Astorga Cathedral was begun in the XV century, and its construction extended for more than three centuries. The original gothic project evolved to assimilate the Neo-Classicist cloister, the Baroque towers and façade or the Renaissance portico. All three naves of Astorga Cathedral are a masterclass in Art History. It was declared a National Monument in 1931, and it is one of the most-loved cathedrals on the Camino.
The Cathedral’s front faces Northwest, though they usually face East. The 1755 Lisbon earthquake damaged the west tower of the Cathedral, and it wasn’t rebuilt until the 20th century. The stone used to build each tower got to Astorga with an over 200-year difference and from different quarries, so the contrast in stone colour between the west and the east tower is more than evident.
The high altar, by Gaspar Becera, is the best-known of the artpieces in the Cathedral interior. It is a masterpiece of the Spanish Renaissance, and the first altarpiece in this style in Spain. The ‘Purisima’ by Gregorio Fernández (1626), the ‘St. John the Baptist and St. Jerome’ by Mateo del Prado (17th century), the ‘St. Joseph with the baby Jesus’ by José de Rozas (17th century) or the ‘Christ of the waters’ (14th century) are also pieces worth a visit on their own.
Museum of the Astorga Cathedral
The permanent collection of the Museum of the Astorga Cathedral houses fine pieces of religious art, among them a few true relics of goldsmith’s art, such as the jewelled Reliquary of the True Cross, the 10th-century carved casket of Alfonso III the Great or a lavish silver monstrance studded with enormous emeralds.
Opening hours: Mondays to Fridays from 10:00 to 20:30 (April through October). Admittance to both the Cathedral and the Museum: 6 € (4’5 € for pilgrims and groups of 15 or more). Free audioguides for your visit are available in English, German, Portuguese, Dutch, French, Italian and Spanish.