Compostela's Convent of San Francisco, a monumental structure that was founded in 1214, houses in one of its cloisters the permanent exhibition of the Holy Land Museum. Apart from enjoying the building, an example of Galicia's baroque style, the visit provides a unique opportunity of becoming familiar with the Near East's material culture and history, by means of a tour around all of the present-day State of Israel's historical monuments.
The displayed pieces, all of which are from the Holy Land, provide us with information about such remote periods as the Palaeolithic and, from there on, the historical process that the area has undergone down to the present. The collections on display explain ancient cultures that are indispensable for understanding our own history. The museum thereby becomes a cultural bridge linking the cities of Santiago and Jerusalem, historically connected as important pilgrimage centres.
The Holy Land Museum's permanent exhibition is divided into the following sections: DISTANT PAST includes the periods from the Palaeolithic to the Roman Domination. THE HOLY LAND TODAY shows craftwork from the area, made in nacre and olive-tree wood, which, along with the models (mainly the Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre), are the most admired pieces.
From the 1st c. BC to World War I, Romans, Byzantines, Arabs and Turks were the ones who shaped Jerusalem's history, civilizations represented in the section COVETED JERUSALEM; and the variety of religions and cultures -Jewish, Muslim and Christian- that exist in present-day Jerusalem are shown under the heading PRESENT-DAY COEXISTENCE. The tour also includes models of the most significant historical and present-day buildings, along with a valuable numismatic collection that shows us the coins used in the area, from those minted by Alexander the Great to those in use today.