(active 1075-1125 in Galicia)

Interior view

Cathedral, Santiago de Compostela (Galicia)

The most important Spanish example of the so-called "pilgrimage church" is the cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Popular in France as well as in Spain, this type of building included an ambulatory with chapels, projecting transept and tall galleries extending up as far as the barrel vaulting of the nave. These churches must be regarded as evidence of a highly mobile society in the regions of northern Spain and southern France whose culture was co-determined to a high degree by the pilgrimages, particularly the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

The cathedral is the reputed burial-place of Saint James the Great, one of the apostles of Jesus Christ. The cathedral has historically been a place of pilgrimage on the Way of St. James, since the Early Middle Ages. The building is a Romanesque structure with later Gothic and Baroque additions.

Construction of the present cathedral began in 1075 under the reign of Alfonso VI of Castile (1040–1109) and the patronage of bishop Diego Peláez. It was built according to the same plan as the monastic brick church of Saint Sernin in Toulouse, probably the greatest Romanesque edifice in France. It was built mostly in granite. Construction was halted several times and the last stone was laid in 1122. But by then, the construction of the cathedral was certainly not finished. The cathedral was consecrated in 1211 in the presence of king Alfonso IX of Leon.

The cathedral is not only the largest Romanesque church building in Spain, but also ranks amongst the biggest in Europe.

The photo shows a view along the southern transept to the crossing.

View the ground plan of the Cathedral, Santiago de Compostela.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.