Hostal dos Reis Católicos

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Hostal dos Reis Católicos
The Plateresque front facade dates to the 16th century.
ProvinceA Coruña
LocationPraza do Obradoiro 1; 15705 Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Galicia, Spain

The Hostal dos Reis Católicos (in Galician), also called the Hostal de Los Reyes Católicos (in Spanish) or Parador de Santiago, is a 5-star Parador hotel, located in the Praza do Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia, Spain. The hotel was constructed as a religious work in 1486, by Ferdinand and Isabel, the Catholic Monarchs. It is widely considered the oldest continuously operating hotel in the world, and has also been called the "most beautiful hotel in Europe".[1]

Pilgrimage trail[edit]

The Hostal dos Reis Católicos sits at the very end of the famous pilgrimage trail, the Way of St. James, next to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral.

Ferdinand and Isabel

Pilgrims from all over Europe, throughout the Middle Ages, both rich and poor, followed the Way of St. James, and arrived in Santiago de Compostela. In the late 15th century Ferdinand and Isabel themselves completed the pilgrimage across northern Spain.[2] As a sign of their religious piety, and their growing economic and political might, they began a program to improve the infrastructure and support services on the pilgrimage trail in Spain. They built new hostels, bridges, churches, and public wells.[3]

The most improvement project by Isabel and Ferdinand was the Hostal, right next to the great cathedral at the very end of the pilgrimage trail. The Hostal de los Reyes Católicos served as a hospice and a hospital, where pilgrims could recover and rejuvenate after completing the pilgrimage.[4] The Hostal had a multilingual staff of doctors, nurses, and priests on call 24 hours a day; and provided all services free of charge. Pilgrims were allowed to recover at the Hostal for 3 days in the summer, and 5 days in the winter.[5]

As of 2014 the hotel continued to provide free services to a limited number of pilgrims.


The words hotel, hostel and hospital share the same root, based on the Latin hospes meaning guest.[6] Nowadays, the concepts are clearly differentiated, but at the time this building started operation the idea of a hostel included sleep, food, as well as care for wounded feet and other ailments deriving from long distance walking. There was little distinction between lodging and medical care as hostels were guided by the general concept of hospitality.


Construction of the building took over 10 years. Masons, engineers, and sculptors from all over Europe were called upon to work on the project.[7] The project was overseen by the architect Enrique Egas, and has a Plateresque facade.[8] In 1526, King Carlos V completed work on the Plaza Obradoiro, creating a large open plaza joining the Hostal and great Cathedral.[9]

The hotel was constructed with four colonnaded and interconnected courtyards within its walls. Two of these piazzas date from the eighteen hundreds, but the two earlier squares are from the sixteenth century and feature water fountains at their hearts. The later courtyards are of a baroque design and were constructed during an extensive re-modelling and renovation.


Front View of the Hostal dos Reis Católicos

Since the Hostal was essentially a large state-run hospital, it attracted many doctors and scholars. The Hostal began serving the medical needs of the city of Santiago de Compostela.[10] One of the oldest medical schools in Spain sprang up nearby, and it helped establish the tradition of the city as center for university learning and higher education.[11]

During the 20th century, the caudillo Francisco Franco stayed at the Hostal. It was Franco's decision, in 1954, to include it in the Spanish Parador hotel system, and to renovate the Hostal into a world class modern hotel.[12]

Modern hotel[edit]

Today, the Hostal dos Reis Católicos is widely considered one of the finest hotels in the world.[citation needed]

The restaurant operated in the Hostal, Libredon, is regarded as one of the finest in Spain. The restaurant primarily serves seafood.[citation needed] It features two rows of wooden tables lining a stone medieval chamber.[13] This chamber was originally the morgue for the 15th-century hospital.[14]


  1. ^ Morris, Jan; Spain, p. 60
  2. ^ Wiley, John, "Galicia, Spain: Frommer's Shortcuts", 2011, p. 137
  3. ^ Wiley, John, p. 137
  4. ^ Gitlitz, David, "The Pilgrimage Road", Macmillan, 2000, p. 361
  5. ^ Gitlitz, David, p. 362
  6. ^ C. Lewis, Elementary Latin Dictionary (Oxford Univ. Press, 2000), p. 371.
  7. ^ Bourdillion, Alan, "Guidebook of Santiago de Campostela", Netbiblio, 2004, pp. 38-39
  8. ^ Bourdillion, Alan, p. 38
  9. ^ Gitlitz, David, p. 361
  10. ^ Bourdillion, Alan, p. 40
  11. ^ Bourdillion, Alan, p. 40
  12. ^ Wiley, John, p. 137
  13. ^ Lipscomb, Kelly, Spain, Hunter Publishing, 2005, p. 565
  14. ^ Bourdillion, Alan, p. 40

See also[edit]

Related articles[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°52′53″N 8°32′45″W / 42.8814°N 8.5458°W / 42.8814; -8.5458