SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA - MARCH 2007
The interior of the Cathedral consists of a nave, two lateral aisles, a wide transept and a choir with chapels. Being 97m long and 24m high, it's the largest Romanesque church in Spain and one of the largest in Europe. It is dominated by the Capilla Mayor, built over the Apostle's tomb.
"PUERTA SANTA (HOLY DOOR) was built in the 17th century and it is decorated with 12th century sculpture representing prophets, apostles and fathers of the church. The years in which St. James' Day (25th July) coincides with a Sunday are declared Año Santo Jacobeo (Holy Year of St. James). The next Años Jacobeos will be 2010, 2021 and 2027! The holy year starts with the Archbishop of Santiago knocking down a wall that covers the Puerta Santa for three times and then opening it on December 31st of the preceding year. The Puerta Santa will remain open until the next December 31st, when it is walled up again"
"PORTICO DA GLORIA (DOOR OF GLORY) - Now concealed by the 18th Century Baroque western façade, the Portico da Gloria, a triple doorway with its profusion of sculpture (more than 200 granite figures that were originally painted), is one of the largest and most magnificent existing collections of Romanesque sculpture. It was carved by Master Mateo between 1166 and 1188 at the request of King Ferdinand II of Leon. The sculpture in the arch of the central doorway (the only one with a tympanum) shows Christ as the Saviour of the world in the centre surrounded by the four Evangelists, two angels with censers and eight angels holding the instruments of the Passion. In the archivolt are the twenty-four Elders of the Apocalypse"
"PORTICO DA GLORIA - The column statues represent the apostles, prophets and Old Testament figures with their name on a book or parchment. The middle pier represents Saint James (on the extreme right of the picture)"
"PORTICO DA GLORIA - It is customary for the pilgrims to touch the left foot of Santiago's statue, signifying that they have reached their destination. So many pilgrims have laid their hands on the pillar to rest, that a groove has been worn in the stone"
"SANTIAGO - The high altar is full of jasper, alabaster and silver. In its centre is a 13th century wooden figure of St. James, richly decked with silver, gold and precious stones added about 1700. On either side of the altar are staircases leading up behind the figure of St. James, so that pilgrims go up and kiss the Apostle's cloak - the culminating act of the pilgrimage!"
"CHAPEL - The chapels in the aisles and transepts of the Cathedral (there are 18 in total in the Cathedral) are all sumptuously decorated"
"RELICARIO - In the Chapel of the Reliquary is a gold crucifix, dated 874, allegedly containing a piece of the True Cross. There are also the tombs of kings and queens of the 12th-15th centuries"
"TREASURY - The Chapel of San Fernando in the south aisle contains the Cathedral Treasury, with splendid vestments and silverware. A particular treasure is a 1545 silver monstrance by Antonio de Arfe"
"CHOIR - The stalls were constructed under the supervision of Master Mateo and completed in about the year 1200. Four hundred years later the stalls were demolished and replaced with a wooden version. Fragments of the decorative stonework were then dumped, buried and largely forgotten until 1900 when excavations began in the cathedral. These enabled small sections of the choir to be reconstructed in the 1960s and 1970s to the splendour now shown in the Cathedral's museum"
THE TAPESTRY MUSEUM on the upper floor of the cloister, displays Flemish tapestries and tapestries from the Real Fábrica de Madrid after cartoons by Rubens, Goya, and other artists, most of them on country themes and depicting scenes of aristocratic life. These two are from Goya's cartoons"
"BOTAFUMEIRO - In the dome over the crossing can be seen the device (installed in 1604) for swinging the largest censer in the world – the Botafumeiro - weighing 80 kg and measuring 1.60 m in height, which is set in motion by a team of eight red-robed tiraboleiros. It is normally on exhibition in the Library of the cathedral, but during certain important religious days or when the pilgrims pay for it (that was the case of the Japanese pilgrims during our stay) it is attached to the mechanism, for an incredible demonstration: the ropes are pulled and the Botafumeiro is brought into a swinging motion almost to the roof of the 65m long transept (where these pictures were taken), reaching speeds of 60 km/h and dispensing clouds of incense (said irreverently to serve to mask the unpleasant smell emanating from hundreds of unwashed pilgrims…)"
[Edited: Lori expressed the wish to see the Botafumeiro in action; actually she was the only one to mention the Botafumeiro in her comments to this post. So I decided to look for videos of the huge censer and found this one at YouTube from nanopausa. All in all, it's the best I found! Enjoy!]
"CLOISTER - In the south transept, to the right of the Puerta das Platerías, is the entrance to the Plateresque Cloister (1521-86), one of the largest and finest in Spain, measuring 35m each way"
"ON THE ROOF - Since you're inside the Cathedral, it makes sense to get to the roof"
"ST. JAMES - The view of the towers and the statue from the roof is quite impressive"