The Plaza de la Azabachería used to be home to the market where Pilgrims were able to buy all kinds of items and exchange their foreign currency at the Guild of Money Exchangers. There was also a huge fountain in the square that was unrivalled anywhere in the world, according to the Codex Calixtinus. This marvel was built to prevent water sellers taking advantage of the pilgrims, who had to wash before entering the Cathedral. The remains of the fountain are now decorating the cloister.
Take a look at the façade, which is the doorway to the North of the transept. It is the third and last cathedral doorway you will see. It replaced the Romanesque original, which was demolished in 1758 because it was about to collapse, although a few beautiful carvings were saved and placed on other parts of the building.
The Baroque façade is presided by a carving of Faith on a pedestal. Above it, on the pediment, the idea used in the Obradoiro Doorway has been repeated. The saint, dressed as a pilgrim, has two monarchs at his feet. Here, they are Kings Alfonso III and Ordoño II, who were keen promoters of the veneration of the Apostle. The windows with lintels and the Neo-Classical coats of arms show how many different hands took part in this doorway over the years. The medallions show the Enlightenment’s King Charles III and his wife. The king was so keen on city building works that he was declared the best mayor Madrid has ever had. Although, as you can see, his reforms went a long way beyond the capital.
If you would like to visit the museum, the Gelmírez Palace and other areas of the cathedral that require an admission fee, please go over to the Visitor Reception Centre at the foot of the Obraidoiro steps, where you can buy your tickets. You will be able to enter from the Plaza del Obradoiro, through the doorway in the Cloister façade that says Museo, or Museum.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos
Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)
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