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Cathedral conservation


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I dont know if anyone else has mentioned it but the porta gloria-where you place your hands on the marble pillar and bang your head round the corner is now fenced off for conservation reasons-I dont know if its permanent but it is a bit of a dissappointment



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[I moved this topic to the "Misc. about Santiago" category]

They are about to do some restoration work on it, so they have closed it off.

That said, there has been a lot of talk in the local papers lately about "How to conserve our historical monuments?". With the increase of tourists, they have to do something to not "loose" these historical monuments.

So I have a feeling that the outcome of this discussion would decide if this is permanent or not....

Un saludo,
The local newspapers have been announcing since late August that "soon" work will start to restore the whole Pórtico de la Gloria. They plan to be working for three years, spending three million Euros. Which means that the Pórtico won't be visible until towords the end of the next Holy Year 2010.

I haven't been able to find any information on the concrete goals of the restauration. I would be interesting to know if they pretend to recover the original polychromy or if they just plan to better preserve the current state of the Portal.


Nunca se camina solo
Donating Member
I asked about this when I was there recently - they are assessing the conservation needs of many artefacts but with the intention of having them back in daily use wherever possible.
We arrived at the cathedral square one damp morning in May 2007 and it was a terribly disappointing anticlimax to three years of planning and days of walking to see the cathedral walls and spires. Having seen the restoration works done to cathedrals in Austria, UK, Germany, France and Italy, restoration work done to Buddhist temples in Thailand, China, and Japan, Hindu temples in India, and mosques, it was quite frightening to see the amount of lichen, algae, small trees and other vegetation growing on the masonry walls. This disfiguring growth we were told, when we asked, was left to grow intentionally as removal of these vegetation would weaken the walls?? Not a sign of neglect?

Going up the wet worn uneven steps to enter the cathedral we did not hold on rusting railing. The stone busts and other figurines on the steps were worn out and dirty with green moss growth. The small door was jam packed with pilgrims going in and tourists coming out. Getting into the cathedral was another disappointment, the botufumero was under repair, there were barrier ropes and locked doors to St James Statue. The Mass was somber, led by glum old priests, and there was an even glummer person passing the collection plate. Coming out was no better as we had to step over a beggar who was sitting down, begging, and smoking at the door.

There is a desperate need to modernise the cathedral. Not only the structure but the whole paradigm. There needs to be a complete revamp of how the cathedral is managed, there is a big sign board listing what must not be done, no videos, no flash, no cameras, no cell phones, etc., the list of nos is longer than the ten commandments. Why so much negatives? What is positive and inspiring?

We are lulled into thinking that "the journey is more important than the destination". Is this a cover up for the disappointing cathedral? Not all pilgrims are blinded by their faith to not recognise sheer inefficiently run pilgrimage facilities.

We look forward to arriving to a bright clean well maintained cathedral where we can make a dignified entrance and pay homage to the Lord. This thread for conservating the cathedral is long overdue.


I'm sure many a pilgrim or tourist has entered the cathedral with sensations similar to Joseph's. It is an important topic. I'd just like to add one remark for now concerning the flora on the Apostle's cathedral.

The Spanish travel guide "Santiago de Compostela" from the series "Ciudades con encanto" published by "El País/Aguilar" in 2004 says this about the plants on the facades: "Recent studies have concluded that this lichen is an authentic protector of the stone since it prevents the forming of moss on the granite thus impeding the latter to destroy the surface by developing roots."
So if the yellowish lichen isn't removed because it stops moss from growing and developing harmful roots one wonders if maybe the pretty flowers and little trees that grow on the facades to a height of a meter or so may have beneficial effects for the granite as well. :?


Nunca se camina solo
Donating Member
The cleaning of historic monuments can be controversial and nowadays most conservationists seek to preserve what is there rather than make a historic building new looking by cleaning it. The contention is that cleaning is artificial and should only be undertaken if the building is being damaged.

However I do think there is an issue about the welcome which pilgrims get (or don't get) on arrival at the Cathedral and I'm afraid the list of "Don't Do's" is rather characteristic of all Catholic Cathedrals.

To be fair they have made efforts - there is an organist at the 9.30 Solemn Mass and at every Pilgrim's Mass and Sister Maria Jesus does an herioc job singing EVERYDAY at the Pilgrim's Mass.

Also whilst the Pilrgrim's Mass can be unsatisfactory given the amount of tourists etc the Cathedral authorities have started a special service FOR PILGRIMS ONLY at 9pm every evening in the Cathedral.


Staff member
Donating Member
Peter Robins said:
if you look at the Obradoiro webcam you'll see a large crane which is currently removing some of the foliage on the W front, ready for the son et lumiere around St James Day.
I saw this as well this morning, it was not there yesterday. I guess they are getting ready for the big day the 24th/25th.

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