The Hospital of the Catholic Kings in Santiago de Compostela, has 500 years of existence, and has since been converted into a hotel, it is considered the oldest in all of Spain. In 1954 it became a National “Parador” with a privileged location, facing the Obradoiro Plaza and next to the great Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.
Its plateresque Gothic facade is one of the few examples of this architectural style that still exists in Galicia.
In order to understand how the Hospital of the Catholic Kings comes about we must go back to the ancient region of Aquitaine in France, where the Order of Cluny was born. This Order of Benedectine roots was created in the 10th century with the mission of reforming the monastic orders of France and Spain. As a result of their expansion, they begin to promote pilgrimages to Santiago de Compostela, earning the favor of the Christian kings. The Order of Cluny and the Catholic Monarchs, essential created what is known as the “French Way” to Santiago.
In those times, the amount of pilgrims multiplied and the journey’s intensified through the hard and difficult route to the tomb of the Apostle. Many pilgrims arrived in Santiago exhausted, weakened and ill as a result the long travel. To help and assist them with medical help, a small and humble hospital was founded in the vicinity of the temple in honor of Santiago.
Already in the fifteenth century, the devotion and fame of the pilgrimages on the Camino de Santiago grew so much that it aroused the interest of the Catholic Kings, who in 1488 undertook their own pilgrimage to Compostela. When they arrived, they noticed that the small pilgrim hospital was not in an adequate condition to offer the medical services required for the large number of sick and needy people who were at the doors of the Cathedral.
Moved, the Catholic Kings ordered the construction of a larger and more appropriate hospital. The new hospital would have gardens with medicinal plants and its own apothecary. In addition, being the Queen a great devotee of the Catholic faith, she ordered the construction of a Royal Chapel.
This is how the Hospital de los Catholic Kings in Santiago de Compostela was born in 1509, which in turn also served as a hostel for pilgrims.