Astorga Cathedral was built between the 15th and 18th centuries, combining Gothic (nave and chapels), Renaissance (south portal), Baroque (main façade) and Neoclassical (cloister) elements in surprising harmony. The three naves of Astorga Cathedral are a master class in Art History. Declared a National Monument in 1931, it is one of the most beloved cathedrals on the Camino de Santiago.
The cathedral’s façade faces northwest, although most Catholic cathedrals face east. The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 damaged the west tower of the Cathedral, and it was not rebuilt until the 20th century. The stone used to build each tower arrived in Astorga more than 200 years apart and from different quarries, so the contrast in colour between the two towers is more than evident.
The main Altarpiece, the work of Gaspar Becerra, is the best known of the works of art inside the Cathedral. It is a masterpiece of the Spanish Renaissance and the first altarpiece of this style in Spain. The ‘Purísima‘ by Gregorio Fernández (1626), the ‘San Juan Bautista y San Jerónimo‘ by Mateo del Prado (17th century), the ‘San José con el niño Jesús‘ by José de Rozas (17th century) or the ‘Cristo de las aguas‘ (14th century) are also pieces that are worth a visit on their own.
The Cathedral’s choir, in Flemish style, is finely carved in walnut wood. Each choir seat is unique, depicting masterfully carved characters from the Old and New Testament. Integrated into the choir is the organ, which is only played during solemn celebrations. Special mention should also be made of the stained glass windows of Astorga Cathedral, many of which have been donated in recent years by businessmen and devotees from all over the Diocese; one of them depicts Saints John XXII and John Paul II.
Astorga Cathedral Museum
The Museum of the Cathedral of Astorga houses more than 600 pieces of religious art, including some true relics of goldsmithery, such as the Reliquary of the Vera Cruz, the chest of San Genadio (10th century) or a lavish silver monstrance adorned with huge emeralds. The Reliquary of the Vera Cruz is perhaps the most surprising of the works of art that can be seen in Astorga; of French origin and set with precious stones, different scholars suggest that its origin is Templar.
Visiting hours of Astorga Cathedral
The Cathedral and its Museum can be visited from Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 20:30 (except during acts of worship). On Tuesdays from 10:30 to 12:30 the entrance is free (it is necessary to book it on the website due to capacity reasons).
Winter opening hours (from November to March) are from 10:30 to 18:00 from Monday to Sunday, except during worship.
Admission to the Cathedral and Museum: 6 euros (4.5 euros for pilgrims).
The audio guide is free and is available in English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Dutch, French and Italian.