Santiago de Compostela Cathedral

Santiago de Compostela, Spain

The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral is the reputed burial place of Saint James the Great, the apostle of Jesus Christ. It is also one of the only three known churches in the world built over the tomb of an apostle of Jesus.

According the legend, the tomb of Saint James was rediscovered in 814 AD. The king Alfonso II of Asturias ordered the construction of a chapel on the site. This was followed by the first church in 829 AD and then in 899 AD by a pre-Romanesque church, ordered by king Alfonso III of León, which caused the gradual development of this major place of pilgrimage. In 997 the early church was reduced to ashes by Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir (938–1002), army commander of the caliph of Córdoba. 

Construction of the present cathedral began in 1075 under the reign of Alfonso VI of Castile. It was halted several times and the cathedral was consecrated in not before 1211. The cathedral was expanded and embellished with additions in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries.

The cathedral has historically been a place of pilgrimage on the Way of St. James since the Early Middle Ages and marks the traditional end of the pilgrimage route. The building is a Romanesque structure, with later Gothic and Baroque additions.

The cathedral's artistic high point is the Pórtico de la Gloria inside the west entrance, featuring 200 masterly Romanesque sculptures by Maestro Mateo, who was placed in charge of the cathedral-building programme in the late 12th century. Now with much of their original colour restored, these detailed, inspired and remarkably lifelike sculptures in Galician granite add up to a comprehensive review of major figures and scenes from the Bible. 

Comments

Your name

Website (optional)



Details

Founded: 1075
Category: Religious sites in Spain

Rating

4.7/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Rodrigo Ribeiro (36 days ago)
Overall environment of the whole place is magnificent. Shame that the cathedral restoration is still a work in progress but it's still a nice visit. Not many people in these troubled times, which is good. Many places to eat savory spanish dishes and a couple of museums (free ones also) to explore.
Liz T.D (38 days ago)
An absolute must visit, unfortunately tickets must now be bought in advance and no back packs allowed. Try sitting in the Parador outdoor cafe opposite and enjoy the magnificence of the building as the sun sets and glows on the wonderful architecture. From this view point you can relax and enjoy. Food in the cafe good also and good value.. if you're lucky somebody will be singing or playing a beautiful piece of music in the square somewhere.
Diogo Castro Silva (41 days ago)
Very stunning cathedral, it's a pity to be under construction so it's not possible to see it's full glory. Still amazing view after hiking the Caminho de Santiago.
Peter Minchev (47 days ago)
Very nice cathedral, but currently in renovations. Gives me the same creepy feeling as any catholic church.
Jan-Thijs Koster (2 months ago)
Beautiful cathedral. However currently renovation works are going on, so you can’t see its full glory. Even taking that into account, I found the cathedral of Leon a bit more interesting, and more beautiful.
Powered by Google

Featured Historic Landmarks, Sites & Buildings

Historic Site of the week

Derbent Fortress

Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.

Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.

A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.

The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.

The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.

In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.

In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.