SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA - MARCH 2007
Santiago's cathedral, the end destination of the Camiño de Santiago, is the alleged burial-place of Saint James the Great, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. In 1075, the construction of the current granite cathedral began, according to the same plan as the church of Saint Sernin in Toulouse, probably the greatest Romanesque edifice in France. The Cathedral was built on the site of an earlier ninth century church destroyed by Almansor's army in 997, the last stone was laid in 1122 and the cathedral was consecrated in 1128 in the presence of King Alfonso IX of Leon. After the completion of the main structure new elements were added in later centuries, culminating in the Baroque transformation of the exterior in the 16th through the 18th centuries. The interior of the Cathedral, however, remained in the Early Romanesque style.
"OBRADOIRO FAÇADE - The western or Obradoiro front, facing the Plaza del Obradoiro and built in the Late Baroque style (the Churrigueresque style) between 1738 and 1747 by Fernando Casas y Novoa, is one of the most impressive church façades I've ever seen. It has two 76 m high towers. The left tower (Torre de la Carraca - Carraca Tower) shows a statue of Zebedee, father of St. James. At some time it held an enormous percussion instrument called a «matraca», which only sounded during Easter, when the bells fell silent. The right tower (Torre de las Campanas) shows the statue of Maria Salome, mother of the apostle. A statue of St. James the Great may be seen in the centre, with his two disciples Athanasius and Theodomir, dressed as pilgrims, shown below. They are flanking a representation of the tomb of St. James. Under the main staircase, the oldest surviving part of the Cathedral, the vaulted Romanesque chamber known as the Old Cathedral, can be found. It's a crypt built in the early 12th century"
"SOUTHERN FAÇADE - The Romanesque façade of the Puerta de las Platerías (Silversmiths Door) on the South façade, the oldest surviving doorway of the Cathedral and one of the best preserved portals, is situated at the Plaza das Praterias where, in the past, silver jewels were sold. It's a two-arched Romanesque portal showing a series of juxtaposed scenes in bas-relief, sculpted between 1112 and 1117. Above the arches of the doorways, in the centre, is the figure of Christ in the act of blessing, flanked by St James and Moses, and below this are the Creation of Adam, the Expulsion from Paradize and Abraham emerging from the tomb"
"BERENGUELA (OR CLOCK TOWER) is a 72 metre high baroque tower. The main body, with a Romanesque base, was built in the 14th century by the archbishop for whom the tower is named: Berenguel de Landoira; later, the architect Domingo de Andrade finished the upper part (1680). Both the original clock (1522) and the bell, measuring 2.5 metres in diameter and considered one of the best in the world, had to be replaced"
"EASTERN FAÇADE - The Eastern façade of the cathedral faces the Plaza Quintana Mortos (Dead) below, as there was a cemetery there; and Quintana Vivos (Alive) on the upper side, where people lived... It has two main portals : the Royal Door (Puerta Real), an excellent example of Compostela baroque, built in the mid-17th century; and the Holy Door (Puerta Santa), known also as the Door of Pardons (Puerta de los Perdones)"
"PUERTA SANTA (HOLY DOOR) opens only during a Año Xacobeo (Holy Year), the year when July 25th (St. James' Day) is a Sunday. During those years, it is accesssible via a smaller gated door, dedicated to St. Pelayo (discoverer of the tomb of St. James). This privilege of holding a Holy Year (shared with Rome and Jerusalem) dates from the 12th century and was granted by Pope Callixtus II in 1119"
"NORTHERN FAÇADE - It was here, at the Francigena (also called Gate of Paradise, the Romanesque portal built in 1122 by Bernard, treasurer of the church) that ended the Camiño de Santiago coming from France. The current Azabachería Façade at the Praza da Immaculada was built on the orders of Archbishop Raxoi in the mid-18th century to replace the existing Romanesque façade. On top of the façade stands a statue of St. James from the 18th century, with two kings at his feet in a praying position : Alfonso II the Great (866-910) and Ordoño II of León (873-924)"
"AT NIGHT - The Obradoiro Façade!"