Cathedrals in the Digital Age: a Case Study of Santiago de Compostela and Canterbury
David Santomil, Daniel O’Donoghue

The main aim of this paper is to understand, in the age of ‘Smart Cities’ (Caragliu et al 2011), how Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are used to manage and promote the cathedrals of Santiago de Compostela and Canterbury as key elements in their strategies to attract visitors and tourists to both places. We have analysed online visits, ICT service provision and the numbers of tourists at both venues since 2010, with the goal of exploring how technology is modifying the information available to tourists and management alike. The research is inspired by the words of an English pilgrim, cited above, who was travelling along the way to Santiago de Compostela some five hundred years ago. It was a time when communication was limited, travel by land and/or sea was the only form of communication between territories, and the only available method to establish economic and commercial relationships required cultural exchange and human mobility. In the early 21st century, one can fly from Santiago de Compostela (Spain) to London and then from London to Canterbury (UK) via high-speed train. Today, we speak of timetables, online bookings, emails, websites, smartphones and credit cards. This is the language of modern travel and acts as an example of our ICT requirements for such a journey. A visit to either city today highlights how the places and travellers have changed from the days of Boorde’s pilgrimage. Just as important perhaps, despite such huge change, is that these two cities remain the destinations for vast numbers of pilgrims. Santiago de Compostela and Canterbury have several commonalities. Both located in western Europe, both historic cities are recognised as world heritage sites by UNESCO, both cities have magnificent Cathedrals that dominate the cityscape crisscrossed by pedestrian streets in their old town centres, both cities are the historical seats of the Church in their respective country, both cities act as cultural and religious destinations for pilgrims, and both cities have university campuses close to the city. Given the obvious similarities, it is seems a very attractive proposition to compare both places in terms of tourism today. The research focuses on the two ancient Cathedrals. With centuries of tradition behind them, both ‘attractions’ have adapted management policies in keeping with the times. The digital age is here and a new era of ‘smart cities’ has arrived. A new episode in the history of Santiago de Compostela and Canterbury has emerged and needs further research.

Full Text: PDF     DOI: 10.15640/jthm.v4n1a2