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Collegiate Church of Santa María do Sar and City of Culture

The Sar neighbourhood is called after the river passing through it. The medieval village arose alongside the city's traditional southern approach road; its configuration was also determined by the river and the old monastery. The original small village gradually became part of the city and the old roads are now city streets. However, the neighbourhood's rural essence is still present in its vegetable gardens, which are still worked, and its well-conserved traditional buildings.

The visit to the Collegiate Church of Sar is a must. It was founded in the year 1134 and thereafter favoured by Compostela's first archbishop Diego Xelmírez. It is Santiago's best-conserved Romanesque building, which is almost miraculous: either because of a construction defect or because the ground gave way, due to frequent flooding from the nearby river, the vaults dropped down, inclining the columns and walls. Therefore, in the 18th century, enormous bulwarks were added to stop it falling down. The intimate interior, of beautiful and harmonious proportions, is striking due to the columns deceptive, anti-gravitational inclination.

The attached monastic building houses the collegiate church's small Sacred Art Museum –where the most important documents related to its history are kept, along with a good collection of archaeological pieces- and also its cloister, which still features a beautiful Romanesque section.

The Sar neighbourhood is delimited by Monte Gaiás, where the Galician City of Culture is being built. This large-scale cultural complex will include several museums, a library, a newspaper archive, an opera theatre, centres for study, services and research, and an extensive forest featuring different Galician trees and plants, thereby recreating the native landscape.

In 1999 the Galician Government organised a competition and selected, from among the projects presented by renowned architects from all over the world, the one by New York's Peter Eisenman. The winning project reflects this architect's intellectual and creative stature: it is a topographic construction in which the undulating roofs of the different buildings fit in with and mimic the relief of Monte Gaiás, with profound crevices for moving around and entering the different volumes, which recreate the urban layout of the old town's streets.

After construction got underway, Eisenman suggested including the two towers designed by John Hejduk (which were originally planned for Belvís Park), as a posthumous tribute to his fellow countryman and a contemporary correlate of the Cathedral's towers.

The formidable size of the complex, which has the same area as Compostela's historical quarter, its valuable architecture and range of cultural activities, will fulfil Santiago's objective of becoming an indispensable reference point in the international cultural circuit.

 

More information

Location
Sar, Santiago de Compostela, 15702
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