In the morning
Cathedral of Santiago Apóstol There is only one way to start a day out in Santiago: at the Cathedral. We go in through the door leading from the Obradoiro square, where pilgrims will already have been arriving from far and wide since the early hours of the morning. The first thing to meet our eyes is the Portico of Glory. Behind the mullion, years ago, people used to perform a curious ritual: knocking their heads three times (gently) on the statue of Master Mateo. This custom originates from the university students who used to do this to increase their intelligence and for good luck in their exams. We follow the traditional route in our tour of the Cathedral and go down into the crypt, which contains the remains of the apostle. We then go up to the main altar to embrace the statue of Saint James and to get an unusual view of the Cathedral. As we go through the ambulatory, we will see the Holy Door, which is only opened in Holy Years (when 25 July falls on a Sunday). Going through this doorway is a very special experience, although the large crowds of people who do so in Holy Years mean you may have to wait. Cathedral rooftops: We decide to take the guided tour of the Cathedral roofs, which allows us to climb to the very top of the building and look out over the historic town centre from the heights. To do so we make for the Museum, located next to the Cathedral on Plaza del Obradoiro square. This itinerary takes us through the interior of Gelmírez Palace, past the Cathedral gallery (above the Portico of Glory) and up to the roofs of the cathedral. The sensation of the wind on your face, this elevated vantage point, the view… it will all leave you speechless. Church and Monastery of San Martín Pinario: Behind the Cathedral, as we go out through the Azabachería door, we reach Plaza de la Inmaculada square with the Church of San Martín Pinario. The features worth noting in the interior include the restored walnut choir, originally from the Cathedral. Pilgrim Mass: We return to the Cathedral to attend the Pilgrims’ Mass. This is celebrated daily at midday, and during the ceremony a welcome is extended to all the pilgrims who have completed the Way of Saint James. Worth knowing Entrance to the cathedral is free. However, you must book tickets to access certain areas. There are actually three types of tickets: to the Pórtico de la Gloria (there are also free invitations that can be picked up on the ground floor of the Casa do Deán), to the Permanent Collection, and to the Museum of Religious Art of Santa María Real La de Sar. To make sure that you can visit the cathedral roof, we recommend booking in advance by telephone (+34 902044077) or via the website. The roof is currently closed for construction work. If you would like to see the Botafumeiro –a large incense burner– in action inside the Cathedral, bear in mind that it is only used during Mass on certain days of the year. If you want to ask for it to be used, go to the Pilgrims’ Reception Office. Due to restoration work inside the Cathedral, the Botafumeiro is not currently in operation.