Western façade, Obradoiro
This splendid façade, also called Obradoiro, was built in 1738-50 by the architect Fernando Casas y Novoa along with a monumental altarpiece, and is the most famous baroque façade in Spain.
The bell tower, Torre de las Campanas (on the right) is partly from the 11 century; it was reworked from 1448-1675 and completed in 1725. The Torre de la Carraca (on the left) has the rattle, with which the faithful are called to prayer and dates from the 17C.
The tympanum with the Adoration of the Magi is 14C; the wooden doors leading to the Pórtico de la Gloria are from 1610. Portico de la Gloria: The portico, in fact the Romanesque façade of the church, is now screened (and also protected) by the baroque-Churrigueresque Western front.
Maestro Mateo as master of the works was commissioned with the building in 1168 when he created the three doorways which lead into the nave. The carving on the three doorways is among the finest of the entire Spanish Romanesque.
A clustered column in the middle of the main doorway bears the tympanum. In front of this column and enthroned upon his own column (lavishly carved with the Tree of Jesse, the Virgin Mary and the Holy Trinity in the capital) is St.James the Great, the church’s patron.
The tympanum has Christ in Glory as Saviour of the World; he is surrounded by four angels with the symbols of the Evangelists, two angels wafting incense and eight angels carrying the symbols of the Passion in their hands. The angels are framed by 40 heavenly hosts and the righteous, those redeemed by Christ. In the archivolts, playing instruments, are the 24 Elders of the Apocalypse. The pillars on the left and right are surrounded by richly carved columns, upon which stand the Prophets and Apostles from the Old and New Testaments.
Southern façade and Portico de las Platerías
The cathedral’s oldest façade can be seen from the Plaza de las Platerías (Gold- and Sil- versmiths’ Square) with its horse fountain and 18C flight of steps. On the left is the Eastern end of the plateresque cloister, and in the middle the splendid Southern façade. To the right of the portal on the Southeast corner of the cathedral is the massive clock tower, started as early as 1316 and built in its present form 1676-80. The tympanum (on the right) shows scenes from the life of Christ, Flagellation and Crowning with Thorns, with the Adoration of the Magi in between. The left tympanum (W.) shows the Temptation of Christ and the Woman taken in Adultery.
Plaza de la Quintana:
Eastern and Northern façades: The Plaza de la Quintana is one of the most impressive squares in the world. It offers a view of the clock tower, the Royal Portico and the Puerta Santa, the Holy Door (also called the Door of Pardon), which is only opened in jubilee years.