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The barrel-vaulted nave and the groin-vaulted aisles consist of eleven bays, while the wide transept consists of six bays. Every clustered pier is flanked by semi-columns, three of which carry the cross vaults of the side aisles and the truss of the arched vaults, while the fourth reaches to the spring of the vault. Lit galleries run, at a remarkable height, above the side aisles around the church.
The choir is covered by three bays and surrounded with an ambulatory and five radiating chapels. The vault of the apse is pierced by round windows, forming a clerestory. The choir displays a surprising exuberance in this Romanesque setting. An enormous baldachin, with a sumptuous decorated statue of Saint James from the 13th century, rises above the main altar. The pilgrims can kiss the saint's mantle via a narrow passage behind the altar.
In the choir aisle the beautiful lattice work and the vault of the Mondragon chapel (1521) stand out. The radiating chapels constitute a museum of paintings, retables, reliquaries and sculptures, accumulated throughout the centuries. In the Chapel of the Reliquary (Galician: Capela do Relicario) is a gold crucifix, dated 874, containing an alleged piece of the True Cross.
The crypt, below the main altar, shows the substructure of the 9th-century church. This was the final destination of the pilgrims. The crypt houses the relics of Saint James and two of his disciples : Saint Theodorus and Saint Athanasius. The silver reliquary (by José Losada, 1886) was put in the crypt at the end of the 19th century, after authentication of the relics by Pope Leo XIII in 1884.
Throughout the course of time, the burial place of the saint had been almost forgotten. Because of regular Dutch and English incursions, the relics had been transferred in 1589 from their place under the main altar to a safer place. They were rediscovered in January 1879.
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Categories & Keywords
Category:Travel and Places
Subcategory Detail:Spain
Keywords:Camino, Galicië, Patrimonio de la Humanidad, Route of Santiago de Compostela, Spain, Spanien, Spanje, St James, The Way, Unesco, Way of St James, Weltculturerbe, Welterbe, Werelderfgoed, World Heritage, altar, botafumeiro, finish, pelerins, pelgrim, peregrino, peregrino, pilger, relics, santiago, santiago de compostela