For many pilgrims, their journey on the Camino de Santiago is not finished when they enter the Praza do Obradoiro, the large plaza in front of the cathedral, nor is it when they are issued their certificate, the Compostela, from the nearby Pilgrim Office. Since ancient times, pilgrims have been arriving to the Santiago de Compostela Cathedral to view the interior, and especially attend the pilgrim mass and visit the crypt of St. James. It’s a special and important event for those who come from all over the world to visit this Holy site.
On my last post, Views Around The Praza do Obradoiro, Santiago de Compostela, I focused on the historically important buildings around the plaza, and on The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Views From The Praza do Obradoiro, I focused on the exterior views from the Obradoiro, façade and included a brief history. Now, let’s enter the Catedral de Santiago de Compostela.
This entrance is the Puerta de las Platerías or Fachada sur ou das Praterías in Galician. As you can tell, it can get quite busy, especially if you arrive just before mass. I recommend arriving at least an hour before and securing your seat, or starting your visit of the interior. If you include the paid tour that gives you access to the crypt, treasury, and museum, please give yourself at least a few hours as you could easily spend a day inside the cathedral.
Just before, let’s look at the portal a little closer. It should be noted that the Puerta de las Platerías was reconstructed centuries ago after it was severely damaged from war and unrest. What you see is material and sculptures put together by various artists over many years.
Sadly, my photos of the main altar didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I have included two from just before a pilgrim’s mass. As I noted in my post featuring the exterior of the cathedral, the main building is in the shape of a cross and you may take that into consideration when viewing the interior. I would recommend taking a slow walk around the entire perimeter, looking closely, as if in a museum. For consideration of the length of this post, there are many details that I didn’t cover and I will leave for your own eyes. You can also view information and more photos from the cathedral’s official website. To view the ceremony including the swinging of the famous Botafumeiro, the thurible or incensory, please watch this excellent YouTube video, Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Botafumeiro.
The chandelier is a little fuzzy here, but thankfully, I have a better look…
Now, let’s take a look around the cathedral. I’m not sure exactly what this scene is called, but it’s beautiful, with immaculate detail.
The altar is in Capilla del Pilar, Chapel of Our Lady of the Pilar. The chapel was completed 1723 to commemorate the Virgin Mary’s appearance to St. James at Zaragosa, Spain. Thanks Tabi for her help with the identification.
Cristo de Burgos or Holy Christ of Burgos.
Important symbols of the pilgrimage.
This is St. James, Santiago, on top of the Pillar of St. James. This is a sacred site, but for pilgrims and parishioners, we are no longer allowed to touch the stone. Let’s take a closer look…
This sacred stone was being adversely affected from being touched by millions of people through the centuries. As you can tell, the pillar is roped off now.
One more look at the beautiful Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, from the Praza do Obradoiro.
As for the the sacred relics and crypt of St. James, Santiago, you must look beneath the high altar as part of the museum tour.
I hope you enjoyed this post but I’m not finished my visit in Santiago de Compostela yet. On my next post, we’ll visit more of the beautiful city. Please join me.
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