I finally made it
Santiago de Compostela Travel Blog› entry 37 of 47 › view all entries
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.