Find a place, pilgrim or traveller, from which to view this magnificent Platerias façade in all its glory. It is the only Romanesque doorway into the cathedral that has survived. It may look rather like a jigsaw, with figures moved around and squeezed into place, and this is certainly true of some of the figures, which came from other parts of the cathedral and were reused when the Romanesque style was replaced by new styles.
As you will see, the frieze that runs around the doorway is badly damaged, but you can still identify some of the figures. It is presided by a Gothic figure of Christ, with the Apostle St. James beside him and flanked by tree trunks. The statues on the other side are Romanesque, but were placed here in the 19th century.
Below Christ’s feet is Abraham, emerging from a tomb, and just below that is Moses and Christ’s monogram above two lions.
The tympanum of the left door, which is attributed to Master Mateo, shows the temptations of Jesus. The demons are easily identified as the monstrous black figures. Try to find the woman revealing her breast and holding a skull. According to the Codex Calixtinus, she is a sinner, and she is holding the head of her lover. He was decapitated by her husband, who forced her to kiss the head twice a day.
The scenes on the other tympanum are a little less gruesome, and the best-conserved are the Passion and the miracle of the blind man who recovered his sight.
Take a good look at the buttress on your left, which features a superb David, strumming a viola. This figure was commonly used to represent themes related to music. Above this figure is a carving of God creating man, using the symbolic gesture of placing a hand on him.
Now go over to the centre of the square and look at the towers on either side of this facade.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos
Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)
Independently produced by MUSMon.com, the audio guide for the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela offers you a wide-ranging, light-hearted and educational tour of one of the most visited monuments in Spain. There are 90 minutes of commentary, illustrated with over 62 high-quality images, so you won’t miss a single detail during your visit.
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