In the 9th century, Bishop Teodomiro of Iria Flavia identified a small Roman temple with the tomb of the Apostle St. James. As a result of this discovery, King Alfonso 2nd "The Chaste" ordered a modest church to be erected around this pagan construction. The increase in pilgrimages and a certain stability after Arab attacks led to a new construction, begun in the year 1075, during the reign of Alfonso 6th and under the direction of Archbishop Diego de Peláez. Work started on the Romanesque cathedral, continued during the period of Archbishop Diego Gelmírez, and did not stop until it became the large building we can see today.
The cathedral is built in granite masonry with roofs in slabs of the same material. Romanesque construction on a Latin cross ground plan, longitudinal arm and transept in three aisles, ambulatory in the sanctuary and a tribune that runs along the whole perimeter; side chapels arranged along the whole interior with their own individual space, from the Romanesque period only some parts of the ambulatory remain. Side aisles with groined vaults, nave with stilted barrel vaults supported by vault arches with quarter barrel. The Acibechería facade is Neo-Classical (Ventura Rodríguez and Lois Monteagudo). The Praterías facade is Romanesque and a paradigm of medieval religious art. The Baroque Puerta Santa (1611) is only opened on Holy Years. The Obradorio facade (Fernando Casas y Novoa, 1738-1750) is a combination of stone and glass, with a remarkable large window in the central section, among the largest prior to the Industrial Revolution.
Declared Historic-Artistic Monument in 1986.
Chapel of La Corticela
Portico of La Gloria
The roof of the Basilica of Compostela was - since the origins of the building - made of terraced granite. It was accessed through the towers of the medieval façade of Maestro Mateo. (Only in the late 18th - early 19th century was it covered with tiles. Its original stone character was restored in the mid-20th century). It is part of the beautiful, exemplary Romanesque temple, which the centuries have dressed up in exceptional Gothic, Renaissance and especially Baroque layers.
Going up to the roof of St James´ Sanctuary is to access a privileged place from which the Basilica can be viewed and, at the same time, to contemplate Compostela: its origins, evolution and growth, as well as a broad panorama of the region that surrounds it, such as the historic mountains, full of the traditions of St James and the pilgrimage.
Aymerico Picaut, in the Codex Calixtinus, says that the melancholy man who goes up, comes back down happy.
A superb mirador, which bombards the senses with beauty, also allows the visitor to reflect on the historical and artistic facts from the Tomb of the Apostle St James the Elder.
During recent years, with a wealth of accumulated experience, it has become possible to offer an organised tour.
The project to open the roof to the public that the Council has devised has led to the restoration and preservation of the towers and roofs. At the same time it provides access and safety to the general public, with the aim of appropriately regulating demand for it but offering an unforgettable visit.
2.1. Characteristics of the tour
The tours are guided in groups of no more than 25 people.
A service is provided to very large groups, such as congresses, conventions, etc. and any other exceptional cases that require special attention.
Access is through the Palace of Gelmírez (Obradoiro), continuing up through the Tower of La Carraca, crossing the Portico de la Gloria and going up the last flights through the Bell Tower. From there the tour goes out on the Roof, following a perimeter route, descending finally through the Tower of La Carraca and exiting through Gelmírez.
The tour is adapted to the different types of visitors and their requirements, based on their age and level of education.
It is possible for children to go up under the responsibility of their parents or guardians.
2.4. Schedule and ticket sales
Tuesday to Sunday, visits each hour between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm, and from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm.
Reservations may be made by telephone and there are direct sales and customer service available (in the Palace of Gelmírez).
For more information: Cathedral Museum
Management (Rúa del Villar, nº 1, 1º izq.). Tel.: 981 56 05 27; Fax: 981 56 33 66; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
General Admission: 10. Discount (students and pensioners): 8.
Special sessions will be organised during non-peak times for educational centres and citizens´ groups.
Palace of Gelmírez (Plaza del Obradoiro).