MM 4-24 Break Time at the End of the Camino

During our stay in Santiago last May we often walked down Rua da Acibecheria to the cathedral. One day I caught a street musician sitting on a wall near the cathedral’s north entrance taking a break from his guitar playing and I took this picture which will be my entry for this week’s Monochrome Madness Challenge.

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The Pilgrim’s Mass in Santiago

We walked down Rua da Acibecheria on a Saturday morning last May to attend the Pilgrim’s Mass at Catedral de Santiago which starts at noon every day.   We reached the cathedral’s north facade and then walked around the east side through Praza das Quintana and finally entered the cathedral through its south entrance at Praza das Platerias.

Walking past the Royal Door, one of many entrances along the cathedral’s Praza das Quintana. This is also the entrance to the cathedral’s gift shop.

We were surprised to find so many people in the Praza das Praterias. See photos # 8 and 9 below for the answer to this mystery.

View of Praza das Praterias from the end of Praza das Quintana. The building in the background is known as Casa Do Cabildo, built in the 1700s. Its only reason for existence is to make the plaza look pretty — it’s just a facade, only three meters deep!

We joined the line of people entering the cathedral.

The Romanesque south facade is the only outside visible remnant of the original Cathedral that was built in the 12th century. The three other sides of the cathedral were constructed in the Baroque style in the 17th century.

We arrived for Mass at 11:30am but the pews were already full and the aisles were blocked off. So we sat on the edge of a pillar near the south entrance and about eight inches from the floor. Soon it was Standing Room Only and we had to stand up to see anything going on.

View of the south transept’s main aisle all the way to the north transept. The famous incense censer called a botafumeiro is hanging over the main altar from the cathedral’s central dome.

Pilgrims walking across Spain on the Camino in the old days never bathed and never changed their clothes and by the time they reached the cathedral in Santiago they really stank! So the priests came up with the idea of burning incense in a giant censer called a botafumeiro and swinging it over the pilgrims when they came to the cathedral to attend mass. This event is recreated often at the end of the Pilgrim’s Mass.

Is it possible to live without our cell phones?

The botafumeiro is made of silver-plated brass and weighs more than 100 kg when it is full of coal and incense. It takes eight men to operate the censer and the full trajectory is about 65 meters across the transepts. After a minute or two it travels at a rate of 68 km per hour.

I caught the botafumeiro as it froze for a split second near the ceiling of the south transept before swinging back all the way to the north transept.

After Mass we discovered a live concert in the Praza das Praterias.

A large crowd standing around the plaza and sitting on the plaza steps listening to a concert.

Another shot of the concert and the Praza das Praterias and the cathedral’s south entrance. Look closely near the center of the photo and you will see the conductor of the symphonic orchestra. She is the one in a black suit.

A final shot of the plaza and the cathedral as we began to walk down Rua da Vilar looking for lunch.

We didn’t have to walk too far as there are many restaurants in this neighborhood south of the cathedral. We chose a nice pizzeria / ristorante that offered a pleasant outdoor dining experience.

My sisters Betty (left) and Marie (right) and their friend Ginny from their Road Scholar tour nearing the end of a very nice lunch.

After lunch we walked back to our respective hotels, stopping at several souvenir shops along Rua da Acibecheria. My sisters went to dinner with their tour group that evening and my wife and I walked back to this area and had dinner at another Italian restaurant nearby.

We went back to tour the cathedral the next day and also to explore the Praza do Obradoiro, the large plaza that spreads out in front of the cathedral’s west entrance. I’ll be posting about these adventures in a few days.

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The Final Steps on the Camino

For hundreds of years pilgrims on the French Way of the Camino walked 500 miles from St. Jean Pied de Port in France to the marketplace on top of the hill in Santiago. Then they would walk down a narrow street to the north entrance of the cathedral and their pilgrimage would come to an end. Come with me as we follow the peregrinos and peregrinas down the final steps of their journey.

The little church known as Igrexa de San Bieito do Campo sits on top of the hill at the Praza de Cervantes. Our hotel was down the alley a block behind the church.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

The marketplace is now called Praza de Cervantes and the narrow street is called Rua da Acibecheria.

Praza de Cervantes.

There are several souvenir shops on the Rua da Acibecheria and I think my wife shopped in all of the them! There’s also a gelato shop, several cafes and an albergue or two.

Walking down Rua da Acibecheria.

Window display at one of many souvenir shops on the way.

Damajuana is a popular tapas bar and restaurant.

The yellow arrow points to the Azabache albergue.

This souvenir shop is just a couple of doors up from the cathedral. I think it was my wife’s favorite — she bought a lot of stuff here.

The monastery of San Martino Pinario is now a seminary and also a hotel during the summer months.

The Rua da Acibecheria ends at Praza da Inmaculada with the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario and its gardens on the right (north) and the north entrance to the cathedral on the left (south). It was in front of the main entrance to the monastery where we met Mahatma Gandhi one day (see here).

Ta-da! The view at the end of Rua da Acibecheria of the north entrance to  the Santiago Cathedral.

The Romanesque north facade of the cathedral was built in the 12th century but demolished in the 18th century and replaced with this baroque facade. The Romanesque facades on the other three sides of the cathedral are still there but the east and west facades are concealed by the baroque facades that were constructed a few feet outside the old facades. The cathedral’s south facade is still Romanesque. The sculpture on the second level above represents Faith

If you continue walking westward through the archway of the building adjacent to the church you will reach the large Praza do Obradoiro and the west entrance to the cathedral. Or you can walk around the east entrances to the cathedral to Praza das Platerias and the south entrance which is nowadays the main entrance (more on that in a future posting). That’s what we did on our Saturday morning in Santiago when we attended the Pilgrim’s Mass which starts at noon every day of the year. I’ll have more on the Pilgrim’s Mass in my next posting.

 

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MM 4-23 Walls and Windows of Porto

Soon after we arrived in Porto after a long bus trip from Santiago we decided to check out the views from the roof of our hotel and I took several shots. This one is my entry for this week’s Monochrome Madness  Challenge.

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MM 4-22 The entrance door to Milan Cathedral

There are doors and then there are DOORS. This one is made of bronze and it was designed by the Italian sculptor Lodovico Pogliaghi in 1902 and completed by him in 1908. You can find it protecting the main entrance to Milan’s magnificent cathedral known to Italians as Duomo di Milano. I went to the archives to find this shot which I took during our trip to Italy in 2009. It will be my entry to Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness Challenge this week with her Door theme.

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Our Best Meal in Spain

Some of you may know that I am not too fond of Spanish food. That’s not any fault of the Spanish. I also don’t like French food very much. Maybe the fault is all mine!

My wife is much less finicky than I. She loves all kinds of Asian food and most types of sea food and almost anything that I consider too spicy. Consequently, we often split up when it comes time for dinner.

But we both love Italian food and that’s why we also frequently find ourselves looking for a ristorante, no matter what country we may happen to be in.

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Restoring the Templars Castle in Ponferrada

Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway are three European nations that are not part of the EU but are economically tied to all EU nations via the European Economic Area (EEA). Since 1994 these countries have contributed to the welfare of some of the less developed countries in the EU/EEA. In 1999 Spain was the recipient of EEA-Norway Grants that totaled more than 56 milion euros. Most of the grants in the 1999-2003 period were environmental projects with an emphasis on urban renewal of historical towns. Eight million of this 56 million contribution was allotted to the restoration of the Templars Castle (Castillo de los Templarios) in Ponferrada, thus marking the latest in a series of castle restoration projects that have spanned more than eight centuries. Iceland and Liechtenstein contributed 3% of this 8 million euro fund. Norway donated the rest. Let’s see how Spain made use of these funds.

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