Ourense San Martino Cathedral, Galicia

Ourense's famous cathedral of "San Martino" was constructed during the middle ages under the rule of King Alfonso III, but was originally foundered in 572 AD and occupies the Ourense san Martino cathedral site of an older " Suevian" basilica. It combines a variety of architectural and Masonic styles, a result of the involvement of several notable designers from the 12th century onwards. One of its features, the "Portico del Paraiso" (door of paradise) is very similar to the that found on Santiago's great cathedral, the "Portico de la Gloria" (see photo below). Also of note is the magnificent sixteenth century "Capilla del Santo Cristo" (Christ's chapel) which is in the Baroque style. Other parts of this building are alternatively Gothic, Neoclassical, Renaissance and Romanesque and the 13th century clock tower is another dominant feature.

The cathedral of "San Martino" was built in the shape of a cross and has three naives separated by pillars in the shape of crucifixes with double arches. On its longest span, the cathedral is 84 metres in length. "San Martino's" altar was consecrated in 1188 AD and the building was granted "National monument" status in 1931.

San Martino cathedral door of paradise (Portico del Paraiso)

Of particular interest is the main chapel which holds a large "reredos", depicting scenes of Jesus and the virgin dating from the early sixteenth century. This cathedral is claimed to be strongly influence by the cathedral at Santiago de Compostela from which several of its features can be identified. It is also an important passing point for pilgrims (perigrins) on the Christian pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela that travels via Ourense.

Today this grand cathedral functions partly as a museum and exhibition center and takes a lesser role in religious worship, but it has been immaculately restored and at the time of our visit was displaying a large selection of religious and art based exhibits. There is a charge for entrance and you can also buy a guide offering information about the artifacts on display.

A side door of the San Martino cathedral

Regrettably, the taking of photographs inside the cathedral is prohibited, so we are unable to show you the "reredos"altar and other internal features.

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