The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela: Portico de la Gloria
The Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is a Romanesque church that is 75-80 meters tall. This is usually the destination for pilgrims traveling the Camino de Santiago across Europe. The cathedral and the portal, Portico de la Gloria, are made of stone. Portico de la Gloria is an internal, door less portal that was carved by Master Mateo, or Master Matthew, that depicts Christ in Majesty (Stokstad 256). The semi-circular tympanum in the central portal is surrounded by a voussoir filled with figures. Above this voussoir is another linear design that starts on either side of the tympanum, as if to form another voussoir, but then extends upwards into a groin vault.
The tympanum figures are sculpted in high relief, especially the central, frontal figure. The lines on the drapery are very fine and detailed, making the fabric look thinner and lighter. The figures also look to be very geometrical (except for the central figure). Their bodies are positioned in a form that appears rectangular. To keep this rectangular shape, the figures’ clothes fall straight to the ground, making the curves of their drapery sharper.
The jamb figures and trumeau figure are less contained by a rectangular shape. They have fewer fine lines in their drapery and their clothing appears more weighted with the thicker, more defined lines. The trumeau figure is frontal and faces outward, while most of the jamb figures appear to turn to each other. This turning of the bodies toward one another makes them appear less geometrical and rigid.
Ashley, Kathleen M., and Marilyn Deegan. Being a Pilgrim: Art and Ritual on the Medieval Routes to Santiago. Lund Humphries, 2009.
Stokstad, Marilyn. Medieval Art. Westview Press, 2004.
Pavils, Gatis. “Santiago De Compostela Cathedral.” WonderMondo, 20 Aug. 2013, www.wondermondo.com/Countries/E/Spain/Galicia/SantiagoCompostelaCathedral.htm.
Image Credits: Architect Magazine. http://www.architectmagazine.com/design/a-20-image-history-of-santiago-de-compostela_o