Awesome sculptures and very historic and religious figures around this great entrance to the cathedral.
This is easy to overlook so best to seek it out. It is incredible to think how many entered at this location and took a moment to rest their hand on the statue and pray. You can see the handprint in the marble. Very significant in the pilgrim's journey.
I gave this 4 stars because from what I could see it looked interesting. That being said most was obstructed by scaffolding as a major restoration was going. On. I didn't mind paying though as there was no fee to enter the Cathedral (probably the only one in Spain) and I felt they deserved some kind of revenue. They did not pass a collection when we went to the Mass.
Because of scaffolding, the portal is a bit harder to see and enjoy, but there is enough of a view to truly appreciate the extraordinary vision and skill of the master sculpture, Maestro Matteo. I strongly suggest that you read about it before seeing it. There is far too much in the sculpture to understand without a detailed explanation. Unfortunately, one can no longer touch the base of the statue of Santiago, and place one's head next to the sculpture of Matteo himself behind the portal. That's regrettable, after so many centuries of pilgrim tradition, but it's understandable considering how these have been worn down, especially in recent years with the explosion of tourism.
When we arrived at the Cathedral in Santiago after walking 151 km. We found out that we would not be able to touch the Tree of Jesse. To place your hand in the handprint of thousands before you. It has been under renovation and scaffolding surrounded it. It could be seen thou. Still impressive. You could spend endless hours in the Cathedral. It is just so impressive. So much to see ,smell and just take in. Just in awe of it all. Highly recommend.
The Portico de la Gloria, the Romanesque original entrance ( now hidden behind the Baroque applique ) to the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela is undergoing stabilization and restoration. So much of the statuary and doorway details are fenced off and open only to a few behind-the-scenes tours. So, no opportunity to touch the Tree of Jesse, knock heads with te master builder, or even look at the statuary close up. What you can see is awesome ( yet somewhat eroded) 12th and 13th century stonework. Still worth hunting for it in the labyrinth of piping and scaffolding.
Brilliant work on this Portico, was built by Maestro Mateo, between 1168 and 1188, you can see the whole influence of the gothic style, there are some of the original pieces that are at the museum of the cathedral and others still at the Portico, but I strongly suggest to see this brilliant work
We were able to access the Portico without a tour (no fee). There is a good bit of scaffolding in the area, but it is still possible to see a lot of the large center arch and the right arch (in sections). The center arch is of the most interest. They may change the location of the scaffolding, so it's hard to say what will be visible at any time. We were able to easily the Tree of Jesse which has a pilgrim hand imprint in the stone which has been naturally worn away over time (a testament to the millions of pilgrims who have passed thru here). There is also the beautiful carved statue of St. James above that and above him the risen Christ surrounded by the 4 evangelists and 24 characters seated with instruments. The apostles are are the pillars to the right and left of the main arch. The right arch stone work represents the last testament. The highlight for me was by far the 3-D effect in the center arch and the worn hand print. I really would have loved to see it in it's entirety though. I think the Portico I saw in Laguardia was just as impressive - for it's color, the detail, and the size (and no scaffolding).
You can (on some days) get in via the Porta de la Gloria but most of the time it is shut. A great shame, one of the glories indeed,
Of course my visit of November 2006 (when having finished the camino francès from St.Jean-Pied-de-Port) is emotionally still the best one, but even today, with most of the Pórtico hidden by scaffolds, you can tell the quality of this work!