The great central archway is divided in two by a mullion bearing a carving of the apostle St. James. The beautifully carved pediment features the family tree of Jesus Christ. You will be able to easily recognise King David with his harp on the shaft of the column. Above him is Solomon and at the top, the Virgin Mary. Superstitious worshippers have for centuries placed their fingers here, gradually wearing down the relief carving, as you can see.
Now look at the base, where you can see a man opening the mouths of two lions. These are actually clever openings that allow air into the crypt beneath.
At the top, seated on a throne, the kindly face of the apostle St. James greets visitors. He has a metal halo, encrusted with stones. He is barefoot and dressed as a pilgrim. The sign he holds says “I was sent by the Lord”
On the back of the mullion at the bottom, you will see a carving of a man with untidy short hair, praying. Tradition has it that this is Master Mateo, offering his monumental work to God. Tradition also requires that you touch the carving with your forehead, to receive the artist’s knowledge. This is why it is known as the “Santo dos Croques”, which means the Saint of the Knocks”, in the Galician language. At the foot of this figure you can see the tombstone of Pedro Muñiz, the archbishop who consecrated the cathedral in 1211. The parishoners thought he was a wizard, because they claimed they had seen him flying off to Rome.
Let’s return to the front of the portico and take a look at the central tympanum.
(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.
Whether you are a pilgrim or a visitor, we will guide you on a journey through more than one thousand years of art and history, +info