Wednesday, June 18, 2008



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"


Anonymous said...

After walking around the majestic cathedral, we had to get in! And there is a lot be seen inside; including the amazing «Botafumeiro»… Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Wow! An incredible cathedral. Thanks for taking us inside. I love to go into churches. I love the details I see here.


indicaspecies said...

Magnificent cathedral, and you have an excellent set of photographs! Thanks Gil.

Anonymous said...

fantastic post, very educational. and what a great shot. very interesting architecture

Lakshmi said...

Another awesome post from you with fantastic pictures..thanks for sharing

PeterParis said...

Just wonderful ! Yes, as you say, originally I suppose that the facades or the portals were polychrome. At the beautiful Amiens Cathedral they have found a solution to project colours directly on the façade, recreating the polychromatic appearance of the 13th century. I never saw it. Should go there - in the evening!

I'm actually surprised that no (or???) any church has been redocrated with colours. It would give us a surprising, but probably more truthful aspect of what they originally looked like. I guess that the Amiens solution is a good compromise!

kyh said...

Simply breathtakingly majestic!!! My my... Seeing these pictures of the cathedral has already blown me away... I wonder how would I react if I was actually there to feel the splendour?

Kala said...

its impressive to see all your travel photos - I esp. like the map you have showing all the places youve been - that is very cool!

Dick said...

Oh it's all so wondeful. Maybe I have to go there once and see it for real.

S-V-H said...

Very impressive post again, Gil! Thanks for sharing.

lyliane six said...

C'est aussi beau à l'intérieur qu'à l'extérieur et que de richesses!

Shionge said...

How long were you there Gil? It looks like a sacred & amazing place to visit and I know I'll be mesmerised all these...WHOA!!!

Unknown said...

Quel superbe périple et pèlerinage Trotter ! Les endroits que tu traverses sont magiques et recèlent de tant de joyaux médiévaux ! Celui-ci est un véritable patrimoine historique éclatant de richesse artistique. Les pèlerins ne pouvaient que tomber en sainteté devant tant de beauté...

Nikon said...

Staggering series of great shots, Gil. The detail is almost too much to absorb! One of the most ornate churches I've ever seen.
Re: Finnegan's Wake - I don't think that is can be read :)

alice said...

Intérieur comme extérieur, quelle abondance d'ornements, statues et décors! On en a presque le tournis!

Ash said...

Ornate. And absolutely divine. Lovely images, as always!

Tawnya Shields said...

Everytime I look at structures like this,I am just awed by the work that must have went into creating it. Wow!:O)

alicesg said...

Hi trotter, Thanks for visiting my blog. I am better now. Wow another set of beautiful travel photos. The cathedral was very well built and the craftsmanship were amazing.
Have a nice weekend. :)

Lori said...

Absolutely amazing! You always show us such wonders. I'd like to see that Botafumeiro in action. No wonder it takes so many priests to move it! The sky is gorgeous in your last shot.

Ming the Merciless said...

Spectacular photos! Some of the detailed carvings on the buildings are simply amazing.

The architecture of the building in the last few photos somewhat resembles the Angkor Wat of Cambodia.

Unknown said...

Dear Gil,
Awesome pictures as usual.

I would love to step into that Cathedral, beautiful architecture and what great history it hold. Mysterious and bold. Really love these old buildings. My goodness, you really travel the world. I am travelling the world with you on this blog.

Thanks so much for sharing. You have a great weekend.

lyliane six said...

Oh là là, le Portugal éliminé, qu'elle tristesse ça a dû être dans tout le pays! Ici j'ai vu quelques drapeaux Portugais aux fenêtres des maisons, ils doivent être en berne aujourd'hui.Bon week end quand même.

lv2scpbk said...

Love all the details. Alot of hard work went into those. So much history too. I'd love to see what they may have buried in the walls on other artifacts around the place. Guess I'll never know.

alok said...

GMG, great work and as always amazing pics.
I hope you are having a great time there :)

Thanks for your comments on my blog ... Have a wonderful weekend ahead.

Neva said...

When you think of how long it must have taken to do any of this and how magnificent it is and how it has lasted.....just amazing....The detail is stunning. HI Gil....hope you have a nice weekend...I always enjoy your visits!

Pietro Brosio said...

A wonderful series of great shots, and the architecture is splendid!
Thanks for your comments on many of my posts, I appreciated them very much!
Have a nice weekend!

Jurgen Huibers said...

WOW!! What a beautiful cathedral! The decoration of the chapel is really amazing!

kuanyin333 said...

Fascinating! I'll have to check your earlier posts to see if you did the pilgrimage by walking. I've considered doing it by horseback. :-0

Great photos as always...I'm curious about the astrological connection your wife and you have for traveling....

Anonymous said...

WoW...lovely viewing the architecture of the cathedral through your lens...fascinating...have a wonderful weekend!

Marguerite-marie said...

superbes ces photos je dis comme Alice ça donne le tournis...j'aime beaucoup la dernière.

Azer Mantessa said...

i think what is unique about the cathedral is the sculptures of the arcs.


RuneE said...

I have visited two very different Spanish cathedrals (in Palma de Mallorca and Sagrada Familia in Barcelona). Even if you are not devout (I am not), one cannot but respect the work that lies behind these magnificent structures. On can spend a lifetime taking pictures like you have done. The amount of detail is enormous, the history behind is the history of Europe.

I do not use flash in a church unless it is specifically allowed (at a wedding and such occasions), but in La Sagrada Familia I managed about 100 photos, but that one is of course unfinished - for a while yet...

Once, in the York Minster, I used one of my daughters' head as a monopod. It worked marvellously.

Thank you for one more magnificent tour.

Chris said...

Ola, Gil!

When we were in A Coruna in Sept., I had wanted to take the tour to Santiago de Compostela, but I didn't want such a long bus ride. Now, I'm sad I didn't go.

Hope all is well with you. . . .things here are a bit crazy. All will come out next week.


MedaM said...

This is really another wonderful and interesting post with magnificent Cathedral and its architectural style both outside and inside.

Jules said...

Good to get my weekly travel fix, although i actually am so over travel at the moment. Too bad I am off again on Wednesday!!!!

Noushy Syah said...

Amazing and magnificent structures of the cathedral.Gr8 that you share the pics with the history behind them and that makes your photo blog so interesting and like you said,the cathedrals definitely worth a visit in and out.

Thanks Gil..have a wonderful weekend.Take care.

Wendy said...

What a treasure also considering that nothing is built like this any more. have a great weekend Gil.

travelphilippines said...

oh my what a stunning always all the photos are a stunner in your blog.

Steve Buser said...

You continue to uncover treasure after treasure. But this is one so full of symbols and rich history. You have really found your role in life.

Cergie said...

Quelle splendeur ! On sent la patine, l'usure du temps et en même temps les couleurs et les matériaux variés donnent beaucoup de fraîcheur à l'ensemble.
Gil, tu parles du but du pèlerinage, cette cathédrale. Le pèlerinage a des lieux de rassemblement dans tous les pays, et même toutes les villes. J'ai vu la Tour St Jacques à Paris bien sûr, la place St Projet à Bordeaux, et puis à Constance et ailleurs.
Saint Jacques de Compostelle est vraiment le centre d'une immense toile

J'aimerais un jour entreprendre moi aussi ce pèlerinage, depuis la France.

Anonymous said...

Hi everybody! Thanks for your visits and comments.
I must confess that I was expecting some comments on the amazing «Botafumeiro». However, only Lori mentioned the issue. So I decided to edit the post and insert a video to make her wish come true… ;) That’s why you have now the Botafumeiro in action (borrowed from «nanopausa» at YouTube!!).
Hope you enjoyed the addition!

Since you love the churches, I’ll show some from Santiago on my next post!


It’s true that the colour would have given a completely different view of the cathedrals! I knew not that the Amiens cathedral had made that experience; but it seems to be a good compromise, as you say!

It’s an amazing experience; like seeing the Taj Mahal or some temples in Japan…

That map is quite illusory; actually, as soon as you have been in Moscow, it colours the entire Russia… ;))

It’s time to start waking the Way… ;)


C’est vraiment beau.
Euro 2008 c’est fini; avec un entraîneur comme Scolari on ne pouvait pas attendre grand chose… ;((

A quite long weekend: arrived Wednesday night, left Sunday afternoon… ;)

Quelle belle idée: «Les pèlerins ne pouvaient que tomber en sainteté devant tant de beauté...»

Great masonry work!
You must be right about Finnegan’s Wake…

Vertige, au moins… ;)

Slightly different from your beautiful churches from Goa!

It’s amazing, but probably work was not valued in those times as it is now…

Alice SG,
Glad to see that you’re feeling better and surfing the web again… ;))

You were the only one to mention the Botafumeiro! So you’re entitled to an extra… ;))
See the video I included in the post…

It’s amazing how temples may have similarities, even when they seem to be so far apart…

Glad to bring you travelling with in Santiago!

There are lots of legends on what is buried below and around the Cathedral… And there are always at least a five hundred (sometimes more than a thousand) years of history around the corner… ;))

I had a great time; it was in March 2007… ;))

The amazing isn’t only how they manage to put it up, but also how it actually lasts up to today…

Great pleasure to visit your blog and to see you here!

Great to see you back on blogosphere!

It’s an incredible building, whichever lens you use… ;)) Thanks!

C’est vrai que la cathédrale surpasse ce qu’on pourrait imaginer…

This one has some unique aspects, but you’re right: the Portico da Gloria is outstanding!

I didn’t use the flash either, that’s why some pictures are a bit blur…
It’s true that in these stones is a lot of the history of Europe! I think the Sagrada Familia is absolutely stunning, and the story of Gaudi amazing! I adore Gaudi’s works, La Pedrera, Parco Guell…, but the Sagrada is outstanding! No wonder you took all those pictures there… ;)

Ola! It’s not such a long bus drive from Coruña… and you definitely should have taken the tour… ;))
Hope everything will get better in the near future…

You’re right: a magnificent monument!

With so much travelling you’re doing, who is the Trotter? ;))
Hope you have a safe journey!

Noushy Syah,
For this kind of cathedrals, Santiago is an outstanding one!

That is a question of great interest: it’s true that those buildings are no longer built; but does it mean that the modern «cathedrals» (be them whatever they are) do not match the old ones? Don’t think so…

Glad to see you here. Thanks!
Sorry to hear another capsized ferry story… ;((

Just a hobby… ;))

Les couleurs, comme l’a signalé Peter, manquent un peu, surtout dans le Portico da Gloria, qui devrait être encore plus impressionnant…
En fait le chemin de St. Jacques a des ramifications partout en Europe. Si tu veux en savoir plus, Wikipedia explique ici
Bonne semaine!

Sigma said...

The sculpture is really awesome. So are the paintings ...

Olivier said...

c'est grandiose, on doit se sentir tout petit dans cette cathédrale. merci pour la video

Anonymous said...

I would say that everything is awesome there... ;)

Encore plus petit... ;)
Ce «Botafumeiro» est surprenant!!

Indrani said...

I saw the censer in motion, awesome, such technologies still preseved. Your other photos, I wonder how they get the colors, especially the chapel, is it red lighting?

The last two shots,the sky looks dramatic.

Anonymous said...

The «Botafumeiro» is action is truly amazing...
Must confess that didn't work out the photos; they're posted as they came out of the camera...

Lori said...

Wow, thanks for adding the video of the Botafumeiro in action!!! I think I'd be a little nervous to be underneath it's path. It was amazing to see how they use it. And that organ makes a magnificent sound. Thanks for the video!!!

Anonymous said...

My pleasure! Actually, I should have remembered to put the video there beforehand; thanks for giving me the oportunity to improve the post!!
I tell that seeing the Botafumeiro coming straight in my direction at 60km/hour was an amazing experience... ;))