info@caminosantiago.com

Santiago de Compostel´s Cathedral


Santiago de Compostela´s Cathedral dominates one of the most beautiful urban areas in the world. The four peaceful squares that sorround it -Obradoiro, Platerías, La Quintana and Azabachería- add to the unique magnificence of Santiago el Mayor´s resting place. In this monumental structure, culminates the Spanish Romanesque. Its construction begun in 1075, during the reign of Alfonso VI, and was ordered by Bishop Diego Peláez, who wanted a large sanctuary that could treasure the Apostle´s remains.


The sanctuary would have to be worthy of the renown Compostela had won among Christendom. It was built on the ruins of a church constructed by Alfonso III that was destroyed by Almanzor in 997. By 1122 the structure was completed, except for the Porch of the Gloria that was not finished until the late 12th century.

Santiago´s Cathedral is basically Romanesque, even though it has some Gothic and Baroque elements. Its singularity lies on three important aspects: an space for the circulation of people -essential in a church visited by pilgrims-, its architectural innovations and its being a compendium of Pre-romanesque Style.

The Cathedral is cross-shaped and has 3 naves. The apse aisle contains 5 apse chapels and each extreme has 2 apses. The distribution was conceived for the pilgrims to pass round Apostle Santiago´s Tomb, located in the apse aisle. Another important element is the triforium, of great dimensions, that served as shelter for pilgrims and as a meeting place for the pious people.

On its construction a diversity of styles were used , so that it became a compendium: Pre-Romanesque, Spanish and French Romanesque and Muslim-Andalucian...

Compostela´s Cathedral also introduced some architectural innovations, such as its proportions -almost 100 meters high, lateral naves 5 meters high and the central nave 10 meters high- and the relations between the measures of its parts. Innovative is also the upper part of the archs.