Roads to Santiago

Roads to Santiago : A Modern Day Pilgrimage through Spain

3.76 (475 ratings by Goodreads)
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Roads to Santiago is an evocative travelogue through the sights, sounds, and smells of a little known Spain-its architecture, art, history, landscapes, villages, and people. And as much as it is the story of his travels, it is an elegant and detailed chronicle of Cees Nooteboom's thirty-five-year love affair with his adopted second country. He presents a world not visible to the casual tourist, by invoking the great spirits of Spain's past-El Cid, Cervantes, Alfonso the Chaste and Alfonso the Wise, the ill-fated Hapsburgs, and Velázquez. Be it a discussion of his trip to the magnificent Prado Museum or his visit to the shrine of the Black Madonna of Guadalupe, Nooteboom writes with the depth and intelligence of an historian, the bravado of an adventurer, and the passion of a poet. Reminiscent of Robert Hughes's Barcelona, Roads to Santiago is the consummate portrait of Spain for all readers.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 368 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 20.83mm | 540.68g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0156011581
  • 9780156011587
  • 357,524

Review quote

"Invites the reader to share the excitement, experiences, even food, that the author has encountered while weaving his way through [Spain] slowly and deliciously . . . Mr. Nooteboom lingers in out-of-the-way places most tourists miss."-The New York Times Book Review
"Nooteboom plunges fervently into the fabric of Spain itself."-San Francisco Chronicle
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Rating details

475 ratings
3.76 out of 5 stars
5 26% (122)
4 38% (182)
3 25% (120)
2 8% (39)
1 3% (12)

Our customer reviews

The author describes his journeys round Spain over the past half a century, a free-wheeling joyous exploration of the architecture, art, and literature of Spain and the people who created it. He never gets directly from one place to another - there is always a detour, another discovery to confound him. He sets off to see the ceiling paintings of Huesca but has to see the murals in Roda which inspired them and ends up in the cathedral in Jaca which he hopes will be the last piece of architecture that he sees before he dies. Serendipity is round every corner. He is forever arriving in a small hot almost deserted village at the 'dead hour' and knocking at the door of the old man or woman who guards the keys to yet another ancient masterpiece of a church or cathedral. I wondered whether he would actually ever arrive in the Santiago of the title - one of his novels is called 'The Dutch Mountains' and everyone knows that there aren't any! But he does get there eventually and marvels in the view from the Monte del Gozo (no mention of the cafeteria and restaurant when he did it!) with all of the other pilgrims. There is a lot which is reminiscent of WG Sebald's travelogues, and not only the mysterious grainy black and white photographs which illustrate the book. He digresses to talk about writers from Cervantes to Borges and muses upon the prophesies of the 8th century mystic Beatus. He searches for the paintings of Zurberan in Guadaloupe and ponders Velasquez in the Prado. Twice, decades apart, he buys black pudding from the same butcher in Uncastillo, and he buys books everywhere he goes. His writing transmits his love for literature and for Romanesque architecture, and makes you want to take his book as a guide to the unknown corners of Spain. One of the most enjoyable pieced of travel writing that I have ever more
by frances calman
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