Plaza de la Inmaculada is bordered by the Monastery of San Martiño Pinario and the Cathedral´s Azabachería façade, whose name refers to the traditional presence of jet-stone (`azabache´) workshops. It marks the end of the last urban stage of the French, English and North Ways of St. James, which enter the old town via `Puerta del Camino´.
The Cathedral´s original North façade is described in the 12th-century Codex Calixtinus as the `Door of Paradise´, not only because of its beauty but also because it represented the story of Adam and Eve, original sin and redemption. In front of it there used to be the Fons Mirabilis, a fountain that was moved to the cloister, in which pilgrims used to wash themselves before entering the Cathedral. The medieval atmosphere was completed with the moneychangers´ tables, in amongst sellers of footwear, leather and spices, and innkeepers offering accommodation.
Today, the Cathedral´s North façade features baroque and neoclassical elements since it was completely remodelled in the 18th century.
Monastery of San Martiño Pinario
It was founded in the 10th century to house a group of monks entrusted with looking after the worship of the Apostle´s relics. Its 20,000 square metres make it the second largest in Spain, after El Escorial. In 1494 it was handed over to the Benedictine Congregation of Valladolid and, one year later, it participated in the founding of the `Estudio Viejo´ (Old Study), which gave rise to the University. By then it was already the most important monastery in the territory and its income, from all over Galicia, enabled it, in the 18th century, to give alms to hundreds of paupers (to men on one day and to women and children on the next), alternating with the archbishop. Until its secularisation in 1837, it had the largest library in Galicia and one of the largest hostels in the country.
The present-day building features a Baroque façade that was finished in 1738 with a central baroque doorway. Above the large coat of arms of Carlos V there is an equestrian image of its patron saint, St. Martin of Tours, who is sharing his cape with a pauper. On the inside, which is part of the `Seminario Mayor´ (Major Seminary) and only opens as a hostel in the summer, there are three impressive cloisters from the 17th and 18th centuries.