Everyone agrees: the “Pórtico de la Gloria” is one of the Romanesque wonders of the world. It features more than 200 figures carved by Maestro Mateo more than 800 years ago; even today, you will find them surprising due to their details and the message of hope that they convey.
Looking at the “Pórtico de la Gloria” is like attending a grand theatre play. The pilgrims that entered during the Middle Ages were very familiar with the depicted scenes. Perhaps we find it a bit more difficult to understand them, but it is so beautiful!
The central arch depicts a vision from the Apocalypse. The resurrected Christ returns to the world surrounded by the four Evangelists, bearing their symbolic animals: Luke with a bull, John with an eagle, Mark with a lion and Matthew with a box since he was a tax collector. Above this series, the 24 elders of the Apocalypse are talking among themselves, while tuning their instruments to intone the song of Glory. Look at their musical instruments -it looks as if they are about to start playing!
The Cathedral’s patron saint, the Apostle James, dominates the central column made of marble. Look at the marks that millions of hands have made in the column. At the back is the figure of the great architect, Maestro Mateo, kneeling before the altar.
The Pórtico’s entire left side is devoted to the Old Testament, and is supported by columns of four prophets, while the right side depicts the New Testament and is supported by the figures of four apostles. You will especially like two faces: on the right, the young St. John, and on the left, the smiling prophet Daniel. Did you know that this smile is almost as famous as that of the Mona Lisa' It is so natural that it does not seem to be made of stone.
Before leaving, you can have a closer look and try to find, high up in the right arch, the torments of Hell. You will see demons, a glutton trying to eat a pie while a snake is squeezing his throat, greedy persons with their hands and feet tied… What does all of this mean' That we should be good!