza admirable. Beautiful place to visit and guided tours. Belle église!
  • Very beautiful cathedral!
  • Rather simple cathedral for such a town.
  • Such a beautiful monument. Definitely worth seeing.

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Where to stay in Bilbao

Thanks to the Bilbao's safe and newly renovated metro system, all neighborhoods are any easy commute regardless of the city's characteristic rainy weather. The Casco Antiguo, or old quarter, is undoubtedly the heart of the city's and best place for trying the famous "pintxos" or small appetizers. Small boutique hotels and family-owned pensions provide affordable and convenient accommodation for those wishing to get to know this picturesque district. If you prefer a more tranquil experience away from the lively bar culture characteristic of the old quarter you might wish to stay in one of the many hotels that line the beautiful Nervión River leading down from the historical district to the Guggenheim museum.
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