Puerta Santa de Santiago

Point of interest en Santiago de Compostela

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Puerta Santa de Santiago

Puerta Santa de Santiago - José Antonio Gil Martínez / Wikipedia

Puerta Santa de Santiago - José Antonio Gil Martínez / Wikipedia

From the Plaza de A Quintana we can access the Holy Door, one of the most popular access points of the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. Some time ago it was also known as Puerta del Perdón, due to the symbolic value of crossing it, however this name is not used today. Although it is not the only door through which you can access the Cathedral, the Holy Door is the one that most attracts the attention of tourists due to its legend and history.

It stands out for being covered by a series of figures that represent the different stages of the Apostle Santiago, but also for being open only when it is Holy Year, something that can take more than 10 years to happen.

When does the Holy Door open?

Once the afternoon of December 31 of the year before a Holy Year arrives, a procession is held where a wall is hit up to 3 times with a silver hammer that, once demolished, will allow access to the interior of the Cathedral. After this religious event, the Holy Door will remain open throughout the year until December 31 of the Holy Year itself, and another procession is held to close it again.

Despite the fact that crossing the Holy Door of Santiago is already something very symbolic for all Christians, many reinforce it by performing a small ritual. When entering through this door, you must pass your fingertips over one of the crosses that is engraved on the door frame and then cross yourself with holy water. The door will open again with the celebration of Xacobeo 2027, specifically on December 31, 2026.

When does the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago close?

These have not been easy years for pilgrims, leaving some of the strangest months for Santiago de Compostela as well. And it is that on December 31 the Cathedral of Santiago closed its doors in a Holy Year that ended up becoming a biennium as a result of the coronavirus.

Puerta Santa de Santiago - Alquiler de Coches / Wikipedia

Puerta Santa de Santiago - Alquiler de Coches / Wikipedia

The door was therefore closed on Saturday, December 31 at 5:00 p.m. by the Archbishop of Santiago on a very gray afternoon and in which the rain was a special protagonist; thus putting an end to the 120th jubilee year. A celebration that has left a bittersweet taste also due to the death of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI that same morning, with bells tolling in honor of the former pontiff.

Curiosities of the Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago

The Holy Door of the Cathedral of Santiago is, without any doubt, the most famous of the Cathedral of Santiago. Like many other points in the building, it holds a large handful of anecdotes, curiosities and legends.

The element that most attracts attention is the one that has this article as its protagonist, that is, the opening and closing of the Holy Door at the beginning and end of each Jacobean Year. Although it is true that various changes have been made over the years in terms of tradition, one of the high points of the celebration is when the cathedral wall is struck three times with a silver hammer, leaving thus falling several stones placed for this purpose.

Puerta Santa de Santiago - José Antonio Gil Martínez / Wikipedia

Puerta Santa de Santiago - José Antonio Gil Martínez / Wikipedia

As far as the design of the door is concerned, it has a design by Jésus León, made in 2003 and representing different passages belonging to the life, death and translation of Santiago. But what is the true origin of the Holy Door and the tradition that surrounds it?

There are many doubts about its origin, although the one that has gained the most weight over the years refers to a ritual prior to the Roman holy years, thus symbolizing the passage through the door as a point of forgiveness and rebirth to new life.

As we have already mentioned, the door has undergone all kinds of transformations over time. It is in the 17th century when the most notorious ones are produced, being the baroque style the predominant one and in charge of Jácome Fernández and González de Araújo. Both establish in the Holy Door various biblical characters that were expanded years later by other artists.

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