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The Galician city of Santiago de Compostela is a great place for shopping, especially in the Old Town, where you’ll find lots of souvenir stores. Being the end point of the Camino de Santiago, many of the souvenirs are associated with the Camino, while others are mementos of Galicia’s delicious food products. Here are some of the most typical souvenirs you can buy here.
The scallop shell is the symbol of the Camino de Santiago, so you’ll find them everywhere in Santiago de Compostela. It became the symbol of the pilgrimage route because originally people used to walk all the way past Santiago de Compostela, to reach the ocean. Once they had found a shell, this would be proof that they’d completed their journey. You’ll find scallop shells on everything from t-shirts and bags to scallop shell jewellery, and of course real shells. Nowadays many pilgrims tie them to their rucksacks to show that they’re walking the route.
You’ll see hiking sticks for sale all the way along the Camino de Santiago to aid pilgrims on their journeys. While nowadays there are more modern metal or fibreglass poles, the original old wooden ones are still sold as souvenirs. Carved from a single branch, they often have a scallop shell featuring the cross of Santiago Apóstol (Saint James) and a gourd tied to them.
In the old days pilgrims used to use dried, hollowed-out gourds (similar to squashes or pumpkins) in which to carry their drinking water. Today, most people use plastic bottles or metal flasks to store their drinks, however the gourd remains a symbol of the Camino and is sold in many souvenir stores. It is often also painted with the cross of Saint James.
Orujo liquor, also known as aguardiente, is one of Galicia’s most traditional drinks. Distilled from grape skins, it comes in different forms such as orujo cream or coffee-flavoured orujo. It can be found in almost all of the souvenir shops in the city, as well as the local supermarkets.
Galicia’s most famous and much-loved dessert is the tarta de Santiago, a soft sponge cake made from ground almonds and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Actually one of Spain’s most delicious desserts, you won’t be able to resist buying one to take back for your family and friends.
The region of Galicia sells delicious artisanal products, particularly cheeses, and what could be a better reminder of your holiday than a taste of it back home? One of the best and most popular cheeses in the region is Tetilla, a tear-drop-shaped cheese, which is smooth and creamy. It tastes great on its own, in a sandwich or melted onto pasta or pizza.
The Botafumeiro is the famous censer in the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, which disperses incense into the crowds. The original weighs 53 kg (117 lbs) and measures 1.5 m (4.9 feet), making it the biggest in the country. As this one is obviously too heavy for your suitcase, why not buy one in miniature instead? Tourist shops in the Santiago sell mini Botafumeiros as souvenirs in the form of keychains, necklaces, earrings or even magnets. Go to mass at the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral to experience the Botafumeiro for yourself, then buy a mini one to remind you of the experience.