Visiting the Heritage Cities is a great choice for those interested in religious tourism. For example, Santiago de Compostela is the final destination on the pilgrims’ route the Way of Saint James. Toledo is known as the city of three cultures and is home of monuments such as the cathedral and Mozarabic churches. It also celebrates Corpus Christi in June. Another important religious celebration is Easter week in Cuenca. In turn, you can visit the birthplace of Saint Teresa of Jesus in Ávila, its first foundation and the Encarnación convent. In Segovia discover the San Juan de la Cruz Convent.
Alcalá de Henares The city of Alcalá de Henares, former Roman Complutum, has been a great centre for pilgrimage and worship to two martyrs, the schoolboy Saints Justus and Pastor. There are also other saints from the students of Alcalá Univeristy including Saint Tomás of Villanueva, Saint Joseph of Calasanz and Saint Ignatius of Loyola. In fact, the traces of these and other saints who stopped in the city such as Saint John of the Cross and Saint Teresa of Jesus can be seen in different buildings including the nine cloistered convents. In addition to this extraordinary historical, artistic and cultural heritage linked to religion, Easter Week is exceptional. Ávila Ávila is the city of Saint Teresa of Jesus. Her lifetime coincided with the ‘Golden Age’ of Ávila and this is seen in the restyling of its churches. In addition, some of most notable chapters of Hebrew, Muslim and Christian mysticism were written in the city, by authors such as Teresa de Cepeda y Ahumada, Juan de la Cruz and Nissim Ben Abraham. To uncover their influences in the city, head to Santa Teresa and San José convents, La Encarnación Monastery, San Juan Church and the Visitor Centre for Mysticism. Cuenca Piety is alive in Cuenca, especially in its two most important celebrations: Easter Week and Religious Music Week, declared of International Tourist Interest. The first dates back to the 17th century and transforms the city’s streets into an unusual stage where beautiful procession images pass through. The highlight is the Camino del Calvario Procession, known as ‘Las Turbas’ (the mob). In turn, the Religious Music Week is the fourth oldest festival in Spain and orchestras, choirs and voices from around the world come to take part and perform Sacred music pieces. Santiago de Compostela Tradition states that the apostle Saint James travelled to Galicia, the end of the known world, to spread Christianity. He was executed and his burial was forbidden in the year 44 AD. His disciples buried him in Galicia and his tomb was forgotten until the year 813 when a shining light indicated where he was. A shrine was built there and this later became the monumental Cathedral of Santiago. This is the origin of the Way of Saint James and the final stop is Santiago de Compostela, a Holy City since the 12th century. Since then, it is a permanent pilgrimage spot for thousands of believers and, every year when the Apostle’s day, 25th July, falls on a Sunday, the St. James Holy Year is celebrated. Segovia The traces of the three great monotheistic religions survive in Segovia and it is easy to follow the steps of several Christian saints: Saint Domingo de Guzmán, Saint Vincent Ferrer, Saint John of the Cross, Saint Teresa of Jesus, Saint Alphonsus Rodríguez and others. The stamp of Judaism is represented by the Corpus Synagogue, the former Main Synagogue, and there are vestiges of that of Los Ibáñez, although the existence of five more is documented. The Arabic influence is clear in the layout, gardens and irrigation channels, as well as the marvellous wooden structures and Mudejar coffered ceilings in the city. Toledo Toledo is known as the city of three cultures and it is easy to find examples of the three great monotheistic religions. Perhaps the most important monument is Toledo Cathedral, an example of the co-existence of religions. Other important religious centres are the Mozarabic parish of Santa Eulalia, the church of Santas Justa y Rufina, San Lucas church and the Mudejar church of San Sebastián. In turn, Toledo offers different religious celebrations including Corpus Christi: a solemn procession which takes place in an atmosphere of singing, the aroma of herbs, and spiritual fervour.