The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Views Of The Interior

June 6, 2013 — 14 Comments

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.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Puerta platerias



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.

Puerta platerias Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Galicia



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.

Santiago de Compostela retablo Cathedral, Galicia



  The chandelier is a little fuzzy here, but thankfully, I have a better look…

Retablo Santiago de Compostela Cathedral





Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Chandelier



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.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral carving



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.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral retablo
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral Chandelier Galicia



 Cristo de Burgos or Holy Christ of Burgos.

Jesus Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Cristo de Burgos





 Important symbols of the pilgrimage.

symbols Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Galicia



Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Galicia



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…

Santiago de Compostela 2 Cathedral, Galicia



pillar of st. james santiago



pillar of st. james santiago



pillar of st. james santiago



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.

Pillar of st. James, santiago



One more look at the beautiful Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Catedral de Santiago de Compostela, from the Praza do Obradoiro.

Santiago de Compostela Cathedral 12 Catedral de Santiago de Compostela

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.

If you have my book, Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, or have ordered it, I really appreciate your support. It’s also out on Kindle and Kobo. My Goodreads and Amazon pages have reviews and more information. Please share this post, and thanks for your time.

About Randall St. Germain

Randall St. Germain, author of Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, is a middle-aged Canadian Boy who is passionate about nature, photography, hiking, music, and self-improvement. After the death of his mother, he chose to walk the famous pilgrimage, the Camino de Santiago, across the north of Spain, despite knowing little about it. He certainly didn’t plan to write a book until the latter days of his Camino. Similar to walking the Camino, writing and publishing a book was a learning experience. It was also very rewarding, and part of his ongoing journey. Please join him as he takes you along on his journey in Camino de Santiago In 20 Days, and on his blog Camino My Way.


14 responses to The Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Views Of The Interior

  1. Very nice photos! I envy you.

  2. Allo mon ami! (or should I say Hola!) Absolutely stunning post 🙂

  3. Hi Randall, the 7th photo is the Capilla del Pilar (Chapel of Our Lady of the Pilar). Begun 1711 completed 1723 to commemorate the Virgin Mary’s appearance to St. James at Zaragosa, Spain. Reading your book & viewing the photos has definitely increased my interest in learning more about the Cathedral’s architecture, sculpture & interior art. Unfortunately there is little info online so I guess I’ll need to do my research the old fashioned way & hit up the library 🙂

    • Hi Tabi. Thanks so much. The website has more information but I had a little difficulty figuring out what exactly were in some of the photos. I have an excellent reference book but there are no photos, so I spent a long time looking online just to get what I have. I thought the Capilla del Pilar would be easier, but it looks like it was for you. Thanks again and thanks for visiting 🙂

  4. Great photos. My husband and I were there one day when they were swinging the giant incensor. It was quite a sight. We took a picture but unfortunately it did not turn out too well. Yours, by the way, are excellent!

  5. Julia Jiyoung Hong July 10, 2013 at 12:04 am

    It is breathtaking beauty of artworks..

    • Hi Julia. Glad you enjoyed the post. There is much more inside the cathedral than I have shown. I hope you can walk the Camino one day and experience it for yourself. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

  6. Randall
    Great article and photos. I appreciate no flash and photography during Mass and other Church Services but any other restrictions on photography. My wife and I are walking some of the St James way next year then visiting the Cathedral. Will be using a DSLR.
    Thank you.

  7. Thanks for your kind words. As you enter a church or monument, it’s best to look for a sign as you enter. When I walked, there were sometimes restrictions with no photography or flash photography. I always respected the wishes. Remember, just because others are taking photos, it doesn’t mean that it’s okay. It may not only be the large churches. For example, the church in Castrojeriz had a small museum that didn’t allow photos at all. It was too bad because they had beautiful stained glass depicting roses. Your other concern is light if no flash is allowed as many of the churches are dark inside. For the most part, there won’t be any restrictions so feel free to carry your DSLR. All the best and Buen Camino 🙂

  8. Thank you for the beautiful pictures. I’m grateful that I found your site. I will only be spending one day (in September) at this wonderful sacred place. I’m hoping that by reviewing your information that I can concentrate on the most precious and important items. I’m sure I’ll be totally overwhelmed. I welcome any tips as I prefer doing some “homework” before making the journey.

  9. Maureen, make sure you plan ahead and be there for mass. Even if you’re not religious. If you’re into details, find the book “The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago: The Complete Cultural Handbook.” It will help with your visit to the cathedral and Santiago. Try to beat the crowds, although September will be better than July and August. Spend time in the museum and make sure you go upstairs for a view of the plaza. If you’re allowed, visit the crypt below the main altar. Hope that helps. Have a safe trip and enjoy your visit to the cathedral 🙂

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