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CATEDRAL DE SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA

 

Main Santiago de Compostela Page

 

About the Camino de Santiago and its Pilgrims        Spanish Roads to Santiago de Compostela

 

Return to Paradoxplace Camino de Santiago / Camino Frances Photo and History Galleries

 

 

In the 830s a wandering hermit named Pelagius discovered a tomb which was taken to be that of the Apostle James the Greater, and the rest is history!  A small church was built to house the tomb but was destroyed by the awful al-Mansur on one of his rampages in 997.  The dreadful little man then had Christian slaves carry the church bells from Compostela to the Great Mosque of Cordoba.  240 years later, in 1236, Fernando III ("The Saint"), King of León and Castile (1198 -  1217 (King of Castile) - 1230 (King of León) - 1252 (54)), and probably another dreadful little man, captured Cordoba and had Muslim slaves carry the bells back to Santiago.  Maybe this bell was dropped and got cracked.

 

 

The present cathedral of Santiago de Compostela was under construction from 1060 for 150 years.  Later (sadly in Paradox's view) the Facade and all but one of the Romanesque portals were "improved", but one of the joys of the church is that when you walk in you are greeted with uncluttered Romanesque, and it's not nearly as huge as you might think.

 

 

 

 

 

After nearly two days of rain and wind, things took a dramatic turn for the better in the nick of time for Dom P - above is the final evening view of the newly arrived sun on the famous 1700s facade of the Cathedral.   Below are scenes from the previous days !

 

 

 

 

Santiago Puerta de las Platerias

 

 

The south side Puerta de las Platerias (Goldsmiths' Portal) is the only 1100s Romanesque portal left - and includes (below) our old friends Adam (with Spanish mo to match that of God) and Eve along with the waterproofed post pilgrims' Sunday mass throng (above).  Also an interesting set of corbels.

 

A medieval students' challenge to university freshmen was to climb the steps two at a time - an impossible task as there are an odd number of steps.

 

LINK TO LOTS MORE PHOTOS OF THE PUERTA DE LAS PLATERIAS (GOLDSMITHS)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Back in 2006 we were so focussed on the archivolt bas-reliefs of the Puerta de las Platerias that we completely failed to notice the corbels above - self beard pulling, mouth deforming, and other anatomical things you can work out for yourselves - these are just 6 of the 16 corbels there.  More photos.

 

 

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral - Royal Portal

 

 

Above: The broad east end of the cathedral has two portals - the Royal Portal (on the left side of the photo, which is now where the book and memorabilia shop is), whilst further to the right St James (Pilgrim) stands (right) over the Puerta del Perdon (=forgiveness) - aka Puerta Santa.

 

Below:  Santiago Matamoros (St James Moor Slayer) was of course not so forgiving.

 

 

Santiago Puerta del Perdon (Forgiveness)

 

 

Sant Iago Moor Slayer (Compostela)

 

 

Santiago Puerta del Perdon (Forgiveness)

 

Puerta del Perdon / Santa

 

 

Santiago Cathedral - North Front

 

 

The north side of the cathedral and (below) a close-up of the clock tower and its one handed clock.

 

 

Santiago de Compostela - Clock Tower

 

 

 

 

Sculptures in the main tympanum of the late 1100s Pórtico de la Gloria, inside the west facade doors and untouched by the later baroquing of the facade itself.  If there are not too many people jostling around this shallow narthex, pause and have a closer look at the detail, particularly the outer ring of what you will see are instrument players .....

 

 

 

 

In the centre it takes two to play a - what?  Well luckily visitors to the Cathedral crypt will know the answer, as there is a magnificent display of reconstructions of the medieval instruments in the carvings.  And the answer is that this instrument is an Organistrum, which looked like this ....

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Angel "trumpeteers" on either side of the three arch Pórtico de la Gloria, but trumpet down soulful rather than trumpet up triumphal.  On the left the original Romanesque people have gone, but look at the right - everyone is eating or being eaten .....

 

 

 

 

and at the bottom of one of the late 1100s Pórtico de la Gloria entry portal columns ....

 

 

 

 

Inside the doors there are three pleasant surprises - firstly you are unexpectedly (after the facade) in a classic clean-lined Romanesque space, secondly it's much more intimate (smaller) and friendly than words like "great pilgrimage cathedral" had led one to expect, and lastly the removal in earlier times of one Romanesque stone screen / choir (now partly reconstructed in the basement), and another wooden one (to the huge monastery of St Martin Pinario across the road) has left an attractive "full nave" vista which would previously have been blocked as it still is in most English cathedrals.

 

One thing that is not small is the incense burner ("Botafumeiro") - it's big (bottom right), suspended on a very thick rope from impressive iron arches spanning the crossing (right), and it looks and smells awesome when it is in full smoking swing up and down the transept.  The present  burner dates from 1851, and it replaced a 1300s burner looted by Napoleon's troops in the early 1800s.

 

 

Santiago de Comnpostela Incense Holder

 

 

Relics of Santiago

 

 

The "Botafumeiro" - surely the mother of all incense burners - guidebook photo

 

 

La Corticela Chapel, Santiago de Compostela

 

 

La Corticela Church is now joined to the north transept of the cathedral, but was originally a separate little church whose origins, stretching back to the 900s, predate the cathedral itself.  The tympanum over the entrance shows the Magi visiting Mary, Joseph and Jesus.  To retain the symmetry of the main composition two of the three Magi, Caspar and Balthazar (and their nags) have been squeezed out onto the otherwise unpeopled archivolt, then flattened by flash because the lighting was so bad!.

 

 

La Corticela Chapel, Santiago de Compostela - Magi Tympanum

 

La Corticela Chapel, Santiago de Compostela - Magi Tympanum

 

 

 

Polychrome granite tympanum - the Visit of the Magi - second quarter 1300s - originally in the chapel of Doña Leonor and now in the cathedral museum.

 

 

 

Also in the museum, part of the reconstructed original stone choir, which was in place until c1600, when it was replaced with a carved wooden job (below)

 

 

 

 

The wooden choir was removed (1800s?) with much more care than the stone one, and reassembled on the upper floor of the huge Monastery of St Martin Pinario, just over the road.   More importantly, no-one tried to replace it, thus bequeathing today's visitors with a wonderful screen / organ / choir-free navescape.  Oh that the English had copied this ....... 

 

 

 

Polychrome granite statue - Saint James as King - mid 1200s, now in the cathedral museum.

 

 

Photo from Cathedral guidebook

 

The beautiful primitive Crucifix of King Ordoño II (c873-924) is in the relics chapel along with dozens of other pieces.

 

 

Photo from Cathedral guidebook

 

Also in the Museum, a mo-less St Michael spearing a rather puny moor-faced dragon whilst weighing souls.

 

 

Tomb of Fernando II in Santiago

 

The tomb effigy of King Fernando II of Leon, d1188

 

 

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Cloister

 

 

The cathedral has an elegant though not warm cloister.  It is part of the area that one has to pay to get into, and maybe this explains the almost complete absence of people by comparison with the free access areas.

 

 

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Cloister

 

 

Santiago Cathedral Crypt

 

Harpie life in the crypt

 

 

More photos of the Romanesque Puerta de las Platerias

 

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