The Cathedral of Leon: West Portal

The Cathedral of Leon: West Facade Portal (SZ)

Depiction of the Last Judgement on the portal of the West Facade. Credits: Guillen Perez on Flickr.

The Leon Cathedral is a Gothic church. It is a stone cathedral that was designed by Master Enrique (University of Notre Dame). The front portal (the portal of the west façade) is approximately 30-40 ft tall from the ground to the tip of the tallest voussoir. It has a tympanum that depicts the Last Judgement (Ashley 177). The tympanum is surrounded by 3 voussoirs, all containing winged figures, that converge at the tip of the tympanum, creating a point.

The tympanum is divided into three registers by small, protruding arcades of trefoil arches. The sculpture in these registers is in high relief with even some just barely touching the background. The drapery on the figures is also carved in high relief, giving each fold its own weight. The central figure in the central register, though appearing to be the same size as those with it, is larger; it just appears the same size because the figure is sitting. The lower register figures are all smaller than the central register and are all proportional to each other, except for three large heads on the right side.

There are jamb figures and a trumeau figure that helps support the tympanum. The middle jamb figures on either side look to the trumeau figure while the other four look outward, creating balance and symmetry in the portal entrance. The folds on these figures’ robes are also realistic and appear to have weight. The drapery covers most of their form, so there is more detail in the clothing than the actual shape of their bodies.

Ashley, Kathleen M., and Marilyn Deegan. Being a Pilgrim: Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to Santiago. Lund Humphries, 2009.

Turespana. “Leon Cathedral in Leon | USA.”, 23 Apr. 2007,

Blankenbehler, Benjamin. “Leon Cathedral, Spain.” Architecture Revived, 2 Dec. 2015,

University of Notre Dame. “Leon Cathedral: Last Judgement Portal of the West Façade.” CurateND, 1 Jan. 2007,

Image Credits: Perez, Guillen. Flickr. 

The Cathedral of Leon: West Portal