Santiago de Compostela was named European Capital of Culture in 2000, which should come as no surprise to anyone who has visited this city dedicated to Saint James (Sant Iago), one of the apostles and patron saint of not only Galicia but also all of Spain.

As the capital and seat of the Parliament for the autonomous region of Galicia, Santiago de Compostela lies at the heart of Galician culture. A nation in the northwestern corner of Spain, Galicia has never fully identified with the dominant Castilian/Spanish culture imposed by Spanish monarchs/dictators over the several centuries of rule. The people here have their own language, Galician, or Galego/galego, which is very similar to Portuguese. Most Galicians, however, are bilingual in Galician and Spanish (Spanish, the official language Spain), though you may have to look a bit harder for a local conversant in English, as this area of Spain has traditionally lagged behind in terms of tourism and economic development.

Galician music, which extends somewhat to the neighboring regions of Cantabria and Asturias, is very unique. It is believed to have Celtic roots, which can be seen in the fact that bagpipe music, not flamenco, is the traditional entertainment of choice in Santiago. Typical instruments also include a type of flute known as requinto , ocarina, clarinet, accordion, tambourine and fiddle, though modern artists have started using the guitar and mandolin as well.