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The video highlights the present sad state of the Santiago Cathedral to what it can be as shown on the video. In May 2007 our first sight of the Cathedral was of a cathedral in desperate need of restoration: the exterior walls and roof had green unsightly moss and even trees growing out of the mortar joints; the cobble steps were worn, slippery and uneven; the metal railings were rusted and over-painted without proper surface preparation; the stone sculptures were eroded, pitted and for want of a better word grotesque. Nothing like what is shown on the online presentation.

The interior of the cathedral was no better: gloomy and dark due to the dark furniture and poor lighting; not made any better by the sudden switching of all the lights at the altar after the mass; masses of rope barriers and locked doors to prevent free access to many parts of the cathedral.

The aloof and unfriendly priests striding past pilgrims without looking at them after the mass, the large multi-language notice board informing those entering the cathedral of what was not allowed (plenty), and beggars at the front and rear doors really takes away from what could be a lovely hour of repose after the Walk.

So without being consoled that the journey was the important thing and not the destination our arrival to see the relics of St James would have been a bitter disappointment. I have put in these comments to try to bring some reality into the condition of the cathedral - what is being shown is far from what it is - but at the same token hopefully it is something the management will be aware of what can be done.
Santiago Cathedral

Hello Joe,
Yes, there is a lot that needs improving in the cathedral at Santiago. A part of Rosina's post from Santiago was:
There is a tremendous amount of work to be done in the Cathedral and its surroundings, and several present day pilgrims are doing what the ancient ones did hundreds of years ago: bringing building stones to help out in the effort.
As you probably know, it was tradition for 12th C pilgrims to carry stones from Triacastella to Castaneda, about 6km from Arzua, where they were ground to make cement for the construction of the cathedral.

Santiago is one of the few cities in the world that does not charge for visits to its cathedral. I am not sure how they afford the upkeep). It is also one of the few cathedrals that I have visited that feels like a 'living' church and not like a morgue or a mausoleum. So many churches along the cathedral felt like cavernous tombs, especially at mass when only a handful of old women and pilgrims attended.
My worst experience inside a cathedral was a bout of claustrophobia in the cathedral at Burgos. I am not prone to panic attacks but was already feeling an overpowering revulsion at the excesses of the interior when we tagged onto the edge of a tour group. "The gold used on this altar was some of the first to be brought back from the Americas by the conquistadors," said the tour guide proudly. I had to leave - quickly - or I'm sure I would have been sick!
I sincerely hope that whatever restoration they do, they don't corrupt the Roman cross plan of the cathedral or turn it into a Las Vegas side show with bright lights and excessive glitter.
Hi Sil,

Great to know your views on Burgos Cathedral, we arrived at the deserted cold Burgos Cathedral on a morning and after seeing so many Cathedrals all over Europe we did not linger. You are preaching to the converted as to regards to the ostentatious restoration work done to many of the Cathedrals in Europe. We also visited many restored Cathedrals in Germany, France, UK, which were restored after being bombed during the World War. We wondered where the money to restore them came from. And was it necessary to put so much gold on the pillars and statues.

My post was a plea to clean up the Santiago Cathedral of the fungus, moss and lichens growing on the walls and roof before the roots start cracking the masonry. I posted a few photos on ... oCathedral which is not meant to be critical but illustrates the condition in May 2007.

The Cathedral received 3million E in 2006 for restoration work so financially they are not in dire straits. The need to have a high pressure hose to blast away the vegetation is perhaps, IMHO, more important now than to place gold on the pillars. Also cheaper. The metal railing is rusty and pitted. It will not cost much now to clean them up, fill in the pitted parts, apply proper primer and durable paint. Left as it is with paint over rusted parts is a sheer waste of time and money, it will make future painting more expensive.

Pilgrims carrying stones can do little to repair the slippery uneven cobbled paving, or to repair the worn figurines adorning the grand entrance. These figurines/statues seem to have been carved out of soft rock so the lifespan is near its end. The rocks could perhaps be used to build a new toilet as the present toilet down a long sloping alley, next to the Police Station, will not be able to cope with the expected rush of pilgrims in 2010.

Grandpa Joe

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