Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

Where It is Located

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is located in the center of Santiago de Compostela, Spain. It's front facade forms part of the Plaza del Obradoiro. It is built over the tomb of Saint James.

Where the Cahedral of Santiago de Compostela is Located

Where Santiago de Compostela is Located in Spain

The Exterior of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The Interior of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The View of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela from the Plaza del Obradoiro

Description of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the product of a unique mix of architectural styles. Its interior is Romanesque, with a high ceiling and pews down the center. On either side of the central isle are many small chapels with statues and displays. The high alter, at the front of the church, rests above the tomb of Saint James. Another attraction is the Botafumeiro, the world's largest censer at 176 pounds. The exterior of the cathedral is entirely different from the inside. The baroque facade looms above the Plaza del Obradoiro. The cathedral can be entered through the Portico de la Gloria.

The Tomb of Sain James

The Botafumeiro

The History of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela

When the tomb of Saint James was discovered in 819 AD, a small church was built over it. It was later destroyed in 997 AD by al-Mansur, a wealthy and powerful Arab ruler. He took the church bell and forced christian slaves, from Santiago, to carry it to the mosque in Cordoba. However, legend says that he spared the tomb of Saint James when he saw a monk kneeling in front of it during the raid.

The present day cathedral's construction was started in 1060 and the basic building was finished in 1211. The Portcia de la Gloria was added in 1188 by Maestro Mateo. Later, the stark baroque facade was placed over it from 1738 to 1750 by Fernando de Casas, a lesser known architect. Various other buildings have been added on the backs and sides since.

The Portica de la Gloria

The Baroque Facade

Why it is Sacred to the Christians

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is sacred to the Christian faith for many reasons. For one, it is church and houses a piece of the True Cross. The True Cross is supposedly the cross that Jesus was crucified on. Many other more minor artifacts are in the side chapels or museum. There are also beautiful carvings and sculptures on the walls, pillars, and floor.

However, the main reason why it is sacred is that it is built above the tomb of Saint James and two of his apostles. Yearly, pilgrims travel to it on foot for over 100 kilometers to touch the pillar of Saint James and see his tomb. Saint James was one of Jesus's closets friends and was present when Jesus cured Simon's mother-in-law, when Jesus rose Jarius's daughter from her death bed, and when Jesus said his last prayer before being arrested. Thus, Christians consider his tomb, and the church above it, sacred.