The doors of the Wall

Santiago Gateway

Santiago Gateway dates back to Roman times, althouth it has been completely rebuilt. Since XII century it has been know as Posticu, Porticu and Postigo Gateway. All these name are related with the existence of a small door within a larger one. It is 4,5 metres wide and 5,50 metres high. There are 6,90 metres from the ground up to the top of the wall.

This was once a private gateway, belonging to the church, it was used by canons and their servants in their transit to the orchards. This was the only gateway kept open at times of plague. It was widened by Bishop Izquierdo y Tavira in 1759 to make way for carriages; it consists of an archway and granite ashlars. The towers standing on both sides have stone benches on top so that pedestrians can have a rest. On the occasion of one of its restorations it was embellished in the inner side, as it was considered a main exit point. It is enhanced with an image of Santiago Matamoros (St James, the killer of moors) in a niche; on the lower part lies Bishop Izquierdo's coat of arms. When entering the old quarter through this gate, the visitor is surprised at seeing the magnificient St Mary´s Cathedral. Afterwards, one can stroll along the path on top of the wall, as there is a nearby ramp, the only place accessible for the handicapped.

Bishop Aguirre Gateway

This was the fourth gateway cut open in the XIX century (1894). It was meant to facilitate the communication with the new Seminary as well as the old cemetery. Two towers were pulled down unearthing some Roman stone tablets. It is placed on a slope; it is 10 metres wide and its keystone is 8,15 metres high, the walk on top is 9 metres high. This gate has two in-built doors leading to cubicules whe toll was being charged. The bishop who commissioned the Seminary is remembered on a plaque.

Campo Castelo Gateway

With the opening of a new jain in 1887, a new gateway was necessary for the changing of guard and access to the courts of justice. It is also known as Porta do Cárcere (Jail Gateway); it was the third gate to be cut open during the XIX century.

It is 4.32 metres wide, the keystone is 7.15 metres high and the total height of the wall at this point is 8.10 metres. This gateway replaced previous staircases and this conditioned its dimension. The stairs -probably dating back to Roman times- and the tower as well as an artillery standpoint ("Reduto Cristina") had to be pulled down. Debris was used for the new project and the rest went to Porta de San Fernando where gutters were being built at the time, as well as some landfilling around Campo Castelo Square. Through this gateway we can reach the staircases at Campo Castelo square.

San Pedro Gateway

This is thought to have existed already in Roman times. In the late Middle Ages it is called in manuscripts Sancti Petri. During the Middle Ages it is also called Porta Toletana ou Porta Toledana due to the fact that it lies on the road to Castille, mainly used by merchants from Toledo. Placed on a slope, it is 3.70 m. wide, its keystone is at 4.85 m., and the total height at this point is 10.80 metres. Before it was rebuilt in 1781, it had lintels and wooden beams on top. Later on, it would have a guards room similar to the one in Porta Miñá, then turned into a chapel until it was eventuall pulled down in 1846. It is mainly an entry door, this justifies the ornament on the outside, such as a triangle-shaped frontispiece and the city's coat of arms, with the royal crown on top and two standing lions on both sides; it is placed on a cherub and an oval plaque indicated that the gate was rebuilt in 1781.

This gateway has been the main entry into the city for the thousands of pilgrims that have been coming to  Compostela since the Middle Ages, along the Primitive Way to Santiago. This is also the beginning of the Castille Royal Road to Astorga. Through this gateway, the first lane on the right leads to Cantiño Square, with a starircase to the Wall.

Station Gateway

The so called Station Gateway was cut open in 1875, at the request of some citizens who demaned an easy route from the city centre to the railway station. One year later it was expanded by pulling down the two adjoining towers, and in 1921 it was further widened by demolishing the whole archway and building the one that can be seen nowadays. The scarcity of ornament bears witness to the poor economic situation at the time because of budget restrictions related to World War I.

Gate designed by Nemesio Cobrero in 1875 and which was demolished in 1921. There are two built-in rooms that served as toll cabins, to raise one of the most unfair taxes of the XIX and XX century, levied on groceries and food. It is 10 metres wide, 8 metres high at the keystone, and its total height is 9 metres. Passing through this gate, there is a staircase to the walk on top of the Wall.

Falsa Gateway

This is one of the oldest gates in the Wall, although it has undergone subsequent reforms. These were the kind of gates known by the Romans as posterulae, exclusively used for military purposes that were cut open asymetrically on the wall between two towers. Then they dug trenches under the archway. This gate was presumably closed during the Middle Ages and was re-opened in the XVII century when the Hospital of St. Bartholomew was taken from Praza Maior to its new location in the nearby Ferrol Sq. Couriers came and went through this gate (for a long time it was the shortest way into the road to Corunna, that housed the headquarters of the Regional Government and Courts.

It is well into the XX century when vehicles are barred and steps are built through the archway. It is placed on a slope; it is 3.45 metres wide, the keystone 5,65 metres high, and the total height 11.50 metres. Through this gate, there is a staircase to the walk on top, on the left hand side.

San Fernando Gateway

The gate known as Puerta de San Fernando is the first of the contemporary entrances. It was opened in 1854 in the place where the "hole", through which the Roman aqueduct entered the city, was located. In 1858, on the occasion of the visit of Queen Isabel II and her children, it was given the name of Gate of Prince Alfonso, to honour the future king Alfonso XII, who at the time was just a one-year-old infant. Due to the large amount of population living in the northern part of the city and problems with heavy traffic, the gate underwent a reform in 1962, when it was widened. At the same time, the buildings annexed to the gate along the outside of the wall were demolished and fourteen years later all the buildings surrounding the exterior side of the wall were completely eliminated.

Today, a monolith standing by this entrance commemorates another royal visit, the one that took place in 1976 by Spain's current monarchs, King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofía. When crossing the gate and looking towards the centre of the city one can see the church of San Froilán, the patron saint of Lugo.

Nova Gateway

This gate dates back to Roman times when it was used to travel to Brigantium (Betanzos). Until the opening of the new Gate of San Fernando in 1854 this was the main thoroughfare into the Northern section of the city. It was rebuilt in the Middle Ages and it was already known in the XII century as Porta Nova (New Gate). The Medieval door was similar to the one at Porta Miñá and like this, the space on both sides was used as a chapel, consecrated to St. Mary and Virgin de los Remedios. This chapel was closed down in 1785, at the request of San Pedros parson, since it had been pillaged and profanated several times.

The present gateway was built in 1900, to replace the former one that was in ruins and posed a serious danger for pedestrians. One of the Walls towars had to be demolished to make way for the new gate. It is placed on a slope and it is 4.6m. wide, its keystone is at 8 m. high and the total height is 8.95 m. From this standpoint on the walk on top of the wall one can see in the distance the silhouette of the Cathedral towers. Through this gate, on the right hand side the staircase leads to the pedestrian walk on top.

Bishop Odoario Gateway

This door was cut open in 1921, to communicate the future Hospital de Santa María (St. Mary´s Hospital). Mayor Ángel López Pérez was put to trial at the time when five citizens denounced his decesion to blow up this section of the wall without an official permit. The Local Authority was found guilty and, subsequently, the Government listed the monument in the category of National Heritage, so as to prevent further incidents of this kind. This new gate was eventually completed in 1928. It is 12 m. wide, its keystone is placed at 9.1m. and the total height is 10 metres.   

Miñá or Carme Gateway

This is the gate that has kept the original Roman layout best. It is now commonly referred to as Porta do Carme, because it is located next to the chapel of this name; in Medieval documents it is called Minei or Mineana, because it was the most obvious passage towards River Miño, hence, the present name. This gate was built according to Vitrubius's model: half-point arch and cannon vault, buttressed by solid granite blocks. It still keeps on both sides the guards cubicule with slight alterations to the original; this in-built cavity was used until the XIX century as a chapel. The gate was repaired in 1854; in 1870 plans to rebuild it were shelved due to economic constraints at the Town Hall. It is placed on a slope, made of slate blocks and it is 3.65 m. wide. Throught this gate, the staircase takes us to the upper walk. This is also the exit from the city of the Primitive Prilgrims Way to Santiago.

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