Having arrived in Compostela, pilgrims have to perform certain rituals: to collect the Compostela, to attend the Pilgrim’s Mass... But where should you go if you want peace and quiet? Where can you sleep under a tree? Where can you chat and say goodbye to your fellow travellers? Where, finally, can you set your feet free from their inseparable boots?
Historical parks and gardens: The Alameda
The Alameda is undoubtedly the oldest and most emblematic of the city parks. The current space is divided into three areas -the Oakwood of Santa Susana and the walks and gardens of the Alameda and the Herradura- all of them the result of numerous projects and reforms that were developed over centuries.
The origin of the park can be found in a donation to the municipality by the Count of Altamira in 1546, but the first plans to organize a leisure area were made by Lopez Freire in 1786.
The first area, known as the Alameda, is a garden area which follows the distribution in three spaces typical of the nineteenth century. However, this space has changed over the years and been adapted to the new possibilities offered by modern landscaping. It has a bandstand and a central walkway with beautiful old specimens of camellias, lime and plane trees.
The walk of the Herradura (horseshoe) is a kind of belt around the old Oakwood of Santa Susana. There two side paths oval or horseshoe shaped, both are composed of several sections, the most famous is the “Paseo de los Leones” (Lions walk) which runs between old oaks parallel to the Rúa do Pombal, with beautiful views over the cathedral and monumental town, completed with benches, sight viewpoints and a bronze sculpture of the Galician writer Ramon Maria del Valle Inclán. The outermost path bordering the university campus, which can be reached by a beautiful stone staircase, and in this walk a large variety of plant species are concentrated, huge magnolias and Canary Island palms, examples of less common species such as Normandy fir or the Eucalyptus globulus, also there is a popular monumental sculpture dedicated to Rosalia de Castro.
The Oakwood of Santa Susana has barely changed since the eighteenth century. It is still a large oak forest featuring only these noble old trees. Its name comes from the medieval church dedicated to Saint Susanna and set amidst the trees.
In addition to the church of Santa Susana, there are other buildings built in the park, including the church of El Pilar and a beautiful art nouveau building dating from the 1909 Galician Regional Exhibition Pavilion which is currently an infant school.