Looking at the Pórtico of Glory

The Pórtico de la Gloria catches your eye thanks to the sense of movement and great realism of the composition, which was very much ahead of its time. In an age when almost nobody was able to read or write, the doorway also served for teaching the bible, with the purpose of both instructing and emotionally involving the common people.

First look at the ceiling, covered with vaults and arches that frame the work. The layout and interplay of these architectural features, which bear weight and open up spaces, were highly innovative for Spain in the 12th century. They are also very elegant, with ornamental mouldings decorated with floral motifs and acorns. The works make it likely that the architect Mateo knew about the work that was starting to be done in Europe, where the Gothic style was on its way in.

Now let’s look at the Portico. It is profusely decorated and arranged according to St. John’s vision of the Apocalypse. The lower section, at the base of the columns, represents the Earth, inhabited by mankind and by terrifying beasts, who glare at us with open jaws. Some of them even seem to be watching us as we pass, turning their heads in a threatening manner.

The middle section, on the shafts of the pilasters, belongs to the prophets and the apostles, who are talking to one another, and there is a sacred feel to them. On the upper section, we can see Heaven, all over the tympanum, where man lives next to god in a state of eternal happiness.

If you would like to hear about the narrative of the carvings in the portico in more detail, go to the next track. Otherwise, if you prefer to continue your tour of the inside of the cathedral, just press track 26.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Diego Laforga Marcos

Picture: Wild beasts
Source: Own work
Author: Diego Laforga (2013)

Picture: Apóstles. Pórtico de la Gloria
Source: Wiki Commons
Author: Tpedronchi (2008)
Licence: This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic