Before you go into the crypt, go up the double staircase around it. In the 17th century, after a number of modifications, this beautiful, complex and original arrangement replaced the Romanesque version by Master Mateo. The statues of King David and King Solomon are medieval and were relocated at the top of the staircase. From there, you can look out over the elegant Plaza del Obradorio.
Now let’s go down to the crypt of the Portico of Glory. It has been wrongly named the “old Cathedral”, although it was never in fact a cathedral. You can visit most of the crypt.
The crypt is attributed to Master Mateo, and it was designed in the 12th century to span the sloping terrain and support the Portico of glory. The result was this ingenious, beautiful and, above all, solid solution.
If you go inside to see it, you will find a cruciform church dominated by three wide pillars. In order to see how it relates to the cathedral above, let me explain that the first pillar you see when you enter supports the staircase. It has an image of the church’s patron saint, St. James, on it. The next one supports the doorway, and the third, the Portico of Glory.
The most interesting features are the bosses of the central vault, on which two angels hold a solar disc and a crescent moon, respectively. They represent the heavens and were once surrounded by painted stars, which are no longer there. The abundant plant motifs that decorate the crypt represent the earthly world, which needed celestial on to illuminate it. The entire design has been interpreted as being complimentary to the Apocalypse in the Portico of Glory.
Now we are going to enter the Cathedral through the Platerias Doorway, which you will find to the left of the exit. Just go up the street called Calle de Fonseca.
(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos
Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)
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