New finds in the Cathedral

Discover the recent finds made in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.

Façade of the Obradoiro in Santiago´s CathedralThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is the most outstanding work of Romanesque art in Spain and the destination of millions of people moved by faith. Its construction began in 1075, although it has undergone many subsequent renovations.

Crypt of Portico of Glory (Ca. 1168) by Master MateoThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

Its walls hide vestiges  of its different historical phases that, thanks to archaeology, are being retrieved , thus completing the memory of this monument. 

General section of the areas included in the interventionThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

Archaeological intervention 2017-2021

In the access staircase  to the  western doorway,  and in the  Portico de la Gloria crypt,  an archeological intervention related  to the restoration  works at the cathedral has been carried out throughout the years 2017 and 2021.

Archeological discoveries exhibitionThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

Archaeological remains reused as construction and filling materials in the various reforms that were carried out in these spaces throughout history, have been retrieved.  They are currently on display in the Cathedral Museum.

Staircase of the Obradoiro during excavationThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

The Stairway

Two  canopies, three fragments of  baseboard pieces, a  turret and a piece of lintel were found in the stairway. 

Baseboard pieces (Ca.1200) by Maestro Mateo and his workshopThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

Many of the remains found come from the stone choir of Maestro Mateo, whose destruction took place in 1604, when many of its pieces were reused as construction materials, as is the case of this baseboard.

Choir Stall Canopies (Ca.1200) by Maestro Mateo and his workshopThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

This is also the case of  these two canopies, whose vegetal decoration and use of trepanning shows the quality and creativity of the Mattean workshop who carried out the construction of the choir.

Crypt of the Portico during the restoration projectThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

The Crypt

Reused as pavement in the crypt other elements such as twelve plaques  with  turriets in relief, arches to give shelter to sculptures, a beam, two arcades or fragments of a canopie  were found. There were also a fragment of a tombstone and other pieces from different periods and origins.

Towers from the outside wall of the Choir (Ca.1200) by Maestro Mateo and his workshopThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

The turrets come from Maestro Mateo's choir and represent the walls of the heavenly Jerusalem. In some cases, they have retained traces of their original polychromy, which is similar to the one applied in the Portico de la Gloria by the workers of the Matthean workshop.

Arcades of the Choir (Ca.1200) by Maestro Mateo and his workshopThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

Of the same origin are pieces such as the arches to give shelter sculptures of biblical characters; the beam, which presents vegetal decorations; the fragments of the  canopie and these two round-arch arcades  with rosettes, in which diverse remains of polychromy can be appreciated.

Tombstone fragment (1085) by Workshop from CompostelaThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

This is not the case of this tombstone fragment  whose  original provenance is unknown and which is dated in 1085.

Scene from the Massacre of the Innocents (Ca.1250-1350) by Workshop from CompostelaThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

Reliefs of the massacre of the innocents

An unexpected  find are these reliefs found in the crypt, a set composed of: a fragment of a seated figure, a head, and three plaques in which the scene of the massacre takes place; in addition to other remains and some fragments of voussoirs.

crowned head (Ca.1250-1350) by Workshop from CompostelaThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

The pieces, of unknown original provenance within  the cathedral complex, define a program centered on the  Massacre of the Innocents, ordered by King Herod, whose representation has not been infrequent throughout  medieval art history.

Seated figure (Ca.1250-1350) by Workshop from CompostelaThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

Although they show the influence of workshops of Matteo's heritage, they present characteristics that take them to the Gothic style, and, therefore, they would not correspond to the hand of Maestro Mateo or his workshop, being possible to establish for the whole a range between the years 1250-1350.

Crypt of the Portico after The Restoration projectThe Catedral de Santiago Foundation

With the recovery of these pieces it is evident that the Cathedral continues to keep secrets and that, with each discovery, while advancing in its knowledge, paradoxically, new enigmas and questions are also opened.

Credits: Story

An initiative of the Santiago Cathedral Foundation

Direction: Ramón Yzquierdo Peiró
Texts: Claudia Gómez Cabrera
Images: Fundación Catedral de Santiago 

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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