Iconography of St JAMES.
The oldest figurations of St James show him as an Apostle, a book or parchment in the hand. He appears in that figuration on the Portico of the Glory.
The most widespread Iconography is that of St Jacques pilgrim with stick and gourd as represented in Capilla Mayor of the cathedral.
Another image, equestrian and military of the Apostle gained in importance during the 12th century.
This military figuration of St James resulted from the legend according to which he would have intervened against the Muslims at the siege of Coïmbra (Portugal).
It is “Santiago Matamoros” St James the killer of Moors. (“matar” means to kill in Spanish).
Santiago Matamoro became patron saint of Galicia and Spain except Catalonia which preferred St George, killer of the dragon.
It should be reminded that the military figure of St James results from the seven centuries long fight for the liberation of the Iberian Peninsula invaded in 711 by the Muslims.
The city and the sanctuary of Santiago de Compostela were plundered in 997 by the troops of Al-Mansur. Consternation was very large in Christendom.
Santiago Matamoros became the emblem of the Reconquest starting from the north of Spain and ending with the fall of Grenade in 1492.
The wars of Reconquista were not permanent; there were periods of peace and trade between the Christian and Moorish kingdoms.
One curiosity of this history is that Moorish potentates took a fancy to the blonde blue eyed women of Galicia and would marry them, so that, from generation to generation, the last emirs were blond, with blue eyes and more Galician than Arab blood.
The Camino de Costa
After you have finished your walk comes the Question of how to get back home once more !! We first had to make our way back to Bilbao to catch the return leg of our flight with easyjet back to London -- so how to get back to Bilbao from Santiago de Compostella an Interesting way !!!???
Our Answer was to first catch a bus to Ferrol and from there take the FEVE Trail All the way along the North Coast of Spain back to Bilbao -- This takes two days but I will give this trip the BIGGEST of Recommendations -- it Is Fantastic !!!!!!!!!
The Train Journey is called " The Camino de Costa " and the trip takes you through Wonderful Countryside in Comfort and at a Very reasonable cost too !!!!
A Brilliant way to end your Trip !!!!
Mass of the botafumeiro
In the cathedral of Santiago on the celebration of St James (Santiago Apostol), 25th July, and other high days and holy days, a giant censer, the Botafumeiro, is swung on ropes by some men. It goes from one side of the cathedral to the other throwing incense over the crowd's heads. It's an amazing experience to be under it while it's swinging. The smell of incense fills the cathedral. It was originally used in the middle ages when the pilgrims came to Santiago and they got to the cathedral very dirty and smelly and the incense would disguise the bad smell.
Take pictures of the cathedral big cathedral. It is the tallest and largest structure of the city and it is often used as a landmark. In every year in which 25 July falls on a Sunday (and 2004 is one of them), there are massive pilgrimages on foot to this cathedral. 1993 was another of those years and Fernando volunteered with the organisation to find these pilgrims lodging. I was able to be helpful because not everybody who came spoke Spanish. I speak English and French and I get on right well in German too.
Cathedral - interior
Entrance to the Cathedral is free and is open daily from 0700 - 2100hrs.
It is 97m long and 22m high, the largest romanesque church in Spain, and one of the largest in Europe.
Around the cathedral are information booths where a 1 euro coin gives a taped commentary.
Most visitors, including thousands of pilgrims who've completed one of the arduous caminos, enter through the doors on the Western Obradoiro side. Other entrances are the Acibecheria and Praterias. If it's a Holy year - the next one will be 2010, you may enter through the Puerta Santa.
The Cathedral is in the shape of a Latin cross, and at the far end is the high altar, framed within the organs pipes. In the main nave, looking upto the ceiling, You'll see the hoist for the famed Botofumeiro - the huge incense burner that takes 8 priests, assisted by ropes and pulleys to swing through the air.
This was my initial reason for visiting Santiago de Compostela, and I was a bit disappointed to find out that this wasn't a regular feature of the services. I wasn't able to find out when it would be in operation from the few people I asked. However, there was plenty to see other than this.
In the crypt with the marble casket are the remains of St James and 2 of his disciples, viewed by descending a few steps. Somehow I managed to miss the image of the Saint, which is traditionally embraced or its feet kissed by the pilgrims.
I'm afraid I had to stifle a giggle while wandering around one of the chapels- either the Chapel of the Saviour or the Corticelo chapel I think, there was a display of some of the campest looking statues, including one that looked like Rowan Atkinson as the priest in Four Weddings and a Funeral!
I quite enjoyed the peace and quiet of the airy Cathedral, and visited twice- the 2nd time as part of the audio guided walk, so I learnt a lot more about the history and architecture.
I was particularly impressed with the Portico of Glory - more info in my next tip.
UPDATE - Just returned from SDC, where I was looking forward to visiting the Cathedral again- Hmmmm.... just had to smile at my comment of 'enjoying the peace and quiet' it was more like Bedlam this time- thronging with chattering visitors, plus a recorded 'Monastic choir' and announcements over the tannoy - I'm glad that saw it the first time, when I could look around in peace.- I'm afraid that I left quite quickly this time! I'm not sure which was the worse experience, this or Sevilles Cathedral, which was also overrun by jostling crowds - Well at least it's still free entrance here!