Santiago de Compostela Photos
From: Santiago de Compostela
Cathedral and Praza do Obradoiro
The 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.)
This photo from Turgalicia shows theon a damp evening, just before sunset.
This daytime view of the Praza do Obradoirio shows the stone paving blocks of the gently sloping plaza and the , 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.)
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.
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.)
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.
This Turgalicia photo shows the Cathedral's Romanesque , which dates back to 1188 AD.
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.)
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. (It's used regularly in Holy Years; at other times, it can be lit and swung for pilgrims' groups upon payment of a fee.)
This picture of the Cathedral's interior was taken from the gallery at the rear of the building, which I visited briefly during a .
I'd strongly recommend a guided tour of, 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.)
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.
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.
This view from the roofs shows the with the Cathedral's eastern face on the right. The stepped tower is one of two Treasury Towers.
When you're back at ground level, take time to wander around the Cathedral and view its different façades.
Thewas added in the late 1600s; it's on the Praza de Quintana, on the eastern side of the Cathedral.
This set of doorways is on the north side of the Cathedral, also known as the . 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.)
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