Europe for Visitors - Home
Main Menu Europe for Cruisers

Santiago de Compostela Photos

From: Santiago de Compostela

Cathedral and Praza do Obradoiro

photo

The Praza do Obradoiro takes on a magical quality at night, when the building façades--including the Cathedral--are floodlit. (Wet pavement on a drizzly night enhances the effect.)


photo

This photo from Turgalicia shows the Paxo de Raxoi on a damp evening, just before sunset.


photo

This daytime view of the Praza do Obradoirio shows the stone paving blocks of the gently sloping plaza and the Colegio de San Xerome, which houses the vice-chancellor's department of the university. (The University of Santiago de Compostela was founded in 1495; today, it has 19 faculties with more than 40,000 undergraduate and postgraduate students.)


photo

Pilgrims are a frequent sight in the Praza do Obradoiro, and they're generally a happy-looking bunch, having finally arrived in Santiago after the long walk from the Galician border or points beyond.


photo

From the Praza do Obradoiro, stairs lead up to the "Portico of Glory" or main entrance to the Cathedral di Santiago de Compostela. (The door at ground level is the entrance to the "Old Cathedral" with its Romanesque crypt.)


photo

The platform at the top of the Cathedral steps offers a nice view of the Paxo de Raxoi, and this photo gives an idea of the Praza do Obradoiro's dimensions.


photo

This Turgalicia photo shows the Cathedral's Romanesque Portico of Glory, which dates back to 1188 AD.


photo

Inside the Cathedral, you'll find a stone pillar with carved figures of the most important apostles. (Santiago, or St. James, is third from the left; St. John is on the right.)


photo

photo

Long before the concept of "World's Largest Roadside Attractions" was invented, Santiago de Compostela's Cathedral was famous for its Botafumeiro ("smoke-catcher"), the largest censer in Christendom.

The original king-size thurible was donated by Louis XI of France but was later spirited away by Napoleon's Army. Its successor is now in the Cathedral Treasury, and the current silver-plated brass incense burner has been in use since 1852. The device weighs 60 kg, or 132 pounds, and is swung by a rope-pulling team of eight men. It hangs from a steel framework in the cathedral dome (lower photo).

If you're lucky, you'll see the Botafumeiro in action during the noon Pilgrims' Mass. (It's used regularly in Holy Years; at other times, it can be lit and swung for pilgrims' groups upon payment of a fee.)


photo

This picture of the Cathedral's interior was taken from the gallery at the rear of the building, which I visited briefly during a tour of the roofs.


photo

I'd strongly recommend a guided tour of Las Cubiertas de la Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, a.k.a. the Cathedral roofs. You can buy tickets in the cathedral museum.

(Note the mossy stone surfaces beyond the museum's entrance hall, shown above. Galicia is said to be nicknamed "the urinal of Spain" because it has more annual rainfall than Ireland. Thanks to the moist climate, granite surfaces in Santiago de Compostela are often color-coordinated with the surrounding vegetation, and visitors who ignore street signs may think they're in the British Isles.)


photo

The Cathedral's roofs are covered with long slabs of granite that look like steps. You do need to be careful if you're wearing slippery-soled shoes, because the steps aren't flat--they have a downward tilt that could make them treacherous for the unwary on a rainy day.


photo

In this photo (taken on a flat area of the roofs), the circular window gives a view of the Cathedral's interior. At the end of our midday tour, we were able to look through the window.


photo

This view from the roofs shows the Praza de Quintana with the Cathedral's eastern face on the right. The stepped tower is one of two Treasury Towers.


photo

When you're back at ground level, take time to wander around the Cathedral and view its different façades.

The Clock Tower was added in the late 1600s; it's on the Praza de Quintana, on the eastern side of the Cathedral.


photo

This set of doorways is on the north side of the Cathedral, also known as the Acibechería Façade. Until the 12th Century, pilgrims used this northern entrance on the Praza da Inmaculada after their arrival in Santiago de Compostela. (The current doorways were built in the 1700s after a fire destroyed the old Romanesque façade.)

Back to: Santiago de Compostela travel guide


Santiago de Compostela travel guide:
Introduction
A holy city for pilgrims
Sightseeing, excursions
Museums
Hotels
Restaurants
Transportation
Tourist information

Also see:
Santiago de Compostela photos - Praza do Obradoiro and Cathedral
The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago (book review)
Galician Palace Gardens (Pazo de Oca, Pazo Santa Cruz de Rivadulla)