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Entry to the Cathedral

Camo

Active Member
Time of past OR future Camino
2024
OK I am now the full bottle on the Botafumeiro thanks to all the replies but IF I make it to Santiago as I hope I really would like to climb those steps, enter through those huge doors and gaze upon the Portico of Glory as our heroes did in The Way, but it seems that route has now been closed off.

Any help from the Camino regulars?
 
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Hola @Camo unfortunately you are correct - the Great Doors or the Portico de Glory are now only opened on special "holy days" and/or during a Holy Year (when July 25 falls on a Sunday). But you can walk back down to the "front" of the Cathedral to look upon the statue (again no touching).
From what I remember entry is now (usually) via the Southern doors and you exit via the Norther doors.
PS - if some one who lives on Santiago has more up to date info please correct,.Buen Camio as I am SURE you WILL make it to Santiago.
 
gaze upon the Portico of Glory as our heroes did in The Way, but it seems that route has now been closed off.
This subject came up in a Facebook group yesterday. Apparently the entrance through the Portico had already been closed for more than a year before the filming of that scene in "The Way". The film crew paid a substantial sum for privileged access. So it was anachronistic even then.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
the Portico de Glory are now only opened on special "holy days" and/or during a Holy Year (when July 25 falls on a Sunday)
Unless I am mistaken: The portals just in front of the Portica de la Gloria are only open to enter the Cathedral nave for the Solemn Mass at noon on 25 July. There are videos and live broadcast where you can see the King and a party of special guests entering as a procession. The rest of the congregation is already seated. I don't know where they got in. The portals for the Portica de la Gloria is not open all day on the 25th of July.

The Holy Door is elsewhere and a different story.

I am not sure of current arrangements. There is a ground floor map somewhere on the Cathedral website that shows how flows are managed. I think those who visit the Cathedral or attend mass enter through a different portal than those who wish to hug the apostle and visit the crypt but I am not sure. Anyone been there and done that recently?

@Camo, if and when you get there you buy a ticket and enter through an administration/museum door and you have some time to view the sculptures of the Portica de la Gloria. It's all on their website. No touching. Not ever.

And be prepared that the viewing might be an anticlimax experience for you and not at all what you might expect from experiencing it beforehand through watching movie characters in a movie.
 
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I think those who visit the Cathedral or attend mass enter through a different portal than those who wish to hug the apostle and visit the crypt but I am not sure.
Yes, usually 2 accesses are opened:
- one to visit the cathedral and to attend mass.
- the other to do a hug to the apostle statue.
A third door allows to visit museum and Portico de Gloria.

You can see Portico de Gloria by paying a visit. If you understand spanish, it is worth to pay a guided visit. Furthermore, it is coupled with the visit of the museum: if you visit on the afternoon, perhaps you will be lucky enough to see the attendants preparing the Botafumeiro. That means that on the evening mass, it will swing...

Anyway, Portico de Gloria is very interesting. Look for the statue of the Maestro Matteo (who makes this marvellous portal): he had no right to represent himself among the apostles and prophets...
 
We did attend on a day when there was an English tour of the Portico de Gloria and that was several years ago in 2019 after it first reopened. I don't know if there are tours in any language other than Spanish now.
 
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OK I am now the full bottle on the Botafumeiro thanks to all the replies but IF I make it to Santiago as I hope I really would like to climb those steps, enter through those huge doors and gaze upon the Portico of Glory as our heroes did in The Way, but it seems that route has now been closed off.

Any help from the Camino regulars?
Yeah. I was disappointed. I wanted to fall to my knees like the movie at the statue but that was not the case. As for Botafumeiro, even though it’s only guaranteed special days, many times they do it anyway when some group pays for it. I spent about 4 days in Santiago and I saw it and heard it was also done at another mass so that was at least 2 days when it wasn’t supposed to be done. Just attend all the masses and maybe you’ll get lucky.
 
If you go to the Cathedral website, and click on the Book Your Ticket option it will open a new window. At the bottom of the new widow under Get Invitations is a box to request free tickets to view the Pórtico of Glory. Two time slots are offered, 16:00 and 16:30 and you are allowed about 25 minutes to stand in awe at Master Mateo’s masterpiece.

You are not allow to touch anything. One woman on my visit tried to place her hand into the groove created by thousands of hands before her, and she was promptly expelled. Not only had the staff given the no touch instruction, her boy friend had warned her (he didn’t leave with her), but I had talked about how sad it was you couldn’t touch unlike back when I arrived on my first Camino.
 
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Mass, enter via south portal from Plaza Praterias
To venerate the relic and hug the statue, queue start at north portal from plaza immaculada.

You can visit the portico de la Gloria for free, limited to a number of people per day, by requesting it here
 
The Holy Door is completely different than the other doors for visiting the Cathedral, the Portico, the museum, or Saint James’ remains. It is located on the eastern side of the building and sealed except during Holy Years. As entrances go, it’s fairly simple.
 
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If you go to the Cathedral website, and click on the Book Your Ticket option it will open a new window. At the bottom of the new widow under Get Invitations is a box to request free tickets to view the Pórtico of Glory. Two time slots are offered, 16:00 and 16:30 and you are allowed about 25 minutes to stand in awe at Master Mateo’s masterpiece.

You are not allow to touch anything. One woman on my visit tried to place her hand into the groove created by thousands of hands before her, and she was promptly expelled. Not only had the staff given the no touch instruction, her boy friend had warned her (he didn’t leave with her), but I had talked about how sad it was you couldn’t touch unlike back when I arrived on my first Camino.
This subject came up in a Facebook group yesterday. Apparently the entrance through the Portico had already been closed for more than a year before the filming of that scene in "The Way". The film crew paid a substantial sum for privileged access. So it was anachronistic even then.
When I first walked into Santiago you were able to view the Portico without a problem. There were specific instructions that touching was not permitted. Bradyplus I think you have far more camino history than I. Memories fade and change but I do remember that I was able to walk up the front steps into the Cathedral after my first camino. But of course this may be just a fantasy and a memory gone bad!
 
Apparently the entrance through the Portico had already been closed for more than a year before the filming of that scene in "The Way". The film crew paid a substantial sum for privileged access. So it was anachronistic even then.
Well thank you. I am surprised. The many posts that I have read about this had given me the impression that it was only in recent years that nobody could put their hand on the Parteluz of the Portico. So nobody has done so during the last 16 years or even longer???

 
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Well thank you. I am surprised. The many posts that I have read about this had given me the impression that it was only in recent years that nobody could put their hand on the Parteluz of the Portico. So nobody has done so during the last 16 years or even longer???
2008 is quite recent for some of us... :cool:
 
Bradyplus I think you have far more camino history than I. Memories fade and change but I do remember that I was able to walk up the front steps into the Cathedral after my first camino. But of course this may be just a fantasy and a memory gone bad!
In the Facebook discussion yesterday someone stated that there was an interim period when the main doors from the Obradoiro were closed but entry was still possible from a smaller door to the side. Before the Portico itself was closed off for a long-term restoration and became a ticket-only museum piece. Perhaps your visit was in that middle period? Johnnie Walker tells me that the Tree of Jesse was already out of bounds and protected by metal bars by the time of his arrival in Santiago in 2007.
 
To summarize everyone's great inputs, since I was there in 21 and 23, memory permitting...

1. The Plaza del Obradorio main entrance is gated off. Period. As stated above, I watched the King and his party enter on July 25th, 2021...but that Mass was completely reserved, no public attendance. I watched the televised Mass from a nearby café.
No public access.

To see the Portico of Glory, I bought a museum night tour ticket. Beautiful...and absolutely no touching. The museum entrance is also on this Plaza, further down from the stairs.

2. The Holy Door is on the Plaza de la Quintana, roughly on the other side. The most interesting things about that, for me, were that the stone figures around the door were in most part salvaged from Master Mateos original stone choir. The museum has a lovely video reconstruction. Open during the Holy Year. If memory serves, there is a gift shop exit on that side.

3. The entrance for Masses, at least since Covid, has been through the Plaza de las Platerias. If my fading memory still serves, this was the destination for pilgrims on the Portuguese.

4. Finally, the Plaza de la Azabacheria has the entrance for those who want to see the crypt and, since last year, once again " hug" the Apostle.

Oh, and please....no backpacks in the Cathedral.
 
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Thanks for all those replies but nobody mentioned the (horrible) modern (blonde) woodwork blocking the whole portal in all 3 spaces with tiny doors and glass in the middle.

Here is closeup of James's head with finger holes above and the woodwork all around, erected some time after 2015?
 

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Yes, usually 2 accesses are opened:
- one to visit the cathedral and to attend mass.
- the other to do a hug to the apostle statue.
A third door allows to visit museum and Portico de Gloria.

You can see Portico de Gloria by paying a visit. If you understand spanish, it is worth to pay a guided visit. Furthermore, it is coupled with the visit of the museum: if you visit on the afternoon, perhaps you will be lucky enough to see the attendants preparing the Botafumeiro. That means that on the evening mass, it will swing...

Anyway, Portico de Gloria is very interesting. Look for the statue of the Maestro Matteo (who makes this marvellous portal): he had no right to represent himself among the apostles and prophets...
My understanding is along these lines. There are actually entrances on all four sides of the Cathedral:
From the Plaza Obradoiro there is the entrance to the museums. Through this entrance you can also make your way to the Portico of Glory if you have purchased a timed ticket for a visit. This can be purchased through the Cathedral website. Facing the Cathedral in the Plaza de Obradoiro, around the corner to your right is the Plaza de Platerias. There is an entrance there which gives access to the main cathedral. Use this entrance to visit the cathedral proper and attend mass. Keep walking around the cathedral and in the back, behind the altar and as far as possible from the Plaza de Obradoiro is the Quintana facade. This is where you will find the Holy Door, opened in Holy Years. On the opposite side to the Platerias is the Azabacheria facade (just before the tunnel down to the Plaza Obradoiro). This is where you enter in order to view the reliquary of St. James and to hug the bust of the apostle above the altar.
 
My understanding is along these lines. There are actually entrances on all four sides of the Cathedral:
From the Plaza Obradoiro there is the entrance to the museums. Through this entrance you can also make your way to the Portico of Glory if you have purchased a timed ticket for a visit. This can be purchased through the Cathedral website. Facing the Cathedral in the Plaza de Obradoiro, around the corner to your right is the Plaza de Platerias. There is an entrance there which gives access to the main cathedral. Use this entrance to visit the cathedral proper and attend mass. Keep walking around the cathedral and in the back, behind the altar and as far as possible from the Plaza de Obradoiro is the Quintana facade. This is where you will find the Holy Door, opened in Holy Years. On the opposite side to the Platerias is the Azabacheria facade (just before the tunnel down to the Plaza Obradoiro). This is where you enter in order to view the reliquary of St. James and to hug the bust of the apostle above the altar.
Thanks David I'll see how that translates on Google Maps
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Thanks for all those replies but nobody mentioned the (horrible) modern (blonde) woodwork blocking the whole portal in all 3 spaces with tiny doors and glass in the middle.
The wooden screen was a provisional measure to protect the newly (and splendidly) renovated sculptures of the Portico de la Gloria from dust etc due to renovation work going on in other parts of the Cathedral. It is no longer there.

Don’t rely too much on what you see on the internet. ;)
 
In the Facebook discussion yesterday someone stated that there was an interim period when the main doors from the Obradoiro were closed but entry was still possible from a smaller door to the side. Before the Portico itself was closed off for a long-term restoration and became a ticket-only museum piece. Perhaps your visit was in that middle period? Johnnie Walker tells me that the Tree of Jesse was already out of bounds and protected by metal bars by the time of his arrival in Santiago in 2007.
Strange. When I arrived at the Cathedral in July 2012 I was able to approach the Tree of Jesse and put my hand in the imprint. Not so on my second arrival in 2014, although we were still able to enter the Cathedral through the Portico.
 
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Here is closeup of James's head with finger holes above
fingers-png.165814

The head of the man at the foot of the column in the middle of the Portico de la Gloria is not the head of Saint James. Did you read this somewhere???

The identity of this bearded man is unknown, it has given raise to different interpretations: Samson, Adam or Gilgamesh. It can also be seen as a representation of Daniel between the Lions - a popular motif in Romanesque religious art.

The martyrdom of Saint James is not represented in this way. He is represented holding a sword to point out his martyrdom to the medieval man and woman.
 
Here is a much better picture where you can see that the bearded man wraps his arms around the two lions.

With thanks to Google's Art and Culture project and the Fundación Catedral de Santiago:

Daniel and the Lions.jpg

PS: The man is not dead or blind. I guess that the paint has gone and it has not been restored.
 
@Camo, I am getting curious again: What is this "full Virtual Tour of the route" that you are working on? Is this question and our answers part of it? ☺️
 
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Just remember that things are changing as the posts in this thread show.

Meanwhile, one can watch the Cathedral via the webcams on the Galician TV. There is the door where you can buy tickets for the Portico which is open. The portal in front of the Portico which is closed. The portal where people enter for visits, for praying and for mass, with one of its four doors open. The Holy Door that is closed until 2027. Numerous other doors and portals where it is not clear what their function is and where exactly they lead to.

Doors and Portals.jpg
 
This subject came up in a Facebook group yesterday
I had a look at the photos: the person who is putting his hand on the Tree of Jesse column and who is clearly standing inside the metal rails that indicate that people should stay out of it; the person who is putting his hand on the Tree of Jesse column and his forehead on the sculpture at the foot of the column and obviously not knowing that the ritual that developed among the inhabitants of Santiago consisted of knocking one's forehead against the statue on the OTHER side of the column ...

Frankly, I can understand that the Cathedral chapter was keen to do away with these rituals that are not related to the saint and to what is considered as his relics, and that they want people to concentrate on the biblical messages that are expressed in the Portico, or at the very least on its artistic beauty.
 
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Frankly, I can understand that the Cathedral chapter was keen to do away with these rituals that are not related to the saint and what is considered as his relics.
At the top of the column with the Tree of Jesse is a detailed figure of Santiago. I think that the older pilgrims were probably acknowledging that image rather than misidentifying the carving at the base which I agree is much more likely to represent Daniel and the lions.

1709986958422.png
 
Thanks for all those replies but nobody mentioned the (horrible) modern (blonde) woodwork blocking the whole portal in all 3 spaces with tiny doors and glass in the middle.

Here is closeup of James's head with finger holes above and the woodwork all around, erected some time after 2015?
The woodwork was not present in Sep 2023.
 
Thanks for all those replies but nobody mentioned the (horrible) modern (blonde) woodwork blocking the whole portal in all 3 spaces with tiny doors and glass in the middle.

Here is closeup of James's head with finger holes above and the woodwork all around, erected some time after 2015?
This is a danger of relying on Google as a gospel source of truth. It isn't always accurate and up to date. Having been at that location last year, I can assure you that the woodwork you are concerned about no longer exists.
 
The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
This is a danger of relying on Google as a gospel source of truth. It isn't always accurate and up to date. Having been at that location last year, I can assure you that the woodwork you are concerned about no longer exists.
Looks like the cathedral website was also concerned per the word "mutilated"

"A masterpiece of the universal history of art, currently mutilated by the reforms carried out in its façade."

The google Trekker panos were in 2021 and show the timber (which was not there in 2018 when the mods were completed so looks like it got the chop after only 2 years or so. Here is inside view with Jesus "hanging free" (ie no cross). Wonder what they did with this expensive sculpture?
sign3.png
 
Always worth remembering that (a) the film was made 15 years ago and things do change, and (b) the movie was light entertainment and fiction rather than documentary.
Really....damn those Hollywood people....so when I let my rucksack fall into a river I was wasting my time ...and being a bit of an idiot ....never mind I caught it on my phone.
 
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The one from Galicia (the round) and the one from Castilla & Leon. Individually numbered and made by the same people that make the ones you see on your walk.
Looks like the cathedral website was also concerned per the word "mutilated"
"A masterpiece of the universal history of art, currently mutilated by the reforms carried out in its façade."
Beware of webpages that have not been updated. This English text refers to the time when there was scaffolding because of the restoration works and which did not embellished viewing the Portico if you could view it at all during the works. This text is now gone from the original version of this webpage which is in Galician.

Compare:

The English version of their webpages is sometimes not up to date or less complete.

Well it's mildly interesting to dive into the architectural history of the Cathedral during the last five years or so. There is of course a much longer and more interesting architectural history before that. 😇
 
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Beware of webpages that have not been updated. This English text refers to the time when there was scaffolding because of the restoration works and which did not embellished viewing the Portico if you could view it at all during the works. This text is now gone from the original version of this webpage which is in Galician.

Compare:

The English version of their webpages is sometimes not up to date or less complete.

Well it's mildly interesting to dive into the architectural history of the Cathedral during the last five years or so. There is of course a much longer and more interesting architectural history before that. 😇
Thanks heaps Kath - all is now clear

love the way there is a peep hole window for Mateus bloke to keep an eye on the building works (and other "things")
 
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The main entry for contemporary pilgrims - the south portal of the Cathedral of Santiago - is not a “back door” as it has been referred to in another recent post.

The west portal - where the Portico de la Gloria is located - is not the “traditional” entry for pilgrims either.

The entry for medieval pilgrims was the north portal. This was not only the tradition in Santiago but in many other places with cathedrals or similarly large churches. Pilgrims entered through a door on the north side, went through the ambulatory where the relics were displayed and left through a door on the south side.
 
The main entry for contemporary pilgrims - the south portal of the Cathedral of Santiago - is not a “back door” as it has been referred to in another recent post.

The west portal - where the Portico de la Gloria is located - is not the “traditional” entry for pilgrims either.

The entry for medieval pilgrims was the north portal. This was not only the tradition in Santiago but in many other places with cathedrals or similarly large churches. Pilgrims entered through a door on the north side, went through the ambulatory where the relics were displayed and left through a door on the south side.
This is interesting. I wonder when pilgrims started entering through the west portal. I always thought it had been for centuries (convinced, I admit, by the handprint that had been worn into the central column).

I just went and checked my Gitlitz and Davidson. In describing the Portico de la Gloria, they describe the central figure of Santiago as "smiling to greet pilgrims after their arduous journey". In describing the Puerta de la Azabacheria (north portal) they say "Through the early 12th c. this was the principal entrance to the cathedral, sometimes called the French entrance." This makes it seem to me that they, at least, thought that pilgrims generally entered through the Portico de la Gloria, once it had been completed. Of course, I recognize that Gitlitz and Davidson are not the be all and end all of sources, and like all of us are subject to error. However, until I am presented with evidence to the contrary, I am inclined to trust them and their scholarship.
 
This is interesting. I wonder when pilgrims started entering through the west portal. I always thought it had been for centuries (convinced, I admit, by the handprint that had been worn into the central column).

I just went and checked my Gitlitz and Davidson. In describing the Portico de la Gloria, they describe the central figure of Santiago as "smiling to greet pilgrims after their arduous journey". In describing the Puerta de la Azabacheria (north portal) they say "Through the early 12th c. this was the principal entrance to the cathedral, sometimes called the French entrance." This makes it seem to me that they, at least, thought that pilgrims generally entered through the Portico de la Gloria, once it had been completed. Of course, I recognize that Gitlitz and Davidson are not the be all and end all of sources, and like all of us are subject to error. However, until I am presented with evidence to the contrary, I am inclined to trust them and their scholarship.
Thanks a lot for that David and although the Santiago behind the alter is also smiling (and huggable at a price) I agree that the Santiago in the Portico of Glory is the one I would rather have greet me (even if I have to pay).

So this seems to be the ideal topic for a poll to see what PILGRIMS might like rather than what they are told to like. Can we start one please?
 
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Here is a photo (copyright Shutterstock) that shows what one sees IF one looks up. The figures are coloured so the photo must have been taken after completion of the extensive restoration works. The dominant figure is Christ in Majesty. The Saint James statue is remarkably similar to the (touchable) Saint James statue at the High Altar. The importance of a haptic experience … What I found interesting was to learn more about the iconographic programme of the portals - i.e. north, south and west portal. There is no east portal of course, it is a medieval church after all.

Also until relatively recently, people did not have this great view from the Portico to the High Altar. There was what they call trascoro in Spanish - an area that was off limits for lay persons and right in the middle of the central nave with barriers more than a man’s height. First medieval and in stone originally, then destroyed and replaced by a trascoro in wood and in Baroque style. This was completely removed in the 1940s I think or was it later?

1710237162229.jpeg
 
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Here is a photo (copyright Shutterstock) that shows what one sees IF one looks up. The figures are coloured so the photo must have been taken after completion of the extensive restoration works. The dominant figure is Christ in Majesty. The Saint James statue is remarkably similar to the (touchable) Saint James statue at the High Altar. The importance of a haptic experience … What I found interesting was to learn more about the iconographic programme of the portals - i.e. north, south and west portal. There is no east portal of course, it is a medieval church after all.

Also until relatively recently, people did not have this great view from the Portico to the High Altar. There was what they call trascoro in Spanish - an area that was off limits for lay persons and right in the middle of the central nave with barriers more than a man’s height. First medieval and in stone originally, then destroyed and replaced by a trascoro in wood and in Baroque style. This was completely removed in the 1940s I think or was it later?

View attachment 165968
Please keep us informed about these iconographic programmes of the portals - i.e. north, south and west portal. I have not got past this one as yet
 
So the next question is who is the head at the base of the next column? He looks dead to me and it seems these beasties are actually feasting on him.glory8.jpg
 
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These Romanesque sculptures have been put there at the foot of the column by an artist-tradesman of the 12th century so that people have something to comment about some 850 years later … 😶
per Wiki:

"At the time, design and iconography were decided by the archbishop, his canons, and Maestro Mateo. The Archbishop Pedro II was a francophile and a main influencer of the iconography on the portico. Examples include the simple, yet expressive monsters on the bases and the crude human figures."

So any takers on the identity of the head? It really is very easy😇
 
So any takers on the identity of the head? It really is very easy
Huh?

I am not sure why a discussion of such minor details of the Portico de la Gloria is of much interest to us here but to end it here is a better photo of the plinth and a description. The source is a webpage of the Museo de la Catedral de Santiago which I would privilege over Wikipedia entries and random quotes found on the internet:

1710650582769.png
 
Nabucodonosor presente no libro de Daniel
I am not particularly versed in the OT and the Book of Daniel and had to look it up. Nebuchadnezzar living among the wild animals is apparently a motif in religious art. The wild animals apparently don’t eat him.

So this is the second sculpture of a face of a person on the plinths of the Portico de la Gloria who is not represented as dead although it might appear so to the casual observer at first sight and without background knowledge. I am sure more of the same can be found. 😶
 
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I am not particularly versed in the OT and the Book of Daniel and had to look it up. Nebuchadnezzar living among the wild animals is apparently a motif in religious art. The wild animals apparently don’t eat him.

So this is the second sculpture of a face of a person on the plinths of the Portico de la Gloria who is not represented as dead although it might appear so to the casual observer at first sight and without background knowledge. I am sure more of the same can be found. 😶
Fascinating. Maybe his grandson will crop up next? Is there any writing on the wall?
 
Johnnie Walker tells me that the Tree of Jesse was already out of bounds and protected by metal bars by the time of his arrival in Santiago in 2007.
That was already the case in 2005.
 
The main entry for contemporary pilgrims - the south portal of the Cathedral of Santiago - is not a “back door” as it has been referred to in another recent post.

The west portal - where the Portico de la Gloria is located - is not the “traditional” entry for pilgrims either.
The west portal should be the "normal" entry point to those attending Mass, and certainly remains so in Santiago during certain specific rituals over the course of the liturgical year (though churchgoers can and do enter large churches through a variety of doors when they are open).

But a church, and certainly a Cathedral, when it receives a very substantial number of visitors daily, in this case churchgoers, pilgrims, and tourists, can certainly regulate entry and exit points as this one does.

The Holy Door is most certainly neither a side entrance nor a "back door", but the other entrances are -- except for the one leading between the church proper and the cloister and its attendant facilities.
 
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Huh?

I am not sure why a discussion of such minor details of the Portico de la Gloria is of much interest to us here but to end it here is a better photo of the plinth and a description. The source is a webpage of the Museo de la Catedral de Santiago which I would privilege over Wikipedia entries and random quotes found on the internet:

View attachment 166192
It says "possible" (in English) but Daniel is OLD Testament and so he is situated on the LEFT side of the Portal, and as he was not a martyr the base of "his column" has just beasties AND they are hungry for martyrs and don't look happy at all.

glory12.jpg

So there is the clue - WHO is atop the NEW Testament side column
 
"smiling to greet pilgrims after their arduous journey"
I went of course to look it up myself in my own copy and it made me smile: "Santiago, with his pilgrim staff, smiling to greet pilgrims after their arduous journey".

The author did not look carefully at the sculpture on the Portico de la Gloria and I remembered an earlier forum discussion: The statue of Saint James on the Portico does not hold a pilgrim staff. He holds a bishop's staff. The quite similar statue of Saint James on the High Altar does hold a pilgrim staff but that is only because it was put there during remodelling in the 17th century, and the hand of the statue was altered for this purpose. Doesn't the position of this new hand look a bit weird - at least on the photo?
Santiagos.jpg
 
FWIW, Baedeker, a widely known publishing house for travel guides founded 200 years ago - a kind of pioneer and authority in their field, published a guide for Spain in English in 1898. It describes the Cathedral of Santiago at the time:

Baedeker 1898.jpg
We have this idea that pilgrims climbed the great stairs on Obradoiro square and entered the cathedral through the Portico de la Gloria for centuries and centuries, and now we are denied this. Has it really been like this? You be the judge ... :cool:.
 
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FWIW, Baedeker, a widely known publishing house for travel guides founded 200 years ago - a kind of pioneer and authority in their field, published a guide for Spain in English in 1898. It describes the Cathedral of Santiago at the time:

View attachment 166810
We have this idea that pilgrims climbed the great stairs on Obradoiro square and entered the cathedral through the Portico de la Gloria for centuries and centuries, and now we are denied this. Has it really been like this? You be the judge ... :cool:.
All I can say is that I have vivid memories of approaching the Portico of Glory upon arrival at the Cathedral in 1989 and placing my hand on the column. Maybe I am misremembering and didn't come through those doors. It certainly wouldn't be the first time my memory was faulty. Maybe I approached it from the other side and don't remember doing so because my memory of the approach has been completely superseded by my memory of the Portico. It's been a few years after all.

Perhaps one of the other pilgrims who also completed a pilgrimage in the late 80s or early 90s (or earlier) who has a better memory than I can recall where they entered the Cathedral.
 
FWIW, Baedeker, a widely known publishing house for travel guides founded 200 years ago - a kind of pioneer and authority in their field, published a guide for Spain in English in 1898. It describes the Cathedral of Santiago at the time:

View attachment 166810
We have this idea that pilgrims climbed the great stairs on Obradoiro square and entered the cathedral through the Portico de la Gloria for centuries and centuries, and now we are denied this. Has it really been like this? You be the judge ... :cool:.
What a fabulous piece of research! Well done.
 
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FWIW, Baedeker, a widely known publishing house for travel guides founded 200 years ago - a kind of pioneer and authority in their field, published a guide for Spain in English in 1898. It describes the Cathedral of Santiago at the time:

View attachment 166810
We have this idea that pilgrims climbed the great stairs on Obradoiro square and entered the cathedral through the Portico de la Gloria for centuries and centuries, and now we are denied this. Has it really been like this? You be the judge ... :cool:.
That "opened only for the passage of the very highest secular and ecclesiastical dignitaries" sounds completely wrong.

Typically, the principal doors of a large church remain closed, and worshippers enter through such side doors as can be seen here (and in the case of this particular Cathedral, also the North and South entrances, plus the Holy Dear in Holy Years) :

1000_F_445424481_HcdRPus6sr8flMGaOrQPJ8GY4Mnn9nyL.jpg


The Portico as such comprises the whole structure, including both main doors and side doors -- the part of it in question is however not accessible through those side doors, as it is walled off from them, as can be seen here :

26ebff0b-485c-4bbd-a1f9-1d48459c6386_16-9-aspect-ratio_default_0.jpg


I can remember using one and/or other of those side doors to exit the Cathedral, as traffic through the main doors was one way only.

The central doors of a cathedral are not opened "for dignitaries" only (though of course they certainly could be), but typically they are opened for Sunday Mass and for Feast Day Masses -- the Cathedral in Santiago currently not doing this except on some major Feast Days is an exception to typical practices.

Those doors should in theory have opened four days ago on Palm Sunday, as the liturgy for the Palm Sunday Mass commences on the porch of the church, and the Parish Priest (in this case the Bishop) calls from outside demanding entry into the church, the doors are opened following some ritual protests, and then the congregation streams in following the priest through the doors into the church -- but in actual fact, they remained closed, and instead the Bishop and the Congregation entered through the southern door. This was likely to have been for practical and processional reasons.

However, as you can see, they were open on the Feast Day of the Apostle last year, of course only to those with the correct invitation to the Celebration :


You can nevertheless see that quickly after the Bishop began proceeding towards the altar, the doors were closed.

Apart from that, it is seemingly possible to get a guided visit to the Portico de la Gloria ; whether or not these visits enter through the main door or not, I haven't the foggiest -- though the above photo suggests not.

In some cases, a church can have an outer door, remaining open, then an an inner central door usually closed, and two interior side entrances. As above, that central internal door will open for Sunday Mass. At the church where I was baptised, that's mostly to make passage easier for the Congregation to leave after Mass. That was the same at my Parish church, but the interior doors are broken so we make do.

Each church does have its own practices regarding its main doors -- Notre Dame in Paris kept them open on ordinary week days (if that's still the case in future remains to be seen), whereas Notre Dame in Chartres keeps them closed, for example -- however, these practices can and do change over time ; so that whilst the central doors in Santiago were generally kept closed in 1898, and are kept closed in 2024, they were kept open in the 1980s and 1990s and at least until the late 2000s. So that 1898 report has little relevance to the typical state of affairs over the centuries, as does not the present situation (which the current Bishop is reportedly unhappy with).

I have no idea of when the practice of keeping them open during the 20th and early 21st Centuries had started, though I do seem to remember that the need for the recent restoration is what prompted their closure 15 years ago or so. They were closed anyway in 2014, and had been for some time.

Personally, I entered the Cathedral through those main doors in 1993, 1994, and 2005 -- and I placed my hand on that column in 1994 (in 1993 I was unaware of that old custom, and in 2005 a barrier had been put in place to prevent it).

Nevertheless, the erosion to the column in that hand imprint is hard evidence that vast numbers of pilgrims over the centuries have engaged in that practice, which is now only ever allowed by an especial permission as I understand things, so that it is quite clear that keeping those doors closed is not the norm for the Cathedral, but that it is an exceptional measure.

---

BTW here is a partial reconstitution of what the Portico would have looked like, more or less, in the 11th or 12th Century :

portico-restaurado.jpg


It was repainted in the 17th and 19th Centuries, each time less colourfully ; and some trace remnant of the 19th Century colours was visible in the upper area prior to the restoration work.

I do not know if there is any project to restore the pigmentation.
 
Apart from that, it is seemingly possible to get a guided visit to the Portico de la Gloria ; whether or not these visits enter through the main door or not,
I got such a visit on last November, and no, the entry is not through the main door, but through the church, after the museum visit.
Note that pictures are (now) forbidden.
 
I see that we are back from the More Distant Past and again in the Present and in the More Recent Past. This turns out to be unexpected fun and has helped me to solve one of the enduring puzzles of my Camino life: How we got from the Obradoiro square to the Portico de la Gloria and back again. ☺️

I vividly remember that we entered from outside through the small door to the left of the large staircase where we had been instructed to pick up our pre-ordered tickets. We were asked to hang around in a small space with some sculptures before we were called to follow our group up and down and left and right to finally end up in front of the Portico. And the same way back again. I had lost all sense of orientation plus it was dark.

Thanks to the great Visual Tour web app I've figured it out now: We entered the Cathedral through a small internal door - yet another access point of this large Cathedral complex!

I'll just post the screenshots. The large dot marks where we came from. The crosses mark the doors that are permanently closed to the public but would lead to and from the Obradoiro square (i.e. one large double door in the middle and a smaller door on each side. The two screenshots show the same pathway, just from different perspectives, the first one looking toward the direction of the Obradoiro square and the second one in front of the Portico with the Obradoiro square at your back.

I feel so relieved ... 😇.

For those who visited in recent years - has this been nagging you too? 😎

Access points.jpg
 
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My previous post refers to 1898 and not to the 1990s.
The implication I got was that the entrance from the Plaza de Obradoiro had been closed except in unusual circumstances since before 1898, but I acknowledge I certainly may have been reading into the post something that wasn't intended.
 
I see that we are back from the More Distant Past and again in the Present and in the More Recent Past. This turns out to be unexpected fun and has helped me to solve one of the enduring puzzles of my Camino life: How we got from the Obradoiro square to the Portico de la Gloria and back again. ☺️

I vividly remember that we entered from outside through the small door to the left of the large staircase where we had been instructed to pick up our pre-ordered tickets. We were asked to hang around in a small space with some sculptures before we were called to follow our group up and down and left and right to finally end up in front of the Portico. And the same way back again. I had lost all sense of orientation plus it was dark.

Thanks to the great Visual Tour web app I've figured it out now: We entered the Cathedral through a small internal door - yet another access point of this large Cathedral complex!

I'll just post the screenshots. The large dot marks where we came from. The crosses mark the doors that are permanently closed to the public but would lead to and from the Obradoiro square (i.e. one large double door in the middle and a smaller door on each side. The two screenshots show the same pathway, just from different perspectives, the first one looking toward the direction of the Obradoiro square and the second one in front of the Portico with the Obradoiro square at your back.

I feel so relieved ... 😇.

For those who visited in recent years - has this been nagging you too? 😎

View attachment 166884
Do you have a link to that virtual tour please?
 
However, until I am presented with evidence to the contrary, I am inclined to trust them and their scholarship.
I have no intention of presenting evidence to the contrary 😊 but since I've just done a bit of rereading: I'd recommend to anyone interested in this topic to read one of the few reports from the 17th century where pilgrims such as Laffi or Manier and another one whose name I've already forgotten again describe their arrival at the Cathedral of Santiago in greater detail. Then readers can decide on their own whether it challenges their perceptions or not.

Many century-old reports written by Santiago pilgrims lack much details, unfortunately. Laffi's Viaggio in Ponente a San Giacomo di Galitia has a detailed description of his arrival and of the Cathedral building in his time. It is available online and amazingly easy to read and understand (with the help of some basic Italian knowledge and deepl.com). There is even a translated English version available but it was done only in 1988 and cannot be read free of charge online.

Spanish papers dealing with the remodelling of the facade and the portal of the Azabachería square in the 18th century also provide insight about how the portal was used and by whom in those days.
 
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This subject came up in a Facebook group yesterday. Apparently the entrance through the Portico had already been closed for more than a year before the filming of that scene in "The Way". The film crew paid a substantial sum for privileged access. So it was anachronistic even then [in 2010].
I read but don't post on FB. I've done a bit of rereading recently and also scrolled through some relevant posts on FB. I am not alone: There is a small number of apparently Spanish participants who also know that the Obradoiro portal was not an established "traditional" entrance for pilgrims during the last 800 years. I feel less isolated now. :cool:

That the ritual of putting one's hand on the Tree of Jesse is also not an 800 years old tradition is more widely known. Here is a link to a summary of how this ritual became popular in the 20th century: The hand of the Parteluz of the Pórtico de la Gloria: From Legend to History (in Spanish). Medieval pilgrims did not know this ritual.
 
Here is a link to a summary of how this ritual became popular in the 20th century: The hand of the Parteluz of the Pórtico de la Gloria: From Legend to History (in Spanish). Medieval pilgrims did not know this ritual.
I found a photo of the postcard from the 1920s that is mentioned in the document linked above. It was taken by a professional photographer and became part of a series of postcards or souvenirs promoting tourism to Galicia. This photo of a man in pilgrim outfit is usually reproduced online or in books without the postcard frame. It was part of the start of popularising the ritual. The scene in the movie The Way would then mark the end of this phase.

If it is any consolation: There have been other pilgrim rituals in the Cathedral of Santiago that lasted for centuries and then fizzled out or ended for whatever reason (keywords: the hat, the crown, the staff on the pillar etc).

1920s postcard.jpg
 
I found a photo of the postcard from the 1920s that is mentioned in the document linked above. It was taken by a professional photographer and became part of a series of postcards or souvenirs promoting tourism to Galicia. This photo of a man in pilgrim outfit is usually reproduced online or in books without the postcard frame. It was part of the start of popularising the ritual. The scene in the movie The Way would then mark the end of this phase.

If it is any consolation: There have been other pilgrim rituals in the Cathedral of Santiago that lasted for centuries and then fizzled out or ended for whatever reason (keywords: the hat, the crown, the staff on the pillar etc).

View attachment 167056
The article says

"the result of a perfectly defined and programed carving and polishing from the outset" to be "the imprint of that of Our Lord"

But it seems it was not Master Mateo who was "programed" to the task but later on when "the orientation of this temple changed" - and I can't seem to find any mention of that legend

Anyone know? - it was obviously prior to A. Jouvin (1672) who is the reference here
 
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I went on a night tour last night (25e) as I couldn't get to the Portico or Tree of Jesse via cathedral entrance or museum entrance. It is roped off. At night, lights illuminate the Portico and a torch is used to highlight aspects. I told the guide I was a pilgrim. He spent a lot of time explaining the notes from others above (the hand of Jesus, new and old rituals) As long as you didn't touch or photograph you could kneel in front of it, as well as the 'architect' for wisdom statue. You also got more time / space at the tomb and sculpture of St James plus went right onto the Altar under the statue. I would really recommend this experience. It's 1030pm in Spanish and English for 25e and book in advance. The price includes entrance to the museum and a load of other things.
 
I haven't read all this thread so may be repeating.

When I arrived in Santiago May last year I went on a wonderful tour up onto the cathedral roof...it was a clear day. I stumbled across a sign for the guided tour when I went through the museum door to the left of the Cathedral's main front.
 

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