Opposite you there stands an altarpiece that contains a number of valuable carvings and around seventy relics, some of which were stolen from other holy places. Trafficking in saints’ remains was a common practice and lucrative business for Medieval churches. Amongst the relics are pieces from the Virgin Mary’s clothing, bones of eight of the eleven thousand virgins, the throats of saints, a tooth of St. Theresa’s, and an endless list of others. The most interesting is perhaps the reliquary bust with the skull of St. James the lesser, which you will notice because it is a main feature of the altar.
The royal sarcophagi date from the Middle Ages. On the right is the best- preserved recumbent figure, that of King Ferdinand II of Leon, who fought numerous battles against the Sarracens and who commissioned Master Mateo to finish the Cathedral.
On the left of the door is Queen Berenguela Berenguer, who was the wife of Emperor Alfonso VII. A Catalan chronicle of the time stated: “She was beautiful, chaste, a lover of truth and fearful of God”. She was undoubtedly a brave and courageous woman who accompanied her husband to war.
There is also another woman here. Can you find her? She is Doña Juana de Castro, the wife of King Peter the First, who was commonly known either as Pedro the Cruel, or the Lawful, and who had to reject her the day after the wedding as his marriage to Blanche of Bourbon had not been nullified. The monarch acknowledged years later that he had also secretly married María de Padilla.
If you wish, you can go to the other room in the corridor, known as the Chapel of the Treasure. It contains some interesting and valuable collections of sacred objects, such as the splendid processional monstrance made by Antonio de Arfe.
Now return to the Cathedral, which you have to cross in the direction of the Portico of Glory, where you will come to the entrance to the Gelmírez palace
(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