I finally made it

Santiago de Compostela Travel Blog

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The western façade is flanked by two medieval towers, 76 m high. The left tower (Torre da Carraca) shows a statue of Zebedee, father of St. James; the right tower (Torre das Campás) shows the statue of Maria salome, his mother.

I finally made it out to this corner of the world. I always wanted to come here but when I told people that it probably would rain and be around 20 degrees Celsius I never found someone that wanted to join me. This time I was driving alone, so there was nobody to stop me.

I knew it would rain and already when I reached Coimbra north of Lisbon I had the first showers. The funny thing was that I actually had clouds in Alentejo; I guess it gave me a sign that things were about to change from the heat that I had following me since I passed the border of Andorra to Spain almost 10 days ago.

Entering the city centre and seeing the cathedral was a long term goal being fulfilled, and while I was there I made a new one, I decided to drive Coruna, just 75 km from there.

The front of the Cathedral. The façade was built in Late Baroque style (the Churrigueresque style) by Fernando Casas y Nóvoa between 1738 and 1750

The cathedral was impressive and while I was admiring it I remembered the cathedral in Cordoba and the story and about the bells. Having driven from Cordoba to Santiago de Compostella I am equally impressed that Moors managed to get so far north and astonished about that they took the Bells of the Cathedral and let the Christians carry them back to Cordoba. And again that the Christians, when they conquered Cordoba let the Moors carry them back again almost 300 years later. Talk about memory.

My summer had been quite full of Moors this summer having visited Corsica, the southern part of Spain and Portugal. These parts of Europe owe a huge part of their heritage to the Moors.

The Cathedral in Santiago de Compostella

The cathedral is 97 m long and 22 m high.

The eastern façade at the Praza da Quintana offers a completely different view. It has two main portals : the Holy Door and the Royal Door.
This cathedral, through its monumental dimensions, is the largest Romanesque church in Spain and even one of the largest in Europe.

It preserves its original barrel-vaulted cruciform Romanesque interior. It consists of a nave, two lateral aisles, a wide transept and a choir with radiating chapels. Compared with many other important churches, the interior of this cathedral gives a first impression of austerity until one enters further and sees the magnificent organ and the exuberance of the choir.

According to legend, the apostle Saint James the Greater brought the Message of Christ to the Celts in the Iberian Peninsula. In 44 AD he was beheaded in Jerusalem. His remains were later brought back to Galicia, Spain. Following Roman persecutions of Spanish Christians, his tomb was abandoned in the 3rd century.

The southern façade is situated at the Praza das Praterias where, in times past, silver jewels were sold.
Still according to legend, this tomb was rediscovered in 814 AD by Pelayo, a hermit, after witnessing strange lights in the night sky. Bishop Theodemir of Iria recognized this as a miracle and informed the Asturian king Alfonso II (791-842). The king ordered the construction of a chapel on the site. Legend has it that the king became the first pilgrim to this shrine.

This was followed by a first church in 829 AD and again in 899 AD by a pre-Romanesque church, at the order of king Alfonso III of León, causing the gradual development of a major place of pilgrimage. In 997 this early church was reduced to ashes by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (938-1002), army commander of the caliph of Córdoba, Spain. The gates and the bells, carried by Christian captives to Córdoba, were added to the Aljama Mosque. When Córdoba was taken by king Ferdinand III of Castile in 1236, these same gates and bells were then transported by Muslim captives to Toledo, to be inserted in the cathedral Santa Maria.

Gold everywhere

Construction of the present cathedral began in 1075 under the reign of Alfonso VI of Castile (1040-1109) and the patronage of Bishop Diego Peláez. It was built according to the same plan as the monastic brick church of Saint Sernin in Toulouse, probably the greatest Romanesque edifice in France. It was built mostly in granite. Construction was halted several times and, according to the Liber Sancti Iacobi, the last stone was laid in 1122. But by then, the construction of the cathedral was certainly not finished. The cathedral was consecrated in 1128 in the presence of King Alfonso IX of Leon.

According to the Codex Calixtinus the architects were "Bernard the elder, a wonderful master", his assistant Robertus Galperinus and, later possibly, "Esteban, master of the cathedral works". In the last stage "Bernard, the younger" was finishing the building, while Galperinus was in charge of the coordination.

The bell tower
He also constructed a monumental fountain in front of the north portal in 1122.

The church became an Episcopal see in 1075 and, due to its growing importance as a place of pilgrimage; it was soon raised to an archiepiscopal see by pope Urban II in 1100. The cathedral has been embellished and expanded between the 16th and the 18th century.

 

 

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The western façade is flanked by …
The western façade is flanked by…
The front of the Cathedral. The fa…
The front of the Cathedral. The f…
The eastern façade at the Praza d…
The eastern façade at the Praza …
The southern façade is situated a…
The southern façade is situated …
Gold everywhere
Gold everywhere
The bell tower
The bell tower
Entering Santiago de Compostella
Entering Santiago de Compostella
Lonely wet streets
Lonely wet streets
Towards the Cathedral
Towards the Cathedral
The front of the church is boosted…
The front of the church is booste…
Looking down the street
Looking down the street
The local parliament
The local parliament
Seen from the stairs of the Cathed…
Seen from the stairs of the Cathe…
Inside the Cathedral
Inside the Cathedral
Looking at the dome
Looking at the dome
All that gold!
All that gold!
Flower decorated wall
Flower decorated wall
Looking to the sky
Looking to the sky
A cold Galician beer
A cold Galician beer
Inside Cafe Literarios
Inside Cafe Literarios
Cafe Literarios
Cafe Literarios
Entrance to Cafe Literarios
Entrance to Cafe Literarios
Waiting for the sun
Waiting for the sun
The wall of the Cathedral
The wall of the Cathedral
Getting the Green
Getting the Green
Details from the Cathedral
Details from the Cathedral
Nice crooked streets
Nice crooked streets
Walking away from the rain
Walking away from the rain
The Cathedral
The Cathedral
An art museeum and an Alhambrian t…
An art museeum and an Alhambrian …
Greens of Compostella
Greens of Compostella
Alhambra Tower
Alhambra Tower
Looking from the stairs
Looking from the stairs
Give me direction
Give me direction
The Cathedral
The Cathedral
The huge square
The huge square
Getting down from the Cathedral
Getting down from the Cathedral
Igrexa de San Fructuose
Igrexa de San Fructuose
Call the police
Call the police
Narrow streets
Narrow streets
Galician Beer
Galician Beer
Stone corner
Stone corner
They locked me up
They locked me up
Not an entrance anymore
Not an entrance anymore
Moved!
Moved!
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